20 Best Bangkok tourist attractions for first-time travelers
I have seen a lot of videos, not jut on Bangkok tourist attractions but about the city as well. And i have repeatedly heard from people that it is one of their favorite city in the world. Of course there are few who hate it completely, but you cannot deny its popularity. It’s dirty and exciting, with fast bikes and slow people, mornings that dedicates to monks and nights to women, all at one place.
But the feel is eternal. The vendors selling street food at every corner and motorcycles buzzing through the traffic carrying passengers to their workplaces in early morning hours is perfectly native Bangkok. The stories of mango and sticky rice served by smiling grandmas can still be heard across thousands of miles.
The resultant is thousands of tourists that flock to the capital city of Thailand to experience these tales. But there is so much to do. How do you know which is worth it? Even though I am going to hand you over a ready-made one, you still may not like a few of them. Well accept it and wait for the next version where I am going to talk about the hidden places in Bangkok that tourists don’t visit.
Traveling to Thailand? Here are 101 Things To Do In Thailand From My Bucket List
How to go around in Bangkok
Before starting a very important question to address is how to travel inside Bangkok. If you really want to know this in-depth, read our guide on Bangkok transportation. Otherwise, here is a gist on the most popular options:
Day tour: If you are in company and a large number at that, the best way is to take a day tour. Also works if you are not looking for hassle and changing too many transport options. You can hire a cab for a group or a family at the hotel, or book a day tour around the city online. In fact, they may even turn out cheaper than otherwise.
City Bus: Depending upon where you are staying, you can look at taking the city bus on some routes. They are by far the cheapest option to go around in Bangkok. With that being said, they are definitely not the most comfortable. Only selective buses have Air conditioning. Also, the timings aren’t very reliable either.
Metro: As of now, Metro is the most effective way of transportation inside Bangkok. With its increasing network over the past few months, it now connects most of the popular tourist destinations in Bangkok. Right now, there are two service providers – MRT (Underground) and BTS (Skytrain or overhead). You will need different passes for both or can buy single journey tokens each time. It is also the fastest mode of transportation.
Cab: While cabs are affordable and convenient in Bangkok, avoid using them during peak hours around downtown. Many drivers don’t speak English. Therefore, you may have to either show them the location on the phone or get a local to write the address on a paper.
Also, make sure to confirm using the meter beforehand. Use Uber or Grab (more popular) inside the city for reliable charges. Lastly, don’t get deep into an argument over money, even if you right.
Motorcycle Taxis: These are fantastic options if you looking to travel at peak time or short distances alone. Although Grab also offers this service, there are chances they may back out from the service if the lane is served by local taxi drivers (argumentative disputes are often seen on territory).
You can easily get a motorcycle taxi down most of the lane or simply wave at one. I will suggest negotiating a price beforehand. They do not guarantee any safety and the helmets are more or less decorative.
Tuk-Tuk: These are best for the last mile drives if you are more than one in person. But they often overcharge. On the other hand, you must experience a tuk-tuk ride at least once when in Bangkok. The best way is to negotiate a price beforehand after checking the distance you need to travel on the maps.
Best tourist attractions in Bangkok
1. The Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The Grand Palace is a collection of buildings in the heart of Bangkok city and a residence of the ‘Kings of Siam’ and consequently Thailand. While the current royal residence moved quarters, many formal and important ceremonies and events still take place here. The Palace is a collection of buildings, halls, courtyards, temples, lawns, and gardens. The temple of Emerald Buddha, a significant shrine for the locals, is also located inside the premises.
The Grand Palace is an absolute must-see Bangkok tourist attraction for the first time visitors. The complex is grand, built-in exquisite traditional Thai style architecture unique only to this place. You can take a tour guide (free English tour runs at 10 am, 10.30 am, 1.30 pm and 2 pm) or an audio tour for 100THB.
You must take care to cover your shoulders and dress till knees to enter the premises. The best time to visit is early mornings to avoid the crowds at its peak.
Grand Palace timings: 8.30 am to 3.30 pm every day of the week
Grand Palace tickets: 500 THB per person for foreigners and free to Thai nationals.
How to reach the Grand Palace: The best way is to take the Blue line of MRT to Sanam Chai station and walk for 10-15 minutes from there.
Wish to visit The Grand Palace? Read everything you need to know about it.
2. Wat Pra Chetuphon (Wat Pho)
With posters of the famous reclining Buddha all across Thailand ads, Wat Pho tops the list of religious sanctuaries to visit in Bangkok. The temple is one of the most important and considered as the highest grade of royal class temples.
The statue 46m long and 15m tall is all plated with pure gold leaf with precious stones inlaid around it for better detailing. The reclining Buddha, in essence, represents the process of Buddha on its way to nirvana by death during his last illness.
The temple premises also consist of many chedis (a Buddhist stupa), prayer halls, monk residences, and schools. Wat Pho is renowned as the first public university. Thai herbal medicine and traditional Thai massage are still taught and practised here. Other subjects are history, medicine, health, custom, literature, proverbs, lexicography, and the Buddhist religion.
Wat Pho timings: 8 am to 6.30 pm every day of the week
Wat Pho tickets: 200 THB per person
Book Tour Online: Bangkok Landmarks Day Tour: Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Chao Phraya River
3. Khaosan Road
Khaosan Road is where all the backpackers go to have a bite of the famous nightlife. You will find rows of nightclubs, restaurants with outdoor seating (with road view) and tonnes of street vendors selling pad Thai, pancakes and beer.
It usually filled with young teenage backpackers and sometimes whole families walking up and down the street. It is the most popular party spot and hangout place for most Americans and Europeans. The activity grows as it gets late and is at its peak by midnight.
You can hop pubs around the area, and eat a hearty Thai style dinner at one of the local restaurants. The prices aren’t too cheap but not exuberant either. If you prefer a quieter time with a more elegant atmosphere, head to a parallel street to Khaosan road. You can also enjoy a Thai massage at one of the parlours on either street.
How to reach Khaosan Road: One way is to get down at Sanam Chai MRT station (on Blue line) and take bus number 60. There are direct buses from other parts of the town as well. Check Google Maps for direct bus routes.
4. Wat Arun
Wat Arun or Temple of the dawn is the perhaps most photographed icon of Bangkok city. While visitors expect another temple with golden roofs and large Buddha statues, Wat Arun usually comes as a surprise. Located at the banks of the Chao Phraya River, you can see the spires of the temples from the other side. One of the six highest grade temples Wat Arun is named after the Hindu god ‘Aruna’ as it reflects off the first rays of the morning sun.
The earliest structure of Wat Arun has been there since the 17th century. It was once a part of the Royal Palace premises before the Palace shifted to its new ground on the other side of the river. The best time to see Wat Arun in its full glory is at night. The stupa it is lit by golden lights and can be seen from across the river. A dinner cruise on Chao Phraya River often compliments the experience.
Wat Arun Timings: 8.30 am to 5.30 pm every day of the week
Wat Arun Ticket Price: 100THB per person for foreign tourists
Planning to visit? Here is the travel Guide to Visiting Wat Arun, Bangkok
5. Chatuchak Weekend Market
You can find everything in this world under these roofs. While that’s a bit of exaggeration, you will still find the latest trendy knock-off garments, shoes, bags, accessories, cosmetics, antique souvenirs, household items, electronics, kitchen utensils, food stalls for all Thai cuisines and even pets. Chatuchak is estimated to be the largest outdoor and diverse market in the world.
The market is completely functional on weekends (Saturday-Sunday) only. You must sharpen your bargaining skill before you start for items that will almost always be quoted on the higher side, especially if are a tourist. Consider learning basic Thai numerics and conversational vocab for some help.
Chatuchak Market timings: 9 am to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Few shops remain open on weekdays as well.
6. Jim Thompson House Museum
Jim Thompson was an American businessman and an architect who later moved to Thailand. He set up the Thai silk company and went on to bring fame to the traditional Thai craft from all around the world. He was also a collector of Thai art and Buddha statues that he gathered from all over South-East Asia. His sudden disappearance in 1967 was never concluded. Nevertheless, his home, now a museum is a live depiction of his life.
The house, built in Thai-contemporary style made upon half acre land and six units of houses displays his artefact collection. You can also understand the complete process of silk making and buy the end products at the retail store.
The products are exquisitely known for their quality made in beautiful oriental designs and are world-class. You can also take a guided tour in English which is a delight to be a part of. Photography inside the premises is not permitted.
Jim Thompson House Timings: 9 am to 6 pm every day of the week
Jim Thompson House Ticket price: 200 THB per person. 100 THB for visitors under 22 years (ID required). Free entry for children under 10 years.
How to reach Jim Thompson House: Take the BTS Skytrain to National Stadium Station (Dark Green Line) and walk for 10 minutes from Exit no.1.
7. Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World
If you haven’t already been to a similar aquarium, I think it is worth a visit. Ocean world Bangkok is built in an area of 10,000 square meters and holds hundreds of aquatic species. Built across various themes, there is an aquarium tunnel with glass passage and smaller aquarium containers that showcases biodiversity by ecology.
You can see rare aquatic animals like stingrays, many species of sharks, gorgeous coral reefs, sea horses, jellyfish, and even penguins. While you can only look at most of them, there is a possibility to be able to touch species like starfish. You can also take a boat ride with a glass bottom in other areas.
Frogs, eels, giant spider crabs and giant pacific octopus are present. With that being said, I still do not vouch for the ethical standards and treatment of some animals which largely remains behind closed doors.
Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World timings: 10 am to 8 pm open every day of the week
Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World ticket price: Ranges from 800THB to 2000THB depending upon the package.
Book Tickets Online: You can book your tickets on the official website. Check aggregators like Klook and GetyourGuide for better discount offers. You can also club this with a visit to Madame Tussauds.
How to reach Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World: The closest metro station is Siam BTS station right in front of Siam Paragon Mall
8. Yaowarat Road or China Town
If you are already in the old town around the palaces and the temples, walk a little further and spend the evening hunting Chinese food. Yaowarat Road is the busiest and most important road in China Town.
The large Thai-Chinese population located in the area makes this place one of the most important trading hubs of the town. The road, in fact, has the highest density of gold shops in the world. Consequently, it is often called ‘Golden Road’ or ‘Dragon Road’.
However, the area attracts most tourists for a glimpse of Chinese culture in the Thai capital. The near-native Chinese food in the area results in jam-packed streets at night. Other shops that are frequented by tourists are Chinese herbs, tea houses, Chinese snacks, lanterns, dry fruits, eastern spices, desserts, charms, antiques, imported musical instruments and likewise.
You can also visit a few Chinese shrines in the area. The best way to explore the area is on foot.
Yaowarat Road timings: Most stores are open from 10 am to 9-10 pm in the night.
How to reach Yaowarat Road: The easiest way to reach is to get down at Wat Mangkon MRT station (Blue line) and walk 5 minutes from there. Direct buses are also available on major routes in the city.
9. Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan
Wat Traimit is yet another important temple in Bangkok. But if you are tired of looking at temples you can probably skip this one. Wat Traimit is most famous for the largest statue of Buddha in the world made of gold. The 15 feet tall seated statue, made of 83% gold weighing five and a half tonnes is worth millions of dollars. At some point, it was covered in plaster to hide it from the Burmese thieves and looters.
On its first floor, Wat Traimit has a museum that tells the history of the Chinese community in Bangkok. Starting from history, the museum talks about their legacy, culture, food, trade, and customs of the present-day community through paintings, audio, and 3D depictions.
Wat Traimit timings: 8 am to 5 pm Open from Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday.
Wat Traimit ticket price: Admission to the complex is free. Ticket to Golden Buddha image is 50THB and 100THB for a Chinese history museum.
How to reach Wat Traimit: You can get down at Hua Lamphong MRT station and walk from there. If you are in Yaowarat, you can take a tuk-tuk from there.
10. Asiatique Riverfront
Asiatique riverfront is a biggest outdoor mall in Bangkok with a vision to mix contemporary style facilities with the traditional Thai markets. It is built on the docks of East Asiatic Company and radiates an air of colonial past. You will find products ranging from cheap souvenirs and handicrafts to hi-end bags and luxury watches in a single arena.
It faces the Chao Phraya River to give some extraordinary views. The premises showcases traditional Thai style puppet show, glamorous cabaret show and a scaled-down version of London’s eye. You can also enjoy Muay Thai there. The area is divided into premises of different tastes interconnected by tram service. If you have a bit of time and some cash to spare, a visit is dazzling. Asiatique is free to enter and roam around.
Asiatique Riverfront timings: 4 pm to 12 am every day of the week
How to reach Asiatique Riverfront: Get down at Saphan Taksin BTS Station from Exit 2. Head to Sathorn Pier to take and free ferry service to Asiatique. The ferry service runs from 5 pm to 11 pm at regular intervals.
11. Calypso Cabaret
The best Cabaret in Thailand is in Pattaya. The next best in Bangkok. If you aren’t aware of cabaret, it is a western-style performance with theatrics entertainment around music, dancing, drama, and storytelling. The unique USP of cabarets in Thailand is that they are all performed by ladyboys only.
Calypso has dance numbers in Korean, Thai and Japanese. There is also the personification act of Marylin Munroe and Elvis Presley. All in all, it is extremely charming and fun.
The audience is seated in a round table style seating. There is also an option of dinner post-show with pick up facility. The show ticket comes with a free drink. The venue of Calypso Cabaret is inside the Asiatique riverfront. Get more details here.
Calypso Cabaret timings: 7.30 pm to 8.40 pm and from 9 pm to 10.10 pm every day of the week. The show runs for 60 minutes.
Calypso Cabaret ticket price: 900THB only for the show, 1500THB for the show with dinner.
12. Bangkok National Museum
Bangkok National Museum is one of the largest museums in Asia and holds a large amount of information on Thai history. Established by King Rama V back in 1874, the museum has undergone many renovations to bring the best display of artefacts with audio and multimedia.
The artefacts date back to Dvaravati, Srivijaya, Sukhothai, and Ayutthaya periods. Apart from Buddhist arts, you can find Chinese weapons, precious stone, ceramics, woodcarving, textiles and musical instruments from all across South East Asia.
If cultural history deeply interests you, you can club this visit with the Royal Palace and Wat Pho. Free tours in English, German, French, and Japanese are also available on different days of the week.
Bangkok National Museum timings: Wednesday–Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm; closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Bangkok National Museum ticket price: 30 Baht for Thai citizens and 200 Baht for foreigners.
How to reach Bangkok National Museum: You can walk from The Grand Palace, Wat Pho or Sanam Chai MRT station. Another way is to take one of the many city buses that pass the museum. Check Google Maps or Rome2Rio for the best routes.
Enjoy Museums? Check out Museums In Bangkok That You Never Thought Existed
13. Soi Cowboy
Soi Cowboy is the epitome of the infamous streets of Bangkok. To be clear is one of the red light areas in Thailand. But there are other activities like ping pong show and strip dance that you can attend too. Ping pong shows are rather unique to Thai kink with stunts done using private parts often not considered as sensual. Although a good number of people come to see this from across the world.
If not, you can also enjoy a beer at one of the restaurants with blaring music and lovely women passing by accompanied by rather elderly men. Make sure to keep your valuables safe. Illicit activities and scams are common in the area. Ladyboys serve many places around the area. Therefore, check before you dive deep which you can do by simply asking them.
Soi Cowboy timings: The street is in full swing only after 8 pm and is open till around 2.30 am
14. Ratchada Night Market or Talad Rot Fai
Ratchada Night Market is an open-air market in the interiors of the city which operates only at night. While remaining the best night market in Bangkok, it can also become overcrowded at times. You will find dozens of rows lined with street stalls. You can buy t-shirts, shoes, bags, keychains, mobile covers, snacks, diaries, and all the useless items under the latest fashion. Prices are usually fixed. Although one try at bargaining won’t do much harm.
Another side of the market is filled with stalls selling food popular in local Thai style. You can eat hotpots, seafood platters, grilled fish, fries, juices, pancakes, smoothies, ice creams, noodles, insects, scorpions on sticks and occasionally crocodile meat. Options for vegetarians fairly limit to desserts. You can also sit at one of the restaurants in cargo boxes and enjoy a drink or two with Thai pop music.
Ratchada Night Market timings: 5 pm to 1 am every day of the week. Weekends are especially busy. Try reaching before 8 pm for fewer crowds.
How to reach Ratchada Night Market: Get down at Thailand Cultural Center MRT Station (on Blue line) and walk 2 minutes from there. It is right next to Esplanade Mall.
15. Siam Niramit Bangkok
Siam Niramit is by far the best musical in Thailand. Performed by 100 artists in 500 different costumes, it has continuously received applause from the international audiences for years now. The artists perform the play with real-life stage setup, dramatic in aesthetics. They use modern sound effects, lighting, and laser beams to add extra drama. You will find acrobats flying around and enacting the duel from the scripts of Ramayana.
The performers take you through the story and life of the ancient Siam empire from the daily lives to battles and wars. The performers enact glimpses from the traditional festivals and customs of Buddhists and Muslims. Loi Krathong and Thai folk dance will add to the story.
Apart from the main act, a Thai folk village outside the theatre will prep you up for the finale. The only bad side is the use of animals like elephants in it. Training of animals for performing arts is often criticized for good reasons.
Siam Niramit timings: The show starts at 8.00 pm every day of the week and runs for 80 minutes. Buffet starts at 6.00 pm.
Siam Niramit ticket prices: ticket prices start at 1500THB per person adult and child alike. Prices are different for buffet and higher-grade seating.
How to reach Siam Niramit: Get down at Thailand Cultural Centre MRT station (on Blue line), get out at Exit 1, take the overpass at the next junction and walk to Siam Niramit (1km) for next 10-15 minutes.
16. Wat Saket
Wat Saket or Temple of the Golden Mount is an iconic temple built on top of an artificial-walled hill. As one of the oldest temples, it dates back to the Ayutthaya period that lasted till 1767. It has a distinctive 80-meter high hill known as ‘Golden Mount’ and a huge gilded stupa on top of it.
The site was also used to cremate a large number of dead bodies of the poor when cholera took over the city. The west gate that used to dispose of the bodies is also called ‘ghost gate’.
The best time to go to Wat Saket is during its many festive periods like Loi Krathong. You need to climb 318 steps to get on top but the view is rewarding. The temple hosts a fair that lasts 9 days. Around the time, many freak shows are set up in the area like Phi Krasue (floating female ghost head with dangling glowing viscera below), Khon Song Hua (two-headed man), Mia Ngu (snake’s wife).
Wat Saket timings: 7.30 am to 7 pm open every day of the week
How to reach Wat Saket: Get down at Sam Yot MRT Station (Blue line) and walk for 15-20 minutes from there.
17. Lumphini Park
For a change from the busy streets of Bangkok, you can consider taking an early morning walk in Lumphini Park. The park was once a royal reservoir which was then given to the public. Once surrounded by orchards, it is now one of the most upscale areas looming with high rise buildings around it. Surprisingly, the 142-acre park has a lake surrounded by walkways with a chance of spotting a lazy monitor lizard occasionally.
Expect to encounter elderly men and women practising Tai Chi and using the public gym equipment to keep themselves fit. The evening also sees many people put in their best efforts to copy dance steps from an aerobics or Zumba instructor in the open.
Once a venue for ballroom dancing, social dancing courses are still organized on weekends along with jazz and classical concerts. You can also watch locals offering food to monks and listen to Buddhist preaching in the park.
Lumphini Park timings: 4.30 pm to 9 pm open every day of the week
18. King Power Mahanakhon
A glass skywalk on the 310 meters high skyscraper is the newest attraction in the city of Bangkok. The observation decks span 3 levels giving a fantastic view of the city’s skyline from the highest point. On level two there is a glass-bottom walkway with city view beneath your feel.
If you are afraid of heights, this one can be extremely challenging. View of the observation decks is unhindered and completely unobstructed for the whole of 360 degrees. It also means that it can get really hot during midday. The best hours to visit are around the sunset.
King Power Mahanakhon Skydeck timings: 10 am to 12 am open every day of the week (last entry at 11 pm)
King Power Mahanakhon ticket price: 850THB for the indoor observation deck on the 74th floor or 1050 THB for all three floors and Skywalk
Book Skydeck tickets online: Bangkok: Mahanakhon SkyWalk Admission Ticket
How to reach King Power Mahanakhon: Get down at Chong Nonsi BTS station (Dark Green line) and walk over via sky bridge.
19. Patpong Market
While the place has been on the list of Bangkok tourist attractions, I think it isn’t much of a must-visit. Add it to your itinerary if you are in the area anyway. The area desolate during the day flashes bright with neon colours at night. Expect the market to start at 6 pm.
One side is a series of stalls selling Thai handicrafts and touristy items. The other side is series of agogo bars, strip clubs with guys calling out for ping-pong show with an inclusive beer. There are also a few food stalls if you are looking for street food for dinner.
20. Wat Benchamabophit
If you are a temple enthusiast, you can add this one to your list as well. Wat Benchamabophit is also called as the marble temple since it is made of imported marble brought back from Italy. At the base of the main Buddha statue remains the ashes of Kind Rama V. A courtyard surrounds the main temple.
A shaded gallery lines the courtyard on the outer side. 52 statues of Buddha sit underneath representing all mudras. The temple is also one of the most photographed and is a must-visit if you a photography enthusiast.
Wat Benchamabophit timings: 8 am to 5.30 pm open every day of the week
Wat Benchamabophit ticket price: 50THB per person
How to reach Wat Benchamabophit: Get down at Phaya Thai BTS station (on Light Green line) and take the bus on line 503 which will drop at a one-minute walking distance from the temple.