Bangkok is one of those cities that never gets old. No matter how many times you’ve been, you’ll always discover something new and exciting to see, do, and eat.
It’s got a near perfect mix of food, culture, nightlife, shopping, and affordability that’s unmatched anywhere in Southeast Asia.
We’ve traveled to Bangkok so many times over the years that it feels almost like a second home. Such is the allure of the world’s most visited city for the last four years and running. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’re into. Bangkok will have something for you.
If you’re visiting Thailand for the first time, then I hope this comprehensive Bangkok travel guide can help you plan your trip.
VISIT BANGKOK QUICK LINKS
This travel guide to Bangkok is long. For your convenience, I’ve compiled links to hotels, tours, and other services here.
Top-rated hotels in Siam, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Bangkok.
- Luxury: The St. Regis Bangkok
- Midrange: Pathumwan Princess Hotel – SHA Certified
- Budget: Siam Stadium Hostel
- Sightseeing Tour: Bangkok Day Tour: Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha
- Food Tour: 4-Hour Food Tour with Klong Boat Ride
- Floating Market Tour: Bangkok Floating Markets Tour
- Travel Insurance with COVID cover (WFFF readers get 5% off)
- Airport Transfers: Suvarnabhumi | Don Mueang
- Wifi and Sim Cards
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GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS
BANGKOK TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
Because of the current global situation, Bangkok travel guidelines change almost on a weekly basis. Our friends at Booking.com created a website that lists detailed information on travel restrictions around the globe.
Before planning a trip to Bangkok, be sure to check Booking.com for information on travel restrictions to Thailand. If you do decide to visit Bangkok, then you may want to seriously consider getting travel insurance with COVID coverage.
Depending on your passport, you may need a visa and other travel documents to visit Thailand. Check out iVisa.com to learn about the requirements and to apply for a visa (if necessary).
BANGKOK TRIP PLANNING
Do you ever get FOMO when planning your own trips, like you’re going to overlook something? If you do, then you may want to have a destination expert create a custom Bangkok itinerary just for you.
ViaHero is a travel planning service that links travelers with local experts to create custom itineraries to different destinations around the world, including Bangkok. If you’d like to try them out, then you can get a 5% discount on their services if you enter WILLFLYFORFOOD upon checkout using our link.
BANGKOK AT A GLANCE
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and its biggest city by far. It’s a top tourist destination which is consistently ranked among the world’s most visited cities.
In fact, so popular and beloved is Bangkok that it was voted the “World’s Best City” by Travel + Leisure magazine readers for four consecutive years. Spend a few days there and you’ll understand why.
Bangkok’s myriad attractions make it appealing to a diverse demographic of tourists. Are you into shopping? There are plenty of markets and shopping malls like Chatuchak Market and Siam Square to keep you busy.
Do you like cultural attractions? If so, then you can spend the day exploring the Old City and its must-see sights like the Grand Royal Palace and Wat Pho.
If good food is your thing, then you’ll be pleased to know that CNN declared Bangkok as the world’s best street food city.
And don’t let budget concerns scare you away either. You can thrive on Khaosan Road, the backpacking capital of the universe, for as little as USD 15-20 a day.
In short, Bangkok has something for everyone. It’s an exciting, affordable city that’s much more than your gateway into Thailand. For many travelers, it’s the destination.
BEST TIME TO VISIT BANGKOK
Like Manila, Bangkok enjoys a tropical climate so it’s warm year round with just two seasons – rainy and dry.
The dry season is from November-April while the rainy season is from May-October. March-May are typically the hottest months while August and September experience the most rainy days.
Because of the dry and cooler climate, November-February is considered the ideal time to visit Bangkok. However, it’s also peak season so expect higher prices during that time.
NOV-FEB: Climate-wise, this is the ideal time to visit Bangkok. It’s cooler, it rains less, and it isn’t as humid. It’s also the height of tourist season so expect bigger crowds and slightly higher prices overall.
MAR-MAY: These are the hottest months in Bangkok. The temperature often exceeds 40°C (104°F) so it isn’t the most comfortable time to visit. However, Songkran or the Thai New Year happens every April. This three-day festival turns the city into a big water fight, making it a fun time to be in Bangkok.
JUN-OCT: The rainy season in Bangkok typically begins in June and lasts till the beginning of November. This is considered the low season in Bangkok.
Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Bangkok
To help you better understand the weather in Bangkok, I’ve created the average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Suggested months to visit are indicated in orange.
TRAVELING TO BANGKOK
Bangkok is serviced by two international airports – Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK).
The former is the primary airport which services more international flights, so the majority of tourists traveling to Bangkok will probably enter the country through Suvarnabhumi.
Here’s how you can get to downtown Bangkok from either airport.
From Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)
BY TRAIN: This is the best way to get to downtown Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi. You can take the Airport Rail Link from Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai Station (THB 45). From there, you can can transfer to the BTS line and take it to the station nearest your hotel. You can purchase tickets at the station but you can get a small discount if you buy it in advance through Klook.
BY BUS: You can catch the S1 bus from Suvarnabhumi to Khaosan Road. Departing from Gate 7 on the first floor of the passenger terminal, the fare is THB 60 and it runs every 30 minutes from 6AM-8PM.
BY TAXI OR GRAB: A taxi from Suvarnabhumi to downtown Bangkok should cost you around THB 400 (with airport surcharge and toll). Be sure that the driver uses the meter since taxi scams are quite rampant in Bangkok.
BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: This is the easiest and most comfortable option, but it’s also the most expensive. You can book private transfers from Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) to downtown Bangkok on Bookaway.
From Don Mueang International Airport (DMK)
BY TRAIN: There’s no BTS or MRT station at Don Mueang, so you’ll need to take a bus or taxi from the airport to the nearest train station, which is Mo Chit. If you’re going by bus, then you can catch the A1 bus just outside the terminal. The bus fare to Mo Chit BTS Station is THB 30 and it runs every 15 minutes or so from 7:30AM-11:30PM*. Once you’re at Mo Chit Station, then you can take the BTS to the station nearest your hotel.
BY BUS: You can catch the A2, A3, or A4 bus from Don Mueang to Victory Monument (A2), Pratunam and Lumpini Park (A3), or Khao San Road and Sanam Luang (A4). The fare is THB 30-50 and it runs every 30 minutes or so from 7:30AM-11:30PM*. We’ve never taken a bus in Bangkok but a common concern seems to be that buses tend to get full. For that reason, you may be better off taking it to Mo Chit and doing the rest of the journey by train.
BY TAXI OR GRAB: A taxi from Don Mueang to downtown Bangkok should cost you around THB 350 (with airport surcharge and toll). As advised, be sure the driver uses the meter.
BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: This is the easiest and most comfortable option, but it’s also the most expensive. You can book private transfers from Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) to downtown Bangkok on Bookaway.
*Different websites have conflicting information on bus timetables so these are estimates based on what I’ve read.
From Other Ports of Entry
We flew to Bangkok but there are other ways to get there depending on where you are. I suggest checking Bookaway to find route options available to you. You can click on the link or use the widget below.
WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY
The unit of currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB).
I read that SuperRich offers some of the best exchange rates in Bangkok and it seems to be true. I exchanged a small amount of currency at Suvarnabhumi Airport and got a rate of 31.28. Later that same day, I got a rate of 33.05 at a SuperRich branch.
I suggest changing a small amount at the airport, no more than USD 100, just to get you into the city. You can then change the rest at SuperRich. Follow this link for a list of SuperRich branches.
If you’re worried about bringing too much foreign currency with you, then an alternative would be to withdraw THB from an ATM. The rates are comparable.
Just be sure to let your bank that you plan on using your ATM card abroad so you don’t run into any problems. In my experience, my ATM card works in some machines but not in others.
NOTE: Some ATM machines may give you the option of proceeding “with or without conversion”. Always proceed WITHOUT conversion. Proceeding with conversion allows the foreign bank operating the ATM to do the conversion for you, usually at terrible exchange rates.
BEST AREAS TO STAY IN BANGKOK
Figuring out where to stay in Bangkok can be challenging. It’s a big city and the subway system, while convenient, doesn’t service as many areas yet.
For that reason, I think it’s best to stay in a commercial area which is as near as possible to a BTS or MRT station. That way you have easy access to the subway and not have to be so dependent on taxis or Grab to get around.
There are eight popular tourist lodging areas in downtown Bangkok: Sukhumvit, Siam, Silom, Pratunam, Riverside, Chinatown, the Old City (Rattanakosin), and Chatuchak.
Because of Bangkok’s notorious rush hour traffic, international tourists coming in and out of the city at odd hours often stay near Suvarnabhumi Airport, so you count that as the ninth.
We’ve been to Bangkok many times over the years so we’ve stayed in most of these areas. If it’s your first time in Bangkok, then I think the Siam or Sukhumvit areas are ideal. They offer the best combination of shopping, food, and ease of transportation.
I’ve created the color-coded map below to help you visualize where all these recommended areas are. Click on the link for a live version of the map. (Please note that marked areas are approximations only)
RED – Sukhumvit
PURPLE – Siam
GREEN – Silom
PINK – Pratunam
BLUE – Riverside
YELLOW – Chinatown
GREY – The Old City
ORANGE – Chatuchak
BROWN – Suvarnabhumi Airport
Sukhumvit has a reputation for being one of the most cosmopolitan areas in Bangkok. Popular with foreigners and expats, it’s home to luxury hotels and plenty of restaurants offering a wide range of cuisine.
If nightlife is important to you, then Sukhumvit is probably the best area to stay. It’s got a bustling nightlife, much of which is centered around Soi 11 which is one of Bangkok’s most famous party streets.
Both the BTS and MRT run through Sukhumvit so transportation shouldn’t be a problem. You can search for accommodations through Booking.com or Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in Sukhumvit:
- Luxury: Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit
- Midrange: LA49 Hotel
- Budget: Backpack Station
If you’re traveling to Bangkok primarily to shop, then Siam is the best area for you to be. It’s full of shopping centers, department stores, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
I don’t remember the name of the hotel but we stayed in Siam many years ago and our hotel was surrounded by shopping malls and connected to a BTS station. It was super convenient.
The BTS Skytrain runs through the Siam area so transportation won’t be a problem. You can search for accommodations through Booking.com or Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in Siam:
- Luxury: The St. Regis Bangkok
- Midrange: Pathumwan Princess Hotel – SHA Certified
- Budget: Siam Stadium Hostel
Silom is Bangkok’s business district. We’ve never stayed here but it’s another popular area to stay in Bangkok, perhaps just a tier below Siam and Sukhumvit. It’s home to Lumphini Park, Patpong night market, and the infamous Patpong red light district.
Both the BTS and MRT run through Silom so getting around should be easy. You can search for accommodations through Booking.com or Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in Silom:
- Luxury: W Bangkok Hotel
- Midrange: The Quarter Silom by UHG
- Budget: Tini Kati Hostel
Ren and I stayed at Baiyoke Sky Hotel in Pratunam on our first trip to Bangkok together. At 88 storeys tall, it’s the tallest hotel in Southeast Asia. The room we stayed in was huge and gave us an awesome view of the city.
What I liked about this hotel (and area) is that it’s close to many air-conditioned shopping malls in the Siam area like MBK, Siam Center, and Siam Paragon. I remember walking to MBK nearly everyday and spending most of our time there, either to shop or just to get away from the heat.
The hotel also has viewing decks on the 77th and 84th floors that offer spectacular views of the city. You can purchase tickets at the door or in advance through Get Your Guide. You can book a room at Baiyoke Sky Hotel through Booking.com or Agoda. Be sure to check both sites to find the best deal.
If you like the Pratunam area but don’t think this is the right hotel for you, then you can check these sites for alternate listings in Pratunam: Booking.com | Agoda. Check out some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: InterContinental Bangkok, an IHG Hotel
- Midrange: Theme Boutique Hotel Bangkok
- Budget: The Cocoon Hostel
The Riverside area is a relaxed, more upscale neighborhood offering great views of the Chao Phraya River. We booked an AirBnB at Ideo Mobi Sathorn, a residential condominium located right next to Krung Thonburi BTS station.
What I loved about staying here is that it’s in a residential neighborhood far removed from the chaos of downtown Bangkok. However, the Riverside area is a bit far from downtown Bangkok so you’ll need to commute everyday to get to the city’s commercial areas. It’s a great place to stay but it may not be ideal for first-time visitors to Bangkok.
If you like the Riverside area, then you can check Booking.com for listings. Here are a few of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: The Peninsula Bangkok
- Midrange: Inn a day
- Budget: Tiny Taladnoi Hostel
If great street food is what you’re after, then Chinatown is one of the best places to be. It’s home to lively Yaowarat Road which is one of the best and most famous areas in Bangkok for street food.
As much fun as it is to eat in Chinatown, it’s a hectic area and perhaps not the best place for people looking for a more relaxed stay in Bangkok. I believe there are only two MRT stations in the Chinatown area so transportation isn’t as easy either.
You can search for accommodations in Chinatown through Booking.com or Agoda. Check out some of the top hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Hotel Royal [email protected]
- Midrange: Norn Yaowarat Hotel
- Budget: Luk Hostel
THE OLD CITY
I haven’t seen it, but in the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo diCaprio, they described Khaosan Road as “the center of the backpacking universe”. That may be a slight exaggeration but it certainly feels that way when you’re there.
This is where I used to stay when I’d do solo trips to Bangkok twenty years ago. It’s a famous area teeming with bars, cheap restaurants, and guesthouses, which is why it’s such a popular choice among young backpackers on a budget.
If you’re young and like to party, then you’ll probably want to stay somewhere along Khaosan Road. It’s cheap and near some of the city’s most popular attractions like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.
I used to be apprehensive about recommending the Old City because of its lack of metro stations, but not anymore. Thanks to a local reader, I was happy to learn that the Sanam Chai MRT station opened in 2019. It’s about a 5-minute walk from Wat Pho making it so much easier to get to and from the Old City.
You can search for accommodations in the Khaosan Road area on Booking.com or Agoda. Here are some of the top-listed hotels in the area:
- Luxury: Casa Nithra
- Midrange: Old Capital Bike Inn
- Budget: Mind Day Hostel Khaosan
Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao is a 5-star hotel not too far from the Chatuchak Weekend Market. We were invited to stay here in 2018. The hotel is connected to the Centra Plaza Ladprao Shopping Complex and is close to Don Mueang Airport.
The hotel isn’t the most modern but it’s luxurious and very comfortable, with plenty of great restaurants to choose from including the fantastic Suan Bua Thai Restaurant.
Chatuchak is a little farther away from the city’s top attractions so I suggest staying in this area only if your main goal is to shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market or you need to be close to Don Mueang Airport.
You can book a room at Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao on Booking.com or Agoda. If you like the Chatuchak area but would rather stay at a different hotel, then you can check these links for alternate listings: Booking.com | Agoda. Here are some of the top-rated hotels in the area:
- Luxury: The Maruay Garden Hotel
- Midrange: The Quarter Ladprao by UHG
- Budget: [email protected]
The only reason for you to stay near Suvarnabhumi Airport is if you arrive late at night or have an early flight to catch the next day. It’s about an hour from downtown Bangkok so it’s too far to use as a base.
We stayed at The Cottage for one night on a previous trip to Thailand. We flew in from Chiang Mai and needed a place to stay near the airport to catch an international flight early the next morning.
The Cottage is a quick 5-minute drive from Suvarnabhumi Airport. It’s walking distance to the Paseo Community Mall where you’ll find plenty of restaurants and shops. They provide free shuttle transfers to the airport as well.
You can make reservations at The Cottage through Booking.com or Agoda. You can also check Agoda for alternate listings around Suvarnabhumi Airport.
You can also book hotels and home stays in Bangkok using the handy map below.
PLACES TO VISIT IN BANGKOK
1. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew
The Grand Palace is considered by many to be the single most important attraction in Bangkok. Built in 1782, it served as the official residence of Thailand’s Royal Family until 1925. The King now resides in Dusit Palace though the Grand Palace is still used for official events like royal ceremonies and state functions.
There’s lots to see at the Grand Palace so plan to spend a couple of hours here. It’s a large complex comprised of several ornate buildings, pavilions, courtyards, and manicured gardens.
One of the most important structures at the Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It houses the famed Emerald Buddha and is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.
You can explore the Grand Palace on you own, but if you’d like to learn more about its history, then you may be interested in a booking a guided tour with Klook or Get Your Guide.
Photo by Travel mania
Operating Hours: 8:30AM-3:30PM, daily
Admission: THB 500
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs
2. Wat Pho
Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is located just south of the Grand Palace. It’s home to nearly 400 gilded Buddha images, none more impressive than its giant reclining Buddha measuring 15 meters tall and 46 meters long.
Together with Wat Arun, Wat Pho is one of six temples regarded as the highest grade of first-class royal temples in Thailand. It was the country’s first public university and considered the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, which is still taught and practiced at the temple today.
Because of its importance and proximity to the Grand Palace, you can visit both on guided tours which you can book through Klook or Get Your Guide.
Photo by Dmitry Rukhlenko
Operating Hours: 8AM-6:30PM, daily
Admission: THB 200
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr
3. Wat Arun
Wat Arun is located directly across the river from Wat Pho. Aside from being one of the most important temples in Bangkok, it’s also one of its most beautiful, renowned for its striking riverside location and interesting design.
Getting to Wat Arun from Wat Pho is easy. Just walk to Tha Thien Pier and take a quick ferry ride across the Chao Phraya River for THB 4. You can also visit Wat Arun on a guided tour which you can book through Klook or Get Your Guide.
Photo by KoBoZaa
Operating Hours: 8:30AM-6PM, daily
Admission: THB 100
Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
4. Wat Saket
Wat Saket is an Ayutthaya-era Buddhist temple known for its striking gold chedi.
Also known as the Golden Mount, it sits on top of an 80-meter tall manmade hill about 2.5 km east of the Grand Palace. Climb up over 300 steps to reach the stupa on top and get great views of Bangkok in all directions.
There are no BTS or MRT stations near Wat Saket so it’s easiest to get there by Grab from the Grand Palace, or on foot from Wat Suthat. You can also book a guided tour through Get Your Guide that takes you to Wat Saket.
Photo by TWStock
Operating Hours: 7:30AM-7PM, daily
Admission: THB 100
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1 hr
5. Wat Suthat Thepwararam / Giant Swing
Located between the Grand Palace and Wat Saket, Wat Suthat Thepwararam is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It’s classified as one of ten royal temples of the first grade in Bangkok.
Wat Suthat is a noteworthy temple though its biggest claim to fame may be the gigantic red structure standing just outside its gate. Measuring over 21 meters tall, the Giant Swing consists of two red pillars connected by an intricately carved crossbar.
During the Brahmin thanksgiving ceremony, young men would ride the swing up to 24 meters in the air to try and grab a bag of silver coins with their teeth. It was a precarious practice that was abolished in 1932.
You can visit Wat Suthat Thepwararam on your own but the easiest way to get there would be to purchase a Hop On Hop Off pass. Buses or tuk-tuks ply set routes and take you to popular tourist attractions around the city, including the Giant Swing.
Photo by Casper1774 Studio
Operating Hours: 8:30AM-9PM, daily
Admission: THB 100
Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
6. Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House is a museum located in the Siam area, about a 10-minute walk from the MBK Shopping Center. It houses the impressive Southeast Asian art collection of American businessman Jim Thompson, the man credited for saving Thailand’s silk industry in the 50s and 60s.
Aside from its interesting design, part of what makes the Jim Thompson House so fascinating is his disappearance. Jim Thompson disappeared while out on a walk in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands in 1967. His body was never found and his disappearance remains a mystery to this day.
You can visit the Jim Thompson House on your own or book a guided tour through Get Your Guide.
Photo by saiko3p
Operating Hours: 9AM-6PM, daily
Admission: THB 200
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs
7. Erawan Shrine
Erawan Shrine is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in Bangkok. Throughout the day you’ll find worshippers offering flowers, incense sticks, and fruit to a gilded statue of Phra Phrom. Phra Phrom is the Thai representation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation.
Erawan Shrine is located near the Skytrain’s Chit Lom Station. It’s in a busy commercial area straddling Siam and Sukhumvit so you can make a stop here while shopping in the area. Traditional Thai dance performances are held at the shrine throughout the day.
Photo by Uthai Chutivipaporn
Operating Hours: 6AM-11PM, daily
Estimated Time to Spend: About 15-30 mins
8. Bangkok Art and Culture Center
The Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) is a contemporary arts center offering free exhibits spread out over ten floors. It’s an interesting space with commercial art galleries, cafes, bookstores, and craft shops.
BACC is located near the MBK Shopping Center and is accessible via the National Stadium BTS Station. It’s a great place to visit while shopping in the Siam area.
Operating Hours: 10AM-9PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays)
Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs
9. Erawan Museum
This is one of the most unique museums I’ve visited in Bangkok. It features a colossal bronze statue of a three-headed elephant weighing 250 tons and measuring 29 meters high (95 ft) by 39 meters long (128 ft).
It’s a short Grab ride away from Samrong Station, the last stop on the Skytrain’s Sukhumvit Line. It’s a bit hard to get to but worth it if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary in Bangkok. Check out my post on the Erawan Museum for more pictures and information.
You can purchase tickets at the gate but you can save on the cost if you buy them in advance through Get Your Guide. You can also get combo tickets through Klook or Get Your Guide that give you admission to both the Erawan Museum and the Ancient City.
Operating Hours: 9AM-7PM, daily
Admission: THB 400
Estimated Time to Spend: About 1-2 hrs
THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK
1. Go on a Food Tour
Bangkok is synonymous with street food. CNN called it the very best street food city in the world, and it isn’t hard to see why. No matter where you look, no matter what time of day, there seems to be something delicious waiting for you at every corner.
One of the best neighborhoods to go street food hunting is the area around Yaowarat Road in Chinatown. It’s home to some of the best and most iconic street food stalls in Bangkok. You can search for food tours in Chinatown and in other parts of Bangkok on Get Your Guide.
I love finding obscure eateries that don’t always show up on Google and going on a local-led food tour is one of the best ways to do that.
Photo by dodotone
2. Explore Bangkok’s Many Markets
Like street food, Bangkok is famous for its markets. From food markets to weekend markets to floating markets to night markets, there seems to be a market for everyone in this city.
Markets are such an important part of the Bangkok experience that no first-time visitor should leave without visiting at least one. Some of my favorites include Chatuchak Weekend Market, Or Tor Kor Market, and Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market.
For more suggestions, check out our article on 20 fascinating markets to visit in Bangkok.
Photo by martinho Smart
3. Go on a Chao Phraya River Cruise
The Chao Phraya River is an important feature of Bangkok. It cuts through the center of the city and serves as a viable means of transport for thousands of commuters every day.
For tourists, the Chao Phraya River is a great way to experience some of Bangkok’s most popular attractions like Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace.
If you’d like to go cruising in Bangkok, then you may be interested in booking a Chao Phraya River cruise on Klook or Get Your Guide. Many of them are evening cruises that include dinner.
Photo by funfunphoto via Deposit Photos
4. Explore Bang Kachao on Bicycle
If the chaos of Bangkok’s concrete jungle becomes too much for you, then you may want to seek refuge in Bang Kachao, an artificial island formed by a bend in the Chao Phraya River.
Known as Bangkok’s “Green Lung”, Bang Kachao is comprised of 16 sq km of mangrove forests, palm trees, and jungle. It’s a peaceful area with no skyscrapers, just rustic wooden houses and elevated pathways over canals that are best explored on bicycle. It’s a true oasis in Bangkok.
Bang Kachao is easy to get to by longtail boat from Wat Khlong Toey Nok Temple. You can go there on your own and rent a bicycle on the island, or you can arrange a biking tour through Klook or Get Your Guide.
Photo by TEERASAK KHUNRACH
5. Go Bar Hopping
We’re a little too old to party but Bangkok has great nightlife. It’s one of the reasons why it’s such a popular tourist destination, especially for young backpackers.
There are tons of bars you can explore in Bangkok. As mentioned, Soi 11 is a popular area to go bar hopping in Sukhumvit. Khao San Road is another.
If you like rooftop bars, then there are plenty to choose from in Bangkok. We’ve been to Blue Sky on the 24th floor of Centara Grand and loved it. You can also refer to this guide for a list of the best rooftop bars in Bangkok.
Photo by Supermop
6. Get a Massage or Spa Treatment
If you don’t feel like being too active and just want to relax, then one of the best things you can do is get a massage. Whether it’s a foot massage, a body massage, or a full blown spa treatment, it’s something we always enjoy doing in Thailand.
You’ll find spas and massage places everywhere in Bangkok (both legitimate and illegitimate), but if you want the best treatments, then you may want to book one in advance through Klook. They have dozens to choose from.
7. Watch a Muay Thai Kickboxing Match LIVE!
If you’re a fan of combat sports and would like to experience a live Muay Thai event in Bangkok, then you can do so at Lumpinee or Rajadamnern Stadiums. They’re Bangkok’s two major Muay Thai stadiums.
You can buy tickets directly from either stadium’s website, but you can also get Rajadamnern Stadium tickets through Klook.
I’ve read many people say that second class seats give you the best vantage point to watch the fights. Ringside tickets are more expensive and put you too close to the fighters. You’ll find yourself watching the action from ankle level.
Photo by SIRIWAT SUMANGKA
8. Take a Thai Cooking Class
We haven’t taken a cooking class in Bangkok but we’ve taken one in Chiang Mai and Phuket. It’s something we try to do on every trip because its a fun way of getting to know the local cuisine.
If going on a food tour is a good way of finding obscure hole-in-the-walls, then taking a cooking class is the best way of learning about the local cuisine. It’s like looking under the cuisine’s hood.
You can book cooking classes in Bangkok through Cookly.
Photo by DextairPhotography
DAY TOURS FROM BANGKOK
1. Spend the Day at a Floating Market
As described, Bangkok has many, many markets. There are several floating markets alone due to the city’s vast network of canals and waterways.
If you want an authentic local floating market experience, then I highly recommend Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market which is just outside Central Bangkok.
But if what you’re looking for is a huge floating market with hundreds of colorful boats on the water, then you’ll need to go outside of Bangkok for that. None are more famous than Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets.
I’ve read that these floating markets can get very crowded and touristy, but it should still make for an interesting day trip. You can book any number of floating market tours on Klook or Get Your Guide.
Photo by Avigator Fortuner
2. Visit the Maeklong Railway Market
Have you seen those videos on social media where market vendors quickly pack up their produce to allow trains to pass through? This is that market.
Maeklong Railway Market is a train market in the province of Samut Songkhram, about 80 km west of Bangkok. It’s set up so close to active tracks that vendors and buyers need to quickly get out of the way to allow passing trains to get through.
It’s an interesting experience for sure, one that’s often paired with trips to Amphawa Floating Market. You can check out Klook and Get Your Guide for a list of guided tours to Maeklong Railway Market.
Photo by Marco Giovanelli
3. Explore the Historic City of Ayutthaya
Established in 1350, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once the capital of Siam. It flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries and became one of the world’s largest urban areas and a center for global diplomacy and commerce.
Sadly, it was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767 and never rebuilt. Today, it’s ruins are among the most popular day trip destinations from Bangkok, with the Buddha head embedded in a banyan tree being one of its most recognizable attractions.
You can book Ayutthaya day tours from Bangkok through Klook or Get Your Guide.
Photo by PimjanPhoto
4. Lay on the Beach in Pattaya
Pattaya is a resort town on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand. It’s about 150 kilometers south of Bangkok, making it the closest major beach resort destination from the capital city.
Pattaya used to have a reputation for being a seedy beach town but not anymore. Today, it caters to families and couples and is better known for its white sand beaches and fun lineup of water sport activities like snorkelling, jet skiing, and parasailing.
If you aren’t moving to a beach destination after Bangkok, then you can check Klook and Get Your Guide for day tours to Pattaya.
Photo by apichon_tee
5. Visit the Seaside Resort Town of Hua Hin
To be honest, I had never heard of Hua Hin before until I learned about it from Chef Nutth of A Chef’s Tour.
As it turns out, Hua Hin is a gorgeous resort town less than three hours south of Bangkok. Chef Nutth said that the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej used to spend a lot of time at his palace in Hua Hin.
It looks like a great place to spend a few days but if you want to just get a taste of Hua Hin, then you can do so on a day tour which you can book through Klook.
Photo by Kaban-Sila
6. Cross the Bridge on the River Kwai
You’ve probably heard of the 1957 film called “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. It won multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is set during the construction of the Burma Railway in 1942–1943. Also known as the “Death Railway”, this is the bridge referenced in the movie.
Built by the Empire of Japan to support its forces in the Burma campaign of World War II, the Death Railway gets its name because its construction led to the deaths of an estimated 100,000+ civilian laborers and Allied prisoners.
If you’re a war history buff, then you may want to take a ride on the Thai-Burma Railway in Kanchanaburi via a day tour from Bangkok, which you can book through Klook or Get Your Guide.
Photo by Marco Saracco
THAI FOOD GUIDE
Thailand is one of the best countries to visit for food. The food is delicious throughout the country so be sure to check out our Thai food guide for a list of 45 must-try dishes in Thailand. If you enjoy the sweeter things in life, then be sure to read our article on the tastiest Thai desserts as well.
WHERE TO EAT IN BANGKOK
As described, Bangkok has amazing food. I’ve listed a few of our favorites below but be sure to check out our Bangkok restaurant guide for more suggestions. If street food is your jam, then you’ll definitely want to check out our Bangkok street food guide as well.
Michelin-recommended restaurants have a reputation for being expensive, but they don’t have to be. Rongros is the perfect example of that.
Located along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Rongros doesn’t just serve delicious but affordable Thai cuisine, they offer one of the best views of Wat Arun as well, especially at night. This place is a must for people looking for excellent but cheap Thai food in Bangkok.
2. Sanguan Sri
Sanguan Sri is another Michelin-recommended restaurant that’s easy on the wallet. Open since 1970, this legendary restaurant serves some of the best Thai curry I’ve had anywhere in Bangkok and Thailand.
Open only for lunch, it’s hugely popular with locals so I suggest going at slightly off-peak hours.
3. Somsak Pu Ob
Pretty much everyone has heard of Jay Fai by now but another Bangkok street food stall that you should know about is Somsak Pu Ob. This legendary street vendor sells the most delicious pots of glass noodles served with either prawn or crab.
What you’re looking at below is a hunk of crab with its roe still intact. Yes, crab roe. This stall is amazing and served me one of the best dishes I’ve had so far in Bangkok.
4. Wattana Panich
What if I told you about a restaurant in Bangkok with a giant cauldron of beef stew that’s been slowly simmering for over forty years? Would you believe me?
It’s absolutely true and you can find that magical cauldron at Wattana Panich, another legendary restaurant in Bangkok. It isn’t everyday that you find a place like this so I highly recommend checking it out.
5. Kim Nguan Fish Ball Chom Thong
This Michelin-recommended restaurant is way off the beaten path but if you’re a fan of fish ball noodle soups like we are, then you may want to seek it out. We had fish ball noodle soup many times in Bangkok but the bowls at Kim Ngaun were easily my favorite.
POINTS OF INTEREST IN BANGKOK
To make it easier for you, I created the map below so you get a better sense of where everything is. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
HOW TO GET AROUND IN BANGKOK
BTS Skytrain / MRT
I love cities with a great metro system like Seoul and Taipei. The subway takes you everywhere so you don’t need any other form of transportation.
While Bangkok’s BTS and MRT Lines are modern and efficient, they don’t service as many areas of the city yet. We often found ourselves taking the train to the nearest subway stop then either walking for several minutes or taking a Grab to our desired destination. You may wind up doing the same.
If you can, then I suggest staying near a subway station so you don’t become too dependent on taxis or Grab. On one trip, our AirBnB was right outside the Krung Thonburi BTS station which made it so much easier to get around.
If you think you’ll be using the Skytrain enough, then you may want to invest in a BTS One Day Pass or a BTS Rabbit Card. The One Day Pass gives you unlimited rides on the Skytrain for one day while the Rabbit Card is a stored value card similar to Seoul’s T-money Card or Hong Kong’s Octopus Card. However, neither card is valid on the MRT.
As advised, you’ll need another form of transportation to supplement the subway system. Even though it appears to cost more than taxis, I strongly suggest Grab.
Taxi and tuk-tuk scams are rampant in Bangkok. I’ve been scammed on previous trips before and those experiences have completely turned me off to them. People online say that it’s safe to hail taxis that are in transit, but I’ve been so put off by them that I’m afraid to even try that.
HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY / BANGKOK ITINERARY
If it’s your first time in Bangkok, then I think 3-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in the city. You’ll see all the major attractions and have enough time for a day trip.
If possible, then it may be a good idea to stay over the weekend since some of the best markets are closed during the week. Here’s a sample 4D/4N Bangkok itinerary to help you plan your trip.
• Wat Arun
• Wat Pho
• Grand Palace / Wat Phra Kaew
• Wat Suthat / Giant Swing
• Wat Saket
• Khaosan Road / Banglamphu
• Chatuchak Market (weekends only)
• Or Tor Kor Market
• Jim Thompson House Museum
• Bangkok Art and Culture Center
• MBK Center
• Erawan Shrine
• Yaowarat Road / Chinatown
• Erawan Museum
• Bang Kachao
• Food Tour or Chao Phraya River Cruise
• Day Tour
BANGKOK TRAVEL TIPS
1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel
If you like planning every detail of your trip like I do, then Sygic Travel will be useful to you. It’s a free trip planning app that helps you make efficient itineraries. You can pin points of interest on a map then grouping them together by location. It’s available for free on iOS and Android.
2. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device
Having a reliable wifi connection is a must when traveling. It’ll allow you to navigate, translate signs and menus, and do last minute research. We never go anywhere now without renting a pocket wifi device first.
You can stay connected in Thailand by renting a pocket wifi device or buying a sim card. We always rent pocket wifi devices with unlimited data because we find it simpler to use, but sim cards are fine too. They’re actually cheaper. You can rent a pocket wifi device or buy a sim card through Klook.
3. Dress Appropriately
When visiting the Grand Palace and any of Bangkok’s temples, it’s important to dress appropriately. Please take note of the following dress code:
- Short skirts, shorts, or shortened trousers are prohibited. Skirts that fall below the knee are allowed.
- Tight fitting trousers or leggings are prohibited.
- Any clothing with holes like ripped jeans are prohibited.
- Tops without sleeves are prohibited, even if your shoulders are covered with a scarf. Sleeves must always be rolled down.
- Any type of sportswear, including sweat shirts and sweat pants, is prohibited.
- Sandals and flip-flops may be acceptable but it’s best to wear closed shoes.
4. Beware of Scams
Scams can and do take place anywhere in the world, and Bangkok is no exception. Listed below are some of the scams we’ve encountered through the years.
AIRPORT TAXI SCAM: Taxi drivers will try to charge you an exorbitant rate to take you into downtown Bangkok. Ignore anyone who approaches you. Instead, fall in line at the proper taxi queue at either Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang Airport, and get a legitimate metered taxi. Any taxi driver who refuses to use the meter is a scammer.
“IT’S CLOSED” SCAM: This is the scam that’s completely turned me off to taxis and tuk-tuks. You hop into a waiting taxi wanting to go somewhere, and the driver will tell you that the place is either closed or not open yet. This is an outright lie. He’ll then try to convince you to go to a gem shop or a tailor instead, where he gets paid for every sucker he brings in. When a driver tells you this, just get out of the car and use Grab instead.
FRIENDLY LOCAL SCAM: Our friend Natt pointed this out to us when we were riding the BTS. A friendly local will approach tourists who look lost and pretend to help them. Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll try to take you to a gem shop or tailor.
SEX SHOW SCAM: This happened to me and a friend over two decades ago and the memory of it still stings. We were taken to one of those Thai ping pong sex shows by a local who had befriended us. I don’t remember what the lure was, but it may have had something to do with cheap drinks. Once you try to leave, which is what we did after one drink (I swear!), you’ll see a sign saying that the club has an entrance fee, something exorbitant like THB 10,000 or something. The sign is hidden on purpose so you don’t see it walking in. I remember the guy shaking his fist at me and threatening violence if we didn’t pay. We couldn’t pay the full amount because we didn’t have enough, but we wound up losing a lot of money that night. Never again.
5. Check for Bangkok Travel Deals
There are many websites that offer travel vouchers to tours and services. In Bangkok, I suggest going through Klook and Get Your Guide. They’re both reputable companies that we’ve been partners with (and customers of) for many years and have never had any problems.
6. Get Travel Insurance
As we get older, we buy travel insurance more often but it still isn’t something we get before every trip. It depends on where we’re going and what we’ll be doing.
If we’re just visiting Bangkok for a couple of days to eat street food and shop at a few night markets, then we may not get it. But if we plan on doing more active things like hiking or bike riding, then we’ll definitely pick up a policy.
On our last trip to Bangkok, we continued to Chiang Mai where we visited an elephant sanctuary so we did feel the need for travel insurance.
We buy travel insurance from SafetyWing or Heymondo. They’re both popular travel insurance providers often used by digital nomads. Follow the links to get a free quote from SafetyWing or Heymondo. Will Fly for Food readers get 5% off on Heymondo by using our link.
7. Bring the Right Power Adapter
Electrical outlets in Thailand typically feature two-pronged round or flat sockets, either Type A, Type B, Type C, or Type F. Be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 220V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.
8. Eat for Cheap at the Basement of Suvarnabhumi Airport
I always eat at airports, even when I’m not hungry. It’s my thing. The problem is, the food at airports is often subpar and overpriced, a shame in a country like Thailand where there’s so much good cheap food to be had.
If you’re flying out of Suvarnabhumi and looking for one last decent Thai meal, then head down to the 24-hr food court located in the airport’s basement.
You’ll find plenty of food stalls there selling good inexpensive Thai food. Just take the walkalator down to the bottom floor then head all the way to the left.
We’ve been to Bangkok many times over the years but I still don’t consider myself an expert. With that said, I do hope that you find this post useful because I’m only sharing the things I’ve learned from our trips. If you have any questions or suggestions, then please let us know in the comment section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well.
Thanks for stopping by and have a delicious time in Bangkok!
These are some of the things we brought with us to Bangkok. If you’d like to see what other gear we use, then you’re welcome to have a look insde our backpack. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon and other affiliate links.)
This Bangkok travel guide contains affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a booking at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!
Stock photos via Shutterstock
Sunday 23rd of April 2023
My name is Yonas from ETHIOPIA It’s very important information for me Thank you so much
Wednesday 29th of March 2023
Can I download this as a PDF please?
JB & Renée
Wednesday 29th of March 2023
Go ahead Elle! You can click on the PRINT button and then save as PDF. Enjoy Bangkok!
Friday 10th of February 2023
Great guide thank you. We visit for the first time in March. Also looking for a private car service as we will also be visiting Pattaya. Please let me know if you have any recommendations!
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
Thanks for the long article with lots of usefull information. Great value added for my trip in next month.
JB & Renée
Friday 20th of January 2023
Happy to help Michel! Enjoy Thailand!
Tuesday 12th of October 2021
JB & Renée
Thursday 14th of October 2021
Same here! Such an exciting city with great food.