Things to do in Bangkok

Must-see Bangkok sights

Delve a little deeper to discover a different side to Bangkok – venture beyond the downtown gloss on a cycling tour, watch a theatrical khon performance, take part in a traditional Thai cookery class, or join a day-trip to the spectacular Muang Boran Ancient City.

  1. Appreciate great architecture at Wat Arun
  2. Cook up a feast at a Thai cookery class
  3. Mooch around Chatuchak Weekend Market
  4. Go on a cycling tour
  5. Watch a muay thai match
  6. Explore Thonburi by boat
  7. Day-trip out to Muang Boran Ancient City
  8. Marvel at the Erawan Shrine

The most pleasant time to visit Bangkok is between November and February when days are bright and temperatures average 27ºC. This is also its tourist high season, so rooms and flights are well worth booking in advance. Whether you’re looking for Bangkok holiday packages or simply the best things to do in Bangkok, we’ve got you covered

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1. Appreciate great architecture at Wat Arun

One of the unmissable things to do in Bangkok is a visit to Wat Arun, probably the city’s most memorable landmark. Located directly across the river from Wat Pho, this enormous, five-spired wat (Buddhist temple) can be admired both from afar and up close: it once served as a royal temple, but visitors today can take in this ornate temple in its classic Ayutthayan style.

Best for: Ticking off a must-see in the city.

While you’re there: Take the cross-river ferry from the pier adjacent to the Chao Phraya express-boat pier at Tha Thien.

2. Cook up a feast at a Thai cookery class

Thai food is hugely popular all over the world, but nothing beats coming to Thailand to experience the full range of subtle and fiery flavours, constructed from the freshest ingredients. There’s a great range of Thai cookery classes you can try your hand at if you’re looking for foodie things to do in Bangkok. At Thai House, set in a rural part of Nonthaburi province, you can do one- to three-day cooking courses, all including transfers from downtown. The three-day course includes a market visit, all meals and homestay accommodation in a lovely traditional house with a kitchen garden.

Best for: Cooking the flavours of Thailand.

While you’re there: Lemon grass, basil, galangal, chilli, coconut milk and fermented fish sauce bring these tastes to life.

3. Mooch around Chatuchak Weekend Market

With over 10,000 open-air stalls to mooch around, the huge Chatuchak Weekend Market (also known as JJ) is Bangkok’s most enjoyable shopping experience. Chatuchak is divided into 27 numbered sections, plus half a dozen unnumbered ones, each of them more or less dedicated to a particular genre: think household items, plants and secondhand books.

Best for: Second-hand bargains, lunch and more.

While you’re there: Stop for a drink at market-housed Viva.

4. Go on a cycling tour

The most popular organized tours in Bangkok for travellers are by bicycle, heading to the city’s outer neighbourhoods and beyond. It’s a great way to see a different take on Thai life and offer a unique chance to see traditional communities close up.

Best for: exploring the city by two wheels.

While you’re there: Other options include mountain biking and after-dark tours.

5. Watch a muay thai match

The violence of the average Thai boxing (muay thai) match may be off putting to some, but spending a couple of hours at one of Bangkok’s two main stadia, Rajdamnoen and Lumphini, can be really entertaining. This is for both the enthusiasm of the spectators as well as the ritualistic aspects of the fights! If you’re wondering what to do in Bangkok that packs a punch, then muay thai is certainly that. It enjoys a following similar to football or tennis in Europe: every province has a stadium, and whenever a big fight is shown on TV you can be sure that large, noisy crowds will gather round the sets in streetside restaurants.

Best for: Action-packed culture.

While you’re there: Rajdamnoen Stadium is surrounded by restaurants selling northeastern food.

6. Explore Thonburi by boat

The most popular way to explore the sights of Thonburi is by boat, taking in Wat Arun and the Royal Barge Museum, then continuing along Thonbuir’s network of small canals. Many tours include visits to one of Thonburi’s two main floating markets, Wat Sai and Taling Chan. You can even charter your own longtail for a bit of privacy.

Best for: Seeing Bangkok by water.

While you’re there: Individual floating vendors paddle from house to house - you’re more likely to see them in the mornings.

7. Day-trip out to Muang Boran Ancient City

A day-trip out to the Muang Boran Ancient City open-air museum is a great way to enjoy the best of Thailand’s architectural heritage in relative peace and without much effort. The museum comprises more than a hundred traditional Thai buildings scattered around pleasantly landscaped grounds and is best toured by free bicycle (or the free tram service), though you can also go by foot.

Best for: Peace and quiet.

While you’re there: Visit during the week and watch restorers and skilled craftspeople maintain the building using traditional techniques.

8. Marvel at the Erawan Shrine

The Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel is the reason for the Erawan Shrine’s existence: when a string of calamities held up the building of the original hotel in the 1950s, spirit doctors were called in, who instructed the owners to build a new home for the offended local spirits, in the form of a shrine to Brahma - the hotel was then completed without further mishap. Prepare yourself for sensory overload: the main structure shines with colourful glass and there’s a strong smell of scented garlands and incense candles. You might also catch a group of traditional dancers performing to a small classical orchestra.

Best for: Celebrating Bangkok at its most vibrant.

While you’re there: A ten minute walk away is low-cost Pratunam Market.

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