Bangkok river view including traditional boat and Wat Arun
Stuart Bak

Best Places to Visit in Bangkok

Visiting Bangkok for the first time? Boy, are you in for a heck of a ride! This sensory saturnalia of a city is squished full of extraordinary temples, lush green spaces, bustling markets and other such Insta-tastic attractions. But where to start? And which are the bucket-list Bangkok attractions you simply must not miss? Read on for our whistle stop guide to the best places to visit in Bangkok, including:

  • The Grand Palace
  • Bang Krachao
  • Chinatown
  • Wat Pho and Wat Arun
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market
  • Lumpini Park
  • Bangkok Flower Market


Young couple eating in Bangkok's Chinatown

Bangkok’s Chinatown is among the biggest on the planet, spanning some two square kilometers just east of the Chao Phraya River. Go for the food – umami shrimp dumplings, pork-stuffed bao buns, aromatic crab fried rice, and sweet Chinese donuts served with pandan and condensed milk – then stay for the authentic atmosphere and attractions that run the gamut from traditional temples to old-school shophouses and tea rooms. Snap a selfie by the colorful Chinatown Gate, say hey to the resident crocs at Wat Chakrawat and gawp at Wat Traimit’s three-meter-high, 5.5-ton seated Buddha: $300m of solid gold. Come back for more in the evening, when colorful lights bathe the streets in an atmospheric neon glow, and street-food stalls belch out great clouds of steam, heady with the aroma of Chinese spices. Is this the best thing to do in Bangkok? Probably.

Wat Arun & Wat Pho

Huge reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok

You can’t go far anywhere in Bangkok without tripping over a temple or six – at last count there were over 30,000 operating all across the city. But if you only have time for a handful, make sure the twin titans that are Wat Arun and Wat Pho are among them…

Wat Arun is the one with the biggest wow factor, with its extraordinary porcelain-encrusted central spire that points skyward like the prow of some alien spaceship. Get right up close to ogle the intricate porcelain art, Chinese pavilions and often grotesque statues. Just across the river, neighbor Wat Pho is one of the oldest temples in town (as well as being the largest) and contains a collection of over 1,000 Buddha images including – at 15 meters high and 46 long – the largest reclining Buddha in Bangkok.

Bangkok Flower Market

Beautiful flowers at the Bangkok Flower Market

As much of a sensory feast as its near-neighbor Chinatown, Pak Khlong Talat (aka the Bangkok flower market) on Chak Phet Road is best visited in the early morning, when kaleidoscopic lorry-loads of blooms  arrive in from the provinces. We’re talking vibrant pink roses, stately orchids, fragrant jasmine flowers and so much more. Take a stroll in the cool morning air as the stall-holders busily set up their vibrant botanical displays and the air is thick with intoxicating floral perfumes.

Bang Kachao

Cyclist on the elevated walkways at Bang Kachao, Bangkok

Cloistered in a loop of the Chao Phraya river, Bang Kachao is Bangkok’s great green lung, a little slice of ye olde Thailand in the heart of the concrete city. Reach it in the traditional fashion (by wooden longtail boat, natch) and rent a bike to explore its peaceful, elevated walkways. If your vision of Bangkok is one of space-age skylines, unbearable humidity and the incessant honking of tuk-tuk horns, Bang Kachao will flip those expectations on their head. For here in this peaceful jungle enclave it's all slow village life, lush mangroves, vine-draped forests, tranquil canals and tiny temples in which to pause and reflect. Indeed you’re far more likely to spot a streak-eared bulbul or monitor lizard here than the futuristic gleam of a glass-and-steel skyscraper. Bliss.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Woman browsing at Chatuchak Weekend Market

If your idea of fun is getting lost in labyrinthine flea markets chock-full of electronic gadgets, retro fashions, vintage vinyl records, antique spoons, local handicrafts, antiquarian maps and books, plants, jewelry, fresh fruit and, yes, even kitchen sinks, then you’re in for an absolute treat at Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the best places to visit in Bangkok. Grab a map at entrance three if you hope to make it back out of this 35-acre maze, which holds somewhere in the region of 15,000 stalls. You could easily spend an entire day here, fueled only by mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream, only to emerge in the late afternoon, high on sugar and arms laden with untold treasures.

The Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

Tourists in the grounds of the Grand Palace, Bangkok

No Bangkok vacation would be complete without a visit to the almost comically opulent complex of gilded palaces and regal pavilions that makes up the Grand Palace. Insta opportunities abound here, with fairytale spires and rooftops and gold-plated throne rooms around almost every corner. Don’t miss the Wat Phra Kaew, aka the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, inside which the titular Buddha, a sacred 15th-century idol that only the Thai king is legally permitted to touch, holds court.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Vendors on the water at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Just outside the Bangkok city limits, Damnoen Saduak floating market is well worth the day trip. Traders here hawk all manner of handmade goods from longtail boats that occasionally appear so heavily laden with supplies that they look in danger of sinking. But don’t let that put you off boarding your own tour boat! It's hands-down the best way to experience this historic market and to take in the picture-perfect scenery – glassy canals, colorful stilt houses and rainbow stacks of tropical fruits. Bob gently along the canal, pausing to barter for this trinket or that, and make sure to work your way through some of the street food on sale: spicy boat noodles, crispy duck and that ubiquitous mango sticky rice for the win.

Lumpini Park

A watchful water monitor lizard in Lumpini Park, Bangkok

Lumpini Park is a great spot for people-watching and, like many of Bangkok’s open spaces, is best experienced early in the morning before the heat and humidity starts to build. The residents of Bangkok know this too. Head down there first thing to spot local keep-fit enthusiasts jogging the meandering lanes and pensioners practicing tai chi on the lawns, while the park's giant water monitor lizards look on judgmentally from the lake’s shaded banks. At 8AM, the bell tower chimes and everyone stops what they’re doing as the national anthem booms out across the park, heralding the start of the day proper. Time for a coffee? Definitely.

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