Thailand's chaotic capital is a place where you're not likely to be bored. Generally, people either love or hate Bangkok. Being a mega city, modern and chaotic, it's often not a city you like at first, but once you get carried away, its charm grabs you. It is the place where most travellers start their journey through Thailand or Asia. With all the things it has to offer you can easily stay for 3 days. If you are planning a trip to Thailand we leave you a practical guide with everything you need to know before you travel.
How to get around Bangkok?
Bangkok offers a wide variety of transport options for getting around: tuk tuk, metro, Skytrain (BTS), bus, taxi and grab (Asia's Uber).
Most of the city is within walking distance but there are some areas that are far away. For us, the best way to get around was with Grab as the prices are very affordable. As we have been telling you and advising you, in Asia taxis don't usually use a meter, but the price is agreed beforehand. As they know that you are a tourist they will inflate the price a lot, so for us the best option to move around is Grab as it is very transparent. What you can also do is check the price in Grab to find out how much the taxi or tuk tuk will charge you and negotiate.
From the airport to the city
Bangkok has two international airports: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang.
Suvarnabhumi is connected to the city by the BTS. From the airport to the city centre it takes about 30-40 minutes and costs 1USD. It probably won't take you very close to your hotel but from the station you can take a Grab.
Don Mueang is still connected to the BTS so it is best to use Grab.
What to do in Bangkok?
1. Bangkok Grand Palace
This first stop is a must on your visit to Bangkok. It was built in 1792 after Thailand's capital was moved to Bangkok and was the official residence of the royal family until the mid-20th century.
It is an architectural complex that leaves no one indifferent. It occupies an area of 200,000 square metres and is made up of different temples (Temple of the Emerald Buddha among others), a museum, the former royal residence and gardens. A mini walled city.
The dress code is very strict. Both women and men must cover their shoulders and knees. Be careful, sometimes even with a scarf to cover your shoulders they won't let you pass.
- Price: $500 Baths ($16 USD)
- Timetable: 8:30 to 15:30hs
TIP: As one of the most touristy places in Bangkok, avoid midday. Go early in the morning or close to closing time.
2. Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha
The second stop of the day is Wat Pho to visit the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. It is 46 metres long and 25 metres high and is bathed in gold.
Besides the Reclining Buddha, the temple compound is quite large with stupas full of details.
- Price: $100 Baths ($3 USD)
- Opening hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
To get here you will have to take a public boat to cross the Chao Phraya River from Tha Tien Pier. It costs $4 Baths ($0.10 USD) and takes 5 minutes. It's the cheapest, local and quickest way to get here. Otherwise, you can take a grab or tuk tuk.
It is one of the main Buddhist temples in Bangkok. Its name means Temple of Dawn or Temple of Dawn. It has a central tower of more than 75 metres, which is impressive. The beauty of the temple lies in its decoration, Chinese porcelain mosaics and seashells. During its construction in 1650, the King of Thailand called on citizens to donate their broken pottery for the construction of the temple. Many came from merchant ships that used the Chinese ceramic plates to make counterweight. The king was several centuries ahead of the idea of recycling.
- Price: $50 Baths ($1.5 USD)
- Opening hours: 8:30 to 17:30hs
4. Browse through the Pak Khlongflower market.
When you return to the Tha Tien Pier you will find the Pak Khlong flower market nearby. You will find all kinds of flowers and you will be able to see how they make the famous flower garlands that Buddhists use as offerings. It's a different kind of walk to do in Bangkok. In front of this market, you will find another food market that is also worth a stop.
5. Have fun at Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri
A night out not to be missed is the markets and nightlife of Khao San Road. A street full of bars, food stalls, shops and even fried scorpion vendors. It has a very cool atmosphere for a fun night out.
Soi Rambuttri is the parallel street to Khao San. It is a bit quieter and has more restaurants.
Tip: This is the quintessential backpacker area with plenty of cheap accommodation.
6. Wat Benchamabophit
Another temple to visit is Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the marble temple. As I'm sure you've noticed, the word Wat in Thai means temple.
It's on the outskirts of Bangkok's old town and, because it's not well known (yet), you're likely to be one of the few to visit it. It was built with Italian marble. The interior of the temple mixes traditional Thai elements with touches of European palaces of the time.
- Price: $50 Baths ($1.5 USD)
- Opening hours: From 6am
7. Floating markets
The whole city of Bangkok is connected by different canals, which is why it has several floating markets. Visiting these markets is a very authentic experience: see how they cook on the boats, how they move from one point to another to buy all kinds of products, etc. The most famous are: Damnoen Saduak, Thailing Chan and Khlong Lat Mayom.
Damnoen Saduak: It is located 80km from the city. It is the most famous in the country and therefore the most touristy. If your intention is to see the authenticity of the place, this is probably not the best place to visit. The good thing is that, being the most touristy, there are many excursions that also include the Mae Klong market (the one on the train tracks) on the same day. We recommend going as early as possible to the floating market to avoid the tourists.
Thailing Chan: Unlike the previous one, this one is only 20 minutes by taxi (or Grab) from the centre of Bangkok. It is a good option if you don't have much time, it is also a little less touristy than the previous one and you will be able to appreciate the local life much better. This market is only open on weekends from 8am to 6pm.
Khlong Lat Mayom: Located 20 kilometres from the capital, this is one of the best floating markets in Bangkok. It is smaller and much more authentic. It is open every day from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. If you plan to visit Chatuchak market it is a good option to go on the same day.
8. Mae Klong Market
Mae Klong Market is famous for being crossed by the railway. The market is on the train tracks and the vendors have to gather their stalls every time the train passes. It runs 8 times a day: 6:20h, 8:30h, 9h, 11:10h, 11:30h, 14:30h, 15:30h and 17:40h.
The market is located 90 km from the city. You can go on an excursion that combines the Mae Klong market with the Damnoen Saduak floating market.
9. The Siam area and its huge shopping malls.
Bangkok is one of the cities with the largest number of skyscrapers. The more modern Bangkok can be found in the Siam, Silom and Sukhumvit areas.
It also has some spectacular shopping centres such as Siam Paragon (luxury brands), Central World (more affordable brands) or MBK (imitations of all kinds).
10. Wat Ratchabophit
This temple was not on our itinerary, we found it on our way back from the flower market to the hostel. As you can see, when we get lost and go off the planned route we can find amazing places! This is what we like the most about Bangkok, there are things to discover in every corner of the city.
We loved it and we were alone. After a little more research we found out that it is the place where the ashes of the Thai Royal Family are still kept, so it has a great significance for the history of the country.
11. Escape the chaos for a while in Lumpini Park or Chatuchak Park.
After a day of walking around the chaotic city, what better way to escape to a park for a while and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet. Bangkok has several, including Lumpini in the modern area, and Chatuchak near Chatuchak Market.
12. Chatuchak Market
It is one of the largest markets in Bangkok. It is only open on weekends. It is located on the outskirts of the city but can be easily reached by BTS (Mo Chit stop) or Grab. It has more than 10,000 stalls selling EVERYTHING: clothes, accessories, technology, souvenirs, etc.
13. Wat Samphran Temple
It is the famous 17-storey pink building which is surrounded by a dragon whose head ends up crowning the building. It is a kind of monastery inhabited by nuns. Usually on weekends the nuns open the access door to the upper floors, which gives you the possibility to go upstairs, otherwise you can only visit the ground floor.
How to get to Wat Samphran Temple? It is located on the outskirts of Bangkok in the Sam Phran District, 40km from the centre. The easiest way is by taxi or grab. You can also take a minivan from the Pinklao Road minivan station.
The temple gate is located exactly here.
14. Aircraft graveyard
If you are one of those who like to explore this is a place you can't miss, the aircraft graveyard in Bangkok. You can climb around aeroplanes and see how huge they really are.
How to enter? From the street you will see the giant boeing. It is just off the busy street. The entrance gate looks quite intimidating with drawn signs warning you to stay away. But that's OK, you'll probably be approached by a local family and allowed in for a little money, about 200 Baths.
How to get there? The exact address is as follows. The cheapest and fastest way is to take a boat. From Pratu Nam (near Siam Station and next to the Premium Mall) you can take the boat across the river. The trip takes 30 minutes and costs only 20 baht ($0,60USD).
15. Day trip to Ayutthaya
A visit to the temples of Ayutthaya is a must during your stay in Thailand. It was once considered the most spectacular city on earth. In the 16th century the kingdom extended into what is now Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. It was a regional power for 417 years.
It is located 1 hour from Bangkok so you can go there during the day and come back, or spend the night there. For us it is best to go on your own but there is also the possibility of going with an excursion, there are many agencies that offer it.
We will soon launch a post dedicated exclusively to the incredible temples of Ayutthaya.
See all the things to do in Ayutthaya here
16. Erawan Waterfalls
It is a national park located 265km from Bangkok. It is a waterfall made up of 7 different levels. In total it is a 2 km walk, surrounded by trees and vines until you reach the last level. We loved this national park, the colour of the water, the nature, 100% recommendable.
If you don't have much time, the best thing to do is to go with an organised tour from Bangkok, many agencies offer it in Khao San Road. If you have a little more time it is best to go on your own, you will probably have to spend the night in Kanchanaburri.
We put together a post exclusively about Erawan Falls, how to get there and more tips!