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Top Five Things To Do in Bangkok, Thailand

Top Five Things To Do in Bangkok, Thailand

I have a penchant for experiencing countries via the ‘quick and dirty’ approach: do as much as you can, as cheaply and as quickly as you can. As my two-month stay in Thailand is coming to a close, I want to recap the trip by highlighting the cities that represent the three major regions of the country: the South (Phuket), Central Thailand (Bangkok), and the North (Chiang Mai).

Now what to do in Bangkok? Most people find Thailand’s capital daunting with a population of over 8 million people and 14 million more in the surrounding metropolitan area. However, the breadth of the city, along with the high population density, doesn’t stop the tourists from coming. This year, Thailand was the first Asian city ever to topple London from its number 1 spot as the world’s most visited city. There are a number of things to do and see: just be warned — the oppressive heat combined with heavy traffic tends to overturn the most ambitious of itineraries. Per day, it was hard to commit to no more than 3 activities and that was if we had the energy to even do so. Remember to stay hydrated and try to plan activities within the same neighborhood to lessen a need to travel. Also, avoid wasting time in taxis by figuring out how to use the public transportation system. Now, for the best of the best!

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1. Be blinded by the glittering walls of Wat Phra Kaew (The Grand Palace)

The Grand Palace, the home of kings and queens in years past, now acts as the residency for the sacred Emerald Buddha, a Budhha figurine carved from a single block of emerald. It costs 500 THB to enter and one must be properly dressed (ie. covering both shoulders and knees), or you will be forced to rent more respectable clothing. The palace closes at 4 pm so come early to avoid the crowds and to have ample time to take in all the intricate details of the complex.

Wat Phra Kaew Bangkok Thailand

Who did it better? My sisters and I reuniting after 8 months of not seeing one another


2. Sipping drinks while perched 50-stories high

Its really hard to fathom the size of Bangkok until you view its entirety from the skies. Rooftop bars provide an escape from the bustling streets while still being able to appreciate the city from a new perspective. Fun fact: The Skybar (also called ‘The Dome’ at Lebua Hotel) was a filming location for the Hangover II and serve ‘Hangovertinis’ inspired by the movie. It’s one of the tallest rooftop bars in the world and the view is breathtaking so don’t skip out if you have the time.

Marriot Thong Lo Bangkok, Thailand

Relishing in a happy hour deal: 2-for-1 drinks between 5-7 pm at the Marriot Thong Lo


3. Queue up for a Thai Massage at Wat Pho

Wat Pho, located right behind the Grand Palace, is one of my favorite temples in Thailand. Predominantly known for its massive Reclining Buddha, measuring 46 meters long and 15 meters tall, it is also the birthplace of traditional Thai massage where the practice is still taught to the generations of today. Only 100 THB to enter and open from 8 until 5 pm, relax as you explore every nook and cranny of this temple.

Wat Pho Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Pho houses the famous reclining Buddha statue


4. Be a spectator at a Muay Thai fight

When in a new country, one must do as the locals do. For the average working-class Thai man, that means heading to a Thai boxing stadium (the sport itself known as ‘Muay Thai’) and placing their bets on who will win the 5-round match. We were led by a friend living in Bangkok to the Channel 7 Studio near Chaduchak Market for a free, televised match held only on Sundays. It was nitty and gritty with lots of shoving and wooping as we made our way to the coveted ‘farang’ (aka foreigner) seats.

Muay Thai Bangkok Thailand

The champion for that day’s premiere fight


5. Dance the night away at Khao San Road

What’s a trip to Bangkok without finding your way to the infamous Khao San Road? The gateway for every foreigner into Thailand, it’s for those who need a bit of a bumper before sinking their teeth into all that is Thai. Those who end up here are on a quest for cheap digs, loud pop music, backpacking trinkets, and a first bite of pad thai from one of the mobile food stalls. It truly becomes itself at night, with an energy surging down the street from every as every restaurant-turned-bar tempts you with cheap buckets of mixed liquor. Beware of wandering hands on this street. Something as simple as being stopped by a local asking a question could result in the disappearing act of your wallet.

Khao San Road Bangkok, Thailand

Drink the infamous Thai bucket drinks – a concoction of Thai Red Bull (the original Red Bull producers), either coke or sprite, and cheap Thai whiskey such as Hong Thong or SangSom. But be careful, they pack a punch!


Honorable mentions

  • Window shopping at one of the mega malls: Siam Paragon (in 2013, was listed as the most instagrammed venue in the world) and Terminal 21, where every floor was designed to emulate a famous global destination such as Istanbul and San Francisco
  • Check out some weekend markets — either Chaduchak Outdoor Market, the world’s largest weekend bazaar, or a floating market like Damoen or Amphawa (but they are located far outside the city so plan transportation in advance)
  • Ride the giant ferris wheel at Asiatique, a favorite hangout spot among locals with beautiful restaurants on a boardwalk that runs along the Chao Praya River
  • Check out the Jim Thompson House not only for the beautiful Thai silk textiles, but also for its marvelous architecture
  • Take a food tour of Chinatown, where street food is king

On the accommodation front – Bangkok, like all major cities, will be on the pricier end of the spectrum but that’s not to say there aren’t some deals around town. My favorite place to stay is Old Town Hostel in the area of Bang Rak.

Credit: TripAdvisor

It’s a luxury hostel that starts at 250 THB per night and is located very near to the Chao Phraya River which gives you access to travel up the river to all the tourist locations via the Chao Phraya Express and is only a ten-minute walk from the Hua Lamphong MRT station. Other places include: Suk 11, Lub’D Silom, Mile Map, NapPark Hostel, and HQ Hostel.

For those who’ve experienced Bangkok, anything to add to the list? Comment below!

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Izzy Pulido is a Bostonian by way of the Philippines who loves to vagabond. At twenty-six, expat life has opened the door to full-time travel writing. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps. When she's not writing at her computer, she's probably out on the dance floor getting down with her bad self.

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  1. Ah my home, Bangkok. I live like 5 minutes from T21 btw. Wish I knew you come, could have hung out.
    Btw, love the infographics, how do you make them?

    • Izzy Pulido

      26 June

      T21 is sooo much fun! Wish I got to spend more time there. I will message if ever I am in the city again. And I use photoshop with a mix of my imagination, it takes me about 3-5 days to complete the text and visuals for one post!

  2. The Grand Palace is sooo spectacular. I was there prior to my photography days and looking back at my images of this beauty, I only wish to go back to do it true justice. Reclining Buddha was also very impressive, but other than that I’d say skip Bangkok and go to Chiang Mai.

  3. Natasha

    12 March

    Your blog was very informative. I similarly found that due to the heat, two to three events in one day was about the maximum my friend and I could manage, and, like yourself, we planned events together, and grouped activities based on how close they were to each other so we were not running around all over the city. I’d recommend visiting Wat Arun, which was under renovation when I visited back in May 2015. I’d also point out that for new travellers to Thailand, traveling to Bangkok first was, for me, a “full immersion” experience in so much as it was the most intense, chaotic exposure to Thailand. Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, and the southern islands are a gentler introduction to Thai traffic, pedestrian walkways, tuk tuk haggling and so on. BTW, I really love your infographics!

  4. Rosie Benton

    12 March

    What a great roundup! We’re hoping to spend some time in Thailand when our contract ends so this will come in handy. LOVE rooftop bars so that would be high on my list! Always wanted to watch a Muay Thai fight too. Thanks for the recommendations 🙂

  5. Karla

    12 March

    I’d love to experience the Thai massage. I always see that option in the spas. I think it would be best to try the “authentic” Thai massage. I think I mentioned it before in your other post, I’m a fan of your infographics! 🙂

  6. Hallie

    13 March

    I definitely found Bangkok pretty daunting my first time for sure. I feel like I need to go back.. probably not for the buckets, but for the temples, palace and some spa fun. And then skidaddle to a beach. ^^

  7. Bangkok is such an amazing city if you know where to go! This list is a lot of fun and does a great job of giving a variety of options beyond the typical tourist destinations. That rooftop bar looks awesome, and Khaosan Rd. is definitely a lot of fun!

  8. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve been to Bangkok, but I still have never been to Wat Phra Kaew, never seen a Muay Thai fight, and I’ve never partied at Khao San road, hahaha. Worst backpacker EVER. I’ve done a lot of walking tours, market all-you-can-eat-fests, and been to a lot of smaller temples, though, which were all quite nice! And I was lucky enough to go to TBEX when it was in Bangkok, which made for a super awesome way to explore the city.

  9. Kate Carter

    13 March

    I loved Bangkok so much even though i was only there as bookends to Phuket and Chiang Mai. I want to go back…but in transit elsewhere. Still need to make it to the Grand Palace and to La Bua, although I hear there are some even better (and cheaper!) roofs in Bangkok/ I will always go back for the food, though. Thailand is second to none for my tastebuds!

  10. Wendy

    13 March

    First thing I did when i stepped in Bangkok was to have the “authentic” Thai foot massage. The tuktok ride was a must but we only did it once:-)… and the night market, too. The Reclining Buddha is so long and big it was hard to take a picture wanting to have all of it in the photo… next time I go to Thailand, i want to go out and experience the boat ride along the floating market.

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