In this post, you will find our complete guide to travel to Bangkok, which we have built based on our experience and the comments of our followers. What to see in Bangkok, what to do, where to sleep, how to get around this great city and much more.
- 1 What to see in Bangkok.
- 1.1 1. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
- 1.2 2. Wat Pho
- 1.3 3. Wat Arum
- 1.4 4. Boat trip through the Chao Phraya River.
- 1.5 5. Wat Traimit or Temple of the Golden Buddha
- 1.6 6. China Town.
- 1.7 7. Wat Suthat y Sao Ching-Cha (The Giant Swing)
- 1.8 8. Wat Saket or Golden Mount
- 1.9 9. Khaosan Road
- 1.10 10. Floating Markets
- 1.11 11. Mae Klong, the market on the train track.
- 1.12 12. Day trip: Ayutthaya.
- 2 Useful information for your trip to Bangkok
- 2.1 Best time to visit Bangkok
- 2.2 How to get to Bangkok
- 2.3 What to do in Bangkok
- 2.4 What to take to Bangkok. Indispensable elements in your luggage
- 2.5 How to get around Bangkok
- 2.6 Where to sleep in Bangkok
- 2.7 Where to eat in Bangkok
- 2.8 Shopping in Bangkok. Where and what to buy?
- 2.9 Scams and dangers more common in Bangok.
A little bit of history first…
Bangkok means “the city of the angels” although we did not see any angels when we went. It is the capital of the Kingdom of Thailand and the most populous city in the country. The full ceremonial name of Bangkok is กรุงเทพมหานคร อมร รัตนโกสินทร์ ม หิน ท รา ยุ ธ ยา มหา ดิลก ภพ นพ รัตน ราชธานี บูรี รมย์ อุดม ราช นิเวศน์ มหา สถาน อมร พิมาน อวตาร สถิต สักกะ ทัต ติ ย วิษณุกรรม ประสิทธิ์; transliterated Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. Means “city of angels, the great city, the city of eternal jewel, the impenetrable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the home divine where the reincarnated gods reign, a city offered by Indra and built by Vishnukam »
What to expect from Bangkok?
If this is your first time in the southeast, it is very likely that it will be the first city you visit. It may be a bit shocking at first, but as you spend more time here you will easily understand the culture of the Thais and how to talk and negotiate with them, from the price of a Tuc Tuc ride to souvenirs.
Here you will find everything; temples and skyscrapers, chaos and order, love and hate, joy and despair and all the feelings and places that you can come to mind.
You can access the map here.
What to see in Bangkok.
As we said before, Bangkok has everything to offer and traveling to Bangkok will leave your mouth open. As for the tourist spots, you could spend weeks visiting each of the temples, neighborhoods, and places that appear in the guides. As on average, travelers and tourists spend here between 3 and 4 days, here we leave you the most recommended and unmissable in the city to do during your trip to Bangkok.
1. The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
- Price: THB 500
- Opening hours: 08:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (but they close the entrance at 3:00 p.m.)
- Clothing: Shoulders and knees covered. You can rent pants and shirt at the entrance for 20 THB.
Without a doubt, this is the main tourist spot in Bangkok. Here you will find an architectural complex of 218,400 square meters that will surely occupy between 2 and 3 hours of your day to cover it. Formerly it was the official residence of the King of Thailand. In it, you will find museums (such as coins and banknotes) and various temples and buildings with an exquisite architecture to the eyes.
Surely the most important complex is Wat Phra Kaew, where the figure of the Emerald Buddha is placed. Every year millions of people travel from different parts of the world to worship and see it. The figure can only be seen from afar.
2. Wat Pho
- Price: THB 100
- Opening hours: 08:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Clothing: Shoulders and knees covered.
The biggest attraction of this temple is the great Reclining Buddha, a statue whose size and grandeur we cannot describe with words, you have to see it. It is 15 meters high and 46 meters long.
In the opposite wall, you will find coins that you can exchange for baths and deposit in jars along the exit corridor as alms, a tradition of the Buddhist religion.
The surroundings are very nice, so you must walk the rest of the complex and be surprised by its beautiful buildings and colorful pagodas.
3. Wat Arum
- Price: 50 THB
- Hours: 07:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Clothing: Shoulders and knees covered.
- To get here, head to the river and take a boat on Tha Tian Express.
The Wat Arum or Temple of the Dawn is one of the main Buddhist temples of the city. With 82 meters of height in its central tower (the highest in the city) and its 4 towers in the corners decorated with Chinese porcelain, you will be surprised of the temple and the views from the top of its central tower.
4. Boat trip through the Chao Phraya River.
To cross the river is almost obligatory since you can appreciate the city very well. You can do it on a boat-bus of public transportation (15-20 thb), on a tourist boat (50 thb), on a boat with dinner at night (1000 thb) or on a small boat (similar to the ones in Venice, Italy) that will also walk you through the channels (1000 THB for 1 hour).
5. Wat Traimit or Temple of the Golden Buddha
This temple is at the entrance of China Town and a few years ago it did not matter at all on the tourist’s map. Today you will find a Buddha statue of 3 meters and 5.5 tons completely made of solid gold. The interesting thing is that this Buddha spent over 200 years covered in a layer of golden stucco and bouncing between several temples. His true composition was discovered only in 1955.
6. China Town.
Walking around this area you will really feel like in China. You will find many typical Chinese restaurants and many stores of wholesale and retail of all kinds of things. If you want to buy, we recommend going in the morning when the streets are filled with stalls and shops.
7. Wat Suthat y Sao Ching-Cha (The Giant Swing)
For Thais, this temple is very important and as there are not so many tourists, you will be able to see more closely the true worship of Buddha. The Sao Ching-Cha is a giant red swing on the outskirts that is one of the signs of the city.
8. Wat Saket or Golden Mount
You have to climb 300 steps until you reach a temple on the top of a hill. From here you can visit the complex and get beautiful views of the city. The entrance price is voluntary, but we recommend you give 20 or 30 thb per person.
9. Khaosan Road
The backpacker area of Bangkok for excellence, here you will find a very festive atmosphere especially if you come at night. Between the highlights are the stands selling insects, which you can buy to eat or if you do not dare just pay a couple of baths to take a picture with them. There are also several street food carts, where you can find a Padthai for 30 THB.
At night, this is the starting point of Tuk-Tuks if you want to experience the “Ping Pong Show” show, where young ladies do unthinkable things with their body. Remember that these are always possible scams around this experience, so if you want to do is always best to tell the guy who sells you the show that you want to pay the full price of the show and know how much it will cost to enter, leave and being there. Do not ask for any type of drink or water or receive anything during the show, even if they tell you it is a gift. Go, pay, sit, look and go back to your Tuk Tuk driver who must be waiting for you at the door.
In the streets around Khaosan, you will also find plenty of pubs with live music and places to eat much tastier food than in the main street.
10. Floating Markets
The floating markets around Bangkok area few and formerly they were a very important trading point on the city and its surroundings for the citizens, so you will find fruits, vegetables, and household items. Today there are some completely touristy ones where you will see more souvenirs and other more local where you could live a more authentic Thai experience. We recommend the following:
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: Two hours from Bangkok, it is the most visited by tourists, so you will see a prepared and staged places with a lot of souvenirs for sale. There are several tours that go to this and other places in the area or you can take a bus at the Southern Bus Terminal of the city.
- Amphawa Floating Market: It is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00, so it is more visited by the Thai than by tourists. It is located 1 hour and 30 minutes from Bangkok and very close to it you can also visit a market on the track of a train. To get there, you can take a bus from the Southern Terminal to Samut Songkram and from there a songthaew (shared taxi) to the market.
- Wat Sai Floating Market: if you do not want to do a full day trip, this market is only 30 minutes from the city center and it is a very good opportunity to see Thai culture up close.
11. Mae Klong, the market on the train track.
It is very close to the Floating Market of Amphawa so they are generally visited together. The train passes 8 times a day for half the market that is mounted on its sides, so if you like different experiences this is one you can’t miss.
12. Day trip: Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya is a city 85 km from Bangkok that was the capital of the kingdom of Siam from 1350 to 1767. Today we can see the ruins of what was the kingdom, which had more than 500 temples and commercial relations with the rest of Asia and even with Europe. In 1765 it was invaded by three Burmese armies that after a long period of siege, burned and destroyed the city in 1767, destroying works of art, buildings and important documents related to the kingdom. Today the site is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
For more information, we recommend you read our Ayutthaya travel guide.
You can get there by a tour from Bangkok, take a train from Hua Lamphong station (2 to 3 hours) or by bus from Mo Chit 2 Bus Terminal (2 hours). From this same bus station, there are minibusses that arrive in about 1 hour to Ayutthaya (but they drive like crazy people… be aware!)
There are also other day trips you can do from Bangkok, like visiting Bang Krachao.
Useful information for your trip to Bangkok
Best time to visit Bangkok
The best time to visit Bangkok is between November and March, outside the typhoon season that brings a lot of rain to the country. When we say rain we speak of a flood; of those that can leave you locked in the hotel because going out is like taking a dip in the water. Also, during these months the temperatures are not as high as the rest of the year. The day lasts much longer, so you can enjoy much more of its attractions.
How to get to Bangkok
In general, Bangkok is the entrance city to the route made by more of tourists visiting Southeast Asia. It has excellent connectivity with the rest of the airports in the world. There are two airports:
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok:
It is the international airport of Bangkok. Located 30 km from the city. Once there you can choose different means of transportation to get to the tourist center of Bangkok.
The price is approximately 400 THB plus tolls (70 THB) to the tourist area of Khaosan Road. They will also charge an extra 50 THB tip for the driver. The most important thing is that the taxi driver must use the meter and not negotiate the price beforehand. You will never get a better price negotiating. It’s about 40 minutes of travel.
It is the cheapest way to get to the city, but the slowest with 2 hours of travel. To get to the station you must take a Shuttle Bus at the airport exit.
Go to the counter of the company Bor Khor Sor. This takes you to the city for about $ 7 (250 THB) in 30 minutes. The prices are per person so if you are two, the taxi will take them to your hotel for almost the same cost!
You can take the Express Line that takes you up to two stops of the Skytrain and the metro (MRT) for 90 THB per person. There is also the City Line but the trip is slower. Enter this link for more information.
Don Mueang Airport:
It’s the oldest airport and most of the local flights (between cities in Thailand) leave and arrive from here. To get to the center of Bangkok from this airport you can take the following means of transportation:
The price is approx. 350 THB plus tolls (110 THB). If you take it from the airport to the city you will be charged an extra 50 THB for the driver as a tip. As always, you must request the meter before you went up. The trip takes approx. 30 minutes to Khao San Road.
The train line connects directly with the city station, Hua Lumpong. They are open from 6 am to 8 pm every day.
It may be harder to take because the stop is not as easy to find, but if you ask the guards with kindness they can guide you. There are several that connect the airport with tourist places like the Royal Palace.
It is common to get to the city by train if you come from other cities in Thailand, especially from the north. The night train Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Bangkok is very popular among the most adventurous travelers or who have more time to travel the country because it takes more than 12 hours from point to point. If you are short of time better take the plane.
We use the train on our trip to Thailand by sections to visit Sukhothai and Ayutthaya and we recommend it with closed eyes. Punctual schedules and wagons in very good condition, especially if you are traveling in the classes with air conditioning or reserved seat.
Train tickets can be booked 60 days in advance on the official website of Thailand, or buy directly at the window but there you risk not finding a seat in the class you want.
What to do in Bangkok
Bangkok is a city where you will find everything you might want to see. Temples, museums, river tours, floating markets, nightlife, red neighborhoods and lots of activity throughout the city, every hour of the day. It is one of the main commercial cities of Southeast Asia so for shopping is an excellent place. Here you can find a 72 hours in Bangkok guide.
What to take to Bangkok. Indispensable elements in your luggage
Don’t forget to take clothes that cover your knees and shoulders if you are women or men. They are needed to enter the temples.
Also, you will be walking a lot, so comfortable shoes are a most.
How to get around Bangkok
Tuc-Tuc v/s Taxi to get around Bangkok:
Yes, you should get on a tuk-tuk during your stay in Bangkok but unlike what many people think prices can be 200% or up to 300% higher than getting around in a taxi.
If you decide to take a taxi, you should make it clear that you want to use the meter. if they refuse to do it, simply stop the next one until you find an honest one who does not want to charge you more.
Metro train lines:
For certain areas, there are metro and Skytrain lines enabled (but beware that they do not pass through the areas of temples and tourist attractions).
A very good way to see the city and move between different points enjoying a sightseeing trip along the popular Chao Phraya River.
Where to sleep in Bangkok
Following the same transportation map, you can see the city by areas. The yellow zone is the party one with hostels (Khaosan Road), the pink one is the area of the temples, the red one is China Town and the blue zone is the commercial zone (business and shopping). Among all we believe you must choose between one of these three according to what you want to do in the city:
Party Zone (Yellow):
Around the street Khao San Road, you will find the busiest and noisiest part of the city. Here are the largest number of backpacker-style bars and pubs. You will find the cheapest offer for hostels and hotels; as well as more luxury hotels on the banks of the river but at affordable prices. If you visit the city with friends and want to have fun, it’s the best option! But if you go on a honeymoon, your hotels overlooking the river and away from the noise cannot fail.
Business and shopping area (Blue).
As its name says, if you go on a business trip it is the best place to stay. Here you will find more luxurious and higher quality hotels in terms of the room, cleanliness, and attention of the staff.
Bang Rak (in Silom):
It is not marked with any color on the map, but it is worth mentioning. You find it right under Chinatown. In this area, you will not find major attractions nearby, but a lot of hostels and hotels offer lower prices than the rest of the city. But be aware, it is further away from the tourist and business area.
On the other hand, Silom is the closest thing to Wall Street in the city. You will find towering skyscrapers and luxury hotels, including the famous Oriental Mandarin, the most expensive hotel in the city. If you want to stay here, keep in mind that you will have to take transportation to get all the other places you will want to visit.
Where to eat in Bangkok
Eating in Bangkok is very easy. In general near the tourist areas, you will always find a varied gastronomic offer; but you must know how to search. We recommend you do some research before with, for example, the TripAdvisor app to read recommendations from nearby restaurants before you sit down somewhere. As well as there are very good places, there are also very bad ones and they charge over-price only for where they are located.
The most typical food is Pad Thai. And if you do not feel like tasting Thailand flavors there is always an international menu with pizzas and pasta everywhere.
Eating on the street is tasty and cheap. You can find Thai food stands in the street corners, in the markets, on the boats and practically wherever you look. We only recommend you always eat cooked or fried things for safety. Do not forget to try the insects on Khaosan Road! Or if you do not dare, for a few baths you can take a picture with them and leave them for the next tourist.
Paying between 1000 THB and 1500 THB you can also dine on a boat on the Chao Phraya River. Several tour companies offer this option and are not difficult to find. We recommend you to hire the service directly with the companies and not with the re-sellers on the streets, it would be cheaper.
Popular areas for eating in Bangkok
One of the most popular places to eat is Silom with a varied offer of international and national food in hotels. Here is the most popular restaurant in the area; “Sirocco”, which claims to be the tallest restaurant-terrace in the world, being on the top floor of a skyscraper. Go and seat there for a while, even if it is only to drink something and enjoy the wonderful view. Beware that the prices are very high so if you do not have a good budget don’t even think about eating here…
Opening hours for restaurants in Bangkok.
The lunch schedule is usually between 11:30 and 13:00, and dinner between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., but in most places, it lasts until 11:00 p.m.
Shopping in Bangkok. Where and what to buy?
Sure you’ve heard many times that Bangkok is the panacea of shopping and that here you can find that North Face jacket that you like so much for only dollars because they take it out the back door of the factory. Sorry to disappoint you but it’s not like that, and the jacket will most likely fall apart after some uses. But they are completely similar, you will trick anyone to think is original with it.
Another myth is how Thai people like to bargain and you can buy everything cheaper if you’re smart. The truth is that real Thais, those who are outside the tourist areas, hate bargain and think is disrespectful.
The most popular places to shop in the city are the ones we will name next. Not because they are the cheapest, but because they are more accessible to foreigners in terms of language and access.
- MBK Center: A huge shopping center where you will also find cinemas and many restaurants.
- Pantip Plaza: Ideal to buy electronic items.
- Chatuchak Market: Huge open market, open only on weekends.
On the other hand… if you are looking to buy as a Thai and not as a tourist or traveler, you must know where to look and you will find products of very high quality. For doing this, the first thing is to get away from the typical malls and tourist markets that we mentioned above and go to the most distant and unknown commercial centers (Some recommendable are: Terminal 21, Esplanade and Silom Complex).
Scams and dangers more common in Bangok.
Is Bangkok dangerous?
Bangkok is not a dangerous city, but you have to be always aware of your surroundings and know how to negotiate, fix prices and also conditions before deciding to do anything or buy anything. The most typical scams are:
The Palace/Temple /Zoo/etc. is closed:
Someone will stop you in the street and tell you that everything is closed so they can take you somewhere else. Some tuk-tuk drivers usually do the same. Do not believe them and continue your way, they do it only to take you to places that pay them to take you.
Fixed prices in taxis:
There are taximeters for a reason and any fixed price negotiation will always be worse than running the meter.
Bangkok “full and awesome tour” for only 20 THB:
It’s a scam, and we think the most popular one. Sure they will take you to two temples without any importance and to 10 stores where they will earn commissions for any purchase you make. You must negotiate the prices well before getting on any tuk tuk and make it clear that you DO NOT want to visit any store or anything on the way. Clear rules will avoid bad times.
Have mercy on me!
Someone tells you the sad story of their life and how they have not earned any money that day so that you do not ask for a money change or try to justify that they have no change. Better always carry small coins and bills to pay in these cases.
Pin Pon Show:
It is a scam if you do not know how to handle the process. Since you start negotiating with the tuk-tuk or street seller that offers to take you to the place, you must fixed 100% what is the price that he will charge you for taking you, waiting for you and bringing you back to the starting point (the places where they do the shows, in general, are dark alleys and can be dangerous, so make sure your tuk-tuk is waiting for you when you go out). Also, previously negotiate how much will be the price in the place to enter the show and what that entry includes (any drinks? water?). Make sure you will not be forced to consume anything during the shop or accept any “gift” inside.
You can also read our post about how to travel to Thailand here for more information regarding this and other topics that you should always consider.