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What to Do in Bangkok, Thailand: A Complete Guide

  • Post last modified:October 29, 2023
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If you're wondering what to do in Bangkok, Thailand, then you're in the right place. One a recent two week trip to Thailand, I actually spent almost one full week in the capital city.


While many tourists flock to the south for the islands, or to the north for the best elephant sanctuaries and temples, we're here to tell you why this city should remain on your radar, and what to do in Bangkok for the start or end of an amazing trip.


In this guide we're going to cover everything you need to know, from the different ways to get there and entry requirements, to how to get around, and what to do in Bangkok for fun attractions, delicious food, and so much more. So without further ado, let's jump right in for everything you need to know!

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Where is Bangkok?

Bangkok is the capital and biggest city of Thailand, as well as one of the biggest cities in the world! It is located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, in the central area of the country. Thailand is located in South East Asia, having borders with Cambodia to its south east, Laos to its east, Myanmar to its west, and Malaysia to the south.

where is Bangkok

Bangkok is located in central Thailand.


How to Get to Bangkok, Thailand

There are plenty of ways to get to Bangkok Internationally and domestically. Here are the different options.


Flying into Bangkok

Bangkok is a huge hub for Asia, and has two different airports that serve the city. The bigger International airport, which is the main airport of Bangkok is Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and the smaller more domestic airport (with some international flights) is Don Mueang (DMK). BKK is about 40 minutes to an hour east of the city depending on traffic and the area of the city you're going, while DMK is about a 20 minute ride away from the center.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can use the calendar option to see which are the cheapest dates to fly to Bangkok.

Search for a flight to Bangkok:

Flying into Suvarnabhumi Airport

Domestic cities that fly into BKK include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen, Koh Samui, Krabi, Lampang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Penang, Phuket, Sukhothai, Surat Thani, Trat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani,


Other Asian, African, and Middle East flights operate from Abu Dhabi, Addis Ababa, Almaty, Amman, Beijing, Bengaluru, Brunner, Busan, Cairo, Chennai, Colombo, Da Nang, Daegu, Delhi, Dhaka, Doha, Dubai, Fukuoka, Gaya, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Jakarta, Jeddah, Jeju, Kathmandu, Kolkata, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Kuwait, Lahore, Luang Paro, Prabong, Male, Mandalay, Manila, Mumbai, Muscat, Nagoya, Nanning, Osaka, Phnom Penh, Phu Quoc, Reunion, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Shijiazhuang, Siem Reap, Singapore, Taipei, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Vientiane, Wenzhou, Wuxi, Xi'an, Yangon, and Zhengzhou.


European cities that fly direct to BKK include Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Irkutsk, Istanbul, London, Luxembourg, Munich, Moscow, Paris, Stockholm, Vienna, Zurich. Finally, Melbourne and Sydney and have direct flights there.


Flying into Don Mueang Airport

Domestic cities that fly into Don Mean Airport include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen, Krabi, Loei, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Phitsanulok, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Surat Thani, Trang, Ubon Ratchathani, and Udon Thani.


Other international cities that fly to DMK include Bengaluru, Buri Ram, Chennai, Da Nang, Denpasar (Bali) Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Jaipur, Jakarta, Johor Bahru, Kochi, Kolkata, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, Singapore, and Yangon.


Traveling to Bangkok via Land

If you're not a fan of flights, the good news is that there are bus routes from all around the country to Bangkok, and they are super affordable.


Want to book your bus to Bangkok? Here are a few popular routes:

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Entry Requirements for Thailand

If you're looking to travel to Bangkok, Thailand, you'll need to have in mind the requirements to enter the country. Here's everything you need to know for entering Thailand.


Visa Requirements for Thailand

First thing's first- let's make sure you can enter the country of Thailand without any problems due to visa restrictions. Currently Thailand offers visa-free visits for up to 30 days for 64 different nationalities, while allowing 18 others to receive their visa upon arrival.


If you'd like to extend your stay in Thailand to either 60 or 90 days, you can just apply at your local embassy, or apply once you are in Thailand for $30. Another option to have in mind is that you can leave the country and visit a neighboring one. Then once you come back you can restart your 30 days in the country.


If you'd like a bit more detailed info on the visa process in Thailand, or to see if you in fact need one, you can check the official site.


Covid Entry Requirements for Thailand

Thailand, as well as plenty of other Asian countries, have been very conservative when it comes to opening up for tourism. As of last year though, Thailand is back open to tourists who are fully vaccinated, or those that obtain a negative Covid test result within 72 hours of flying.


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Local Adjustments for Bangkok, Thailand

When traveling somewhere new, there are certain things that you may not think of, that could be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to have in mind when traveling to Bangkok, Thailand.


What Language is Spoken in Bangkok?

The official language in Bangkok is Thai. If you're from a western country, then it definitely won't be an easy language easy to pick up. 


How Common is English in Bangkok?

While many streets vendors and taxis won't speak much English, hotel staff and more established restaurants and shops most likely will. We suggest keeping Google Translate handy for speaking with locals on the streets.


Currency in Thailand

The currency used in Thailand is the Thai Baht. Currently (October 2023) every 1 USD or 1 Euro is equal to 36.79 Thai Baht.


Do I Need Cash for Bangkok?

It's important to note that it is very rare to be able to use a credit card throughout Thailand. Unless you are staying at a big hotel or dining at a fancy restaurant, cash is pretty much the only method of payment that is accepted. (There is also a transfer option, but this is only for those that have a local bank account).


What Plug Adapter Do I Need for Thailand?

Thailand's electrical outlets are great for most westerners when it comes to outlets, because they can serve both American and European appliances. The plug types that are accepted include types A, B, & C. The standard voltage in Thailand is 230 V, with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.


It's important to know this if you have appliances from the Americas, because although the plug may fit, the energy will not be the same. In this case, you'll have to purchase an energy converter in order to not don't blow out your electronic devices.


Can We Drink Tap Water in Thailand?

The water in Bangkok in theory should be fine to drink. However, locals recommend not drinking the tap water and sticking to bottled water. Our personal suggestion is to buy a large jug from a super market, and then continue to fill up a reusable water bottle.


Do You Tip in Thailand?

The tipping culture in Thailand is not really one that's set in stone. Tipping in Thailand is not so typical. However, the fancier the establishment, the more likely you will find people tipping a bit (up to 10%). For street food, taxis, and services such as salons, it isn't necessary to tip at all.


However, if you're dining at a 5-star establishment, or having someone help you in a hotel, then you can considering leaving something a little extra.

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What to Do in Bangkok, Thailand

Now that you know the basics for getting to Bangkok, now let's start with the fun stuff. Here's a list of what to do in Bangkok.


Go Temple Hopping

Thailand has some stunning temples, and while many people flock to Chiang Rai to see the temples, there are actually some really amazing ones in Bangkok! Here is a list of some awesome temples throughout the city:


  • Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram: Ornate temple with Italian marble 
  • Wat Phrong Akat: Has a giant pink Ganesha (elephant looking monument)
  • Wat Arun Ratchawararam: In our opinion the most stunning and monumental one in the city
  • Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen: Located right across the river from Wat Arun, with a big golden Buddha
  • Wat Phra Chetuphon (Wat Pho): Known as the temple of the emerald Buddha
  • Wat Samphran: A pink temple with a dragon wrapped around it
Wat Samphran, what to do in Bangkok
Wat Arun, what to do in Bangkok
Wat Benchamabophit temple, what to do in Bangkok
temples in Bangkok
temples in Bangkok, what to do in Bangkok

It's important to note that in order to enter any temples, you will have to abide by certain rules especially when it comes to dress code. Here are some of the rules for Wat Arun for example.

temple rules

Don't have a lot of time and want to visit the highlights? Here are a few tours that you can take:

Take a Trip to Ayutthaya

Located 80 km north of Bangkok, is an UNESCO World Heritage site that you'll want to add to your list. Ayutthaya is an ancient city that dates back to the 14th century, and was the capital of the kingdom of Siam. This impressive area has so much to see, and is the perfect place to learn about the history of Thailand.


Want to organize a tour here from Bangkok? Here are a few options:

Visit the Grand Palace

If you're looking for what to do in Bangkok other than temples, there is also the Grand Palace. This is more than just a royal building. It is actually a whole complex of important buildings for government, museums, and to learn about the history of the country. Despite not being a temple, it's also another place that you need to cover up for, and it closes quite early in the afternoon (it was 3:00 at the time we were there).


Browse the Markets

Thailand is known for its markets, and some of the best ones are located in Bangkok! Here are a few of the must visit markets in the city.

  • Chatachuk: One of the biggest markets in the world, you could spend multiple days exploring the 15,000 different stalls. You can find everything from home decor to souvenir, clothing and jewelry, as well as tons of food
  • Jodd Fairs Night Market: This is a trendy night market with live music, clothing, and exotic treats. It is the perfect size to spend a few hours, and is our favorite in Bangkok
  • Chang Chui Plane Night Market: A night market with a huge airplane in the middle
Jodd fairs night market, what to do in Bangkok

Bangkok is known for its bustling markets.

Cruise the Floating Market

This is one of the biggest attractions when it comes to what to do in Bangkok. It's important to note that there are actually many of them. The most popular one is an hour or so outside the city, which is called Damnoen Saduek. This one is a bit of a tourist trap, but definitely can be fun if you get there super early. Nearby, there are some really great authentic ones worth checking out.


If you don't have much time, you can also go to one inside the city. by heading to the river and hiring a boat. We had really bad weather and went late, so it was a total ripoff for us. However, we hear if you go super early, then you can see much more, and go in shared boats to make it cheaper.

floating market, what to do in Bangkok
floating market, what to do in Bangkok
floating market, what to do in Bangkok
floating market, what to do in Bangkok

The floating markets are some of the top tourists attractions in Bangkok.

Want to know more about the floating market experience? We have a full article coming up next week!


Want to book a tour to some of the best floating markets? Here are a few that we found for you:

Check Out the Train Market

Located right by the big floating market, you can actually see the famous train market (we suggest doing both in one day as they are far outside the city center). The market is set up right along the train tracks, and when the train comes the locals scramble to bring everything inside and pull in their awnings for the train to come through.


Train times: 

The train market is open from 7 am to 5 pm, but the train passes at 8:30 am, 9:00 am, 11:15 am, 11:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 3:00 pm.


train market, what to do in Bangkok
train market, what to do in Bangkok
train market, what to do in Bangkok

This market has a train running right through it.

Want to do a joint tour of both the floating market and train market/ Here are a few that you can choose from:

Visit the Giant Buddha

Located 140 km north of the city, this giant golden Buddha and towers at 130 ft high. Additionally, there is a smaller one inside the city. Many tuk tuks will tell you that they will bring you to the Big Buddha, when in fact they are talking about the smaller one that is closer.


Big Buddha, what to do in Bangkok
Golden buddha, What to do in Bangkok

This is the smaller "Big Buddha" statue that is inside the city.


Take a Boat Tour

Bangkok is situated right on a river, and you can actually take both public and private tours to cruise along the water, and see some of the main highlights like Wat Arun.

Bangkok River
Wat arun, what to do in Bangkok

boat rides give you beautiful views of Bangkoks landmarks.

Want to book a boat tour, or one that is combined with exploring by bike? Here are a few ones that we found:

Party Along Khaosan Street

Looking for a wild night out? Well, Khaosan is the tourist hot spot when it comes to a crazy party scene in Bangkok. While it can get super crowded, and a bit trashy, it's definitely a place to check out if you're young and want to bar hop.


Note: Locals can get quite obnoxious and in your face in this area. Just politely tell them you're not interested and move along if they get on your nerves.


Bar Hop Along Silom 4 Alley

Here's another one for the partier's out there. This area is full of bars, mostly that are LGBT friendly. Our personal favorite is one called "The Stranger Things" which has drag shows all night long. No matter what sex or sexual preference you have, this place is very welcoming, and super fun!


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Have a Drink at One of the Rooftops

Bangkok is known for its nightlife, and if bar hopping isn't really your speed, or if you'd like a bit more of an exclusive spot, then the rooftops will be where you'll want to go. The rooftop bars in the area of Sathon are perched on top of luxury hotels, and have the best views of Bangkok. Some of the most epic ones to check out are Sirocco, Moon Bar, Red Sky Bar, and Tichuca.


Some things to note about the rooftop bars are:

  1. They are very expensive- make sure to have plenty of cash, and be ready to splurge
  2. Many have dress codes. Ensure to check what is required beforehand.
  3. They get very crowded. Get there early if you don't want to wait on a crazy line.
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What to Do in Bangkok for Food & Drink

Bangkok has an incredible mix of food and drinks. From delicious street food and local restaurants, to international restaurants and fancy rooftops, there is seriously something for all tastes in Bangkok.


Here are some of the foods you should try:

  • Pad Thai: A Thai classic! This stir fried rice noodle dish is mixed with peanuts, eggs, and can have meat or seafood added to it.
  • Tom Yum: A hot and sour soup, typically made with shrimp
  • Thai Green Curry: Often served with chicken, and is pretty spicy
  • Mango Sticky Rice: Sweet sticky rice served with slices of mango
  • Coconut Ice Cream: Often served with sticky rice and various toppings
  • Coconut Shake: An absolute must, for under $1 you can find these sold all over the streets
  • Thai Tea: Black tea over ice with sugar and condensed milk, served over ice
  • Other Street Foods: Thailand has some insane street food like fried jellyfish, crispy butter, or fried insects. They also eat bags of small live insect-looking fish, live squid, and some other wild things to try if you're feeling particularly adventurous.
fried insects in Bangkok
meat tower, Jodd Fairs
squid shots, street food  in Bangkok
live fish snack, street food in Bangkok

Bangkok has some crazy street food.

Here are a few places to eat that we loved:

  • Yummy Yummy: Incredible street food, especially the Pad Thai!
  • Shoshana Restaurant: Israeli restaurant- a great spot if you want a break from Thai, or want a more western breakfast
  • The Jungle Bar: Incredible food if you want a break from Thai, with fresh salads, delicious pastas, and infused jugs of water
  • After the Rain Coffee & Gallery: A super Instagrammable cafe that has free boat rentals, a little outside the city
after the rain coffee and gallery, what to do in Bangkok, Thailand
after the rain coffee and gallery, what to do in Bangkok, Thailand
after the rain coffee and gallery swing, what to do in Bangkok Thailand

After the rain Coffee & Gallery is one of the most Instagrammable cafes in Bangkok.


What to Do in Bangkok: Moving Around

Bangkok is a huge city, with a ton of traffic. There are quite a few ways to get around. but depending on where you are going, it can take an hour to even get across the city! We definitely think this is important to keep in mind when planning your itinerary, as we lost a lot of time traveling around the city.


Public Transportation

Honestly, Bangkok isn't as well connected as other cities of its size. We actually never used the metro, as there aren't many stops around the best things to do in Bangkok for tourists. However, if you'd like to check the routes and prices, you can get more info by checking the Bangkok transit site.


When it comes to buses, this will be your cheapest options. Rides run for just 8 Baht, and buses run throughout the whole city. This is definitely not a great option though if you want to save time. Between many stops and tons of traffic it could take twice or three times the amount of time to get from point a to point b.


Private Transportation

When it comes to private transportation, Bangkok is full of it! Both taxis and tuk tuks are very easy to come by, and actually harass you all day long to ride with them. 


Tuk tuks are definitely the more fun option, but the drivers really try to get extortionate amount out of tourists. Make sure to ask multiple drivers for rates first, and then bargain until you get a good rate. This is extremely important, because even though it could just be a dollar or two, this negatively impacts the industry and creates inflated prices for other tourists and even locals.


Taxis come in multiple forms in Bangkok. The easiest option is to download Grab, which is basically the Uber of Thailand. Grab is actually much more expensive, but it saves the hassle of bargaining. Many takis that you will flag down will make up their own rates, which are usually much more expensive than the real rates are. It's important to make sure they turn their meter on, as this is the official way, and will save you a ton of money in the long run.


Always ask taxis to turn their meters on!

tuk tuk, getting around Bangkok

There are plenty of tuk tuks that wait around to take tourists around.

Renting a Car in Bangkok

Being that Bangkok is an enormous city,  having a car can be super helpful. It can actually help you save money if you plan on exploring a lot. It's important to note that driving in Bangkok can be a bit stressful if you are not a confident driver. There is a lot of traffic and chaos that goes with driving in the city, and it's also important to note that they drive on the left side of the road.


If you would like to rent a car, we suggest booking online in advance, for he best availability and prices. 


Where to Stay in Bangkok

Bangkok is enormous city, and there are a ton of different areas to stay in, depending on the things to do in Bangkok that are on your list. Here are a couple of the most popular areas to stay.


Khaosan

This is a great area to stay if you want to experience the highlights of things to do in Bangkok, and have a bit of a "wilder night out". 


Centrally located, it's easy to find all types of restaurants and hotels in the area. Stay on Khaosan road and you'll be where all the parties are (a bit trashy but fun), and head over to the riverside for some of the fancier hotels that are closer to the temples. You can check the map below to find accommodation around Khaosan.

Booking.com

Sathon

This is pretty much the boujee area of the city. With giant skyscrapers, fancy rooftop bars, and high end hotels, this is a completely different vibe than Khaosan. We suggest staying here if you're more interested in classy nightlife and a more luxury stay.


Want to know exactly which area to look at? We've attached a map below to help you.

Booking.com

Is Bangkok, Thailand Safe?

Overall, we felt pretty safe in Bangkok, and the people were very friendly. The only problems we encountered were with slightly aggressive taxi and tuk tuk drivers.


We do feel that overall you can walk around solo or at night without having to worry. However, make sure you keep your belongings secure, and don't loosely hold your phone while on the streets. This is because it can be common for people on scooters or motor bikes to snatch people's phones from them while driving by.

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Other Things to Know About Visiting Bangkok, Thailand

Now that you know the best things to do in Bangkok, and the basics of getting around, we have just a few more things to share.


Weather in Bangkok

Thailand has two seasons, which are rainy and dry. The rainy season is from July to October, and is extremely hot and humid. The dry season is much more pleasant, as the heat isn't as overbearing, and days and warm and sunny. 


Which Month is Best to Visit Bangkok, Thailand?

We personally think the best time to visit is in the shoulder months of November or April and May. This is when the city is pretty ideal weather-wise, but also not ridiculously crowded like the months of December-February.


How Many Days Should You Do in Bangkok?

There are so many things to do in Bangkok, as well as in the surroundings! We spent a full 5 days there, and still have things pending on our list. If you'd like to experience a little of everything (shopping, nightlife, temples, and excursions) you could easily spend a week exploring all that Bangkok has to offer. If you want to just see some highlights, 3-5 days is also a great amount of time.

Wat Arun, what to do in Bangkok

Make sure to cover up at temples in Bangkok.


How to Pack For a Trip to Bangkok

When it comes to packing for a trip to Bangkok, we think it's important to pack light, but also have something to cover your shoulders, as well as long skirts, dresses, or pants. This is because the majority of the best things to do in Bangkok are religious sites, and you need to cover both shoulders and knees before entering.


We would also recommend packing light because you will definitely want to buy a ton of things at the great markets that the city has to offer.


Packing List for Bangkok

  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Sunscreen (the sun is super strong)
  • Umbrella (it also rains a lot)
  • Comfortable shoes for sightseeing
  • Long dresses or skirts for the temples
  • Nice clothes for the rooftops
  • Heels or dress shoes for the rooftops
  • Shawls or long-sleeves for the temples
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack - take a look at these backpacks for travelers!
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Bathing Suits (for the hotels with pools)
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and doesn't sacrifice quality)
  • Travel Adapter (we use Tessan travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)

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We hope you now know what to do in Bangkok for your visit, and are excited to visit this bustling city! We spent a full 5 days here, and found it to be perfect for being able to really dive into the culture. Most of the main highlights can also be see in just a couple of days if you want to squeeze it in.


Planning on visiting other areas of Thailand? We have plenty of other Thailand travel guides that you can check out below.


Need help planning your trip? We're here to help! Now Scratch Your Mapa is here to build your next trip for you, so that you can save both time and money along the way. Want to know exactly how it works? Take a look at some of our travel planning packages or inquire with us to create a customized one.


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