There’s nowhere else quite like Bangkok. A sprawling city where modern skyscrapers sit side-by-side with heritage shophouses and fine dining restaurants take inspiration from street food vendors. Considered a destination well suited to backpackers and travellers on a budget, there’s so much more to this vibrant destination than party streets. Dig a little deeper and you’ll uncover a softer side where unique cultural experiences, incredible views and unforgettable meals await. To help you plan your itinerary, here are 12 things you absolutely must do in Bangkok + a bonus itinerary image for you to save!
Planning a trip to Bangkok? Watch our travel guide showing all the activities in this post:
1. Chao Phraya River Cruise
The Chao Phraya is Thailand’s major river, flowing through Bangkok and out to the Gulf of Thailand for more than 365km! For visitors to Thailand’s capital city, a cruise along the Chao Phraya River is a great way to cover a lot of ground without needing to exert much energy. You can avoid BKK’s infamous traffic, dodge the sapping heat and easily navigate your way around the city without breaking the bank. Simply head down to a pier and join a hop-on-hop-off cruise, grab a local boat or join a sunset cruise later in the day.
2. Wang Lang Market (street food and shopping)
Hailed as Bangkok’s best street food market, Wang Lang is a must-visit spot for food lovers! Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya, the bustling day market is home to vendors selling a wide range of fresh food, traditional Thai snacks and international treats. We found the market to very clean and had no hesitations diving tastebuds-first into some local treats. Forming part of Bangkok’s Old Quarter, the market closes by 2pm each day and is a great location for a spot of clothes and trinket shopping too.
3. Lunch at Ros’niyom
Located at Tha Maharaj Pier, a fantastic riverfront spot comprising seven revitalised old shophouses, Ros’niyom is the perfect spot for a bite to eat. The restaurant has a great range of Thai street food and one of our YouTube viewers cited the crab curry as a must-try! There’s also a great range of options for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free folk. We shared a spicy papaya salad and Pad Thai and loved both. Although the restaurant is a chain, which typically we would avoid when travelling, it was packed with locals and we really enjoyed our food. Bear in mind, Tha Maharaj is home to a range of restaurants so there are plenty of other spots to try too.
4. Wallflowers Cafe
If you love good coffee and/or sweet treats, you absolutely must visit Wallflowers Cafe, one of Bangkok’s hidden gems! This spot has to be one of the most beautiful cafes in the world, with an interior that is light, airy, eclectic and effortlessly gorgeous. A large wooden bench adorned with some of the most stunning cakes and sweets I have ever seen will have you spoilt for choice, while the coffee selection is nothing short of impressive. In addition to traditional favourites, there are quirky options combining unusual ingredients like coffee, sparkling raspberry and pop-rock candy!
5. Mahanakhon Skywalk
For the very best views of Bangkok, you’re going to want to get above the city and the Mahanakhon Skywalk is the ideal spot. Time your visit for sunset, so you can watch the sky change colour and enjoy a cocktail or two as the day comes to a close. At a staggering 314 metres, the Skywalk is Thailand’s highest observation deck, offering 360 degrees, panoramic views from indoor and outdoor viewing areas (thinking of mum, here, who doesn’t love heights).
6. Dinner at Mahanakhon SkyBar
Once the sun dips below the horizon, I recommend making the most of your vantage point and stopping at Thailand’s highest restaurant and bar, Mahanakhon SkyBar, for dinner and drinks. Home to talented executive chef, Joshua Camera, who brings experience from Michelin-starred restaurants, including New York icon, Eleven Madison Park, this modern brasserie offers Western and Asian dishes. The interior is all things classy and elegant, providing exceptional views over Bangkok, truly delicious food and a wonderful cocktail list.
7. Wat Bowonniwet Vihara
For an extra-special temple experience in Bangkok, be sure to visit Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, a Buddhist temple located in the Phra Nakhon district. The residence of the late supreme matrices of Thailand and the final resting place of the remains of two form Thai Kings, it’s the perfect place to experience the country’s distinct culture. Take a stroll around the exterior of the temple, gaze inside at a Buddha state that dates back to around 1357 and marvel at the place where many Royal Princes and Kings have studied and served their monkhood, including the present King. Just be sure to wear temple-appropriate clothing (shoulders, midriff and knees covered).
8. Sané Cafe & Workshop
Pronounced, ‘Saneh,’ this humble coffee shop and cooking studio boasts a range of traditional Thai desserts and serves up absolutely delish coffee. Located in the popular tourist area, Khano San, Sané Cafe & Workshop make local sweets more widely known among tourists, providing them with new culinary experiences. You can stop in to sample the goods while sipping on dark chocolate, coconut iced coffee or get hands-on, like we did, with a cooking class.
9. Ohkajhu Organic Restaurant
Grab a delicious lunch at Ohkajhu, an organic restaurant chain that became popular when it opened its doors in Chiang Mai. With a very welcoming, cosy interior and a vast, well-priced menu, it’s no surprise Ohkajhu is a favourite among locals. The portion sizes are incredibly generous, piling delicious, fresh, crunchy and healthy bites high on the plate. The menu is packed full of options for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free folk and the smoothies are a must-try!
10. Shopping at MBK Center
Bangkok is a wonderland for those who love to shop and, honestly, there’s a never-ending string of spots to visit including Siam Discovery, Terminal 21, Siam Center, Siam Paragon and King Power Complex. You may also like to add a visit to the MBK Center to your itinerary too, with floor after floor packed with beauty products, clothes, electronics and so much more, including a great street food set-up on the ground floor. Don’t forget, Bangkok’s street markets are another great spot for shopping so be sure to check some of those out and brush up on your haggling skills beforehand.
11. Caturday Cat Cafe
Even though we have three gorgeous cats of our own at home, we both can’t help but want to visit a cat cafe when we see one abroad! Located right next to Ratchathewi BTS, Caturday Cat Cafe is a cool haven from the humid streets of Bangkok so a visit here in the middle of the day is just perfect. There are loads of cats to befriend and we found them to be very sweet and friendly, coming over for a scratchy massage and some food. It’s a well-deserved rest break in an otherwise busy, outdoor itinerary and a great opportunity to sip a cool drink surrounded by local cat lovers.
12. Dinner at TAAN
Thailand and Bangkok, in particular, are renowned for incredible street food. Once you’ve had your fill, I highly recommend dipping into the city’s incredible fine dining scene. Located on the top floor of Siam@Siam Design Hotel, TAAN is a celebration of Thai cuisine perfectly accompanied by panoramic views of the city. Taking traditional flavours and elevating them to dizzying heights, head chef Monthep “Thep” Kamolsilp will take you and your tastebuds on a journey through the region. The focus at TAAN is on developing relationships with local farmers, using 100-per cent local ingredients. I highly recommend experiencing one of TAAN’s tasting menus, which come in 9 or 6 courses with options available for those with dietary requirements. The Thai-inspired cocktail list is a must-try as well.
Make it into an itinerary:
I’ve shared each item in the order we did them on our trip to Bangkok. To help you make it your own, save this to your phone or Pinterest board for later:
Absolutely Fantastic Holidays
During our visit to Bangkok, we were accompanied by a local tour guide, Nam, from Absolutely Fantastic Holidays. Having our very own tour guide with us meant we learned and experienced so much more than we would have otherwise. Nam shared with us a wealth of information on Bangkok’s fascinating history and local culture and helped us dive deeper into the city’s epic food scene too. Not only that but she took total control when it came to getting us around the city, allowing us to relax and be present. If you have the budget, I highly recommend engaging a local tour guide for your trip to Bangkok and cannot speak highly enough of Nam and Absolutely Fantastic Holidays.
Where to stay: Siam@Siam Design Hotel
We stayed at Siam@Siam Design Hotel, a modern high-rise offering urban-chic accommodation a convenient 3-minute walk from the nearest SkyTrain station. Eclectic design and modern comfort combine with excellent service to provide a great base for visitors to Bangkok. The hotel boasts a pool with views over Bangkok, well-equipped gym, in-room dining, a Club Lounge and a wide range of room and suite types to suit your needs and budget.
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Need more Bangkok travel inspiration? Watch our travel guide to discover more:
Some of the experiences included in this guide were generously hosted by the brand/provider or Tourism Authority of Thailand. This guide was not paid for and all opinions, as always, are authentically our own. This post contains affiliate links.
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