Get a taste of Thailand: the best things to do in Bangkok
Old or new, fast or slow, Bangkok is a city for all tastes.
- February 2022
Bangkok is a delicious, cosmopolitan clash of a city where you can flip from high octane to zen relaxation as the mood strikes you. Thailand’s capital is equal parts serene temples and chaotic markets; elegant rooftop bars and wild, sizzling street food; stratospheric skyscrapers and packed laneways. It’s quite the urban sprawl, so familiarise yourself with your closest train station and work outwards from there, exploring different neighbourhoods. Chinatown is old-school and full of locals, Dusit is tree-lined, spacious and architecturally pretty, while the famed Khao San Road is where the backpackers are at. Dive in and find your speed in this charismatic city.
Gaze in wonder at the Grand Palace
The incredibly ornate Grand Palace, with its many golden spires, is Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction. It’s a former royal residence and part of an epic complex of more than 100 buildings, including Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha). The architecture is spectacular, veering between traditional Thai aesthetics and a more European Renaissance vibe. Don’t miss the Grand Palace Hall, which itself is made up of three wings. You’ll need at least a few hours to really take it all in. (And check the dress code, too.)
Lose yourself in the Chatuchak Weekend Market
So you think you can shop? Diving into the Chatuchak Weekend Market is like the extreme sports of shopping. It’s one of the world’s biggest open-air markets, so prepare to spend a solid day roaming the endless stalls of clothing, antiques, homewares, perfumes, electronics, souvenirs, vintage items, produce, spices, you name it. There are also plenty of stalls slinging sizzling street food for refuelling. For another kind of shopping experience, explore the floating markets Taling Chan, Wat Sai and Khlong Lat Mayom.
Take some time out at Lumpini Park
If you want to escape the busyness of Bangkok and relax a while with the locals, head to Lumpini Park. This is Bangkok’s largest central park, complete with an artificial lake, playgrounds, plenty of lawns to picnic on and paths to wander. You can watch the locals doing Tai Chi or rent a swan-shaped paddle boat for a cute trip out on the lake. You’ll find stands selling cold drinks at the park entrances and street-food stalls popping up late in the afternoon.
Eat all the street food
Bangkok is synonymous with flavour-packed street food and open-air street stalls with clattering, fiery woks. This is one of the biggest pleasures of the city. Find a good, busy street cart or market stall and order something as cheap as it is delicious – smoky noodles with shrimp, grilled skewers, steamed chicken on rice. Grab a bowl, sit on a beat-up plastic stool, and slurp up all the goodness. Street food vendors are all across the city but aim for Chinatown’s main strip for starters.
Explore mega-mall MBK Center
MBK Center opens in new window is eight gleaming floors of shopping, dining and entertainment. Here you’ll find everything from major label fashion stores to budget-friendly outlets. You’ll also find a huge range of tech, camera and mobile stores. All up, there are around 2000 shops here! Level six is the ‘Food Fan Zone,’ with major restaurant action and a mega food court, as well as the Craft Village, showcasing Thai handicrafts. The upper floors are all about entertainment, with cinemas and indoor bowling.