What to Do in Bangkok? 12 Essential Tips!

What to do in Bangkok? You’re probably wondering that when you’re about to start your journey through Thailand. Unlike many other capitals in Asia, Bangkok is a really fun city with plenty to do. It’s the perfect place to get acquainted with Thailand and take a few days to recover from the flight. We recommend staying in Bangkok for at least three days to comfortably acclimate to the climate, Thai culture, and check off the best sights in Bangkok. In this article, you’ll learn how to explore the various sides of this gigantic metropolis in just a few days. From vibrant Chinatown to the green suburbs, and from sipping cocktails at a trendy sky bar to marveling at the most beautiful temples. With these tips, you’ll experience the best of Bangkok!

Tip: Pre-book an airport pick-up

Even without a layover, it takes about quite some time to fly to Thailand, and from the airport, it’s about an hour’s journey to the center of Bangkok. Do you want to go straight to your hotel without any hassle right after your flight? Then it’s advisable to pre-book a pick-up. Someone with a name sign will be waiting for you at the airport. The costs depend on the size of the group. The larger the group, the cheaper it is. If you’re a party of two, you’ll pay $17 per person. You can book a private transfer from the airport here, and in our opinion, it’s well worth it after such a long flight.

If you’re traveling on a tight budget, there are other options, but they do require more time and hassle. The cheapest way is to take the Sky Train to the center of Bangkok and then take a taxi to your hotel. Another option is to wait in line for a regular taxi. However, this line can be very long at certain times, sometimes requiring a wait of 30 minutes.

What to do in Bangkok?

There’s a lot to do and experience in Bangkok. Below, you’ll find the 12 best tips for Bangkok.

Ride a Tuk-Tuk through Bangkok

Taking a ride in the famous tuk-tuks of Thailand is a must when visiting Bangkok. Tuk-tuks zip through the city and quickly take you to your next destination. Unfortunately, some tuk-tuk drivers charge exorbitant fares, especially those around Khao San Road and Rambuttri. A useful tip is to hail a tuk-tuk that’s already in motion because a driver on a break is unlikely to give you a fair price. Of course, for the experience, you should take a tuk-tuk ride when in Bangkok, but remember that metered taxis are almost always cheaper. Never sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards the driver as it is considered highly disrespectful in Thai culture.

Tip: Some tuk-tuk drivers will do anything to get more money. Suddenly want to stop at a shop? Claim halfway that the temple you want to visit is closed? Ask for a gasoline fee? These are all typical tactics that you shouldn’t fall for. Always insist on being dropped off directly at your destination, agree on a price before getting in, and never pay more than that.

Admire the Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

The Royal Palace is one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok. As soon as you enter, you’ll come across the temple of Wat Phra Kaew, the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. You’ll be amazed by the intricate details of the temple. Just on the outside, you’ll find thousands of precious gems and mosaic tiles. Equally impressive and worth a visit is the Royal Palace, also known as the Grand Palace. Although it’s not the residence of the King of Thailand, it’s used for ceremonial occasions and holidays.

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew are open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It’s recommended to go as early as possible or later in the afternoon to avoid the heat and crowds to some extent.

Tip: It is mandatory to cover your shoulders and knees. Simply draping a scarf over your shoulders is not sufficient. Also, never sit with the soles of your feet pointing towards Buddha as it is highly disrespectful.

Taste the Best Street Food in Bangkok with the Food Tour

When you stroll through the streets of Bangkok, you can’t escape the explosion of different smells and flavors. From early morning until late at night, you’ll find numerous food stalls in the streets of Bangkok. Bangkok boasts around 500,000 different street vendors. With the food tour, designed by a chef, you’ll embark on a journey with a Thai foodie and taste a total of 16 different dishes. You’ll wander through the labyrinth of Chinatown, one of the most fascinating neighborhoods in Bangkok. With the food tour, you’ll experience the Thai cuisine and the street food culture of Bangkok while savoring a wide range of flavor sensations! If you want to read more about the food tour, check out my experience with the food tour in Bangkok.

Combine a Boat Trip with the Sirocco Skybar

The Chao Phraya River is the largest and most important river in Thailand, flowing right through Bangkok. There are many ferries that operate on the river, offering a fun, quick, and inexpensive way to get around Bangkok. The nearest boarding point to Khao San Road is the Phra Arthit pier. Boarding and departures happen swiftly, with a boat arriving every few minutes.

It’s enjoyable to take the ferry in the late afternoon to the Sirocco Skybar. From the Phra Arthit pier, it’s a 20 to 30-minute ride to the Oriental pier, followed by a five-minute walk to the Lebua State Tower. On the 64th floor of this skyscraper, you’ll find the Sirocco Skybar. It’s a luxurious and sophisticated skybar offering a phenomenal view of Bangkok’s skyline. In 2014, this skybar was named the best rooftop bar in the world, and you might recognize it from the movie ‘The Hangover 2’.

Make sure to arrive just before sunset. If you arrive before 6 p.m., you can enjoy a drink on a smaller terrace, and at 6 p.m., the main skybar opens. The drinks can be expensive, but trust us, the sunset and the brilliant view make it all worthwhile.

Tip: There is a dress code, and they are very strict about it. Make sure not to wear flip-flops, shorts, or tank tops, and men should wear closed-toe shoes.

Explore the Authentic Side of Bangkok by Bike

What could be more enjoyable than exploring Bangkok by bike? Cycling in Bangkok is a highly popular activity among the Dutch and is often the highlight of a visit to Bangkok. During this bike tour, you’ll discover a completely different side of Bangkok and visit places you wouldn’t easily reach on your own. You’ll experience that Bangkok is much more than just tall buildings and busy traffic. You’ll cycle through green suburbs, narrow alleyways, along canals, and through the impressive Chinatown. We recommend scheduling this tour in the morning when it’s not too hot, allowing you to relax for the rest of the day.

Search for Monitor Lizards in Lumpini Park

In the heart of Bangkok, you’ll find a gigantic park called Lumpini Park, where you can enjoy tranquility. Locals come here in the morning and afternoon to exercise and escape the busy city of Bangkok. What makes Lumpini Park unique are the dozens of large monitor lizards you can see lying in the grass and water. Some of them can grow up to two meters (6.6 feet) long. Don’t get too close as they can bite. Don’t worry, the lizards won’t bother you if you leave them alone.

Grab a Drink on Khao San Road or Rambuttri

Anyone who has been to Bangkok knows Khao San Road. It’s the street where every traveler in Thailand goes to party, shop, or get a massage. Every day of the year, thousands of tourists gather here for a lively evening, and the most bizarre things happen. If you’re not in the party mood, visit in the late afternoon when there’s still plenty to experience without the loud music. Khao San Road is a place where you’ll witness things that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. You can buy fake diplomas and ID cards, eat insects, drink from the famous buckets, and much more. If that’s a bit too crazy for you, you’ll probably feel more at home on Soi Rambuttri. This street runs parallel to Khao San Road and offers many nice restaurants and live music in the evening.

Explore Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok

Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the largest markets in Asia and is only open on weekends. You can find almost anything imaginable at this market, with a whopping 15,000 stalls in total. The market is divided into different categories such as home decor, plants, ceramics, clothing, antiques, and, of course, plenty of delicious food. It can get quite chaotic at Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, especially during the busiest time in the afternoon. The calmest moment is early in the morning. You can enter the market from anywhere, but there are three official entrances where you can get a map of the market to help you navigate and avoid getting lost.

Climb Wat Arun

Wat Arun is an 82-meter (269 feet)-high temple located by the Chao Phraya River. The temple is adorned with beautiful details and is incredibly impressive. Climb the stairs all the way to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with a brilliant view of the river and Bangkok. Wat Arun is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and can be reached by taking the ferry from this pier.

Tip: After climbing Wat Arun, it’s nice to have a drink at Sala Rattanakosin. This elegant establishment has a rooftop bar from where you’ll have a beautiful view of Wat Arun. If you have a slightly larger budget, you can also have a romantic dinner here. Sala Rattanakosin is one of the best restaurants in Bangkok. ViVi The Coffee Place is a more casual alternative. From this coffee shop as well, you’ll have a beautiful view of Wat Arun.

Visit the Oldest and Largest Temple in Bangkok

We’re not done with impressive temples in Bangkok just yet. Wat Pho is not only the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, but it’s also home to the reclining Buddha, a statue that measures 46 meters (150.9 feet) long and 15 meters (49.2 feet) high. In addition to this gigantic Buddha, you’ll find over a thousand other Buddha statues in Wat Pho. It is an extremely important place for the Thai people, so make sure to behave respectfully in the temple. Dress appropriately, enter the temples without shoes, and never sit with your feet pointing towards Buddha. It’s also worth going early as it can get very crowded.

Experience a Thai Massage in Bangkok

Thailand is renowned worldwide for its Thai cuisine, but also for its traditional Thai massages. Thai massage is one of the ancient healing methods that involve massaging energy lines and stretching and elongating body parts. The Thai massage focuses on the entire body, but if you wish, you can always indicate specific areas of focus such as your back or shoulders. Before the massage begins, let them know if you prefer a firm or gentle massage. If you don’t specify, you’ll receive a firm massage by default.

Massages are offered everywhere in Bangkok. You can choose the first one you come across on Khao San Road, but if you go to a professional massage parlor, you can expect a high-quality massage. I had a massage at Putthinan Thai Massage and walked out feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Tips for Getting Around in Bangkok

There are numerous options for getting around in Bangkok. You can take the metro, the taxi boat, the skytrain, a taxi, a tuktuk, or a motorcycle taxi. The best mode of transportation depends on where you want to go. Below, you’ll find information about the different modes of transportation in Bangkok.

  • Skytrain and Metro: Before heading to your destination, check on Google Maps whether public transportation is a good option. Enter your destination and click on the public transportation icon. You’ll see if it’s convenient to reach your destination by public transportation or if it’s better to take a taxi. There are two types of metro systems: the skytrain (elevated metro) and the MRT metro. Especially during rush hour, it’s very convenient to travel using these systems.
  • Ferry: Constant ferries sail across the Chao Phraya River, swiftly taking you to different locations. The boats operate frequently and quickly. This is a fun way to get around in Bangkok, especially when the attractions are located near the river, such as Chinatown and the Sirocco Skybar.
  • Taxi: There are over 150,000 taxis in Bangkok, each in different colors. However, the color doesn’t have any significance, and you can hail any taxi. Just raise your hand, and if the taxi stops, ask if they will use the meter. If they refuse to use the meter, politely thank them and hail another taxi.
  • Tuktuk: Earlier in this article, you could read about tuktuks in Bangkok. Taking a ride in a tuktuk is part of the Bangkok experience and something you should do at least once. However, tuktuk rides are more expensive than taxis. For long distances, choose a different mode of transportation.
  • Motorcycle Taxi: Locals mostly use motorcycle taxis. Motorcycle taxis easily maneuver through Bangkok’s busy traffic. Especially during rush hour, they can save you a lot of time. You can recognize motorcycle taxis by their brightly colored vests.

Tips for Good Restaurants in Bangkok

There are plenty of restaurants to choose from on and around Khao San Road. However, not every restaurant is equally good, so it’s worth seeking out the ones that offer both a pleasant atmosphere and delicious food. Here are some recommendations:

Mango Vegetarian & Vegan Restaurant: In this small restaurant, you can enjoy delicious vegetarian food. Each dish is prepared with plenty of vegetables and bursting with flavor.
Snooze Coffee House: For breakfast and lunch, Snooze is the place to go. Indulge in a tasty croissant, pancakes, and savor a great cup of coffee.
Buddy Beer Wine Bar and Grill: Located right on Khao San Road, but with a patio setting that offers a peaceful atmosphere. Unlike other places on Khao San Road, there is no loud music playing.

Shoshana Restaurant: The best choice for a quick and affordable bite. Make sure to try their pita falafel!
Ranee’s Restaurant: A cozy restaurant with a Dutch owner where you can enjoy delicious pizzas and pasta.
Madame Musur Bar & Restaurant: Experience the best of Thai cuisine at this establishment.

Where to Stay in Bangkok?

With a population of around 10 million, Bangkok is an enormous city, and you’re probably wondering where the best place to stay is. Banglampoo is the neighborhood where most tourists choose to stay, and it’s also home to the famous streets of Khao San Road and Rambuttri, which we mentioned earlier. This area is popular because it offers a central location for many attractions, good restaurants, and nightlife. Traffic in Bangkok can be congested, turning a 5 km (3.1 miles) ride into a half-hour journey. That’s why we recommend staying in Banglampoo, so you won’t have to spend too much time in a taxi when you want to grab a bite to eat or enjoy a drink.

Our favorite places to stay in Bangkok

If you prefer to stay in a cozy hostel, Here Hostel is a great choice in Bangkok. You’ll easily meet other travelers here, and it’s only a five-minute walk from Khao San Road, making the location superb. There’s a refreshing swimming pool, a beautiful garden with plenty of seating, and they even have a slide. It’s a fantastic way to start or end your trip in Thailand! For a charming hotel with a Thai ambiance, consider Villa Phra Sumen Bangkok. They offer a large swimming pool for relaxation after exploring Bangkok, and it’s only a 700-meter (2296.7 feet) walk to Khao San Road. Despite being close to the action, you won’t feel like you’re in the middle of the city while at the hotel. If you’re looking for a peaceful hotel at a friendly price, Bangkok Saran Poshtel is the place for you. It’s situated in a quiet location within walking distance of Khao San Road. You’ll enjoy a comfortable room with a cozy bed, good air conditioning, and a nice shower. Breakfast is included in the price.