The Ultimate Bangkok Travel Guide: Top Things to Do, See, Eat and More in 2023

Bangkok is an exhilarating city that captivates travelers with its energy, sights, sounds, and flavors. From majestic temples to bustling markets and everything in between, Thailand’s capital has something for everyone.

Bangkok Travel Guide

After spending five of the last twelve months living in Bangkok, we wanted to create the ultimate Bangkok travel guide. This guide covers where to stay, top things to do and see, our favorite temples, best places to eat, trendy cafés, and even weekend getaway ideas for your perfect Bangkok holiday.

Bangkok Travel Guide

Where to Stay in Bangkok

Bangkok offers affordable world-class accommodation. The best value can be found in serviced apartments and Airbnbs. Just remember, rentals under 30 days are illegal in Thailand.

We recommend these two great options:

  • Riverside high-rise with rooftop pool and gym – $750 per month
  • Luxury tower with sauna, steam room and upgraded amenities- $1500 per 45 days

Both locations have 24/7 security and onsite facilities like pools, gyms, and recreation areas. The luxury tower also borders Lumphini Park.

Top 12 Things to Do in Bangkok

Bangkok bursts with energy and activities. Here are 12 not-to-miss experiences for your first visit:

1. Take in Panoramic Views from King Power Mahanakhon Skywalk

Scaling Thailand’s tallest completed building rewards you with sweeping 360° views of Bangkok from 314 meters up. The observation deck has a glass floor and the elevator ride up incorporates a visual light show.

Bangkok Travel Guide

2. Get a Traditional Thai Massage

A Thai massage aligns energy lines through acupressure and gentle stretching. The soothing treatment leaves you relaxed and rejuvenated. Costs range from $7 at small parlors to $30 at upscale spas.

Bangkok Travel Guide

3. Take a Muay Thai Kickboxing Class

Muay Thai is Thailand’s national sport. Taking a class offers great exercise and teaches effective self-defense techniques. Just be warned – instructors don’t take it easy on newcomers!

Bangkok Travel Guide

4. Tour Bangkok by Tuk Tuk

No visit to Thailand is complete without a thrilling tuk tuk ride. Hail one of these iconic open-air autos to fully immerse yourself in Bangkok’s intoxicating sights, sounds and smells.

Bangkok Travel Guide

5. Explore Trendsetting Art at Museum of Contemporary Art

This modern art museum houses innovative multimedia exhibits from Thai visionaries. It’s a great escape from the tropical heat that gives insight into Bangkok’s thriving creative scene.

Bangkok Travel Guide

6. Go Bar Hopping on Soi Nana

Soi Nana packs one dozen unique watering holes into a single street. The compact nightlife hotspot makes bouncing between Bangkok’s best bars effortless. Our favorites are Wallflowers and Baba.

7. Cycle through Lush Gardens in Benjasiri Park

This oasis of greenery allows you to pedal through quilted lawns, past ponds and under vine-wrapped pergolas. Locals lovingly call it the “Queen’s Park” for its regal beauty.

8. Shop Till You Drop at Chatuchak Weekend Market

This sprawling open-air market has over 15,000 stalls selling everything imaginable. Go Saturday or Sunday when the entire labyrinth is open for a world-class shopping extravaganza.

9. Be Mesmerized by Calypso Cabaret Show

This dazzling Vegas-style song and dance production stars Thailand’s famous “ladyboys”. It celebrates themes of acceptance while entertaining with extravagant costumes, comedy routines and vocal impersonations.

10. Get Up Close at a Cobra Show

A cobra show allows you to safely observe Thailand’s venomous snakes in action. Their speed and agility will leave you wide-eyed as handlers provoke strikes within inches of themselves.

11. TakeCooking Class at Silom Thai Cooking School

Learn to prepare authentic Thai dishes like pad thai, tom yum soup and mango sticky rice at this popular cooking school. Expert chefs explain ingredients and guide you step-by-step to create your own Thai feast.

12. Tour Iconic Temples & Attractions by Longtail Boat

Nothing beats touring Bangkok by boat. Public ferries connect key sights while chartered longtail boats can customize private excursions. Enjoy new vistas along canals and the Chao Phraya River.

No one can see and do it all on their first visit. But this checklist hits a healthy mix of must-see attractions to help make the most of your stay.

Top Sights to See in Bangkok

Beyond the lively streets, markets and temples, there are a few iconic landmarks all first-time visitors should make time to see:

  • Chao Phraya River – The lifeline of the city reflecting beautiful temples at sunset
  • Iconsiam – Ultra-modern megamall with luxury shops, restaurants, and riverside promenades
  • Flower Market – Colorful buckets overflowing with roses, orchids, lotuses and more for shockingly affordable prices
  • China Town – Lively commercial district to experience Chinese culture and savor street food
  • The Grand Palace – Dazzling royal complex with sacred temples and regal Thai architecture

No stay is complete without cruising the Chao Phraya, gawking at flowers in full bloom or gaping at the Grand Palace’s glittering facade. They showcase what makes Bangkok such a vibrant world destination.

Our Favorite Temples in Bangkok

Bangkok safeguards over 400 Buddhist temples, known as “wats”. Each has unique artwork, symbolic structures and customs to discover. These three topped our list:

Wat Pho

Iconic reclining Buddha and traditional Thai massage school

Bangkok Travel Guide

Wat Arun

Majestic riverside temple with views from summit

Bangkok Travel Guide

Wat Saket

Golden Chedi shimmers atop Pilgrims Way staircase

Bangkok Travel Guide

Wat Pho’s giant reclining Buddha always impresses while Wat Arun’s towering spires conjure deep spirituality against Bangkok’s glittering skyline. For 360° vistas, climb 300 steps to Wat Saket’s golden peak.

Just don’t forget proper temple etiquette – shoes off, shoulders and knees covered, hats removed and voices hushed. With due respect, Bangkok’s wats promise glimpses into Thailand’s soul.

The Best Places to Eat in Bangkok

In a city famous for street food, Bangkok offers tastes to suit every palate. These were our favorite spots to savor authentic Thai cuisine and local specialties:

  • Pad Thai Thipsamai – Legendary late-night joint serving superior Pad Thai noodles, spring rolls and mango sticky rice
  • Nahm Restaurant
  •  – Sophisticated fine dining fusing Thai ingredients into contemporary culinary artistry. Boasts two Michelin stars.
  • Blue Elephant Cooking School – Acclaimed Thai cooking classes and Michelin-rated tasting menus celebrating Royal Thai cuisine
  • Soi 38 Street Food Market – Open-air foodie paradise with sizzling stir-fries, fiery curries, grilled seafood and chilled drinks
  • Soul Food Mahanakorn – Delectable Thai street eats served in upscale surroundings atop Thailand’s tallest building

Save room for late nights out at Pad Thai Thipsamai and early mornings touring fresh markets and food stalls. Just one bite hooks most visitors for a lifetime.

Top Cafes in Bangkok

Coffee culture sweeps Bangkok with charming cafes adorning every neighborhood. These hotspots top our list:

  • Roast – Artisan coffeehouse crafting the perfect cup with precision and passion
  • Rabbito Café – Cuddle bunnies, hamsters and chinchillas while enjoying baked goods and blended drinks
  • Van Roi Café – Riverside hangout with killer city views, homemade gelato and iced coffee sprinkled with coffee jelly
  • Cats’n Cream Café – Purr with felines in this cat café serving light bites, herbal teas and fruity fresh juices
  • Story of My Life Café – Fairytale cottage straight out of a storybook serving all-natural sweets in lush gardens

Start your day cuddling a bunny over coffee, reconnect midday over tea/juice and unwind in the evening over homemade gelato or artisanal sweets. With so many incredible options, no two café visits need be the same.

Best Day & Weekend Trips from Bangkok

Bangkok makes an ideal base to explore stunning landscapes, ancient ruins and far-flung beaches. Here are our top getaway ideas:

Ayutthaya

This UNESCO World Heritage Site harbors temples, monasteries and Buddha statues scattered across sprawling ruins. Wandering these relics transports you to Thailand’s mythic past as observations give way to imagination.

Pattaya

Gleaming high-rises front crescent beaches cradling this resort town. Charter boats to nearby islands, enjoy water sports/scuba diving or just relax oceanside and people watch. The perfect beach fix without straying too far.

Chiang Mai

Delve into mountain temples, vibrant handicraft villages and elephant conservation efforts in Thailand’s cultural capital. Its laidback vibe, quality cuisine and scenic beauty beckons longer stays.

Phuket

Pearlescent Andaman Sea lapping powder-soft sand fringed by swaying palms, this island paradise seduces the senses. Beyond iconic beaches, Phuket town charms with Sino-Portuguese architecture and hip, new creative spaces.

Krabi

Kayak through mangroves, climb sheer limestone cliffs or swim emerald lagoons protected as national parks. Krabi’s 150 islands feature exotic wildlife, hidden caves and waterfalls plus breathtaking Andaman views.

Bangkok delivers big city thrills, but venturing outside unveils Mother Nature’s majesty. These everyday escapes promise experiences to last a lifetime.

Plan Your Bangkok Adventure

We hope this Bangkok travel guide helps you plan an unforgettable Thailand vacation. Please bookmark/share with others curious about making the trip in 2023. Check links below for specific details on places mentioned. Questions? Just comment below and we’ll get back to you promptly! Happy travels 🙂

FAQs

Q1: How long should I stay to experience Bangkok? A: We recommend 3 full days minimum focusing just on Bangkok. This allows enough time to tour top sites while also sampling authentic cuisine and local culture at an enjoyable pace.

Q2: When is the best time of year to visit Bangkok? A: Cool, dry season between November – February makes sightseeing more comfortable, though April’s Songkran Festival shouldn’t be missed either.

Q3: Is public transportation sufficient for getting around Bangkok? A: Yes. Bangkok’s BTS, MRT metro and Chao Phraya River ferries efficiently connect most major attractions. Just supplement with occasional taxi rides.

Q4: Is Bangkok safe for solo female travelers? A: Absolutely yes. Just exercise normal precautions traveling in large cities i.e. avoid isolated areas at night, research neighborhoods, arrange airport transfers etc.

Q5: Do I need to know Thai language basics before visiting? A: Not at all. English is widely spoken in Bangkok’s tourist areas. But learning a few key phrases shows respect for Thai culture.

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