Bangkok

The 10 ‘Must See’ in Bangkok

Most Popular Attractions On Your First Visit to Bangkok

Bangkok’s best attractions are a big part of what makes this exotic city such an incredibly popular tourist hotspot. Glittering temples, historical attractions and world-famous shopping haunts will captivate by day, while live shows, delicious street food adventures and bar-hopping will take care of your nights. In fact, Thailand’s capital city has been the most visited city in the world in recent years and a look through the best attractions in Bangkok will go some way to explaining why (but it’s no substitute for actually experiencing it yourself!)

Of course, this is just the tip of all the fascinating things you can see and do on your first time in Bangkok, but start with these 10 ‘Must See’ attractions and you won’t be disappointed.

1. Grand Palace & Wat Prakeaw

Location: Old City

Thailand’s largest palace and former seat of the king, the Grand Palace is a simply stunning edifice that shines gold in the sunlight. The large palace grounds has several sections but the highlights are the curved, ornate stupas stretching up into the sky and the revered Emerald Buddha image (which is actually made of jade), draped in a golden cloak and placed high up inside Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Be sure to dress appropriately with shoulders and knees covered. The palace is open from 8:30 - 15:30 and admission is 500 baht.

2. Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)

Location: Riverside

Wat Arun is built on the opposite bank of the mighty Chao Phraya River which snakes its way through central Bangkok, and is actually where Bangkok was founded as the capital city of Thailand. The temple is very alluring in design, based on a Khmer style stupa, usually seen in Cambodia. Colloquially known as the Temple of Dawn, you can visit the grounds between 08:30 and 17:30, with a steep set of steps up the main spire. Viewing the temple up close is very interesting because it is covered in small pieces of Chinese porcelain placed in intricate patterns. Entry is 100 baht.

3. Floating Market

Location: Damnoen Saduak

A floating market is a classic snapshot of Thailand, and although they are slowly disappearing there are still a few very popular ones in and around Bangkok. Damnoen Saduak is located around 90 minutes from downtown Bangkok and is the largest floating market in the area. Some say it is overly touristy, and it’s true there are elements of overbearing tourism, however it is also the best place to see hawkers and traders paddling slowly down the congested canals, working from their boats, chatting and laughing as they go. There are lots of souvenirs to buy here, but the most people enjoy the fresh food most.

4. Chinatown (Yaowarat)

Location: Chinatown

Bangkok Chinatown (known as Yaowarat in Thai) is a densely packed area that is an instant assault to the senses, with family-run shophouses, gold shops, Chinese herbal pharmacists and local restaurants all competing for your attention. It’s hot and hectic, especially in the warren-like alleys of Sampeng Lane, but this area is unmissable if you want a true taste of all the flavours of Bangkok. At night, the high street transforms into the best street food destination in all of Bangkok. Take a stroll and sample a bit of everything on your way. If language becomes a problem, just point and smile.

5. Wat Pho

Location: Old City

No matter how many times you see Wat Pho’s famous Reclining Buddha it still impresses. This awesome and beautiful image is another classic landmark in Bangkok, and a firm favourite for a snapshot with your nearest and dearest. Although the reclining Buddha is the definite highlight, the temple complex is actually very large, with many structures and interesting sites to see, including hundreds of Buddha images of many sizes and in many postures. Wat Pho was also Thailand’s first seat of higher learning, with knowledge about Thai massage and herbal medicine being centralised here. It’s still possible to get a Thai massage in the temple grounds. It is open from 08:00 to 17:00 and entry is 100 baht.

6. Chao Phraya River & Waterways

Location: Riverside

The Riverside district of Bangkok is home to some of the finest hotels in the city, as well as many cultural attractions, and these are best witnessed while whizzing along in the back of a long-tail boat. This popular tour not only takes in the main sites along the river, but also little-visited and hard to find places located along the several canals and tributaries that branch off. A tour typically takes half a day and can be negotiated from almost any pier, although due to some underhanded tactics by a few rogue people, we recommend going to Sathorn central pier and organising one with a reputable company.

7. Chatuchak Weekend Market

Location: Chatuchak

Shopping, snacking and soaking up the sights at Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must if you are lucky enough to be in Bangkok on a weekend. Home to more than 8,000 market stalls, practically anything and everything can be sourced from here: clothes, souvenirs, jewellery, antiques, pets, and home accessories to name a few. But there is also a whole range of snacks and treats to sample as you walk through aisle after aisle. On Saturday and Sunday the market kicks off early so if you would like the experience minus the heat and crowds, aim to get there as early as 08:00. But it’s early afternoon when Chatuchak Market is at its most intense and fun. You will get hot, you will get lost, but it’s a market like no other.

8. Khao San Road

Location: Old City

The epicentre of backpacker culture in Southeast Asia, Khao San Road is where you will find budget accommodation, cheap and cheerful street food and lots of youth fashion. It is also the most multicultural area of Bangkok. It is best experienced after 21:00, when the bars are packed with people from every corner of the globe and the shops and market stalls are still open. It’s not real Bangkok and it’s not trying to be. This is Khao San Road.

9. Soi Cowboy

Location: Sukhumvit (Asoke)

Bangkok is infamous for its naughty nightlife, and indeed there are several spots in the city where you can find these adults-only themed pubs and bars, but Soi Cowboy is definitely the best for first-time visitors. The bright pink and red neon lights offer a beacon in the night that can be seen from afar, and its location next to Asok BTS Skytrain and Sukhumvit MRT Underground makes it very easy to access. The 20-or-so bars on this strip are loosely based around the same premise: dancing girls are up on stage and lots of front row seats for the watching punters. Bars are open from 20:00 to 02:00.

10. Jim Thompson’s House

Location: Siam

Jim Thompson was a legendary explorer and lover of the traditional crafts of Southeast Asia. He is credited as being the force behind promoting Thai silk to the world, as well as preserving many antique pieces of art. Jim Thompson’s house in the Siam area of Bangkok consists of six traditional Thai teakwood houses transported from Ayutthaya and Bangkok’s Ban Krua community. Inside the peaceful and verdant complex, visitors will learn about the man and his mission, explore a beautifully maintained teakwood house and enjoy lunch at the excellent café. Even though Jim Thompson’s House is walking distance from National Stadium BTS Station, if feels many miles away.


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