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The most urbanised city and capital of Thailand, Bangkok is a glimmering beacon of modernity from its skyrail to its skyscrapers, but it’s a distinctly Thai world. Huge Buddhist temples dominate whole districts, delicious street food dots almost every street, and its Chinatown beckons.
With a whole universe of sights to explore in this buzzing, never sleeping, but equally traditional city, we thought we’d help you out with a handy guide to the best things to do in Bangkok.
If you’re travelling with your family, what’s good to do if you’ve got kids in tow? And what if you’re a couple looking for a romantic evening?
Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Let’s see what this cool city has to offer you…
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Bangkok wouldn’t be Bangkok without being fun. So we’ve found you just a few of the fun things to do in Bangkok aside from the obvious things that might spring to mind (Khaosan Road, for example).
Hit the streets of the Thai capital on a bike and spend a morning pedalling around the top sites.Cycling down the quiet lanes and backroads is of the most fun things to do in Bangkok, and you’ll be led to all of the small sois (streets) by a friendly local.
Find out that there is so much more to this city than gleaming high-rises and busy streets as you discover a softer side to the big city. Cycle along the banks of the small canals and waterways through the very heart of Bangkok’s local neighbourhoods for a super special Thai experience.
Make sure to stop off on the way to take plenty of snaps of everyday life in the city and, of course, you can take breaks to sample some of Bangkok’s local street food too!
Thailand is all about its tasty food and its capital also pretty much happens to be capital for food as well. There’s just about every international food on offer in its many restaurants and malls, but to really get into what Bangkok has to offer, stay on street level.
That’s right. Simply walking around the city and discovering what’s up for grabs in terms of delicious street food is hands down one of the most fun things to do in Bangkok. You can get a pad thai served up to you in mere seconds, head to Chinatown for some noodle soup and other Chinese delights down its many backstreets.
You can even grab dinner on the street. See food stalls? See tables and chairs? That’s a good a spot as any. There are so many places that it would be almost impossible to recommend any. Simply make sure your stomach is ready for food and hit the streets.
Shopaholics rejoice, if you’re planning a trip to Bangkok you’re going to be in for a treat. You can literally shop until you drop in the crazy number of malls and markets across the city, from shiny modern boutiques to bargain hunting in strange malls, shopping is a super fun thing to do in Bangkok.
MBK is Bangkok’s the iconic mall that opened all the way back in 1995: be prepared to spend some time here as you pick a floor and delve into whole sections dedicated to electronics, designer clothes and cute toys.
For chic shopping head to the glistening Paragon Mall, which is all about designer brands; and then there’s Central World with its own indoor ice rink in the centre. If your looking for Asian clothing designs and accessories, Platinum Fashion Mall’s eight floors are jammed full of reasonably priced goods.
You may think the Thai capital is all street food and partying, but there’s a beautiful side to this Southeast Asian city that makes it perfect for a couples getaway. So here are some romantic things to do in Bangkok.
Nothing quite says romance like a gentle cruise along the river. And Bangkok, when all of its elegant, golden temples begin to light up, and skyscrapers beyond them glitter, is a shining beacon of romance – the perfect backdrop for a lovely evening together.
So heading on the Chao Phraya River for dinner and drinks definitely makes for one of the top romantic things to do in Bangkok. Not only that, but on this amazing river cruise you’ll be welcomed with some traditional Thai dance, and serenaded throughout your meal with music. Is that not just the perfect setting?
And so it’s not too stuffy, you both get to tuck into a buffet dinner, ranging from Thai dishes to Western cuisine, so you’ll both be full after this fun cruise for couples.
It would be rude not to take time out of your busy days on the sweaty streets of Bangkok to treat you and your partner to a Thai spa treatment. Step into this oasis of calm in the middle of the city and relax in the chic natural decor of the spa.
The Thai massage at this modern spa works the back and legs with acupressure techniques to relieve any stress, or you could opt for an aromatic hot stone massage which might sound painful, but actually, the whole body massage with heated volcanic stones is incredible.
And then, there’s the ever so dreamy Dream Package which works your feet, hands, back and shoulders where most people keep holding stress and tension. You’ll float out of the door of the spa feeling like a new person.
Spending time with your partner looking out across amazing views is always something we think is pretty romantic. A good vista of nature is always good, but there’s nothing quite like a glitzy city skyline to sink into at night – oh, and how about a glitzy rooftop bar to match?
Bangkok has no shortage of rooftop bars, which means they’re not all super posh, either. So you’re going to find one that’s going to suit you. Or, you know, you could always go on a little rooftop bar crawl!
For something upmarket you can head to the roof of the Park Hyatt Bangkok, or go to Sukhumvit Road for Octave – the Marriott’s lounge/bar option. Alternatives include Escape and Marble Bar where you stand on the glass above the city! Definitely one of the most romantic things to do in Bangkok.
On holiday with your family and not sure what counts as family friendly in Bangkok? Don’t worry, we’ve done the leg-work and come up with a few great things to do in Bangkok with kids.
One of the most rewarding things about taking your children on holiday is the chance to broaden their horizons when it comes to learning about different cultures. That’s pretty much priceless, we’d say.
So one of the best ways to soak up some of Thailand’s unique culture is to tour around where its heart beats most strongly: its temples and royal palaces. Yes, these incredible buildings are very important to Thai culture and will be super interesting to your children – the buildings along will be sure to have them in awe!
Some of the best temples in Bangkok are Wat Pho and Wat Arun, seeing them on a walking tour around Rattanakosin Island with a friendly, flexible guide is great when you’ve got children – you never know when you’re going to have to say enough is enough!
But make sure you see the stunning Royal Palace first.
Take some time out from the temples and museums and spend the day at SEA LIFE Bangkok. An enjoyable and easy thing to do in Bangkok with kids, you can discover over 400 marine species and 30,000 fish inside the aquarium and learn about the ecology of the world’s oceans.
Make sure to take a walk through the clear glass tunnel that runs through the main aquarium and try to spot as many different creatures living under there water as you can. It’s a fantastic way to experience life under the sea in this part of the world.
There’s also an array of other friendly creatures to get to know; turn up just before lunch to watch the otters being fed, as well as the jackass penguins, and your children can have a chat and ask the handlers any questions they might have, too.
For families looking for thrills in the city, a trip to Siam Park City is the place to go. With rides to suit all ages, spending a day at the amusement park is a really fun thing to do in Bangkok with kids.
Siam Park City is the biggest theme park in the country and is home to a whole lot of hair-raising rides. There’s five different zones for you to adventure through, from the rides for little ones at Small World to the twists and turns of the big roller coasters, and the fun on Fantasy World.
Make sure to bring your swimming costume because you won’t want to miss out on the Water Park area, which is home to the biggest wave pool in the whole world!
Bangkok isn’t exactly known for being an expensive city, but if you’re looking for even more of a bargain – or if you’re a backpacker on a budget – we’ve found a few cool, free things to do in Bangkok.
Of course, Bangkok is awash with quintessentially Thai sights, smells and sounds. But there is a huge – and influential – Chinese population that calls this city home. One moment everything is in Thai script, and the next minute you’ll be marvelling at huge signs with Chinese characters: welcome to Chinatown.
There’s plenty to explore here, but like all good free things to do in Bangkok, it’s best to use your legs and simply get lost on foot around this surprisingly dense area.
From markets – like the bustling Trok Issaranuphap that connects Yaowarat to Charoen Krung Road, or the trinket-filled Sampeng Lane – to Chinese temples, including Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, or the Guan Yin Shrine.
And in all of that, you’ll witness dried food stalls, tea merchants, and some amazing Chinese eateries that you might just have to sample!
Step back in time and visit the pretty Phraeng Phuton district. This old area is close to the big golden sites of Rattanakosin, but reveals a much more traditional and local side to Bangkok and makes it a truly charming place to explore.
The area has undergone restoration in recent years as locals sought help from the government to return the streets to their former glory. Stylish Sino-European heritage shophouses are home to locals who’ve lived in the district for generations
The old buildings have been painted in blue and cream and some have signage in front of them to let visitors know more about the history behind the buildings. Make sure to peer inside the old shops, there’s a classic car workshop that’s been the same for decades, and the local cafes serve up some really delicious lunches if you’re feeling peckish.
For something that’s not only free but also a little breath of fresh air in the sometimes congested and car-filled city, head over to Lumphini Park. This large green space is a great place to get away from it all without having to actually leave the city, making it a perfect free thing to do in Bangkok.
There’s a beautiful artificial lake here, which makes for a big open space where you can admire the skyscrapers of the business district (of which this park is right in the middle), but there are many huge trees here, too; these are important for some interesting bird species that keen birdwatchers might want to catch sight of.
The park is also home to a children’s playground, Bangkok’s first public library and is sometimes the setting for political protests, too.
If you thought Bangkok was crazy by day, at night is when it really comes alive. It’s a city that never seems to sleep, which is why we’ve had to include a few amazing things to do in Bangkok at night.
Like the general vibe of the city, the food scene of Bangkok also changes when night falls. And getting an incredible midnight food tour around the city (by tuk-tuk, no less) is easily one of the best things to do in Bangkok at night.
Whilst Bangkok is crawling with night markets, and many tourists head to the most popular night spots to grab a bit of street food, this tour takes you off of the path well trodden and right into a more local side of Thai food.
You’ll get to sample some delicious examples of Isan (northeast Thailand) culinary tradition, for a start, as well as what bills itself as the best pad thai in the whole city – and a whole lot of other tasty morsels.
Ending your gourmet voyage couldn’t be better than sitting atop a secret rooftop bar with a cold beer and amazing views, could it?
Famous the world over as a mecca for travellers and the setting of Leo’s messy city nights in The Beach, Khao San road is the place to go if you’re in Bangkok at night.
The raucous street is a thriving mess of neon signs, sprawling streetside bars that almost merge into one another, rowdy groups of travellers looking for their next pit stop and bemused tourists who gaze at leaflets inviting them to ping pong shows in a beguiled delight.
A visit to Bangkok is not complete without at least seeing the chaos that is Khaosan Road; it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a fun, energetic place. Arrive with an open mind, have a stroll, pick one of the many bars and watch it all unfold in front of you.
Don’t worry: this isn’t one of those infamous nighttime shows in Bangkok… This one is a lot less seedy, a lot more modern and a whole lot more fun, too. It’s a cabaret show done by transsexual and transvestite performers. Lighthearted and super entertaining, it’s a great way to finish the day (or start an evening)!
You can even start this unique experience with a tasty Thai dinner at the Calypso Thai Restaurant – complete with its own, more traditional show that explores the regions and eras of Thailand through dance and music.
But the star attraction? You’ll find this in the basement at the Asia Hotel: the cabaret show itself. Experience a whirlwind of exuberant dancing and singing, from interpretations of old Chinese ballads to jazz standards like the hot honey rag. A very, very fun thing to do in Bangkok at night!
Bangkok is a bold and beautiful city that draws people to it with the promise of strange sights and amazing food but ends up enchanting visitors with its charming streets, amazing architecture and welcoming locals.
Make the most of your time in the Thai capital with our handy guide to the best things to do in Bangkok; hit the streets in the early morning on a bike ride, get lost in the madness of the markets in Chinatown and eat your way around town at midnight.
What are you waiting for? It’s your turn to discover Bangkok…
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Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.