The capital city of Thailand, Bangkok is considered as a treasure trove for travelers; especially those who like to explore and are camera ready. If you are a shopper and you know the art of haggling you can truly fall in love with Bangkok. The key to experience Bangkok up-close is to not shy away from public transport. Try hopping on to sky-trains, the subway, buses, river boats, khlong boats and tuk-tuks, and you will experience the feel, smells, and sounds of the real and vibrant Bangkok. And if you get lost, don’t hesitate to ask the local people who are very well conversant with English and helpful to tourists. Read on to find out more amazing things that you can do in the South-Asian city of Bangkok.

Things to do and See in Bangkok

Clockwise from top: Si Lom–Sathon business district, Wat Arun, Giant Swing, Victory Monument, and Wat Phra Kaeo

1.) Buddhist Pilgrimage

There are many landmarks, shining and vibrant, reminiscent of Bangkok’s rich history and representing the Thai’s spirituality and aesthetic sensibilities. The city is flecked with a number of temples dedicated to Lord Buddha. A visit to the main temples is a must-do in Bangkok, especially the Wat Phra Kaew in the Grand Palace (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the Wat Pho (largest and oldest one, and renowned for the Golden Reclining Buddha statue), the Wat Arun (right across the river from Grand Palace, it is famous for its interesting Khmer-style architecture), the Wat Suthat (the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site), and the Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount). Be sure to respect the Thai sensibilities and wear ankle-length garments (if you wear shorts or even three-quarters, be ready to be hassled by locals).

Apart from Buddhist temples, Bangkok also has shrines dedicated to other religions. The Erawan Shrine is a sacred place for Hindus (mainly), and is associated with popular legends like a miracle performing four-faced Buddha.

2.) Chao Phraya River Rides

This is a better way to travel for both locals and tourists from one part of the city to another without facing the mad bustle of the Bangkok streets. The Chao Phraya River is the lifeline of Bangkok. You can get good views of the city, its buildings, temples, bridges, and river-side activities while riding on one of the many boats and ferries in the Chao Phraya River. You can avail day passes for unlimited number of rides in a day or buy tickets as and when you board one. Keep your camera ready at all times and enjoy the panoramic scenes of Bangkok.

In addition to the normal boat-rides, there are companies that offer cruises on luxurious ships on the river. You can book in advance and experience a heady combination of sightseeing, Thai entertainment, food, and drinks.

3.) Subway Train Rides

It’s a new, cleaner, and faster way of getting around in Bangkok. The Metropolitan Rapid Transit Subway was introduced in 2004, and since has been a preferred means of transport for professionals and locals. As tourists, you can avoid the city’s humid weather while traveling from one place of interest to another in the subway’s air-conditioned trains. You should, however, carry a map; you don’t want to get lost.

While you are enjoying train rides, you can also get on a Sky Train. It runs above the streets giving you a feeling that you are flying across the heavy peak-time traffic.

4.) Go Shopping

Shopping at Bangkok is considered a major high by many tourists, as it has everything from high-end products to low cost items.You can get the best brands in garments, accessories, and electronics in the lavish shopping malls like Terminal 21, Central World Plaza, and Siam Paragon Shopping Center. Those looking for good bargains can head to the Chatuchak Weekend Market to get almost anything under the sun at reasonable prices.

If you have had enough of shopping for garments, souvenirs, electronics, accessories, and home décor items, you can head to the unique shopping areas in Bangkok to find a different variety of things. The Pak Klong Talad near Wat Pho is renowned for its orchids, tulips, lotuses, chrysanthemums, gerberas, and many other types of flowers. You can have a wonderful time surrounded by the sweet smells and great photographic moments. Chinatown in the Khao San Road is another shopping area that offers a variety of Chinese trinkets, herbs and other items.

5.) Eat Away

There are very few places in the world with the gastronomic variety compared to that in Bangkok. Right from fine-dining options to street-side gourmet, the city leaves tourists in awe of the flavors, the quantity and options. You can find some of the most famous eating joints at Chinatown (famous for its Chinese food made with a variety of ingredients, some that you may never have heard of), Sukhumvit Soi 11 (popular among expatriates for its bars and restaurants serving international cuisines), and Or Tor Gor near Chatuchak Weekend Market (renowned for its authentic Thai gastronomic fares).

Bangkok has a large number of fine-dining restaurants and bars. The Sky Bar on the State Tower is the tourist’s favorite bar for its panoramic views and ambience. The Bangkok Seaview Restaurant is renowned for its seafood fares. Another famous restaurant is the Saladaeng Café, situated near the Jim Thompson House, a tourist attraction, that offers both Thai and English cuisines.

6.) Say Hello to the Wild

It is a must-visit tourist attraction for families with kids. You can visit the Crocodile Farm and enjoy watching crocodile wrestling, riding trains and camels, and seeing dinosaur replicas in the museum inside. Another renowned attraction is the Safari Park that allows visitors to watch birds, feed animals (even the wild ones like tigers and lions), interact with dolphins and watch orangutans boxing! The Park also has a Marine section allowing visitors to enjoy a variety of fishes and aquatic animals.

7.) Treat Yourself to Thai Relaxation

Why? One of the things that the world has received from Thailand is its massage technique. It is no wonder that getting a Thai massage is a must-do thing in Bangkok. If you don’t want your visit to be incomplete, you can head to the Thai Massage Institute near Wat Pho and get yourself a foot or body massage. Prices are reasonable and the after effect is divine! The institute also offers training sessions for those interested.

8.) Check out Bangkok Museums

Why? Visiting touristy places can tire you out and make you want to find some peace and quiet. If this is the case, our recommendation is to check out some interesting museums in Bangkok. These include Siriraj Medical Museum (Bangkok Forensic Museum), House of Museums, The Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok Doll Museum (famous for handmade dolls), and Mrs. Flowers Chocolate Mini Museum (must-visit for all chocoholics).

9.) Enjoy Authentic Thai Entertainment

You can experience the real flavor of Thai culture through these. Thailand is renowned for its martial art named Muay Thai, and theatrical dance. You can enjoy and even learn Muay Thai at Luktupfah, the Muay Thai training camp. To enjoy authentic Thai dancing you can get the real experience at the Erawan Shrine, and at the Patravadi Theater, which is a river-side complex at Wang Lang Pier. The Patravadi Theater has a training center as well, where you can learn the art and even watch impromptu shows by students.

10.) Enjoy the Nightlife

Bangkok is renowned for its nightlife. From bars and night clubs to midnight cruises and night entertainment, the city is alive after sun down. You can also check out the PatPong Night Market for its vibrant shops, bars and restaurants, but beware of people trying to persuade you to enter bars for special shows.

Listing all the things to do in Bangkok will require more space, but these are definitely the best things to do and see in Bangkok if you have a limited number of vacation days. If you do have a little more time you can walk on the Krung Thon Bridge at the northern end, and the Memorial Bridge at the southern end of the Chao Phraya River to get the best views of the city; visit the Lumpini Park and check out the everyday activities of locals at different hours; watch a movie in one of the luxurious movie theaters; and ride a khlong boat during night-time to enjoy the fireflies around the trees near the Amphawa Floating Market.

Floating market in Bangkok

Enjoy shopping at the floating market in Bangkok


Image Credit : Multiple

Published On: Monday, December 9th, 2013