Bangkok! The capital of Thailand and the most famous place in the whole country. This fast-paced, busy city is home to more than 8 million people and holds the #1 title for the worst traffic in the world! It has everything from gorgeous, peaceful temples to rambunctious Lady Boy shows and everything in between. There is so much to do and see in this city you could spend weeks here and do something different every day. I was only there for 2 days and certainly covered a lot of ground. Here are the top 8 things to do in Bangkok, Thailand.
8 Things to Do in Bangkok:
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
One of our first temple stops in Bangkok was the famous Wat Pho. Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples. It existed before Bangkok was established as the capital by King Rama I. It is also the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. The entrance fee is 100 Baht (about $2.80 USD) and is open from 8:30am-6:30pm. Wat Pho is HUGE and there is so much beautiful architecture to see so make sure to leave at least an hour to explore.
The biggest tourist attraction at this temple is the giant, reclining Buddha which stretches 150 feet from the top of its head to the soles of its mother-of-pearl feet. This impressive piece is made out of brick and plaster and covered in gold leaf. The reclining Buddha shows the passing of the Buddha into final Nirvana after death. STYLE TIP: Make sure to cover your shoulders and knees when you enter any temple in Thailand. Check out some tips on how to do this here.
Khao San Road
The famous Khao San Road – full of cheap food, tons of shopping, bars, restaurants, and a million people trying to sell you something. Before I came to Bangkok I heard this place was overpriced and way too touristy, so I wasn’t too excited about it. But, I absolutely loved it! It could definitely be overpriced (for Thailand) but everything is negotiable. We got some amazing deals on souvenirs by doing a little haggling. TRAVEL TIP: Always start your bargaining with half the price they give you and then go up from there. Highlights of Khao San Road, for me, included: A) The food cart that sells a plate of Pad Thai for only 30 baht (less than $1 USD)! B) Eating a scorpion. They have tons of carts with insects to try. If you can stomach it, do it! It really did taste like chicken. C) Drinking cheap Chang beer while walking down the road and bargaining with the locals. TRAVEL TIP: Buy beer at one of the many 7-Eleven’s if you’re on a budget. It’s way cheaper than purchasing through a bar or a restaurant, and it’s all the same beer. They cost 49 baht (about $1.38 USD) for a big 500 ml bottle. They open the bottles for you at the register and you can walk around drinking your beer and shopping for souvenirs.
The Giant Swing
The Giant Swing is a religious structure in Bangkok built in 1784. It’s located in front of Wat Suthat and was once used in an old Brahmin ceremony. It’s one of Bangkok’s main tourist attractions as it stands regally in the middle of a busy street.
Muay Thai Fights
Muay Thai is a Mixed Martial Art that is very popular in Thailand. My boyfriend is really into MMA so we knew we definitely wanted to see a fight while we were in Thailand. We ended up purchasing tickets at Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok which is one of the world-renowned boxing stadiums built in 1941. They have fights every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 6:30pm and there are an average of 9 fights each night. The seating is provided in 3 classes: ringside, 2nd class and 3rd class. If you want to sit ringside (which we did) it’ll cost you 2000 Baht (about $57 USD) per person. It was definitely a really cool experience. The respect they show to their fellow fighters is remarkable. The traditional wai kru dance the fighters take part in before every fight is really interesting to watch. They perform this dance in order to pay homage to their teachers and family and to bless themselves with a victory in the ring. But the best part of the fights, in my opinion, is the crowd! The Thai crowd really gets you into it with all of their screaming and chanting. TRAVEL TIP: Order your tickets online (same price if you buy them at the door) and get there early if you want to sit all the way in the front. The very front seats are reserved for online orders and are first come, first serve.
Rambuttri Village is a really cute area right down the road from Khao San Road. Head to the West side of Khao San, make a right, walk 2 blocks down, and make a left and you’ll stumble on the gorgeous little area. It was very similar to Khao San but since it isn’t as well known it was a lot less crazy. Eat at one of the many amazing, affordable restaurants. Get a foot massage. We found the cheapest foot massages in this area at only 70 Baht ($1.98 USD) for 30 minutes. Also, you must make a visit to the Volkswagen bar! It’s this little bar made from an old Volkswagen that serves drinks out of a bucket.
They call Bangkok the Venice of the East because of it’s several canals, known as khlongs, spread out along the Chao Phraya River. So, one of the easiest ways to get around (and to avoid the overpriced taxis and tuk-tuks) is on a ferry. It’s also an amazing way to see Bangkok from a new perspective. Ride down the rivers and canals and take in all the sites and buildings throughout the city. TRAVEL TIP: There are many different ferries to choose from and most of them are tourist traps. To avoid overpaying take the local ferries – the boats with the orange flags. They cost 14 Baht (about $0.39 USD) round trip. Make a note of which stops you need (there is a map right outside all of the docks) and head out for a day of exploring Bangkok.
Wat Benchamabophit (Marble Temple)
This temple was definitely one-of-a-kind and absolutely beautiful. We didn’t end up going inside the temple. We just walked around the beautiful courtyard and viewed the outside and it was free to do that. Construction of the Marble Temple began in 1899. It has Carrara marble pillars, a marble courtyard and two large singhas (lions) guarding the entrance. It’s ornate style and stepped-out roofs embodies Bangkok architecture.
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
We accidentally got off on the wrong ferry stop and ended up at this gorgeous temple. The entrance fee is 50 Baht (about $1.40 USD) and is open from 8:30am – 6:00pm. It’s believed that Wat Arun was built during Ayutthaya era (1351 to 1767). It’s better known by its other name: Wat Chaeng, which means the Temple of Dawn. Wat Arun is made up of colorfully decorated spires. It stands majestically over the Chao Phraya River and the view of the temple from the bank is one of Bangkok’s world-famous landmarks. You can climb to the top of the central spire for a breathtaking view of the city.
Where to Stay:
D&N Hostel This hostel has the best location. It was about a 10-15 minute walk to Khao San Road and walking distance to a lot of the temples and the Giant Swing. There was also a 7-Eleven down the road. It was very clean, there was hot water, and a free breakfast every morning. The owner was also very nice and helpful. We got to Bangkok early in the morning and check-in wasn’t until 2pm. He let us check-in early for no added cost. It was great to be able to take a shower after our 12 hour train ride from Chiang Mai! We stayed in the Double Room with Private Bathroom and it was $22.50 a night. You can reserve the room through Booking.com but you pay in cash on arrival.
What to Wear:
If you are planning to visit any of the gorgeous temples during your stay in Bangkok (and you def should) refer to this post on how to stay cool, stylish, and respectful.
Those were my top things to do in Bangkok, Thailand! Have you ever visited? What was your favorite thing to do? Let me know in the comments!