Chaotic, noisy and crowded, the Thai capital is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. While Thailand is often a beloved holiday haven for beach-goers, first-timers should devote from a couple of days to a week to its capital to get to know the national culture and civilisation. So if you are planning a holiday in Thailand and are spending some days in this beautiful city, here are some tips on what to do in Bangkok.
What to do in Bangkok
Among the things to do in Bangkok, one of the first places to visit certainly is the Grand Palace, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand. A huge complex of buildings in the very heart of the city, the Grand Palace has served as the luxurious residence of the Kings from 1782, year of its construction, to 1925. While the royal family doesn’t live there anymore, it is still used for official events. A charming ensemble of palaces, pagodas, Buddhist temples and colourful decorations leaning over the Chao Phraya River will keep you busy for at least a couple of hours. The palace can be reached via a pleasant cruise along the river.
Part of the Grand Palace is the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, building decorated in gold and stones with a small emerald Buddha in a golden throne made of carved wood lying right in the middle. The Buddha’s costume is changed three times a year according to the season, winter, rainy season and summer
Cruise the Chao Phraya River
Directly linked to the first attraction, you can take a cruise along the Chao Phraya River to either go to or come back from the Grand Palace. But most of all, you can enjoy the cruise on the precious river where Siam (now Thailand) civilisation began to see Bangkok’s different neighbourhoods from a different perspective and some floating markets (albeit now mostly for tourists!). Among the different options, you can book it in the evening and enjoy a dinner on the ship for an original night out that mixes leisure with tradition.
Among the places to see in Bangkok, make sure you don’t miss Wat Arun. With wat standing for “temple”, Wat Arun is the Temple of Dawn, named after Aruna, the Hindu god of dawn. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun Rajwararam is no less than majestic. The whole complex is a fascinating ensemble of Buddhist pagodas, the main one being huge and finely decorated with colourful ceramics. Royal temple of the 2nd reign of Chakkri Dynasty, even though it’s now a tourist attraction, the respectful behaviour expected in worship places is required, as the entrance ticket reads: “Please dress up politely, do not climb the rail, do not dangle any doll, do not drop cigarette and waste on the floor”.
Opening hours from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.
⇒ If you want to explore more of Thailand, check out the beaches and activities in Phuket.
If you are a backpacker, chances are you are staying right around Khaosan Road in one of the cheap hostels and guesthouses available here. However, if you prefer higher-profile hotels in Bangkok and you are based in another district, do take a trip to this lively neighbourhood even only for a night out. Nightclubs, bars, pubs, live music, Thai and Western restaurants, street markets, this road has something for literally everyone, especially for who wants to experience Bangkok nightlife.
If after palaces and temples you are still wondering what to do in Bangkok, take a break from the mental traffic and head to Lumphini Park, one of the best places in Bangkok to enjoy greenery and some wildlife, including water monitor lizards ambling about the wide meadows. Any time of the day you go, you will find locals enjoying the green lung of the city, from old people engaging in some relaxing tai chi to children playing to joggers and bikers. The park also boasts a nice lake where you can even rent a small boat.
Opening hours from 4.30 am to 9 pm.
Street food and street markets
If you think you know everything about street food, wait until you travel to Thailand. After a week in the Thai capital, enjoying the local street food will definitely make it to your tips on what to do in Bangkok. The city teems with street markets around every corner, with great examples in the aforementioned Khaosan Road and close to Wat Arun. From flowers to incense to fresh and dried fruits to tea and juices, these markets are a photographer’s paradise.
Either part of the same street markets or on their own, almost every corner of the city has its own street food stalls. Here everything from fish to roasted sausages, meatballs, olives, cookies and all types of grilled meat skewers are available for who doesn’t feel like sitting in a restaurant and wants to try many different delicacies at a time.
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