What to do in Bangkok? Our 11 hotspots & off the beaten track tips

Bangkok, a city most people either absolutely hate and want to leave as soon as possible, or totally love and can’t get enough of. Truth is Bangkok ís an awesome city with a very unique vibe. There’s plenty to do and visit, both touristy hot spots and hidden gems. If you’re wondering what to do in Bangkok, read along for our 11 hotspots and off-the-beaten-track tips…

Even though I like Bangkok and I can easily spend weeks in this city, I always recommend people to skip Bangkok when they first arrive in Thailand, especially when it’s your first time in Asia or Thailand. When you arrive in Thailand from Europe or the US, there’s a big culture shock to deal with. Which is much easier to do if you didn’t just spend 10+ hours on a plane. So save your visit to Thailand’s bustling capital for the last couple of days of your trip before flying back home.

Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s see what to do in Bangkok once you’re there!

1. Shop till you drop at Chatuchak market

Do you like markets? Then definitely don’t miss the Chatuchak market. It’s one of the biggest markets in the world. Yeah, that’s right. Not just in Bangkok or Thailand, but in the world! But somehow, when you’re walking around on it, it doesn’t feel thát massive. Sure, it has tons of stalls and it’s easy to get lost, but it’s pretty well organized.

The market is located a bit further outside downtown Bangkok, but it’s definitely worth the trip. You can find pretty much everything at Chatuchak and at decent prices too! Navigating your way through may seem challenging, but there actually is a system and you can get a map at one of the visitor centers on the outer layers of the market. However, don’t think you’ll be able to see it all during one visit. We’ve been there multiple times already and still haven’t seen all the market has to offer.

Chatuchak market plan

When to go

Chatuchak is a weekend market, so you’ll have to plan your visit to Bangkok carefully if you want to include a day in this market. The market is open Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm and on Friday evening from six ‘o clock till midnight (wholesale only on Fridays). On Wednesday and Thursday, Chatuchak is a flower and plant market.

Location & how to get there

Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok
You can get here by car, metro or Skytrain. If you take a taxi, make sure to choose one that’s willing to take you on the meter. It might take up to an hour to get there from the Khao San area. The BTS Skytrain is the easiest way of getting to Chatuchak. Get out at Mo Chit BTS station, take exit 1 and walk towards the park until you see the stalls. Just follow the people 🙂 If you travel by metro, get off at Kampaengphet MRT Station for the shortest walk. Chatuchak Park is also an option.

2. Stroll through old airplanes at the Airplane Graveyard

If you’re tired of temples and markets, go check out the Airplane Graveyard. As the name might suggest, you’ll find derelict airplane bodies here. You can walk around and even climb inside an MD-82 cockpit or explore a two-story 747. The Airplane Graveyard is located in the Hua Mak area, to the east of downtown Bangkok.

The Airplane Graveyard is owned by a local businessman, selling parts of the airplanes. A couple of Thai families are living on the grounds, helping the owner collect the parts and making money by asking tourists a fee for visiting this place. There are some stories going around that the entry fee varies, based on what the family wants to charge you (anywhere between 100 and 800 baht). We didn’t experience anything like that and just paid the 200 baht that is stated on most websites (including their own).


When to go

The Airplane Graveyard in Bangkok is open daily from 9 am to 18 pm. Make sure to go as early as possible to prevent those boiling hot cockpits mid-day. Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellant. As there are plenty of those pesky creatures in and around the plane wrecks.

Location & how to get there

Ramkhamhaeng Alley 103, Khwaeng Hua Mak, Khet Bang Kapi, Bangkok
As the Airplane graveyard is located a bit further away from other touristy sites, it may be a bit more challenging to get here. It is totally doable though! You can travel either by taxi or use the canal boat. The last option is cheaper and let’s be honest: a welcome change from the busy Bangkok traffic. If you opt to go by boat from the Khao San area, you can hop aboard at Panfa Leelard, change boats at Pratunam (but keep your ticket) and get off at the Wat Sriboonreung pier (the last stop on the NIDA line).

3. Bangkok’s most beautiful temple: Wat Arun

You can’t leave Bangkok without visiting at least one temple. And if one temple is all you want to visit during your time in Bangkok, make sure it’s Wat Arun. If you ask me, Wat Arun is the most beautiful temple in Bangkok. Not just because its a great sunrise and sunset spot, but also because it’s so different from most temples in the city. The details on the building are awesome, every time I go, I discover something new as it’s decorated with tons of little stones. It’s location on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, is simply stunning. Climb the very steep steps to the central Prang for the best experience.

Bangkok - Wat Arun

When to go

Wat Arun looks best during sunrise (it’s called the temple of dawn for a reason) and sunset. But the temple is only open for visitors between 8 am and 5.30 pm. So if you want to enjoy either a sunrise or sunset you’ll have to do so from the other side of the river. Which is fine, because Wat Arun looks great from there! The best time for visiting the temple is right when it opens at 8 am. Between 8 and 9 it is still reasonably quiet. After that, it gets busier quickly and it continues to do so during the rest of the day. Tickets for Wat Arun are 50 baht per person.

Location & how to get there

34 Wang Doem Road, Wat Arun, Bangkok
Wat Arun is located on the Chao Phraya river banks and is easy to reach from the Tha Tien Pier on the opposite side of the river. The shuttle boat crosses the river very often, so you never have to wait for any longer than 5 to 10 minutes. The boat crossing is just 4 baht. Other popular hotspots in Bangkok, like the Royal Palace and Wat Pho are located very close to the pier.

From the Khao San area, you could walk to the pier in about 30 minutes or take a taxi or tuk-tuk.

4. Khao San Road

If you’re traveling to Bangkok, chances are you’ve heard about Khao San Road. It’s THE place to be if you’re looking to party in downtown Bangkok. Personally, that’s not my thing. But Khao San is more than just party, party, party. There’re also tons of shopping and food options. Khao San Road is a perfect place to go people watching and try all kinds of food. Some of which are really extreme, even for Thailand. Tasty scorpion or tarantula, anyone?


When to go

The night market at Khao San Road starts around 4 pm and continues all the way into the night. Depending on what you’re looking for, the perfect time to visit differs. If you’re just looking to do some shopping or try some weird food, come early. If you’re more about people watching or partying, Khao San is the place to be a little later in the evening.

Location & how to get there

Khao San Road is located in the middle of Bangkok and is considered to be the most popular tourist area. Chances are your hostel or hotel will be in this area and a trip to Khao San is only a short walk or tuk-tuk ride away.

If you’re looking for great hotels close to Khao San Road, but want to skip the loud noises, consider staying in the Time Sabai 134 hostel (dorms from $8 and private rooms for $37) or the Lamphu Tree House (rooms from $62). Both are located on a car-free street and just a 10-minute walk from Khao San Road.

5. Off the beaten track at Wat Benchamabophit

Wat Benchamabophit isn’t one of those very popular temples in downtown Bangkok, which is perfect because that makes it way more enjoyable to visit. This place is gorgeous to look at, thanks to the Italian marble that is used to build this impressive temple. Besides that, it’s free to enter the temple area, if you want to go inside the temple you’ll have to pay 20 baht each.

Wat Benchamabophit hotspot in Bangkok

When to go

You can visit this temple anywhere between 8 am and 5.30 pm and if you’re looking to beat the crowds, you’re in luck. We found this temple next to empty in the mid-morning. It might happen that a group of Asians enters, but they will be quickly out of your way so you can continue exploring.

Location & how to get there

69 Thanon Si Ayutthaya, Bangkok
If you’re up for a bit of a walk, you could do so to Wat Benchamabophit from the Khao San area. The hike to the temple is about 30 minutes from Khao San road. But if it’s too hot or you don’t like walking, you could take a taxi or tuk-tuk as well.

6. Be amazed in Chinatown

Chinatown is like Khao San road: a must when you’re visiting Bangkok. Or at least if you enjoy street food or any Chinese products at very decent prices. The narrow streets are filled with merchants trying to sell their goods. The markets usually take place during the day, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do after dark. Head to Yaowarat Road and indulge in all sorts of delicious and extraordinary food.

Drukte in Bangkok

When to go

As mentioned before, it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re interested in the markets and temples, make sure to come during the day. Early morning is often better than later in the day. At night, there’s plenty of food stands to keep anyone happy.

Location & how to get there

Yaowarat Road, Bangkok
The traffic in Chinatown is horrible. The best way to get there is by public transport. Take the MRT Underground to Hua Lamphong station and walk your way to Chinatown from there. It’s a 15-minute walk from there, but you could grab a tuk-tuk as well.

7. Look for the crocodile at Wat Chakrawatrachawat Woramahawihan

If you’re in Chinatown, make sure to look for the crocodiles at the Wat Chakrawatrachawat Woramahawihan temple (now try and pronounce that…). Yeah, that’s right. Crocodiles in the middle of busy Chinatown! Finding them, however, might present a bit of a challenge though as the temple is hidden among Chinatowns many streets. We walked past it during a walking tour through Chinatown, and I am sure many people don’t even know it exists.

When to go

You can visit this temple during the daytime. It’s a nice change of scenery from wandering through Chinatowns markets.

Location & how to get there

Chakkrawat, Samphanthawong, Bangkok, Thailand
As I mentioned before, finding the Wat Chakrawatrachawat Woramahawihan temple can be challenging. When you’re in the area, look for two white towers and head towards that direction. You could try and ask locals, if only it was possible to pronounce that name… 😉

8. Wander around Ari

Ari is an up-and-coming neighborhood in Bangkok and we happened to stay here for a week. In Ari, you can still experience the local Bangkok, with tons of food stands everywhere (no English translations though…). Ari is also turning into a bit of a hipster area, so you’ll find more and more coffee bars and fancy restaurants in this area.

Roti eten in Ari, Bangkok

These roti pancakes with egg, sugar and condensed milk are available everywhere in Thailand. But this guy in Ari made the best ones we’ve had so far. 

If you want to do a workout during your visit to Bangkok, make sure to check out AriFit. We did a morning class here and it was a great way to start the day!

When to go

Ari is a nice hotspot year-round and all day long. If you come in the late afternoon, you’ll see more and more street food carts starting to appear.

Location & how to get there

1215 Phahonyothin Alley, Bangkok
Ari has its own Skytrain station, so getting there is fairly easy. The streets around the station are filled with street food stands and nice restaurants.

>> Are you visiting Thailand for the first time? Read our 13 tips to make the most out of your trip

9. Count buddhas at Wat Ratchanatdaram

Wat Ratchanatdaram (also known as Loha Prasat) is one of those hidden gem temples, and I simply don’t understand why it isn’t more popular. It’s located close to Khao San road, it’s different from other temples and entering will only cost you 20 baht… What’s not to like? Inside you’ll find a LOT of buddhas.

What to do in bangkok - 11 hotspots

Tip: don’t forget to make a stop at the little cafe right next to the temple (it’s called Milkey Tree Coffee). They offer some great milkshakes and tasty snacks!

When to go

We visited this temple just after mid-day in the summer and there were only a handful of people. So I’d say it’s not too hard to have this temple all to yourself. You can enter the area from 9 till 5.

Location & how to get there

2 Maha Chai Rd, Bangkok
Even though it isn’t visited often, Wat Ratchanatdaram is located quite close to popular sights like Khaosan Road and Wat Saket (Golden Mount). If you’re staying in the Khaosan area, the easiest way to get there is really just walking there. It should take around 10 to 15 minutes.

10. Bike around Bangkok

As a Dutchie, a bike is probably the best way to get around in a city. Even in a city like Bangkok, biking is pretty common. If you want to explore the best that Bangkok has to offer on a bike, check out the bike tours by Co van Kessel. A company founded over 30 years ago by the Dutch Co van Kessel. Unfortunately, Co passed away, but locals have continued on his mission to show tourists a unique side of Bangkok. You can book several bike, walk or boat trips around town.

When to go

You can join one of Co van Kessels’ tours year-round. Rain will never make them cancel a tour, so if you’re visiting in the rainy season, make sure to take whatever you need to conquer those tropical rain showers. Co van Kessel crew does provide ponchos for light rain.

Location & how to get there

River City Bangkok, Charoen Krung Road, Soi 24, Bangkok
All Co van Kessel tours start at their office on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, close to the Hua Lamphong MRT subway station. You can get there by train, MRT, Skytrain, and taxi.

11. Ratchada Talad Rot Fai market

The Ratchada Talad Rot Fai Market is a real hipster market with a lot of good, unique food choices, vintage clothing, accessories, and a very artsy vibe. If you’re looking for a special meal, this is the place to be.

The colorful market looks great from the Esplanade mall parking lot. A hotspot for photographers as it turns dark and the stalls below show their colors.

Ratchada Talad Rot Fai markt vanaf Esplanade Mall

When to go

Talad Rot Fai is a night market, so getting there before 5 pm is pretty useless. But it does get crowded fast, especially during the weekends. If you want to enjoy the market without too many people, I’d suggest you come early. The market is open Thursday to Sunday.

Location & how to get there

Ratchadaphisek Rd, Din Daeng, Bangkok
There are three different Talad Rot Fai markets in Bangkok, but the one we’re talking about here is located next to the Esplanade Mall. It’s just a short walk from the Thailand Cultural Centre Subway/ MRT Station.

What to do in Bangkok: why we didn’t include some of the popular hotspots

Chances are, you might miss popular hotspots like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho in this ‘What to do in Bangkok’ list. Well, we didn’t forget about them, we just feel like they are overrated and just a bit too expensive for our liking. The Grand Palace was 300 baht per person before, but now they raised it to 500 baht, which is just insane in Thailand. Besides that, it feels more like a theme park, including the cue and metal detecting gates to get in. We just felt like it wasn’t worth it.

Wat Pho is located next to the Royal Palace and is a bit better priced at 200 baht a person. It is a massive complex with lots of temples, and we were a bit tired of watching temples to be honest 😉 In Wat Pho, you can find the famous reclining Buddha, which is a whopping 15 meters tall and 46 meters wide. This big buddha is the main reason why people visit Wat Pho, but there are actually many more temples in this area.

Where to stay in Bangkok?

There are so many hotels in Bangkok, it might be hard to choose the right one for your trip. If you want to be in downtown Bangkok but like to sleep in a more quiet place, Time Sabai 134 hostel might be what you’re looking for. If you want a bit more luxury, I can recommend spending the night in Lamphu Tree House. Both are just a short walk to Khao San Road.

However, there are more places to stay in Bangkok. We really liked the up and coming neighborhood Ari for instance. We stayed in an Airbnb, but there are also plenty of hotels and hostels in the area. If you’re in Bangkok for a short time and just want to do some shopping at Chatuchak, you might like the Bed to Bangkok hostel (dorms from $11 and private rooms for $34 a night).

Do you want to share your tips on what to do in Bangkok? Tell us in the comments.

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What to do in Bangkok - our 11 hotspots and off the beaten track tips


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