Your guide to the best of Bangkok

Floating market in Bangkok

Zoe MacFarlane

Posted April 19, 2023

The capital of the Land of Smiles, Bangkok, Thailand is a destination that enriches your senses.

From gilded temples that dazzle to bustling markets that invigorate, from ancient monuments that intrigue to a culinary scene full to bursting with exotic flavours, Bangkok inspires at every turn.

What to see, do and eat in Bangkok

Bangkok’s best landmarks

There is little chance of getting bored in this expansive metropolis; whether it’s exploring on foot, by boat, or in the hands of a daredevil tuk-tuk driver, there's plenty to see and do in Bangkok, including the city’s heritage landmarks.

The Reclining Buddha is one of Bangkok’s most well-known attractions. Built in 1932 at Wat Po Temple, this 46-metre-long reclining gold statue is mesmerising to see up close. Wat Po is also the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Receive one within the temple grounds or attend a massage course.

Another impressive Bangkok monument is the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. The grand and vast complex was once the home of the Thai Royal Family. Within the grounds, explore Thailand’s most important Buddhist temple, the Royal Residence, and the resplendent Emerald Buddha, carved from a single block of jade.

A visit to the six teak residences at Jim Thompson House is filled with beauty, history, and intrigue, revealing a different side to Bangkok’s history. Thailand’s prestigious silk industry reflects Jim Thompson’s influence before he mysteriously disappeared in 1967.


Palace Bangkok

With the build starting in 1782, the Grand Palace is a Bangkok highlight. Image: Shutterstock. 

Embrace Bangkok’s vibrant arts scene

Over 93% of Thailand is Buddhist, so it’s no surprise you’ll see this reflected in the country’s prominent artworks. The Museum of Buddhist Art offers a comprehensive introduction to varying styles and artists. 

For a glimpse into royal art and history, stop by the magnificent neo-Renaissance Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. It’s especially great for travellers fascinated by the 700-plus years of Thailand’s monarchy. Meander the royal reception hall before witnessing royal dynasty paintings and national art exhibits.

To experience modern Thai art, head to the purpose-built Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). With a mix of permanent work from in-vogue Thai artists, plus temporary exhibits, MOCA is the go-to space for the modern Thai art scene.


City of Bangkok

The city of Bangkok is a bustling metropolis. Image: Shutterstock.

Bangkok’s best culinary experiences

While you’ve no doubt enjoyed Thai food before now, dining in Thailand takes it to a whole other level. You’ll be spoilt for choice as the freshest ingredients from floating markets, local farmers, and artisanal producers are used in all kinds of dining establishments, from sizzling street eats to Michelin-starred restaurants. Tastebuds, watch out!

Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin is a first-class restaurant for innovative Thai cuisine. For Southern Thai dishes using local produce, book ahead to dine at Korn. Paste is another standout restaurant for its rich flavours and creative fusion dishes.

To experience Bangkok’s street food stalls, head to Khao San Road. This famed backpacker district comes alive at night, making for a fun evening of exploration. Taste-test the hot plate noodles and banana pancakes in between haggling at the bustling market stalls. 

To ensure you can enjoy Thailand’s flavourful dishes long after your holiday has ended, why not take a Thai cooking class? The House of Taste has an excellent reputation, offering pad Thai, green curry, and sticky mango pudding on their class schedule.  


food in bangkok

Street food is very popular in Bangkok. Image: Shutterstock. 

Wellness and shopping experiences in Bangkok

Thailand is an exceptional place for pampering, decadence, and splurging (especially Koh Samui), and Bangkok is no exception. Whether you’d like to treat yourself to a Thai massage, spa day, shopping spree, or fancy cocktail at dusk, there are ample places to suit.

A top recommendation for massage (besides Wat Po) is Divana Scentuara Spa. Receive an affordable traditional Thai massage, a detoxifying facial or Divana signature experience in a traditional Thai house setting. For a high-end treat, check in at the Banyan Tree Spa or Oriental Spa at Mandarin Oriental. 

To grab a bargain and experience one of the world’s liveliest markets, head to Chatuchak Weekend Market. Whether you want new clothes, a Buddhist statue, metres of Thai silk, or something entirely random, you’ll likely find it at Chatuchak at a bargain price. If you’d prefer indoor shopping, head to the 500 stores at Icon Siam Mall.

Head to Vertigo at Banyan Tree for a beautiful evening with friends or loved ones. Cocktail in hand, soak in the relaxing ambience and expansive vistas 61 floors above Bangkok. Bookings are imperative for dining.


shopping in Bangkok

Khao San Road is a bargain shopper's paradise. Image: Shutterstock. 

Bangkok day trips

More than 150 years ago, traders took to Bangkok’s rivers and canals to pedal their wares. Today, there are 17 floating markets in and around Bangkok, with Damnoen Saduk Floating Market the largest and arguably the best. Ninety minutes out of the city, witness vendor boats selling everything from vibrant fresh produce to yummy noodle snacks to handmade souvenirs. The atmosphere is electric! 

The ancient capital of Ayutthaya is another worthwhile day trip from Bangkok. Only an hour away, explore the old capital of Siam on foot, by bicycle or tuk-tuk. Burned down in 1767, you can still explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site ruins, including the palace, temples and the iconic Buddha head nestled a tree’s roots. 

For insights into Thailand’s more recent past, take a trip to Kanchanaburi, two hours from Bangkok. Kanchanaburi's World War II heritage draws visitors, especially to see the famed Bridge over the River Kwai and Death Railway. A tour is the easiest way to get the history of Kanchanaburi (often combined with scenic Erawan Falls), though the town’s museums are also informative.


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