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. 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.
Bangkok skyline from Wat Arun © yngvar
As a city, Bangkok has a lot to offer. The city’s numerous beautiful temples and palaces, most of which can be found in and around 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.
Whether you’re visiting Bangkok for the first time or returning to Thailand’s capital once again, use our One Week in Bangkok itinerary to plan your stay and make the most of what the city has to offer.
Bangkok Skyline 4 © araswami
Bangkok Quick Tips:
- Bangkok’s constantly heavy traffic makes public transportation the best way to get around the city. Our hotel recommendations are all within walking distance of the BTS Skytrain, letting you travel above the traffic and get around the city quickly.
- Planning to visit temples? Although Bangkok is a modern city, you’ll need to dress conservatively at temples and historical sites. Pack some long trousers and clothing which covers your shoulders, as well as a pair of closed-toe shoes.
- Bangkok is a huge city that can take some time to travel around. Our district guides provide more information on the best parts of Bangkok to stay in, making it easy to choose a hotel that’s close to your favourite attractions.
First Time in Bangkok?
- Bangkok is a huge, busy city that can be difficult to navigate on your first visit. Read our First Time in Bangkok guide to quickly orientate yourself, from getting around on the BTS and MRT to avoiding common scams.
Gold © g4egk
Feel like getting to know the historical side of Bangkok? 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, 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.
Wat Arun, a stunning Buddhist temple known as the Temple of Dawn, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Skyscrapers of Bangkok © kumaravel
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.
- 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.
- Jim Thompson 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.
- 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.
- 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. The Grasshopper Adventures Bangkok Night Bike Tour takes visitors past two of the city’s most famous temples, through a beautiful flower market and more.
Thanon Yaowarat, Bangkok © yeowatzup
Khlong Tours of Thonburi
Thonburi, the sleepier side of Bangkok across the Chao Phraya River, is a fascinating part of the city. The Small Teak Boat Canal Adventure offers a look at Bangkok away from the busy streets and bustling markets, making it a great escape from the noise of the central city.
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 with everything from souvenirs to toys and home accessories.
Asiatique The Riverfront
Accessible by ferry from BTS Saphan Taksin, Asiatique The Riverfront is a night market with over 1,500 different stalls selling clothing, souvenirs and more. Alongside the shopping, there’s a great selection of restaurants, boxing and cabaret shows and a riverside Ferris wheel.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market © xiquinho
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
Issaya Siamese Club is an upmarket Thai restaurant that 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 is run by Australian chef David Thompson and ranked as one of Asia’s best restaurants — serves high-end Thai food in a sleek, modern setting.
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.
Sky Bar © chleong
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.
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.
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’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. Vertigo, which is located atop the Banyan Tree Hotel, and Sirocco, at Lebua State Tower, are two good options.
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.
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.
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 Muang (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 Muang 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.
- 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.