BANGKOK, THAILAND (2023) | 10 BEST Things To Do In & Around Bangkok (+ Travel Tips!)
BANGKOK, THAILAND (2023) | 10 BEST Things To Do In & Around Bangkok (+ Travel Tips!)
Hey there! Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand. It’s a bustling city with delicious food and amazing temples. In this video, we’ll show you the best things you can do here. Bangkok is located in the heart of Thailand and is often the first stop on your journey through the country. While it can be chaotic and overwhelming at times, it is also exciting and fascinating. You’ll find an abundance of vibrant food markets, historical temples and palaces, and a vibrant nightlife. In this video, we highlight 10 of the best things to do in and around Bangkok for your first or second visit. Be sure to stick around till the end, as we also share three travel tips for the city and a few exciting day trips from Bangkok in case you have more time. Let’s dive right in!
Exploring Local Cuisine
When visiting Bangkok, one of the first things you must do is try the street food. The city is known for its diverse and delicious street food offerings, which are not only affordable but also packed with flavors. You can find food stalls throughout the city center, offering a wide variety of dishes such as barbecued chicken, steamed dumplings, Pad Thai, and mango sticky rice. Some of the best areas to explore for street food are Chinatown, Banglamphu, and Khao San Road. Don’t be afraid to try something new and indulge in the local flavors.
Recommended Local Dishes
While exploring Bangkok, make sure to try some of the city’s most famous local dishes. Here are a few recommendations:
Pad Thai: This iconic stir-fried noodle dish is a must-try when in Bangkok. It typically consists of rice noodles stir-fried with shrimp, tofu, bean sprouts, and peanuts. The dish is then seasoned with a combination of tamarind paste, fish sauce, sugar, and chili powder.
Tom Yum Goong: This classic Thai soup is known for its bold and spicy flavors. It features a combination of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, Thai chilies, shrimp, and mushrooms, all cooked in a flavorful broth made with fish sauce and lime juice.
Green Curry: A staple of Thai cuisine, the green curry is a spicy and aromatic dish made with a combination of green chili peppers, coconut milk, Thai basil, and various vegetables. It is often served with rice.
Mango Sticky Rice: For a sweet and refreshing dessert, try the mango sticky rice. It consists of ripe mango slices served on a bed of sweet sticky rice, drizzled with coconut milk.
These are just a few examples of the delicious dishes you can try in Bangkok. Don’t hesitate to explore the local cuisine and discover new flavors!
Popular Food Markets
In addition to trying street food, visiting the local food markets is a must-do experience in Bangkok. These markets offer a vibrant and lively atmosphere, filled with stalls selling a variety of food, snacks, and fresh produce. Here are a few popular food markets you should check out:
Chatuchak Weekend Market: Known as the largest market in Thailand, Chatuchak Weekend Market is a sprawling maze of stalls offering everything from street food, clothing, accessories, and household items. This market is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Or Tor Kor Market: Located near Chatuchak Weekend Market, Or Tor Kor Market is considered one of the best fresh markets in Bangkok. Here, you can find a wide range of high-quality produce, seafood, and local specialty items.
Chinatown (Yaowarat): Bangkok’s Chinatown is renowned for its street food scene. As you wander through the bustling streets, you’ll find countless food stalls offering a wide variety of dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the famous grilled seafood and delicious dim sum.
Rod Fai Night Market: Located near the Thailand Cultural Center, Rod Fai Night Market is known for its vintage and retro vibe. Besides offering a great shopping experience, the market also boasts a wide selection of food stalls serving both Thai and international cuisines.
Exploring these food markets will give you a taste of the local flavors and allow you to immerse yourself in the vibrant street food culture of Bangkok.
Bangkok is a city rich in history, and there are several historical sites that you should visit during your stay. These sites offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and architectural beauty of the city.
Visiting the Grand Palace
One of the most iconic landmarks in Bangkok is the Grand Palace. Built in 1782, the Grand Palace was the official residence of the Thai monarch for over 150 years. Today, it serves as a major tourist attraction and is a must-visit destination.
The Grand Palace complex is vast, covering an area of over 200,000 square meters. It is home to several stunning buildings, including the Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which houses the highly revered Emerald Buddha statue.
When visiting the Grand Palace, make sure to dress appropriately as it is considered a sacred site. Both men and women should wear modest clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. Avoid wearing revealing outfits or flip-flops. Taking a guided tour of the Grand Palace is highly recommended as it will provide you with a deeper understanding of its historical and cultural significance.
Seeing the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Another significant historical site in Bangkok is Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Located just a few blocks away from the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is one of the oldest temples in the city.
The highlight of Wat Pho is undoubtedly the magnificent Reclining Buddha statue. Measuring 46 meters long and 15 meters high, the statue is covered in gold leaf and depicts the Buddha during his final moments before attaining enlightenment. Walking alongside the massive statue is an awe-inspiring experience.
Besides the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho is also famous for its traditional Thai massage school. You can indulge in a soothing Thai massage at the school, which is known for its therapeutic techniques and skilled masseuses.
Exploring Lesser-Known Buddhist Temples
In addition to the grandeur of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, Bangkok is home to numerous lesser-known Buddhist temples that are worth exploring. These temples offer a more intimate and serene experience, away from the bustling crowds.
The Banglamphu area, specifically the Golden Mount (Wat Saket) and Loha Prasat temples, is an excellent place to start your exploration. The Golden Mount is perched atop an artificial hill and offers stunning views of the city. Loha Prasat, on the other hand, is a unique temple characterized by its iron-roofed towers.
To enhance your temple visits, it’s recommended to hire a local guide who can provide you with in-depth knowledge about the history, architecture, and spiritual significance of each temple. They can also help you navigate the complex rituals and traditions associated with visiting Buddhist temples.
Immersing yourself in the rich history and spiritual aura of these temples is a captivating experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the cultural heritage of Bangkok.
Nature and Relaxation
While Bangkok is known for its bustling streets and towering skyscrapers, the city also offers tranquil green spaces where you can relax and unwind from the urban chaos.
Taking a Stroll in Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park is a peaceful oasis located in the heart of Bangkok. Spanning over 500,000 square meters, the park offers a refreshing escape from the city’s hectic pace. Whether you’re looking to take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or engage in recreational activities, Lumpini Park has something for everyone.
The park features beautifully landscaped gardens, scenic lakes, and lush greenery. You can rent a paddleboat to explore the lake or join a group doing tai chi or yoga. There are also open-air gyms, outdoor workout stations, and jogging paths where you can engage in fitness activities.
Lumpini Park is also home to various species of birds, turtles, and monitor lizards. Seeing these creatures in their natural habitat adds to the park’s charm. Just be cautious of the monitor lizards and keep a safe distance from them.
Spending a few hours in Lumpini Park is a great way to recharge and connect with nature amidst the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
Watching the Sunset over the Chao Phraya River & Wat Arun
For a breathtaking view and a memorable experience, head to one of the rooftop bars near the Chao Phraya River to watch the sunset over Wat Arun.
The Chao Phraya River is a major waterway that runs through Bangkok, and it is an integral part of the city’s identity. As the sun begins to set, the river and the surrounding areas are bathed in a warm golden glow, creating a magical atmosphere.
There are several rooftop bars and restaurants along the river that offer panoramic views of the sunset and Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn. The Eagle’s Nest and The Deck Restaurant are popular choices for their stunning vistas and relaxing ambiance.
Sipping a cocktail and watching the sun dip below the horizon while Wat Arun’s spires are illuminated is an unforgettable experience. It’s the perfect way to cap off a day of exploring the city.
Adrenaline and Adventure
If you’re seeking excitement and adventure, Bangkok has a few thrilling experiences to offer.
Getting a View Over Bangkok from the Mahanakhon Building
For a bird’s-eye view of Bangkok, head to the Mahanakhon building. This iconic skyscraper is home to Bangkok’s highest observation deck, providing breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the winding Chao Phraya River.
The observation deck is located on the 78th floor and offers both indoor and outdoor viewing areas. Visitors can marvel at the sprawling cityscape, spot famous landmarks, and take stunning photographs. There is also a glass floor section where you can stand and look directly down at the city below.
To make the experience even more memorable, consider visiting during sunset or in the evening when the city lights up.
Experiencing Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a vibrant and bustling street located in the Banglamphu area. It’s an iconic destination for backpackers and travelers from around the world, known for its lively atmosphere and diverse offerings.
The street is lined with hostels, guesthouses, street food vendors, clothing stalls, bars, and restaurants. Khao San Road has a distinct energy that attracts visitors looking to socialize, shop, and enjoy the nightlife.
Wandering through Khao San Road, you’ll encounter a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. Try some of the famous street food, shop for unique souvenirs, and don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with fellow travelers.
Bangkok is a shopper’s paradise, offering a wide range of shopping experiences to suit every taste and budget. From bustling markets to modern malls, you’ll find something for everyone.
Shopping at Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must-visit destination for shopping enthusiasts. Known as the largest market in Thailand, it houses thousands of stalls selling everything from clothing and accessories to home goods and handicrafts.
The market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 6 pm. Navigating through the labyrinthine market can be overwhelming, but it’s part of the adventure. Take your time to explore the different sections and haggle for the best prices.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is also a food lover’s paradise, with countless food stalls offering a variety of local and international cuisines. Treat yourself to some delicious street food or relax in one of the open-air eateries.
Keep in mind that the market can get crowded, so it’s recommended to wear comfortable clothing and shoes and carry a small backpack to store your purchases.
While shopping in Bangkok, there are a few must-buy items that you should consider:
Thai Silk: Thailand is famous for its high-quality silk products. You can find silk clothing, scarves, and accessories in various vibrant colors and intricate designs. Look for reputable stores or markets known for selling authentic Thai silk.
Handicrafts and Artwork: Thailand’s rich cultural heritage is reflected in its traditional handicrafts. You can find beautifully crafted items such as wooden carvings, ceramics, pottery, and traditional Thai paintings. Look for these unique pieces in markets or specialized handicraft stores.
Thai Snacks and Spices: Take a piece of Thai cuisine home with you by purchasing local snacks and spices. Popular Thai snacks include dried fruits, crisps, and coconut-based sweets. Thai spices, such as chili flakes and curry pastes, are perfect for adding a burst of flavor to your meals.
Souvenirs and Trinkets: Don’t forget to pick up souvenirs and trinkets to commemorate your trip. Look for keychains, fridge magnets, traditional Thai masks, or miniature Buddha statues. These items make great gifts for friends and family back home.
Bargaining Tips for Visitors
Bargaining is a common practice in markets and smaller shops in Bangkok. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the bargaining process:
Do Your Research: Before visiting a market or shop, research the approximate price range for the item you want to purchase. This will give you an idea of what to expect and help you negotiate a fair price.
Start with a Smile: Approach the vendor with a friendly attitude and a smile. Building a rapport can go a long way in securing a better deal.
Be Polite: Bargaining is a negotiation process, so it’s important to be polite and respectful. Avoid being too aggressive or disrespectful, as it may not yield favorable results.
Start Low: Begin the negotiation by offering a price significantly lower than what you’re willing to pay. The vendor will likely counter with a higher price, and you can slowly work your way towards a mutually agreed-upon price.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away: If the vendor is unwilling to meet your desired price, be prepared to walk away. Often, this can prompt the vendor to reconsider and offer you a lower price.
Remember, bargaining is part of the shopping experience in Bangkok, so embrace the process and have fun while shopping for your desired items.
Floating Market Visits
One of the unique experiences you can have in Bangkok is visiting the floating markets. These markets are known for their vibrant atmosphere and the opportunity to discover traditional Thai culture.
Overview of Floating Markets
Floating markets are traditional marketplaces where vendors sell their goods from boats along the canals. They have been an integral part of Thai trading culture for many years and provide a glimpse into the country’s rich history.
The most popular floating market near Bangkok is Damnoen Saduak, located about a 1.5-hour drive from the city center. This market offers a wide variety of goods, including fresh produce, cooked food, handicrafts, and souvenirs.
Other floating markets worth visiting include Taling Chan Floating Market, Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market, and Amphawa Floating Market. Each market has its own unique charm and provides a different experience.
What to Expect
When visiting a floating market, expect a lively and bustling atmosphere. You’ll find boats crammed with colorful fruits, vegetables, and local delicacies. The vendors often wear traditional Thai clothing, adding to the vibrant ambiance.
Exploring the market by boat is a popular way to navigate through the canals and get up close to the vendors’ stalls. You can hire a long-tail boat or join a guided boat tour to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
Besides shopping and sampling the delicious food, you can also observe traditional cultural performances, such as Thai music and dance, taking place along the canals. These performances showcase the artistic and cultural heritage of Thailand.
Floating markets can get crowded, especially on the weekends, so it’s best to arrive early to avoid the crowds and have a more enjoyable experience. Don’t forget to bring cash, as most vendors do not accept credit cards.
Items to Buy at Floating Markets
Floating markets offer a wide array of items that make for unique souvenirs or gifts. Here are a few things you can buy:
Local Produce: Floating markets are known for their fresh fruits and vegetables. You can find a variety of tropical fruits such as mangoes, pineapples, and dragon fruit. These make for delicious snacks or ingredients to bring back home.
Handicrafts: Many vendors specialize in selling handmade items, such as woven baskets, wooden carvings, and traditional Thai clothing. These unique handicrafts reflect the local craftsmanship and cultural traditions.
Traditional Thai Snacks: Don’t miss the opportunity to try local snacks and treats such as coconut pancakes, grilled meat skewers, and Thai-style desserts. These snacks are often cooked and served fresh from the boats.
Thai Souvenirs: Floating markets offer a range of souvenir options, including keychains, magnets, traditional Thai masks, silk scarves, and handmade jewelry. These items make for meaningful keepsakes or gifts for loved ones.
Remember to bring a small bag to carry your purchases and be prepared to haggle for the best prices. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and immerse yourself in the lively culture of the floating markets.
Day Trips from Bangkok
While Bangkok offers a wealth of experiences, you may also want to explore what lies beyond the city. Thankfully, there are several day trips you can take from Bangkok to visit nearby attractions.
Recommended Day Trips
Here are a few day trips from Bangkok that you should consider:
Ayutthaya: Located less than two hours from Bangkok, Ayutthaya is an ancient city that was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to several historical ruins, including ancient temples and palaces. Exploring Ayutthaya is like stepping back in time and getting a glimpse of Thailand’s rich history.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: As mentioned earlier, Damnoen Saduak is the most famous floating market near Bangkok. A day trip to this market allows you to experience the bustling atmosphere and witness the unique way of life along the canals.
Maeklong Railway Market: Also known as the “umbrella pulldown market,” the Maeklong Railway Market is located about an hour’s drive from Bangkok. What makes this market unique is that it is set up directly on the railway tracks. Several times a day, a train passes through the market, and vendors quickly retract their stalls to make way for the train. It’s an incredible sight to see and a popular attraction for tourists.
Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal: For an unforgettable experience, consider visiting the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal. Here, you can spend the day interacting with elephants, learning about their conservation, and even taking a ride on their backs. This ethical sanctuary provides a safe and responsible environment for these magnificent creatures.
These are just a few examples of the day trips you can take from Bangkok. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or nature, there are plenty of options available to suit your preferences.
How to Organize a Day Trip
Organizing a day trip from Bangkok can be done independently or through a tour operator. Here are a few tips to help you plan and organize your day trip:
Research Transportation Options: Determine the best mode of transportation for your desired day trip. Depending on the distance and accessibility of the destination, you can choose to travel by train, bus, taxi, or hire a private car. Research schedules, routes, and prices to ensure a smooth journey.
Consider Joining a Guided Tour: If you prefer a hassle-free experience, consider booking a guided tour for your day trip. Tour operators offer a range of options, including transportation, guided tours, and sometimes even meals. This can be a convenient way to explore the destination without the need for extensive planning.
Plan Your Itinerary: Decide on the attractions you want to visit during your day trip and plan your itinerary accordingly. Consider the opening hours, closure days, and estimated visit durations to make the most of your time. It’s important to strike a balance between sightseeing and leisure to avoid feeling rushed.
Pack Essentials: Depending on the nature of your day trip, pack essentials such as sunscreen, insect repellent, comfortable footwear, and a refillable water bottle. It’s also a good idea to bring some local currency and a copy of your identification documents.
Check Local Customs and Etiquette: Before embarking on your day trip, familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette. Respect the cultural norms and traditions of the destination, including appropriate dress codes and behavior at religious sites.
With careful planning and preparation, a day trip from Bangkok can be an enriching and memorable experience.
Most Popular Attractions Outside Bangkok
Beyond the city limits of Bangkok, there are several popular attractions that are worth exploring. Here are a few destinations outside Bangkok that are highly recommended:
Ayutthaya Historical Park: Ayutthaya, once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, is home to a vast historical park with ruins of ancient temples, palaces, and statues. Strolling through the park feels like stepping back in time and offers a captivating glimpse into Thailand’s past.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: Located about 1.5 hours from Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak is a vibrant floating market where vendors sell fresh produce, cooked food, and local handicrafts from their boats. It’s a unique and bustling experience that immerses you in the local culture.
Maeklong Railway Market: Known as the “umbrella pulldown market,” Maeklong Railway Market is situated along a functioning railway line. Several times a day, a train passes through the market, and vendors swiftly retract their stalls to make way for the train. It’s a fascinating sight to witness and a popular attraction for tourists.
Amphawa Floating Market: Amphawa is another popular floating market near Bangkok, famous for its charming canals and traditional wooden houses. Here, you can explore the market by boat, sample delicious snacks, and watch cultural performances along the waterfront.
Bang Pa-In Royal Palace: The Bang Pa-In Royal Palace is a beautiful complex located in Ayutthaya province. It features a combination of Thai, Chinese, and European architectural styles and offers stunning gardens and pavilions. Exploring the palace grounds provides insights into Thai royal history.
These attractions offer diverse experiences, from cultural immersion to culinary delights. They are easily accessible from Bangkok and can be visited as day trips or as part of a longer itinerary.
Travel Tips for Visiting Bangkok
To ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit to Bangkok, it’s helpful to keep a few travel tips in mind. These tips will help you make the most of your time in the city and ensure a memorable experience.
Appropriate Attire for Temples
When visiting Buddhist temples in Bangkok, it is essential to dress appropriately as a sign of respect for Thai culture and religious customs. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees. Wear loose-fitting clothing made of lightweight and breathable fabrics to cope with the tropical climate. Avoid wearing revealing outfits, shorts, tank tops, or flip-flops.
If you’re unsure about your attire, it’s always a good idea to carry a shawl or sarong that can be used to cover exposed shoulders or legs when needed. Remember to remove your shoes before entering the temple and try to maintain a calm and quiet demeanor while inside.
Best Times to Visit
Bangkok experiences a tropical climate, with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. However, there are certain times that may be more favorable for your visit.
The best time to visit Bangkok is during the cool season, which lasts from November to February. During this time, temperatures are milder, and there is less rainfall. It’s a popular time for tourists, so expect larger crowds and higher accommodation prices.
The shoulder seasons of March to April and September to October can also be pleasant times to visit, as the weather is still relatively dry, and there are fewer tourists. However, temperatures can rise during these months, so be prepared for higher temperatures.
The rainy season, from May to October, sees more frequent rainfall, often in the form of short, heavy downpours. While it may be less crowded during this time, it’s important to pack a lightweight raincoat or umbrella and be prepared for sudden showers.
Keeping Your Trip Organized with a Travel Planner
To make the most of your trip to Bangkok, it’s a good idea to keep your itinerary and travel plans organized. Utilizing a travel planner can help you stay on track and ensure you don’t miss out on any attractions or activities.
A travel planner allows you to map out your daily schedule, including sightseeing, transportation, meals, and leisure time. You can also use it to keep track of important information such as addresses, contact numbers, and reservation details.
There are many digital travel planner apps and online tools available that allow you to create and customize your itinerary according to your preferences. These tools often include features such as interactive maps, travel tips, and the option to save and share your plans with others.
By using a travel planner, you can stay organized, make the most of your time in Bangkok, and ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip.
When traveling to Bangkok, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). It’s a good idea to carry some local currency with you for small purchases, snacks, or payment at markets. Major credit cards are accepted at most hotels, restaurants, and larger establishments. ATMs are readily available throughout the city, where you can withdraw cash using your debit or credit card.
Local Customs and Etiquette
Respecting local customs and etiquette is crucial when visiting Bangkok. Here are a few important tips to keep in mind:
Greeting: The traditional Thai greeting is the wai, where you place your palms together in a prayer-like gesture and slightly bow your head. The wai is a sign of respect, and it’s polite to return the gesture when greeted by locals.
Feet: In Thai culture, the feet are considered the lowest part of the body, both physically and symbolically. Avoid pointing your feet towards people or objects of significance, such as religious icons or Buddha statues. It’s also considered disrespectful to touch someone’s head, as it is considered the most sacred part of the body.
Public Displays of Affection: Public displays of affection, particularly between couples, are generally not displayed in Thailand. It’s best to respect local norms and avoid excessive physical contact in public.
Monarchy: The Thai monarchy is highly revered, and it’s important to show respect towards the royal family. Avoid making any negative comments or disrespectful gestures towards the monarchy or any members of the royal family.
By adhering to these customs and showing respect towards the local culture, you will enhance your experience and gain a deeper appreciation for the Thai way of life.
Health and Safety Tips
Ensuring your health and safety should be a top priority when traveling to Bangkok. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, especially in the hot and humid climate of Bangkok. Carry a refillable water bottle and avoid excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, as it can lead to dehydration.
Food Safety: While Bangkok’s street food is delicious, it’s important to be mindful of food safety. Choose food stalls that are busy and have a high turnover of customers, as this indicates fresh and safe food. Avoid eating raw or uncooked food, and wash your hands regularly.
Traffic Safety: Bangkok’s traffic can be chaotic, so exercise caution when crossing the streets and be aware of your surroundings. Use designated pedestrian crossings whenever possible and avoid jaywalking.
Scams: Like any popular tourist destination, Bangkok has its share of scammers. Be vigilant and cautious of strangers offering unsolicited assistance or deals that seem too good to be true. Keep an eye on your belongings, particularly in crowded places.
Health Precautions: Consult with your healthcare provider before traveling to Bangkok to ensure you are up to date on routine vaccinations. Consider purchasing travel insurance to cover any unforeseen medical expenses.
By following these health and safety tips, you can have a worry-free and enjoyable trip to Bangkok.
In conclusion, Bangkok offers a multitude of experiences for travelers seeking adventure, cultural immersion, and culinary delights. From exploring the local cuisine and historical sites to indulging in nature and relaxation, the city has something for everyone. Whether you’re a food lover, history buff, nature enthusiast, or shopaholic, Bangkok will leave you with unforgettable memories.
Remember to respect the local customs and traditions, dress appropriately when visiting temples, and stay organized with a travel planner. With careful planning, an open mind, and a sense of adventure, your trip to Bangkok is sure to be an incredible experience.
So pack your bags, prepare your taste buds, and get ready to explore the vibrant and diverse city of Bangkok. The next adventure awaits you!