10 Things To Do in Bangkok

by Keith Hajovsky

For me, Bangkok is one of the most fascinating cities in the world, with so much to offer. To much, in fact, that a definitive Top 10 list will no doubt differ from person to person.

But there are some places that make the top must-do’s for me. Here are the places that I suggest (in no particular order of importance) to family members and friends when they ask.

1. Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Prakaew)

These grounds became the official Thai royal residence in 1782. The four main buildings of the Grand Palace are quite impressive and worth a look in and unto themselves, but the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the real highlight. The architecture is an explosion to the visual senses.

10 Things To Do in Bangkok

2. Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho) and massage

Not far from the Grand Palace, this is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok. It houses the gigantic reclining Buddha, which is more than 150 feet long and about 50 feet high and is covered in gold leaf. While you’re there, get an authentic Thai massage at the Wat Pho Traditional Thai Massage School, located within the temple complex grounds.

3. Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun)

Situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and beautifully decorated with broke pieces of Chinese porcelain tiles, this is perhaps Thailand’s most picturesque temple. If you can handle steep stairs, the views from the accessible areas higher up are definitely worth the climb.

4. Vertigo and Moon Bar at the Banyon Tree Hotel

Located 61 floors above the streets of Bangkok, this open-air rooftop lounge is a fantastic place to have a drink—and the food is decent, too. Seeing the city after dark from that high up is a great way to experience the modern side of Bangkok.

5. Water taxi ride on the Chao Phraya River

Bangkok is sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the East” due to its canal system that is connected to the Chao Phraya River. Although many of those canals have been filled and built over throughout the years, water taxis are still a major form of transportation for the city’s inhabitants.

10 Things To Do in Bangkok

6. Chatuchak Weekend Market

With more than 8, 000 stalls, this is the largest market in Southeast Asia. It is fairly well laid out into different sections that focus on such items as furniture, souvenirs, home décor, jeans, chimes, textiles and on and on. Come early in the day if you want to avoid the heat of the afternoon and at least some of the massive crowds.

7. Jim Thompson’s House

American businessman Jim Thompson helped to revitalize the Thai silk industry after World War II, and during the 1950s he collected six traditional Thai houses from various parts of the country and had them tastefully reassembled together as his home in Bangkok, now a museum for all to see.

10 Things To Do in Bangkok

8. Vimanmek Mansion

With its 81 rooms, halls and anterooms, this structure built by powerful and well-respected King Rama V to escape the heat of the Grand Palace is said to be the world’s largest golden teak mansion. A tour takes you through several of the rooms that are filled with interesting art, antiques and personal effects of the king.

9. Street food

If you enjoy street food when travelling, then you are going to be in heaven in Bangkok. The plethora of little eateries formed from wheeled carts and makeshift tables are scattered throughout the city, where you can eat side-by-side with the locals.

10. Cabbages & Condoms

Atmospheric and quirky (“our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy”), this restaurant was started by former Thai senator Mechal Viravaidya to help support education about contraception throughout Thailand. His motto was “birth control should be as cheap as vegetables.” The food is delicious, and the condom-themed décor is fun and interesting.