Planning a weekend in Bangkok? This vast metropolis packs quite a punch, with everything from tranquil temples to hedonistic nightlife to keep the short-term visitor entertained. Browse epic markets, chill out with a coconut ice cream in the park and fill your face with the very best street food this fine city has to offer; the list of things to do on a weekend in Bangkok is pretty much endless. Fortunately for you, we’ve spared you the hard work by putting together a shortlist of our favorite weekend must-dos. Read on for some the best weekend activities in Bangkok, including:
- Siam Amazing Park
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- The best museums in town
- Lumpini Park
- Top temples and shrines
- Khaosan Road
Hang with the Lizards in Lumpini Park
Lumpini Park – that huge tract of parkland smack-bang in the middle of Bangkok’s business district – is at its best in the morning, when perky pensioners take Tai Chi classes on the lawns and snoozy water monitor lizards bask on the banks of the lake. It’s relatively cool here in the hours before the sun commences its blazing assault on the city, with plenty of canopy cover and vendors hawking refreshing mango salads and coconut ice cream – surely the true breakfast of champions – from their carts. Brave souls who don’t mind working up a bit of a sweat might also consider a light morning jog around the park’s pedestrianized pathways, or commandeering a giant swan pedalo on the lake.
Shop ‘til you Drop at Chatuchak Weekend Market
The clue’s in the name of this essential weekend Bangkok activity, a mind-bogglingly enormous market that spans 35 acres and houses several thousand stalls. Good luck finding your bearings in its labyrinthine lanes, where handcrafted souvenirs, colorful Thai silks and modern accessories rub shoulders with vintage fashions and antiques galore. Naturally, this being a Bangkok market, there are also plenty of food stalls to keep you fortified while you haggle your heart out for items you never even knew you needed. Grab a map at entrance 3 – essential if you want to avoid your bones being discovered by future archaeologists in some long-forgotten corner of the market.
Immerse Yourself in Local Art and History
Bangkok is also home to more than a smattering of world-class museums and galleries, ideal for whiling away a few languid hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Bangkok’s National Museum is a treasure trove of Thai artifacts, with pieces that date back as far as the 7th Century, as well as boasting the country’s largest collection of Thai art. Jim Thompson House runs it a close second, its traditional 19th-century buildings playing host to an eclectic collection of Southeast Asian art, put together by the ‘Thai Silk King’ for which the museum is named. Hit up Patpong Museum (pictured) for a wild ride through the history of Bangkok’s notorious red light district that takes in Jean-Claude Van Damme, David Bowie and the CIA, or check out the latest in contemporary Thai art at the (free!) Bangkok Art & Culture Centre.
Wander the Streets of Old Bangkok
You’ll find you have a far more satisfying experience if you take things slowly in Bangkok rather than rushing around trying to tick off all the big-ticket attractions in a relatively short time. And there are few better areas in which to do so than on a stroll around Rattanakosin Island, the city’s old town district. Time has more or less stood still here, where picturesque canalside lanes offer splendid views of the Grand Palace’s fairytale rooftops, and the ubiquitous skyscrapers of the CBD feel like a distant memory. Pause for a selfie at the Giant Swing in front of Wat Suthat, before tucking into authentic old-school Thai cuisine in the quaint neighborhood restaurants nearby. Perfect.
Get Outta Town!
Ok, so heading outside of Bangkok may seem a little out there when you’re only there for two or three nights, but hear us out. There are stacks of amazing attractions within just two or three hours of the city center that are well worth your consideration. Take the legendary Damnoen Saduak floating market, where locals hawk colorful clothing, unique handcrafts, fresh tropical fruits, sweet mango sticky rice and more from traditional longtail boats. Or Kaeng Krachan, Thailand’s biggest national park, a vast landscape of lofty mountains, shimmering lakes, swimmable waterfall pools, vast open plains and lush rainforests that teem with native wildlife. Really adventurous types make for Khao Nor, where a network of ladders, bridges and steps hewn into the cliff-face lead to the summit of this magical monkey mountain.
Go Wild at Siam Amazing Park
If you’re the kind of person whose vacation simply isn’t complete without the nerve-jangling thrill of a rollercoaster-filled theme park, then Siam Amazing Park is the place for you. Frankly this place is so enormous that, should the mood take you, you could spend an entire weekend or even longer hitting the terrifying rides (Giant Drop, anyone?) and cooling off in Water World, the adjoining water park that’s the biggest of its kind in all of Southeast Asia. We’re talking the world’s biggest wave pool as well as a flowing pool, spiral flumes, and a frighteningly fast rainbow slide that stands at a whopping seven stories tall. Dive in!
Go for Gold
Say ‘hey’ to Phra Phrom, the four-faced Thai god represented at the Erawan Shrine by a diminutive golden statue to which thousands of pilgrims flock daily, leaving various small offerings in the hope of having a little luck bestowed upon them. For golden statues on a somewhat grander scale, hit up Wat Pho, home to the largest reclining Buddha in town (he's squeezed inside his own pavilion and the soles of his feet alone are three meters tall). Or head over to stunning Wat Traimit, where the planet’s largest seated golden Buddha weighs in at a staggering 5.5 tons and something like $300m worth of pure gold.
Soak up the City’s Legendary Hedonism
Can you really say you’ve spent a weekend in Bangkok until you’ve spent an evening grazing on Chinatown’s sensational street food? No, you cannot. Lose yourself in neon-lit alleyways where BBQ pork sizzles on flaming grills and great clouds of steam carry heady scents of prawn dumplings and chicken rice on the breeze. Suitably fortified, make for Khaosan Road, a diminutive city center street that is Bangkok in microcosm, chock-full of cool shops, bars, restaurants and street-food stalls. Khaosan is at its hedonistic best in the evenings, when revelers are drawn like moths to its bright lights, pulsing music and lively bars that spill out into the street.