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Bangkok Travel Guide: What to know about the vibrant city

Embracing tradition and culture along with modernity, Bangkok is a land of unforgettable experiences and nuanced contrasts. The capital city of Thailand manages to charm its visitors and pave a way into their hearts, so much so that it feels like a second home. With a plethora of places to visit in Bangkok, a world of food to explore and adventures to revel in, this city promises a gala time to everyone. And our extensive guide to everything in Bangkok promises a deep dive into this city, which every traveller must bookmark.

With towering skyscrapers standing majestically alongside its temples, local Thai food and varied global cuisines sharing a platter, luxurious malls and local markets spoiling shopaholics alike, Bangkok makes for a great escape when one wants to experience the best of everything. While its wats, museums and palaces are a reflection of Thai history and heritage, its heady nightlife is a world of its own; palpable with busy streets, flamboyant nightclubs and bars, shopping complexes, cultural tours, cabaret shows, Muay Thai and theatrical dance performances.

Streets of Bangkok
Streets of Bangkok (Image Credit: Brett Sayles/Pexels)

The place offers a wholesome mix of nightlife, Thai culture, food and shopping that can be both luxurious and affordable as per the needs of its visitors and tourists. It is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, more for its effervescence and spiritedness that takes over as soon as one lands in the city.

Best time to explore Bangkok

Owing to its tropical weather, Bangkok is generally a year-round destination that experiences three main seasons. With each one of them having its own charm.

The summer season lasts from March to June when the temperature varies between 30 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius. While these are the hottest months, it is also time for Thai New Year, Songkran, and a great festive cheer takes over the city regardless of the weather. Shopping in malls, boat cruising, revelling in aquariums and temples are some of the things that can be done in Bangkok during this season whereas outdoor activities should be avoided especially, during day time.

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The months of July to October see the rainy or monsoon season when the temperatures are relatively lower and range from around 26 degrees celsius to 34 degrees Celsius. It is often regarded as the ‘low season’ since monsoon can disrupt your plans. It is usually not considered an apt season to visit Bangkok, however, if you’re looking for a peaceful and quiet getaway, you can consider these months since the footfall of tourists is really low and you might snag some amazing deals on your stay and tickets.

The best months in Bangkok are from November to February, the cool season when the temperatures vary anywhere between 23 degrees Celsius and 35 degrees Celsius. They further drop down to 20 degrees celsius during the evenings making the weather highly pleasant. It is also the peak tourist season which means the city is crowded and prices are higher as compared to the off-season. Nevertheless, this season promises a rather happening nightlife, festive cheer around owing to Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year and a fun ambience.

Best places to visit in Bangkok


One of the top places to visit in Bangkok that’s a paradise for shopaholics and foodies is Chinatown. A vibrant and exotic tourist destination that’s indicative of Bangkok’s local culture and lifestyle, Chinatown is highly popular for its various food stalls, restaurants, gold shops and plenty of shopping stores. It runs along the Yaowarat road and is one of the most happening sites to check out especially after sunset when the entire neighbourhood enlivens in the intoxicating aromas of its various street-side cuisines.

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Dream World

If you’re looking to indulge in fun activities in Bangkok, especially when holidaying with your family, Dream World Amusement Park is what you should buy tickets to. Packed with a plethora of adventure rides, a Snow Town and different themed zones to activity areas, shopping spots, restaurants and other attractions, Dream World promises a day filled with fun, laughter and fantasies. If you plan to visit on weekends and holidays, you can also watch and revel in shows such as ‘The Colours of the World Parade’ (an extravagant parade of your favourite cartoon characters) and Hollywood Action (showing the S.W.A.T team engaging in a battle with a terrorist group).

Dream world
View of the Dream World Amusement Park (Image Credit: Dream World)

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Wat Pho

Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the famous temples in Bangkok that one must visit. Having one of the largest temple complexes in the city, the giant reclining Buddha measures about 46 metres and is entirely covered in gold leaf. While there, you can also get a great Thai massage as the place is a well-known centre for traditional medicine and massage. Other interesting attractions on the premises include four chapels featuring 394 gilded Buddha figures sitting in the lotus position, Chetuphon Thai bistro and the Chinese guardian statues in the courtyard.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun is also known as the Temple of the Dawn and is as high as 260 feet on the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. It is one of the most stunning temples owing to its intricate architectural design, colourful towering spires and how gorgeous it looks at sunset. In fact, it is famous for offering spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset which can be more beautifully enjoyed by climbing to the top of the central prang (spire) from where you can watch the serene river, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho in all their glory. The ordination hall of the temple has a splendid golden Buddha figure along with detailed murals decking up the adjacent walls.

Wat Arun
Wat Arun along the banks of Chao Phraya River ; Image Credit: елена/Pexels

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Safari World

Yet another exhilarating tourist attraction to visit in Bangkok is the Safari World which is unlike any other zoo. The place is divided into two sections — Safari Park and Marine Park. The Safari Park is a spacious open zoo spread across 200 acres that’s home to hundreds of animals roaming around freely. You can drive through the jungle area in your safari vehicles and spot wildlife. The Marine Park, on the other hand, hosts different live shows including the Bird Show, the Stunt Show and the Dolphin Show. Other activities including Jungle River Cruise and Jungle Walk are also highly popular and add to the entire experience.

Jim Thompson’s House

Former home of James H.W Thomspon, an American entrepreneur who spent over 30 years of his life reviving the city’s lost art, the Jim Thompson House is one of the best places to visit in Bangkok especially if you have a thing for museums. The place features six traditional teakwood houses preserved to uphold their glory and be a reflection of the old times. It is like a museum and an art centre that allows you to experience Thai art and design, antiques of the bygone era and the country’s rich heritage and history.

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MBK Shopping Center

MBK Shopping Center is one of the most famous malls to visit in Bangkok that would satiate all your shopping desires. Featuring eight floors brimming with a plethora of stores, varied restaurants in the food court, gaming arenas and a multiplex, this place is perfect for when you want to spend the day indoors.

MBK Shopping Center
Street View of the MBK Shopping Center ; Image Credit: MBK Center

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Madame Tussauds

If you have some time to spare while visiting Bangkok, or if the temperature outside is too much to handle, you can step into the world of stars and celebrities at Madame Tussauds. A globally famous wax museum, it features look-alike wax statues of some of the most prominent faces from the world of TV, movies, sports, music, history, science and art. You can stand next to them or replicate original scenes, pose and get clicked for a fun-filled time.

The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

If there’s one place that not only depicts Thai heritage at its best but also glorifies it further in a stunning manner, it is The Grand Palace. Located in the heart of the city, it is one of the most famous places to visit in Bangkok. Living up to its name, it is a spectacular site that was built in 1782 and served as a home to Thai kings and the Royal Court for 150 years. For that matter, it still hosts royal ceremonies and gives a glimpse into the royal life of the king while its opulent architecture and fine craftsmanship are enough to leave you in awe of the place. While the walls of the royal palace depict the Thai war ministry and state departments, its grounds are also home to the famous Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as the Buddha figure enshrined there has been carved from a single block of grey-green Jasper.

Siam Park City

Siam Park City or Siam Amazing Park is Thailand’s largest theme park that’s a world full of adventure and fun. Spread across 120 acres of land, the park is divided into five zones and features some of the most thrilling rides. While the Water World, Asia’s largest water park, is one of the most popular zones and even has the world’s largest Wave Pool, the Small World is specifically designed for kids, and the Family World has a lot of rides for your family to enjoy, the Adventure World features some exhilarating rides and the Xtreme World is a fun challenge zone.

The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace in Bangkok ; Image Credit: Maksim Romashkin/Pexels

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Lumphini Park

A beautiful escape into nature right in the middle of the bustling city, Lumphini Park is the place to head to if you desire a quiet, peaceful time in between all those tourist attractions. More than half a million metres big, the park is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna and makes for a perfect place for a picnic when the weather is pleasant. You can also indulge in some leisure activities while here such as rowing, paddleboarding and working out at an outdoor gym.

Terminal 21

And bringing together one’s dream of travelling and shopping in a single place is Terminal 21 that’s one of the best concept shopping malls in the world. Designed in a 21st Century airport style, the theme of every floor in this mall is centred around a different city including Paris, Tokyo, London, San Francisco and Istanbul. From the decor of these floors to the type of cuisines served in restaurants and a harmonious mix of local and designer brands, this shopping mall offers a unique experience in its entirety.

Wat Traimit

Also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, Wat Traimit features a gigantic statue of Buddha curated from 5.5 tons of solid gold, sculpted in Sukhothai style. Presumably dating from the Sukhothai period, the statue is housed in a marble structure and is one of the most popular places to visit in Bangkok.

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Things to do in Bangkok

Shop at Chatuchak Weekend Market

Of all the best things to do in Bangkok, shopping at the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must. It is one of the most famous markets in Bangkok where you’d find literally everything. With over 15,000 stalls offering a diverse collection of food and merchandise, this market is a dream come true for all shopaholics. It is also one of the best places to shop for authentic Thai handicrafts, home decor, souvenirs and other items that you might find expensive elsewhere.

Boat trip or dinner cruise on Chao Phraya River

Chao Phraya River is a popular waterway in Bangkok that runs ferries and express boats as a mode of transportation. Additionally, the leisure dinner cruises let you revel in the beauty that the river and its neighbouring establishments have to offer at night time. So, whether you travel by boat during the day to visit different parts of the city or you jump onto the cruise at night to experience the lit-up city skyline, visiting the river is a must.

Dinner Cruise on Chao Phraya
Dinner Cruise on Chao Phraya River (Image Credit: Chao Phraya Princess)

Enjoy a relaxing massage and spa session

Of the numerous things that Bangkok is famous for, a traditional Thai massage probably tops the list. The city brims with innumerable massage parlours and centres offering different types of massage and spa sessions ranging anywhere between a few minutes to more than an hour long. Whether you opt for a foot massage, one that helps in healing your ailments or a long rejuvenating session, experiencing Bangkok’s massage culture is a must.

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Shop at floating markets

One of the most charming attractions of Bangkok is its various floating markets which are a wonderful experience in themselves. Offering tropical fruits and vegetables, fresh coconut juice and local food cooked in floating kitchens, these floating markets will leave you in awe as you traverse through from one vendor to another in wooden row boats. One of the most popular floating markets is Damnoen Saduak that’s popular for selling a variety of things apart from fruits and vegetables. Stalls selling products similar to the ones at the Chatuchak Weekend Market are also set up on the sides for that you can get off the boat and shop.

Floating market
Floating market in Bangkok (Image Credit: Chait Goli/Pexels)

Discover Khao San Road

A backpacker’s haven, Khao San Road is a street that is one of the busiest, liveliest and most bustling areas of Bangkok. Offering cheap accommodation to travellers from every corner of the world, the area brims with shops and stalls to shop from, food vendors, restaurants and pubs. It is always packed with people, especially during the night and is hence, a telltale of the city’s amazing nightlife.

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Ride the BTS Skytrain

The BTS Skytrain is one of the most popular ways of getting around the city. An easy, affordable, convenient and time-efficient way of travelling in Bangkok, it is also a famous part of the city which every visitor must experience. Even though it does not go everywhere in the city, it takes you near most of the tourist attractions whilst saving you both time and money. While you can take individual tickets, you can also get yourself the pre-paid Rabbit Card.

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Attend the Calypso Cabaret show

Promising an evening of Las Vegas-style glitz and glamour is the Calypso Cabaret with different spectacular dance performances put together by mostly transgender dancers. From impressive and flashy costumes to upbeat music and lighting, the show is nothing less than theatrical art.

Calypso Cabaret Show
Dancers performing in the Calypso Cabaret Show (Image Credit: Calypso Cabaret)

What to eat in Bangkok

A haven for food lovers, Bangkok also makes for an exotic destination owing to its food and delectable cuisines available throughout the city. It is especially famous for its street food that’s nothing short of a sensory experience and is also super affordable. For that matter, finding authentic Thai food is easy as every market and every tourist attraction has restaurants and food stalls selling some of the most delicious dishes.

Pad thai
Bangkok’s famous delicacy Pad Thai ; Image Credit: Markus Winkler/Pexels

Some of the most popular areas to experience world-class street food include the Chatuchak Weekend Market, Khao San Road, the floating markets and Chinatown. And some of the most famous dishes one’s got to try in Bangkok include:

Pad Thai — stir-fried rice noodles served with red pepper flakes, cilantro, yellow limes and shrimp
Roti Gluay — fried banana pancakes
Som Tam — spicy papaya salad flavoured with sweet tomatoes, lemon grass, fish sauce, dried shrimp and crunchy peanuts
Khao Niaow Ma Muang — sticky mango rice
Tom Yum — hot and sour soup served with noodles and Thai salad
Woon Sen — vermicelli (Thai glass noodles) served with crab or shrimp
Guaytiao Rua — Thai Boat noodles
Yum Hoi Nang Rom — an oyster salad made with fresh oysters, fried shallots, fried vegetables called Kra Tin, herbs, chilli paste and sauce
Kai Jeaw Poo — Thai crab omelette

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What to shop in Bangkok

As much as it is a foodie’s haven, Bangkok is also a shopaholic’s paradise that has plenty of places for people to shop at. From shopping malls and complexes to different flea, weekend and floating markets, the city is home to a plethora of such shopping centres. Some of these include MBK Centre, Icon Siam, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Khao San Road, Terminal 21, Chinatown, Siam Paragon and Damnoen Saduak floating market.

wicker products
Wicker products like bags, baskets, and hats in Bangkok markets (Image Credit: Kamil Molendys/Unsplash)

To top it off, there’s nothing you wouldn’t find in this city. From traditional antiques and handicrafts to local and international fashion and lifestyle brands and products, essentials and souvenirs, you can literally shop your heart out when in Bangkok. Some of the things that you should surely consider buying include Thai silk, antique pieces, aromatic spa essentials, handmade Thai jewellery, wicker products including bags, traditional handicraft items, Thai sauces and spices, souvenirs and Thai snacks and foods.

Hero Image: Courtesy of Quang Nguyen Vinh; Featured Image: Courtesy of Chait Goli/Pexels

This story first appeared on Travel+Leisure Thailand

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: How much time is required to explore Bangkok?

Answer: Since this gorgeous city has a lot to offer, one would need a minimum of four to five days to explore some of the most famous places and tourist attractions.

Question: Are there any free things to do in Bangkok?

Answer: While exploring the city’s various markets and shopping malls is free of cost and requires no entry fee, you can also check out other places including Erawan Shrine, Khao San Road, Lumphini Park, Artist’s House, Pak Khlong Flower Market, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) and Jesada Technik Museum.

Question: Where to stay in Bangkok?

Answer: For many visitors who are backpacking or are on a budget, Khao San Road has some great affordable stay options. The area is also quite happening and known for its nightlife vibe. Additionally, most visitors also prefer the Siam Square and Sukhumvit areas as they form the main tourist area flanked by shopping malls, restaurants and even the BTS Skytrain. Other popular areas where tourists prefer staying include Chinatown, Bangkok Riverside, Dusit, Bangkok Old Town, Thong Lor and Silom.

Question: How to get around in Bangkok?

Answer: There are multiple ways of getting around the city including taxis, BTS Skytrain, MRT subway train, túk-túk, boats and ferries, motorcycle taxis and buses.

Question: What to wear in Bangkok?

Answer: Since Bangkok is a tropical city, loose, lightweight and breezy clothing in breathable fabrics is highly preferred. While you can wear anything from shorts and skirts to dresses across the city, you’d be required to dress modestly when visiting religious places. Both men and women are expected to have their shoulders and knees (ankles as well at some places) covered when visiting such places. Avoid wearing revealing clothes or carry cover-ups, shrugs and sarongs along.

Bangkok Travel Guide: What to know about the vibrant city

With an academic background in Public Relations, Divya has a flair for writing about topics spanning genres like lifestyle, beauty, fashion, travel, FnB, tech and entertainment. She fancies everything that's a wholesome blend of contemporary finery and timelessness. Quirky earrings and tees are her weakness. When not creating content, you will find her devouring food, snuggling in with a book and a cup-a-chai, admiring skies or revisiting Hogwarts.


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