things to do
- TEMPLE OF THE RECLINING BUDDHA (WAT PHO)
The temple is the first in the list of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first class Royal temples. It is associated with King Rama I who rebuilt the temple complex on an earlier temple site, and became his main temple where some of his ashes are enshrined. The temple was later expanded and extensively renovated by Rama III. The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46m long Reclining Buddha. The temple is also the earliest centre for public education in Thailand, and still houses a school of Thai medicine. It is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage which is still taught and practiced at the temple.
- TRAIN NIGHT MARKET (MAEKLONG RAILWAY)
The railway became famous for its route through the Maeklong Railway Market, nicknamed (Thai: ตลาดร่มหุบ;: Talat Rom Hup), meaning the “umbrella pulldown market”. It is one of the largest fresh seafood markets in Thailand, and is centred on the Maeklong Railway’s track. Whenever a train approaches, the awnings and shop fronts are moved back from the rails, to be replaced once the train has passed.
- WHAT PHRA KAEW
Wat Phra Kaew (Thai: วัดพระแก้ว, Wat Phra Kaeo, IPA: [wát pʰráʔ kɛ̂ːw], Pronunciation, English: Temple of the Emerald Buddha; full official name Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, Thai: วัดพระศรีรัตนศาสดาราม, IPA: [wát pʰráʔ sǐː rát.ta.náʔ sàːt.sa.daː.raːm]) is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand. The Emerald Buddha housed in the temple is a potent religio-political symbol and the palladium (protective image) of Thai society.It is located in Phra Nakhon District, the historic centre of Bangkok, within the precincts of the Grand Palace.
The main building is the central phra ubosot, which houses the statue of the Emerald Buddha. According to legend, this Buddha image originated in India where the sage Nagasena prophesized that the Emerald Buddha would bring “prosperity and pre-eminence to each country in which it resides”, the Emerald Buddha deified in the Wat Phra Kaew is therefore deeply revered and venerated in Thailand as the protector of the country. Historical records however dates its finding to Chiang Raiin the 15th century where, after it was relocated a number of times, it was finally taken to Thailand in the 18th century. It was enshrined in Bangkok at the Wat Phra Kaew temple in 1782 during the reign of Phutthayotfa Chulalok, King Rama I (1782–1809). This marked the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty of Thailand, whose present sovereign is Bhumibol Adulyadej, King Rama IX.
The Emerald Buddha, a dark green statue, is in a standing form, about 66 centimetres (26 in) tall, carved from a single jade stone (“emerald” in Thai means deep green colour and not the specific stone). It is carved in the meditating posture in the style of the Lanna school of the northern Thailand. Except for the Thai King and, in his stead, the Crown Prince, no other persons are allowed to touch the statue. The King changes the cloak around the statue three times a year, corresponding to the summer, winter, and rainy seasons, an important ritual performed to usher good fortune to the country during each season.
- DAMNOEN SADUEK FLOATING MARKET
There are countless floating markets throughout the country, many within a couple of hours of the capital. The colorfully clad merchants at these lively markets paddle along congested canals in sturdy canoes laden with fresh fruit and vegetables to sell to shoppers on the banks. There is lots of chatter and activity – bargaining is common – that’s all part of the fun — but don’t expect to get the price down more than a few baht.
The most famous of the floating markets is Damnoen Saduak, about 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok. This buzzing market is at its best in the early morning before the crowds arrive and the heat of the day builds up. Our tour also includes a visit to Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakorn Pathom, supposedly the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia.
- SEA LIFE BANGKOK
One of the largest aquariums in Southeast Asia, SEA LIFE Bangkok (previously known as Ocean World) is a welcome break from the heat and crowds you find in many of Bangkok’s outdoor attractions. If you’re looking for what to do in Bangkok with kids this should be on your list of places to visit. Admission prices are quite steep if you’re only planning to be here for an hour, but stay for longer and you’re more likely to get your money’s worth. Also consider upgrading your ticket to include a ride on the glass bottom boat through the shark tank. This is the closest many of us will ever get to a shark! The upgraded entry also includes the 5D cinema, and a souvenir photo, plus there’s an option to get a combined ticket for the aquarium and Madam Tussauds.
Exhibits include an underwater tunnel, and there are countless different species of fish and other marine life here including octopus, seahorses and turtles, and the always entertaining penguins. With everything indoors, and the food court of the Siam Paragon shopping mall right outside the doors, this is a popular thing to do in Bangkok.
- BANGKOK NATIONAL MUSEUM
When deciding what to do in Bangkok you’ll discover there are countless museums of different sizes and different subjects all across the city but if you want a general overview of Thai art and history, be sure to visit the Bangkok National Museum.
This is the largest museum in Southeast Asia so you should set aside several hours at least for visiting this particular Bangkok attraction. It’s recommended for anyone who’d like to learn more about the intricate history of Thailand. Starting in pavilion one you’ll see some very nice exhibits that begin to summarise the country’s history. The rest of the museum is set over numerous buildings, some with more to offer, and some with better exhibits than others. Parts of the museum have benefited from refurbishment, while others would still benefit from more work, but overall the insight you’ll gain from visiting will help you have a better understanding of the local culture and more of an appreciation for the many things to do in Bangkok.
- KHAO SAN ROAD
It’s only a short street but Khao San Road is probably the best known street in the city, making a visit to the backpacker’s paradise one of the top things to do in Bangkok. You could call it a tourist trap, but if you’re wondering what to do in Bangkok one evening, this is a great place to try. It’s friendly and has a fun and laid back atmosphere thanks to the welcoming locals and the worldly tourists. If you wanted cheap, backpacker accommodation you would come here, and you’d also come here to pick up many of the buses that leave for other parts of Thailand each day.
But if you’re not staying in a cheap hostel in the heart of this Bangkok attraction, what does Khao San Road offer? During the day you can buy cheap goods from the stores that line the street; anything from pirated CDs to handicrafts to essential backpacker items. Come evening and this short street is packed with people looking for a fun night out. Music blasts from the shops and bars and there are ample places to grab some authentic Thai food. Try a cheap foot massage after a day of sightseeing or watch one of the far-out shows and entertainment offerings. Even if you just have a short visit to see what all the fuss is about this Bangkok attraction really is one to experience.
- CHAO PHRAYA RIVER
The Chao Phraya River meanders its way right through the heart of Bangkok and adds to the charm and appeal of this bustling metropolis. Getting out on the water offers a break from the crowds and the heat, making a trip along the river a popular thing to do in Bangkok. River ferries dart back and forth between hotels and landmarks so even if you just take a quick trip from one side to the other it’s a nice experience. The best way to see this Bangkok attraction though is on a river cruise or by renting a boat and travelling at your own speeds. Longboats can be rented from a couple of different piers and the price includes a driver so you don’t have to worry about finding your way around. Ask him to take you to the canals as this is a wonderful thing to do in Bangkok that many visitors to the city don’t get to see.There are guided river cruises as well if you want to learn all about the river while cruising on it. Dinner cruises are the perfect end to a day and allow you to see the city from a different perspective as the sun goes down and the temples and palaces are lit up.
- CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET
Among the many things to do in Bangkok, shopping is always a popular pastime both for tourists and for locals. There are countless markets and shopping malls, but none come close to beating the experience you’ll find at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It’s a mammoth market and one of the top attractions in Bangkok, with somewhere in the region of 15,000 different stalls and about 200,000 visitors each day that it’s open. As the name suggests this is primarily a weekend market, open Saturday and Sunday, though one section, called Jatujak Plaza is open throughout the week too.
There’s no point in trying to list what you can buy at the market because the fact is you can buy just about anything and the goods are all affordably priced. Of course, you should haggle over prices anyway and get a little more off what the vendor first quotes you as this is the expected thing to do in Bangkok!
Come early to beat some of the crowds and to beat the heat – with so many people wandering around the stalls the market does get very hot and uncomfortable, and you don’t want this to ruin your visit. If you’re okay with the crowds stay for the day and enjoy some great food from the multitude of food carts.
- WAT ARUN ( TEMPLE OF DAWN )
In a city full of the most beautiful temples in the world which one rates the highest? It’s usually a battle betweenWat Arun and Wat Pho, both worthy of a visit and both offering something a little different to the other. In many ‘what to do in Bangkok guides’ Wat Arun wins the battle! It is arguably the best temple in the city and there’s no doubt that this should be on your list of Bangkok attractions to visit.
The Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun, sits on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Named for the Hindu god, Aruna, the temple magically catches and reflects the first light of the morning sun, creating a striking sight that you’ll only be able to appreciate at dawn. Wat Arun looks quite amazing at night too, all lit up with a golden glow. The temple is best accessed by ferry across the river and be sure to climb the steep stairway up the face of the temple for the ultimate experience. If you make it to the top the views are fantastic and you’ll be able to tick that off your list of things to do in Bangkok
- LUMPINI PARK
Lumpini Park is to Bangkok as Central Park is to New York! It is the largest public park in the city and one of the few places around the city centre that you can come to enjoy open spaces and greenery, away from the crowded streets, traffic congestion, noise and fumes. Just like Central Park there is a variety of things to see and do here, and after a couple of days experiencing Bangkok, Lumpini Park really is an oasis of calm.
The park was created in the 1920s on royal land, and back then it was actually on the outskirts of the city. Today it has been swallowed up by the city, and is situated right in the heart of the main business district, making this an easy Bangkok attraction to get to.
You can rent boats and paddle around on the artificial lake then stroll the park’s 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) of paths that are popular throughout the day and evening with walkers and joggers. The park comes to life early in the morning as locals come for their morning exercise and there are stalls set up where you can buy food and a variety of other items. People watching is a fun thing to do in Bangkok, and early morning in Lumpini Park is the ideal time to do it. Pick a bench or a picnic table and simply watch the world go by.