Best things to do in Bangkok
Find out more about those top places in Bangkok
Sprawling across the flat lands of the Chao Phraya delta, Bangkok, the vast capital of Thailand, is one of Asia’s great mega cities. Renowned for its multifaceted cuisine, backpacker culture and Buddhist heritage, Bangkok is Thailand’s most dynamic city where nonstop change brushes up against timeless traditions. For foodies, Bangkok is a dream with roadside stalls serving up noodle dishes with the freshest vegetables and sweet, sour and salty herbs and Michelin starred restaurants popping up in the city’s many luxurious mega malls. What is more, history is all around, especially in Banglamphu neighborhood dominated by iconic Golden Mount Buddhist temple. Bangkok is also one of Asia’s best cities for nightlife, in part due to its popularity with western backpackers who congregate in the hedonistic neon lit streets around Khao San Road.
Set in the heart of Bangkok, the golden pagodas of the Grand Palace are one of Southeast Asia’s most breathtaking sights. Although today the palace is only used for official functions, it was the official residence of the Kings of Siam between 1782 and 1925. It is no surprise then that the gilded complex is steeped in history and intrigue that visitors can explore thanks to expert local guides.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, known locally as Wat Phra Kaew, is the spiritual epicenter of Thai Buddhism. Adjoining the gilded Grand Palace, the temple is no less spectacular with an endless array of golden pagodas and dazzling shrines. For the best experience, make sure to explore the grounds with a local guide who will explain the significance of the diminutive Emerald Buddha statue that sits pride of place in the main place of worship.
Perched on the banks of the languid Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun, known in English as the Temple of Dawn, is one of Bangkok’s standout attractions. As one of the most important temples in Thai history, it is fittingly decorated in a phantasmagoria of sea shells, porcelain tiles and gigantic statues while vertiginous stair cases allow visitors to climb up the structure itself. As the temple is removed from the center of the city, the most enchanting way to visit is via a traditional long tail boat tour.
Southeast Asia’s iconic floating markets are a wonderful assault on your senses: the aromatic smells of ground spices fill the air; freshly caught fish are cooked over coal stoves; and vividly green vegetables are traded between boats. The best of these in Bangkok is undoubtedly the charmingly off-beat Tha Ka, which is best explored with the help of a local guide.
Located in the shimmering Wat Traimit, the Golden Buddha, officially named Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon, is Bangkok’s most enigmatic attraction. For centuries hidden behind a false plaster wall, the 3 meters tall and 5.5 tonne solid gold Buddha was only rediscovered in the mid-20th century following renovation work. For a unique experience, combine a visit to the Golden Buddha with tours of Wat Pho and Wat Benchamabophit.
After serving in the forerunner to the CIA in Japanese occupied Thailand during World War Two, Jim Thompson settled in the country and became one of the world’s premier silk entrepreneurs. With his vast personal wealth he collected one of Asia’s most diverse collections of art, which is now displayed to the public at his former home in Bangkok. Alongside world-famous pieces of art, the house also includes a museum dedicated to his life and dazzling antique furnishings.