Home to interesting cultural and historical attractions, some of Asia’s best food, exciting nightlife and interesting people, Bangkok is a great base for your holiday in Thailand.
Bangkok skyline from Wat Arun © yngvar
The city’s numerous beautiful temples and palaces, most of which can be found in and around the Royal District of Rattanakosin, offer a look into Thailand’s unique culture and history.
Great shopping, including several of Asia’s biggest malls and outdoor markets, make Bangkok just as much of a shopper’s paradise as a cultural destination. Fantastic Thai and international dining, as well as some of Asia’s best nightlife, add to Bangkok’s appeal.
Bangkok Day One: The Temples At The Heart Of Bangkok
The Grand Palace © Colin Tsoi
Explore the Bangkok’s origins on the banks of the Chao Phraya river which features three of Thailand’s most sacred temples. Wear conservative clothing – a shirt with sleeves and a long skirt or trousers, with footwear that covers your toes – as most of the city’s temples have a strict dress code.
- The Grand Palace
Originally constructed in the late 18th century and expanded in the several hundred years since then, the Grand Palace – and the complex of temples it contains — is one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Grand Palace area can get extremely hot during the daytime, so arrive as early as possible to avoid the heat and crowds. Once you make it there, avoid any touts claiming the palace isn’t open and enter through the admissions gate. Entry is 500 baht per person.
- Wat Pho
A spectacular temple that contains a 160 ft reclining Buddha statue, Wat Pho , is a short distance from the Grand Palace. The temple complex contains one of Thailand’s most famous massage schools, making it a great place to stop for a foot massage.
A stunning Buddhist temple known as the Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun is located just across the river from Wat Pho – catch the cross-river ferry from Tha Tien Pier and you’ll be right in front of it. Entry to the temple is 50 baht. Cross back over the river to enjoy breathtaking sunset views of Wat Arun from one of the restaurants listed below
Places To Eat Nearby The River
- Sala Rattanakosin Eatery and Bar
Sala Rattanakosin – a luxurious hotel located beside the Chao Phraya River – is home to one of the best restaurants in the Rattanakosin area. Drop in before 4:30 pm for lunch, or visit in the evening for a great dinner overlooking Wat Arun. You can also visit their rooftop bar with its view of Wat Arun – perfect for sunset.
- The Deck
Part of Arun Residence, The Deck offers good quality Thai food and tasty cocktails with great views over the Chao Phraya River and Wat Arun. It’s best to book ahead and reserve a table if you’re travelling during high season. There’s also a rooftop bar with views over Wat Arun
- Thip Samai Pad Thai
A cheaper option than the above two, Thip Samai Pad Thai is one of Bangkok’s most famous Pad Thai restaurants. Open since the early 1940s, Thip Samai serves excellent Pad Thai that’s cooked the old-fashioned way over a charcoal fire.
Bangkok Day Two: Bangkok’s Canals and Chinatown
Thanon Yaowarat, Bangkok © yeowatzup
Klong Tour On The Chao Praya River
Before the advent of the car, Bangkok’s main transport network was canals, or klongs. So much so that it became known as the “Venice of the East”. Experience being in a longtail boat exploring the klongs on the other side of the river from the glittering temples of Rattanakosin – whole communities still live on and around the water which makes it feel like stepping back in time. There are numerous klong tours with different itineraries for just a couple of hours or a whole afternoon.
Street Food at Chinatown or Silom Soi 20
Yaowarat – Bangkok’s Chinatown – and Silom Soi 20 both offer a great selection of street food stalls offering tasty and inexpensive Thai and Chinese food. As well as great food, Chinatown is home to a busy street market and is steeped in history as the original trading area of Bangkok. Book a Chinatown tour to really see and understand Yaowarat – and find the best eats!
Chao Praya River Cruise
A complete contrast to a longtail tour, a Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise is a luxurious couple of hours on a large cruise boat sailing on the river taking in the nighttime view of Bangkok’s skyline from the water while enjoying dinner with live entertainment on board.
Bangkok Day Three: Shopping and The Mystery of Jim Thompson
Ratchaprasong Bangkok © rollanb
Bangkok Shopping Malls
Bangkok is one of Asia’s best cities for shopping, offering everything from cheap clothing and accessories to high-tech gadgets and designer brand names. Ratchaprasong, a stretch of big shopping centres between Siam and Chit Lom, is the city’s shopping hub. There’s also plenty of places to eat in every mall too.
- Siam Paragon
Siam Paragon is a high-end shopping mall that’s connected to BTS Siam. You’ll find the usual brand name shops on the lower floors, with high street fashion and electronics above and dining below.
Connected to BTS National Stadium, MBK is a shopping mall that contains hundreds of small, busy shops. While you won’t find any high-end brand names here, MBK’s great mix of clothes, mobile phones, gadgets and souvenirs makes it a fun place to visit.
- Central World
A short walk or Skytrain ride from Siam Paragon at BTS Chit Lom, Central World is Bangkok’s biggest shopping mall. Most of the shops in Central World are aimed at Thailand’s middle class, with a good selection of high street fashion brands, book stores and restaurants.
- Central Embassy
Located one station from Central World at BTS Ploen Chit, Central Embassy is Bangkok’s latest ultra-luxury shopping mall. Above the first two floors, which focus on the typical fashion houses and luxury brands, you’ll find a good selection of international restaurants.
The Mystery of Jim Thompson
- Jim Thompson’s House
Silk industry entrepreneur Jim Thompson, who mysteriously disappeared in Malaya in the late 1960s, started building a stunning traditional Thai house in 1958. Today, it’s open to the public and offers a great break from the hustle and bustle of Ratchaprasong’s shopping malls. It also features an excellent restaurant overlooking the house which is worth visiting even if you’re not interested in touring the house.
- Erawan Shrine
Located opposite Central World at Ratchaprasong Junction, the Erawan Shrine is a shrine to the Hindu god Brahma, known to Thais as Phra Phrom. The shrine is easy to reach via the Skywalk from Central World, making it a great quick stop between the area’s shopping malls.
- Krungsri IMAX, Paragon Cineplex Theatre
Bangkok has some of the best cinemas in the world, and the full size Krungsri IMAX screen located within Siam Paragon mall is a spectacular experience if you like movies. There are also numerous other regular-sized screens in this complex, often with Thai movies with English subtitles – check movie times on the Major Cineplex site
- Night Bike Tours
After the sun sets and Bangkok’s intense traffic begins to thin out, the city begins to look and feel very different. ANight Bike Tour takes visitors past the city’s most famous temples lit up at night, through a beautiful flower market and more.
Bangkok Day Four: Floating Markets and Rooftop Bars
Sky Bar © chleong
- Floating Markets
Located 100 km outside Bangkok in Ratchaburi, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the most popular floating market close to Bangkok. Although the market is closer to a tourist attraction than an authentic market, it’s a fun day trip and a great break from city life.
Slightly further away from Bangkok, Amphawa Floating Market is a popular weekend and day trip destination for Thais. Like Damnoen Saduak, it’s more of a destination than a busy market, but it’s a fun place to shop for souvenirs and clothes while enjoying local Thai food.
Issaya Siamese Club
An upmarket Thai restaurant, Issaya Siamese Club blends traditional, authentic Thai food with international tastes and cooking methods. A great dinner choice for dinner in relaxing and beautiful setting near Rama III.
Located inside the Metropolitan Hotel on Sathorn Road, Nahm – which was founded by Australian chef David Thompson and ranked as one of Asia’s best restaurants – serves high-end Thai food in a sleek, modern setting.
- Rooftop Bars
Bangkok’s climate and dense skyline make it the perfect city for rooftop drinks and dining. There are several rooftop bars in Bangkok, most of which can be found near the river. The newest and most spectacular is the King Power Mahanakorn Skywalk, which combines a vertiginous glass floor with jaw-dropping views over the city.
Lebua at State Tower, famous for featuring in The Hangover Part 2 movie, also has spectacular views – be sure to book in advance. (If you’re interested in seeing more locations featured in the movie, see our guide to the Hangover Part 2 movie locations). Note that most of Bangkok’s rooftop bars have a dress code. Ensure you’re allowed inside by wearing smart casual clothes, with trousers and closed shoes for men.
Bangkok Day Five: Day Trip to Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya, Thailand © robphoto
- Just over an hour from Bangkok by taxi or minivan, Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam and one of the most historically significant cities in Thailand. Today, the Ayutthaya Historical Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a popular day trip destination.
- Some of Ayutthaya’s most impressive sights include Wat Phra Si Sanphet — formerly the city’s holiest temple — and Wat Mahathat. Elephantstay, an elephant camp located outside the city, offers visitors a chance to interact with, feed and care for retired working elephants.
Bangkok Day Six: Massage and Spa Time
Skyscrapers of Bangkok © kumaravel
Massage is an integral part of Thai life and there are affordable massage shops everywhere you in Bangkok. A foot massage is a must after a hard day’s sightseeing. Here are some suggestions for more luxury places to go.
Perception Blind Massage
Perception Blind Massage offers incredible Thai massage provided by blind therapists. Aimed at providing a profession for blind people in Bangkok, the spa — which offers Thai massage for just 350 baht per hour — is located on Sathorn Soi 8, a short distance from BTS Chong Nonsi.
Baan Sabai Spa
Located halfway between The Emporium and K Village on Sukhumvit Soi 26, Baan Sabai Spa is a small spa offering Thai massage, hydrotherapy and a selection of facial and body treatments at affordable prices.
One of Bangkok’s upmarket spas, Spa InterContinental is located inside the InterContinental Hotel on Ploenchit Road. A great selection of treatments are available, making the spa a good escape after a day of shopping in the area.
CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel
Another high-end spa, CHI at the Shangri-La Hotel offers a range of treatments and packages for individuals and couples. Listed as one of the “Most Luxurious Spas in the World” by Forbes, CHI isn’t cheap, but its relaxing environment and high quality treatments are worth the price.
Bangkok Day Seven: Chatuchak Market, Parklife and Ari District
Chatuchak Weekend Market © edwin11
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is a sprawling outdoor market located to the north of Bangkok’s city centre. Made up of more than 8,000 stalls, it’s a great place to shop for everything from clothing to locally produced artwork, souvenirs, furniture and even pets.
As its name suggests, Chatuchak is only open on weekends. If you’re visiting Bangkok over the weekend, visit early in the morning (the market is open from 9 am) or late in the afternoon, as it can get hot during the daytime.
Chatuchak is a huge market that can be challenging to navigate. If you see something you’d like to buy, do it right away, as you might not be able to find the same stall later. Since the market is crowded, it’s best to keep bags, wallets and other valuable belongings under close watch.
- If it’s not the weekend and the market is closed, it’s still worth making the journey on the Skytrain out to Chatuchak anyway for the 3 beautiful parks that sit next to each other in the area: Chatuchak Park, which is a meticulously maintained ornamental park; neighbouring Wachirabenchathat Park (usually known as Rot Fai park) which is a former golf course given back to nature with its own dedicated cycle track (you can hire bikes); and Queen Sirikit park, another smaller ornamental park. Between them the three parks take a good couple of hours to walk around. See our Chatuchak Quick Guide for more info.
- After visiting the parks and / or the market, jump back on the Skytrain and go a couple of stops back to Ari. This is an ideal place to come for a meal as the main road of the area – Soi Ari – is teeming with restaurants and street food. See our Ari Quick Guide for more info.
Recommended Bangkok Hotels
Bangkok © ninara
Here are a few handpicked places to stay in Bangkok arranged by budget. If you want to get a better sense of orientation of the best areas to stay in Bangkok, see our Where To Stay In Bangkok guide.
Best Luxury Hotels in Bangkok
- Mandarin Oriental Hotel
One of Bangkok’s oldest luxury hotels, the Mandarin Oriental has a great selection of rooms and suites overlooking the Chao Phraya River. Riverside dining and luxurious surroundings make this a great escape from the noise and energy of Bangkok.
- InterContinental Bangkok Hotel
Located close to Central World, Siam Paragon and several of Bangkok’s other popular shopping malls, the InterContinental Bangkok Hotel is a convenient five-star hotel with good facilities and one of the best locations in the city for visitors that want to shop and dine out.
- Sofitel So Bangkok Hotel
With views of Lumpini Park and the Sathorn business district, the Sofitel So is a conveniently located, modern luxury hotel in Bangkok’s CBD. The hotel’s swimming pool and outdoor bar offer great evening views over the city’s skyline.
Best Mid Range Hotels in Bangkok
- Centre Point Silom Hotel
Located close to Saphan Taksin Pier and BTS station, the Centre Point Silom Hotel is a good choice for people that want to travel around the city by river boat. The hotel’s rooms are clean, modern and comfortable, offering great value for the area.
- Mercure Bangkok Siam Hotel
With a rooftop swimming pool, stylishly decorated rooms and a convenient location close to the MBK Centre and Siam Paragon, the Mercure Bangkok Siam Hotel offers great facilities that are usually only found in more expensive hotels.
- S31 Sukhumvit Hotel
Located close to Asok, Phrom Phong and Thong Lor — three of Bangkok’s most popular nightlife and entertainment districts — S31 Sukhumvit Hotel is a comfortable four-star hotel located in one of Bangkok’s most convenient areas.
Best Budget Hotels in Bangkok
- Lub d Bangkok Siam Square
A short walk from BTS Siam, Lub d Bangkok Siam Square offers accommodation at prices that have more in common with Khao San Road than its surroundings. Rooms range from dorms to comfortable if somewhat utilitarian private rooms.
- 1Yolo Hostel
Located close to BTS Phrom Phong, 1Yolo Hostel offers budget accommodation in a part of Bangkok that’s better known for its high-end shopping and bustling nightlife. Mixed and sex segregated dorms are available, as well as basic but comfortable private rooms.
- Oldtown Hostel Bangkok
Located a short distance from Yaowarat, Oldtown Hostel is a clean and comfortable hostel that’s ideal for people that want to be close to Bangkok’s historical attractions. Unfortunately, it’s quite far from the BTS Skytrain, making it tough to get around the rest of the city while avoiding traffic.
Getting to Bangkok From the Airport
- Bangkok has two international airports. Don Mueang (DMK), the smaller and less busy of the two, is the hub for low-cost carriers. Suvarnabhumi (BKK), Bangkok’s new airport, mostly serves long haul flights and domestic flights on standard carriers.
- Both airports are 30-40 minutes from the centre of Bangkok by road in ideal conditions. In heavy traffic, it can take anywhere from one to three hours to reach central Bangkok districts like Silom and Sukhumvit from Don Mueang or Suvarnabhumi.
- Suvarnabhumi is connected to Bangkok’s public transportation system by the Airport Rail Link (ARL), which terminates at BTS Phayathai. If your flight arrives in Bangkok at rush hour, taking the Airport Rail Link into the city can save you a long wait in traffic.
- Both airports have public taxi stands. On average, it costs about 350 baht to get into the centre of Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi, in addition to expressway tolls, and 150 to 250 baht from Don Muang Airport.You can also pre-book a private transfer to your hotel from Suvarnabhumi Airport or from Don Mueang Airport to be waiting for you on arrival with your name on a placard.
- Are you flying into Bangkok for the first time? Read our Bangkok Airports Guide to learn more about both of Bangkok’s airports, from immigration and public transportation options to Wi-Fi availability.
When is the Best Time to Visit Bangkok?
- Bangkok is a tropical city with weather that ranges from hot and humid to violently stormy. The time of year you visit Bangkok can have an impact on your experience, from stormy evenings in the rainy season to serious heat in the months of April and May.
- Bangkok’s cool season lasts from November until February and is the most popular time of year to visit the city (and Thailand as a whole). During the cool season, temperatures are comfortable and increased visitor numbers mean that accommodation is slightly more expensive.
- The hot season and wet season, which last from March until May and June until October, bring extremely hot water and evening rain to Bangkok. Since rain in Bangkok is usually powerful but brief, it’s possible to plan your day around the city’s weather if you’ve visiting in rainy season.
- Are you planning a trip to Bangkok? Read our When Is The Best Time To Go To Bangkok guide to learn more about Bangkok’s seasons and their effect on tourism.
Bangkok and Thailand Travel Itineraries
- 1 Day In Bangkok: Must See Itinerary
Only have 1 day in Bangkok? You can see many of Bangkok’s iconic attractions in the space of a day, plus sample some great food and enjoy the nightlife too.
- 2 Days in Bangkok Itinerary
With just 2 days in Bangkok you still have time to enjoy its impressive cultural sites as well as its fine selection of shopping and dining. Check out this 2 day Bangkok itinerary.
- 3 Days in Bangkok Itinerary
From temples and museums to shopping malls and outdoor markets, Bangkok has more than enough to keep you occupied for 3 days in Bangkok.
- 1 Week In Bangkok Travel Itinerary
While most visitors spend a few days in the capital before travelling elsewhere in Thailand, it’s far from challenging to spend a week in Bangkok taking in all that the city has to offer.
- 1 Week Thailand Beaches Itinerary
Thailand has hundreds of great beaches, ranging from large tourist resorts to remote beaches largely undiscovered by tourists. Thailand’s long coastline and wide range of destinations make it arguably Asia’s best destination for lovers of sand, sea and sun.
- 1 Week Bangkok And Mountains Itinerary
Planning a trip to Thailand but prefer not to spend too much time on the beach? While Thailand is best known for its beautiful beaches, its capital city and mountain destinations are also great places to spend your holiday.
- 1 Week In Chiang Mai Itinerary
Thailand’s mountainous north offers a very different experience from its famous southern beach destinations. A cooler climate, beautiful mountainous scenery and a more relaxed, laid back feel make northern Thailand a unique destination that’s worth experiencing.
- 2 Weeks In Thailand And Vietnam Itinerary
Our Two Weeks in Thailand and Vietnam itinerary lets you see the best of two of Southeast Asia’s most dynamic and rewarding destinations, all in just 14 days.
- 2 Weeks In Thailand And Cambodia Itinerary
Our Two Weeks in Thailand and Cambodia itinerary includes everything from modern cities and relaxing beach resorts to some of the world’s most incredible historical temple complexes and ancient cities
- 3 Weeks In Thailand, Cambodia And Vietnam
Our Three Weeks in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam itinerary lets you experience three of Southeast Asia’s most exciting, rewarding and unique countries from multiple perspectives.