Known as the City of Angels, Bangkok is filled with hundreds of amazing temples and shrines. It has for a long time been a place where travelers from all corners of the world meet on their quest to explore and experience the best of what Asia has to offer.
Bangkok is a place where merchants trade with every imaginable good under the Sun, with upbeat street life and amazing street food one can find and try at more than reasonable prices from the street vendors or from the floating kitchens of river boats on one of Bangkok’s colorful floating markets. Visit Bangkok to experience the ultimate hustle and bustle of one of the most visited Southeast Asia’s capitals, enjoy the culture, architecture, and food!
We arrived in Bangkok, Thailand on the evening of December 24, 2015. We took a rail link from the airport to the metro for 45฿ each. Then, for the metro the cost depends on how many stops you are going, in our case it was an additional 31฿ each.
Bangkok Walking Guide
Things to do in Bangkok, Thailand
Before getting into the travel guide part of this post, we wanted to talk about getting around the large city of Bangkok. While we always prefer walking, the consistent heat hovering above 90°F(32°C) and great distances demands the usage of motorized vehicles.
You have two options: Taxi or Tuk-Tuk. In our experience the metered taxi is always the cheaper way to go as a tourist. Just be careful which taxi you get in, as each company has different rates. Other than that, set rate taxi offers and tuk tuk rides will cost you more. Even if you haggle down the prices, it is still tend to be higher than the meter.
For example, we sat in a taxi rush hour traffic for 45 minutes and it still only cost 75% of the drivers set rate offer!
Top Attractions in Bangkok
Wat Arun (The Temple Of Dawn)
Dominating the riverside of the west (Thonburi) bank of the Chao Phraya River, Wet Arun is a Buddhist temple that got its name after a Hindu god Aruna, the god of dawn who is often portrayed in a form of rays of the rising sun. Just like the name suggests, the most stunning time of the day to observe the temple is the early morning with the first rays of sun opulently shimmering over the temple’s surface.
The most prominent architectural feature of the temple is 82m-high þrahng (Khmer-style tower) embellished by pieces of porcelain once discarded as ballast by Chinese ships calling at the port of Bangkok.
The temple is open daily 8AM to 6PM. Tickets cost 50 Baht per person.
Grand Palace and Watt Prakeaw
The spiritual center of the Thai Kingdom with famous Emerald Buddha clothed in pure gold, the temple Watt Prakeaw is situated in the Grand Palace which was built in 1782. For more than 150 years it was the seat of the Thai King.
In a country that boasts with more than 40,000 temples, the Watt Prakeaw is high on the list of the most important ones. The statue of the Emerald Buddha is housed in the main building of the temple known as Ubosoth. On the other hand, the Grand Palace commands awe attention to the intricate and delicate work of generations of Thai craftsmen who created this amazing complex worthy of kings and other dignitaries.
The Grand Palace is open daily 8:30AM to 3:30PM. Tickets cost 500 Baht per person.
Giant Swing at Wat Suthat
Although boasting an impressive interior architecture, the cloistered courtyard featuring 156 Buddha images along the outer walls, the main chapel’s wall frescoes inside detailing the previous 24 incarnations of the Buddha, Wat Suthat Temple is still most famous for its Giant Swing.
Standing at 21.15 meters, the Giant Swing was used during the Brahmin ‘thanksgiving’ ceremony with the custom for a young man to ride the swing high in the air and once in full swing to try to grab a bag of silver coins with their teeth. This ceremony was discontinued in 1932.
Wat Suthat is open daily from 8:30AM to 9PM.
The Golden Mount (Wat Saket)
Wat Saket is a Buddhist temple which can be traced all the way back to the 14th century. It is located atop a small hill with a great view at the city. To get to it you have to climb 344 steps wrapping around the hill.
The The Golden Mount is open daily from 9AM to 5PM.
A temple built in 1846, famed for being the world’s only brazen palace (a building of which its roof covered by bronze tiles). Wat Ratchanatdaram is best known for its 36-meter-tall amazing multi-tiered structure featuring 37 metal spires representing the 37 virtues toward enlightenment in Buddhism.
Wat Ratchanatdaram is open daily from 8AM to 5 PM
The Democracy Monument is situated in the center of Bangkok, commemorating the 1932 revolution that ended the absolute monarchy and introduced Siam’s first constitution. The four wings are each 24 meters high as a symbolic reference to the 24th of June, the date the new constitution was signed. Since the traffic around the monument can be a bit daunting there are underground passages that bring you to the monument itself.
Often lauded as the Southeast Asia’s biggest museum, the National Museum houses the largest collection of Thai art and artifacts in the country. The exhibits are divided into three areas depending on the area of Thai history they are referring to.
Perhaps the most exciting part of disclosed exhibits are the decorative arts and handicrafts, but worth mention also the Gallery of Thai History featuring country’s most beautiful Buddha images as well as Bhuddhaisawan (Phutthaisawan) Chapel with well-kept murals and most revered Buddha image, Phra Phuttha Sihing.
The National Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9AM to 4PM. Tickets are 200 Bahts per person.
King Rama IV wished to have two temples built along the banks of Phadung Krung Kasem canal. One for himself, Wat Makutkasattriyaram, and one for his queen, Wat Somanasvihara. The temples are interesting for the murals depicting scenes from about the Buddha’s disciples, an illustration of meditation techniques, commandments to observe and more!
Wat Intharawihan temple is known for a giant, 32 Meter tall and 10 meters wide standing Buddha image holding an alms bowl. A bowl that monks even today use to receive food from people. The founding of temple itself preceded the founding of Bangkok in 1782, while the Construction of the Buddha image started in 1867 and was finished 60 years later, in 1927.
Wat Intharawihan is free to enter and open daily from 8:30AM to 8PM.
Dusit Palace Park
Dusit Palace Park once was a home to royals, created having in mind the European castles but by following a unique Thai expression. Today, the complex is a home to a museum and other valuable cultural collections.
Its Vimanmek Teak Mansion comprises of 81 rooms said to be world’s largest golden-teak building, apparently built without the use of single nail! Make sure to visit adjacent Ancient Cloth Museum featuring the finest royal robes made of traditional silks and cotton as well as Royal Thai Elephant Museum to learn about the significance of elephants in Thai history.
Dusit Palace Park is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30AM to 4PM. Tickets are 100 Bahts per person.
Built as a royal residence in the first few years of the twentieth century, Vimanmek Mansion is impressive and supposedly world’s largest teakwood building, home to a museum honoring Thai history.
There are a few rules to obey and take note of before a visit. Women are required to wear skirts or pants extending at least to the knee, and also should cover shoulders and men are advised to wear long pants and long sleeved shirts. Thi
The Vimanmek Mansion is open from 8:30AM to 4:30PM. Tickets cost 100 Baht per person.
National Assembly of Thailand
The Parliament House of Thailand is located in the Dusit district in the capital. With an entrance ticket to the building, you get a free photo with you from the outside of the building.
Tickets cost 150 Baht + free photo from outside!
Dusit Zoo or ‘Khao Din’ is Thailand’s first animal zoo, over 60 years old. It it home to around 1600 domestic and international animals with accompanying facilities including an animal hospital, zoo museum, and educational center and sightseeing train.
For a small fee, you can enjoy the boat peddling at the zoo’s impressive lake while feeding the fish. If you are tight with time but you would like to see as much as possible, then we recommend to catch the tram and enjoy a 20-minute long ride around the zoo’s premises.
The Dusit Zoo is open daily from 8 AM to 6 PM. Ticket cost 150 Baht per adult.
As an example of modern Thai architecture with a unique mix of Thai and European influences, the Wat Benchamabophit graces the back of the 5 Baht coin.
In the courtyard, there are 53 Buddha images representing every mudra (gesture) and style from Thai history. You can also take a stroll beside adjacent canals filled with blooming lotus and Chinese-style footbridges.
Wat Benchamabophit is open from 6AM to 6PM. Tickets are 20 Baht per person.
The center of state administration, The Government House, also known as ‘the palace of gold’, was heavily influenced by Venetian Gothic architecture and Thai design. When looking at this building, it is easy to understand why Bangkok is called the ‘Venice of the East’.
The only time members of the public are allowed into Government House is on National Children’s Day in Thailand, the second Saturday in January. On any other day, you can get a free photo of yourself and the building from the outside!
Victory Monument is a large military monument erected in 1941 in memory of what at the time was considered to be a Thai victory in the Franco-Thai War. Five statues around the base represent the army, navy, air force, police, and civilians. The monument today serves as one of the busiest transportation hubs in Bangkok from where you can catch buses or vans to the city’s outskirts and nearby beach towns.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest market in Thailand, taking up an area of 35 acres with more than 8000 market stalls divided into 27 sections. On one average weekend, around 200 000 people come to wander through a rich variety of goods such as clothes, antiques, plants, art, furniture and more.
The best time to go is in the morning before it gets too hot. Make sure to bring enough water, wear comfortable walkings shoes and enough cash, while remaining wary of the pickpockets.
The weekend market is open on Fridays from 6PM to 12AM and Saturdays and Sundays from 9AM to 6PM. The plant sections are also open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 7AM to 6PM.
The Baiyoke Sky Hotel towers 84 stories above Bangkok with its not to be missed observation deck. It is currently the 2nd tallest building in Thailand, at 309 meters. The breathtaking viewing experience of Bangkok’s skyline from revolving rooftop observation deck on the 84th floor is complemented by a fruit buffet.
Tickets cost depending on the time of your visit. From 10AM to 5PM tickets are 350 Baht. From 5PM to 11PM tickets are 400 Baht.
Erawan Shrine (Small Buddha)
This famous shrine attracts more visitors than many of the city’s temples, it is often packed with tourists and worshippers alike.. Built in 1950s this shrine honors the four-faced Brahma God, with each face representing one of the four virtues of kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality.
This beautiful little shrine In the evening there are often traditional Thai dance troupes that perform, and are not to be missed.
An unending daily stream of visitors come to the shrine offering floral garlands, fruits and teak wood elephants hoping their wishes will come true. Additionally, witnessing a live performance of Thai Classical Dance troupe or a lively Chinese Lion Dance definitely adds to a list of reasons why one should not miss the Erawan Shrine.
If you looking for a calm place in the city head to Lumphini Park! Try to make it before 7AM when the air is still relatively fresh and if you fancy, join groups of people practicing Thai or in the evening, join groups doing aerobics. You can also rent a paddle boat and paddle your way across the artificial pond overlooking the swept lawns.
Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
The beautifully ornate and flamboyant Sri Maha Mariamman Temple (also called Wat Prasri Maha Umathewee) is over 100 years old. It is a main Hindu temple built by a Tamil immigrant in honor of the goddess Mariamman, revered as ‘the mother of God’. The entrance to the temple is striking with a colorful tower (gopuram) depicting various Gods and Goddesses.
The temple is open daily from 6AM to 8PM.
On the banks of the Chao Phraya river in Sathorn district is the Wat Yannawa temple, also known as “the boat temple” since it is built in a shape of Chinese junk vessel, a 19th-century sailing ship. As one of the older temples in Bangkok, it was built in memory of trade with China that brought prosperity to the Kingdom when this kind of vessels were used extensively.
The temple is open daily from 8AM to 6PM.
The Chinatown Gate is the entrance to the energetic 1-kilometer long strip known for cheap and delicious street food, gold shops, market stalls and Chinese temples. It is also one of Bangkok’s best areas for walking due to the lack of traffic and its narrow lanes. If you want to experience the Chinatown at its craziest and fullest hours then plan your visit during Chinese New Year.
Wat Trimitr (Golden Buddha Temple)
Located in Chinatown, high atop of a four-story marble-clad ziggurat, Wat Traimit is a home to the world’s largest massive gold seated Buddha, this huge temple has a massive 5.5 tons golden Buddha statue. The statue was cast sometime in the 13th century and is nearly five meters high and five and a half tons made of about 83% pure gold. The second floor of the ziggurat exhibits the history of the Chinese community in Bangkok, and the third floor covers the history of the Golden Buddha image itself.
Entrance to see only the Golden Buddha is 40 Baht. The museum costs an additional 100 Baht. The temple is open daily 8AM to 5PM, with the museum being closed on Mondays.
Tickets cost 40฿ each. There is also a museum under the statue that you can visit with a combined 100฿ ticket. You are not allowed inside with shorts or tank tops, so dress appropriately.
Outside the temple complex is the Chinese Gate, the symbolic entrance to the Chinatown which lays behind it.
Damnoen Saduak/Bangkok Floating Markets
An inseparable part of a complete experience and exposure to the pulse of the city is a visit to one of Bangkok’s floating markets. Damnoen Saduak floating market is one of the oldest such markets and despite the rise in tourism it has managed to keep its authenticity.
A visit to a floating market is definitely a visual and sensory treat where you can enjoy the sight of boats pilled with various tropical fruits and vegetables or order local food from the floating kitchens. Other Bangkok’s floating markets to visit and experience are Taling Chan Market, Bang Ku Wiang Market and Tha Kha.
River Boat Tour
Historically traffic in Bangkok heavily relied on hundreds of small river canals. Today, most of these canals have turned into streets, although the area of old capital Thonburi covering an area of west of the Chao Phraya river has retained much of the old canals. You can book river boat tour to get a glimpse into Thai traditional way of life while passing lush fields, orchards, and family farms.
After the temple we visited the Hard Rock Cafe to checkin and buy our souvenir. The restaurant is located in front of two massive malls, the Siam Paragon and Central World. If you are looking for a break from the heat and the sun, a nice air conditioned mall is the place to go.