11 things to do in Bangkok, Thailand

So I’ve shared my Bangkok 101 (if you didn’t catch it and are planning a trip to Thailand, check it out here), so now’s time for the real deal, my roundup of things to do in Bangkok…

Things to do in Bangkok #1 – Visit the Grand Palace Wat Phra Kaew

Golden monuments of the Grand Palace in Bangkok
Monuments at every angle at the Grand Palace

 

Mini version of the Angkar Wat Temple in Bangkok
The Palace boasts a miniature version of Angkor Wat

 

Decadent architecture at the Grand Palace, Bangkok
More gold than you can shake a stick at
The many statues of the Grand Palace
The guardians of the Palace
If you don’t do anything else in Thailand, I would strongly recommend visiting the Grand Palace. Built in the 1700s, the palace is home to the legendary emerald Buddha, and boasts unbelievable decadence in its architecture. I mean bling really isn’t the word. Gold plated temples, mirrored and enamel finished monuments, it’s almost like a homage to a dynasty, with a different awe-inspiring piece at every turn. The pictures don’t really do justice, as seeing really is believing.

 

I took a candid video just to make it easier for you to visualise how amazing it was…

One thing to note is that the palace has a modest dress code as people also go there to worship. So no short sleeves, skirts or shorts, or tight trousers.
You can pay a deposit to borrow clothing for the visit, and as you can see, I wore this rather fetching
men’s shirt…
Wat Phra Kaew, The Grand Palace dress code
The dress code at the Grand Palace

Things to do in Bangkok #2 – Pay respects to the reclining Buddha

The giant reclining Buddha of Wat Pho
Check out the shine on that… and the Buddha
Another must-see, the gold reclining Buddha defies proportions and lies across a huge temple. The dress code is a little more relaxed, but modesty still applies, and they have gowns to loan to visitors who need them.
As the Buddha is surrounded by pillars, it’s difficult to get a clear view, but I attempted to get a shot
from an angle. Again, the pictures are no substitute for seeing it for yourself.
The decorative feet of the reclining Buddha
The decorated feet of the Big Buddha

Things to do in Bangkok #3 – Visit the Wat Pho Palace

decorated buildings at Wat Pho Palace
The grounds of Wat Pho Palace
A golden buddha enshrined at Wat Pho Palace
The shrine at Wat Pho

 

Do you see a theme here?  Thailand has more blingy monuments than you can shake a stick at.
Wat Pho is another such example.  The temple of known as the birthplace of the Thai massage, and is also home of the reclining Buddha, as detailed above.
As it’s located so close to the Grand Palace, it’s definitely worth a visit.  If nothing else, you can gasp at the scale and size of the big gold fella.

And of course, I made another sneaky vid…

 

Things to do in Bangkok #4 – Scale the Wat Arun (temple of dawn)

the steep incline of Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn
The epic Wat Arun

 

The night view of Wat Arun from ChaoPhraya river
The lights at night at Wat Arun
The Wat Arun is another shrine for worshippers and tourists alike.  Not for the faint hearted, it
features steep steps to scale the temple, but there is a handrail which I clung onto for dear life.
The temple has some unique detail, with figurines of demons and monkeys holding up each layer.
The monkey statues at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn
It’s a real marvel to view during sunrise, as the temple gives off a pearly iridescence.
Now confession time, I didn’t quite climb to the top as my fear of heights was too much (I’m a big
baby).  But my husband did, and he got to enjoy great views of the city.
The sky view from Wat Arun
The view from (halfway up) Wat Arun

 

Wat Arun is also incredibly convenient to reach, as it’s located just across the river from the Grand Palace, so it’s just a short boat ride between each destination.

 

Things to do in Bangkok #5 – Eat with the locals in China Town

People eating street food in China Town, Bangkok
Great food at China Town

 

Bright neon lights at night in China Town
The bright lights of China Town
Yes, even Bangkok has a China Town. And there you can get your fill of local cuisine made before your very eyes. China town boasts great fresh juices, snack shacks and even the odd restaurant. We sat at a rather undesirable place and enjoyed a seafood soup with fish fry, which is essentially a deep fried piece of fish, as the name suggests. However it wasn’t that bad and we lived to tell the tale.
Rice, soup with fish balls and coconut smoothie in Bangkok's China Town
Street food in China Town
China Town has a great atmosphere in the evening, and comes to life with bustle and the music coming from tuk tuks.  You really feel like you’re in a far away place here.

Things to do in Bangkok #6 – Live it up at Khao San Road

Revellers in Khao San Road
Khao San Road

 

A haven for backpackers and gap year tourists, Khao San road really is the party heart of Bangkok. With food stalls, cafés and bars thumping music from every direction, Khao San Road is not for you if you’re looking for a relaxing break. We hopped over for one evening just to absorb the atmosphere and see what all the fuss was about. To be honest, it was great to visit, but I couldn’t stay in that area as it was just too noisy!
However, amongst the mayhem, was a massage parlour which offered 30-minute foot massages, in the outdoors on sun loungers. So we actually found ourselves enjoying a moment of calm in the
unlikeliest of places.
Masseuses carry out foot massages in the street on Khao San Road
Street massages at Khao San Road

So if you’re under 25, or just want to relive your youth, Khao San road is the cool, hip place to be.

Things to do in Bangkok #7 – Get bartering on Sukhumvit road

Located next to the Arab area in Bangkok, Sukhumvit road has stalls aplenty offering various bits and pieces to mark your journey.

I picked up some jade bangles, or at least I assume they’re jade, which are great for everyday wear.
Jade is a well-used mineral in Bangkok, as that it what the emerald Buddha is actually made from.

One note of caution, Sukhumvit Road is a slightly sleazy tourist trap with local ladies-of-the-night on street corners, and some rather inappropriate souvenirs. It’s a strange juxtaposition as it’s located next to a Muslim area, with headscarf-clad women making their way through the stalls that sell such tat. However, sadly sleaze is a part of Thailand which overshadows the culture and beauty of the place. So like any good tourist, I turned a blind eye and continued hunting for our nice goods.
Sukhmvit Road is also home to some halal restaurants, so we went there a couple of times for dinner (For my Bangkok restaurant review see here).
Spicy Thai curry with baby corn, cauliflower and greens
Delicious authentic food near Sukhumvit Road

 

Spicy papaya salad
Mango chilli slaw and more

Things to do in Bangkok #8 – Pop round to Jim Thompson’s House

Jim Thompson's House museum, Bangkok, Thailand
Jim Thompson’s house
No this isn’t a random expat.  The American Jim Thomson is credited for rejuvenating the Thai silk industry.  After falling in love with the country and settling there, Jim dedicated his life to the Thai silk industry and truly embraced Thailand’s culture.  His house, which is now open for tours as a museum, was a true embodiment of Thai architecture, from having a raised floor to prevent flooding, to having many Buddha shrines.
Sadly, Jim didn’t get to enjoy his house for long, as six months after completion, he went on holiday with his friends to Malaysia and never returned.  Nobody knows what happened to him.
However, his memory and influence lives on through his home.  The tour guide that took us around was impressive and explained the different details of the house and the history behind it.  It was also a great activity to do on our last day, as we could completely unwind and learn something new, rather than running ourselves ragged in the shopping districts.

Things to do in Bangkok #9 – Shop (and eat) ’til you drop at the Siam Mall

Eating out at Siam Mall in Bangkok
Spring rolls and egg fried rice at No.8 restaurant, Siam Mall

 

The red chandelier at Siam Mall
Mod con comforts at the Siam Mall
Now if you don’t want to haggle in the market stalls, or just want a break from the heat, venture into the Siam Mall, which has all the shops you can get in the UK, but also leads to an indoor market stall.
While I don’t personally see the point in buying from stores I can get in the UK, I did enjoy mooching around the mall, and eating at some of their restaurants.  If you go there, I’d recommend the No.8…
Prawn Tom Yum soup with noodles
The soup at No.8, the clue’s on the egg

Things to do in Bangkok #10 – Take a boat ride up the Chao Phraya River

The Mandarin Oriental boat floats across the Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya River
Now this is more of a mode of transport than an attraction in itself.  But for wide-eyed tourists like us, the Chao Phraya river boat ride is a fun way to get about as you see the temples from a distanced
that you wouldn’t experience on Tuk Tuk or on foot.  The river boat is also a great cut-through when the traffic is insane, which is quite often the case in the city.  So try and factor in a boat ride as part of
your trip.

Things to do in Bangkok #11 – Oh, and visit the other Palace (Chitralada)

The King of Thailand has many residences, and despite the grandeur of the Grand Palace, you’d be surprised to know he spends more of his time at the Chitralada Palace.  The Palace is is surrounded by a moat, which is frequently used by joggers.  While we didn’t go into the Palace, it was a nice walk along the water.
Chitralada Palace
The King’s image is emblazoned around Bangkok
The moat and water fountain at Chitralada Palace
The moat surrounding Chitralada Palace

I hope you find this ‘things to do’ article useful.  If there’s anything else you want to know about Bankgok that I may have missed, just drop me a comment.

HalimaBobs

About the Author

HalimaBobs

I’m a British-Bengali Muslim mum-of-two. My pictures aren’t filtered and neither are my words. I’m not a makeup artist, chef or lifestyle guru. I’m just me, sharing honest beauty reviews for brown skin, halal restaurant finds, travel inspo, mum life hacks, easy Bengali recipes and more. If that’s your bag, keep reading!

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