30 Must-See attractions in Bangkok
Tourist attractions in Bangkok – what to see and what to do in the city and surrounding area. Description, photos, directions, addresses, gps coordinates, placemarks on the map.
The numbers of attractions in the text correspond to their numbers on the map at the end of the article.
30 must-see attractions in Bangkok: 1. Grand Palace and Temple of the emerald Buddha — 2. Wat Pho (Temple Of The Reclining Buddha) — 3. Wat Arun (Temple Of Dawn) — 4. Royal Barges Museum — 5. Bangkok National Museum — 6. Khaosan road — 7. Wat Suthat — 8. Giant Swing — 9. Wat Ratchanatdaram — 10. Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) — 11. Vimanmek Palace — 12. Palace Ananta Samakhom — 13. Wat Benchamabophit (Marble temple) — 14. Dusit Zoo — 15. Chinatown and Little India — 16. Wat Traimit (Temple Of The Golden Buddha) — 17. Jim Thompson House Museum — 18. Siam Paragon Shopping and Entertainment Center — 19. Siam Ocean World Aquarium — 20. Central World Shopping and Entertainment Center — 21. Baiyoke Sky — 22. Lumpini Park — 23. The observation deck of the skyscraper Mahanakhon — 24. State Tower — 25. Chatuchak Weekend Market — 26. Erawan Museum — 27. Muang Boran — 28. Dream World Amusement Park — 29. Siam Water Park — 30. The Chao Phraya river and Bangkok’s channels
1. The Grand Palace and Temple of the emerald Buddha
The historical and cultural center of all of Thailand: here on the same territory are located its most important palace and the most revered temple. Entrance to both of these attractions is carried out on a single ticket, the price is 500 baht. The Palace complex was built at the end of the XVIII century by the orders of king Rama I, who decided to move the capital of Siam from Ayutthaya to Bangkok – and structurally, the new Royal residence exactly corresponded to the old one in Ayutthaya.
As for the emerald Buddha, this sacred relic is a small (66 cm) statuette of green jade, miraculously found in 1434 in the city of Chiang Mai. Read more about the Grand Royal Palace and the adventures of the emerald Buddha, which are worthy of an adventurous novel, here.
Individual tours in Bangkok and Thailand from local residents
If you are curious and sociable travelers who want to fully experience the unique atmosphere of the capital of Thailand and see it from a new and often unexpected angle, I recommend to book an author’s tour from local residents. English-speaking expats living in Bangkok will be your guides: artists, photographers, journalists who are in love with this city and know almost everything about it. If you do not need a tour, you can book a transfer from airport or admission tickets to many city’s attractions — water parks, observation desks etc.
To see the full list of available tours and tickets, just click on the search form below:
2. Wat Pho (Temple Of The Reclining Buddha)
The brainchild of king Rama III, Wat Pho is considered the most revered functioning temple in Bangkok. Wat Pho was founded in the XVI century, before Bangkok became the capital of Siam. It was here that the current Thai Royal dynasty was » born» — General Chakri declared himself king Rama I and became its founder.
Wat Pho is a vast complex of temples and stupas-chedi, the semantic center of which is the statue of the reclining Buddha, the largest currently existing on the Earth — the length of the statue is 95 meters, and the height is 15 meters.
3. Wat Arun (Temple Of Dawn)
The name of this temple comes from the name of the Hindu God Arun, often represented as the light of the rising sun – and due to its originally Hindu origin, Wat Arun closely resembles the famous Khmer temples of Angkor. When decorating the Temple of the Dawn, an unusual material was used – broken ceramic tiles and fragments of Chinese porcelain, used as ballast on merchant ships.
Wat Arun is my favorite temple in Bangkok. Even though it’s impossible to step inside the structure itself, you can climb the outer wall of the main 79-meter prang (unfortunately, after repairs in 2015-2016, this was banned as well — now you can only walk around the territory and climb no higher than the first tier).
4. Royal Barges Museum
The Royal Barges Museum is a unique collection of painted watercraft belonging to the Royal family of Thailand. Special attention is drawn to the flagship of the Royal «squadron»: the 45-meter Suphannahong («Golden Swan»). This masterpiece is considered the world’s largest boat, hollowed out of a single piece of wood. Indeed, it was a unique tree — but the customer of the ship was not just anyone, but Rama I himself.
All boats are decorated with ornaments that are repeatedly found in Buddhist and Hindu temples in Southeast Asia: there are Naga snakes, whose task is to repel evil spirits, and the sacred bird Garuda (flying transportation of the God Vishnu).
Coordinates: 13.76194, 100.48459. Address: Arun Amarin, Bangkok Noi, Bangkok 10700. The Museum is located on the West Bank of Chao Phraya, on the Bank of Klong Bangkok Noi. Usually tourists get there during the «boat ride on the Klong Thonburi», but you can get there yourself.
5. Bangkok National Museum
The National Museum is the largest collection of exhibits in the country, telling about the history of Siam and Thailand from the Dvaravati era to the present day. The main part of the exhibition is located in the halls of the Wang Na palace built in 1787, and secondary collections occupy several pavilions around the palace.
During a tour of the National Museum, you can see many artifacts of bygone eras – weapons, musical instruments, royal palanquins. And, of course, Buddha statues of all possible sizes and styles.
6. Khaosan road
Khaosan road is almost a metaphysical concept for Bangkok (or, rather, for Bangkok farangs, as Thais call all white foreigners). Try to imagine a mix of a university campus with a crazy rock festival, and add to all that a pretty amount of Asian exotic — and you will get only a pale shadow of Khaosan. IMHO, the amount of beer consumed daily in this street is comparable only to the famous Munich Oktoberfest.
7. Wat Suthat
Wat Suthat is a confirmation of how closely intertwined Buddhism and Hinduism are in present-day Thailand. Wat Suthat is the main temple of Hindu Brahmins (who traditionally enjoy the patronage of the king of Thailand), which is not at all discordant with the 8-meter bronze statue of the Buddha, which occupies a central place in the temple.
8. Giant Swing
Opposite Wat Suthat is the famous Giant Swing – a bright attraction in Bangkok and one of its unofficial symbols. The swing is one of the oldest surviving urban structures – it was built in 1784. During an ancient Hindu ceremony held in the hope of a good harvest, the Brahmans of the Wat Suthat temple swung a 25-meter structure so that it could be possible to catch a bag of gold coins suspended from a pole.
The ritual often ended in falls that led to injury and death – the king banned it after an accident in 1935 and only the wooden base remained of the swing itself.
9. Wat Ratchanatdaram
The name of this Buddhist temple means «Granddaughter of the king» – it was named after Princess Somanas Vidhanavadi, granddaughter of king Rama III, by whose order Wat Ratchanadaram was built.
The main attraction of the temple complex is Chedi Loha Prasat, crowned with 37 sharp metal spires that represent traditional Buddhist virtues (thanks to them, the entire Wat Ratchanadaram is often called the «Iron temple»). Loha Prasat looks especially spectacular after sunset, when thanks to the artful lighting, its metal spires look like a fairy-tale castle.
10. Wat Saket (The Golden Mount)
The Golden Mount temple is another interesting attraction in Bangkok’s Old city. It is a temple on the top of a hill, built in almost flat Bangkok by the order of the pious Rama III. Until Bangkok got its numerous skyscrapers, you could enjoy the panorama of the city from the top of the Golden Mount and from the walls of the main prang of Wat Arun only.
The present-day Golden Mount is the second attempt to create an artificial hill in the floodplain of the Chao Phraya river. The first one ended in disaster: a 78-meter hill was filled in and a stupa was erected on its top — but the tropical rains eroded the soil and the stupa fell down. It is not surprising that what happened was considered an evil sign and people decided not to try to change the landscape created by the God.
However, after Rama III, king Mongkut (Rama IV) ascended the throne, who also wished to erect a hill on this site with a temple on top. He came to the solution of the problem more thoroughly than his predecessor: the embankment hill was strengthened with bricks and teak logs. And now anyone can pay 50 baht at the entrance, climb 320 steps and enjoy the panorama of old Bangkok from a height of 70 meters.
11. Vimanmek Palace
This former country residence of king Rama V, built without a single nail, is the world’s largest teak building. At first glance, Vimanmek (the name translates as «House of the celestials» or «Heavenly Palace») resembles some palaces in Western Europe – this is not surprising, given that it was built in 1893 by a German architect in the neoclassical European style with traditional Thai elements in the design.
Today, the Vimanmek Palace houses one of the most interesting museums in Bangkok, whose collection includes the country’s first typewriter, shower cabin, electric light bulb and other curiosities brought by the progressive Rama V from his travels in Europe.
12. Palace Ananta Samakhom
This luxurious palace was built in 1915 by the order of king Chulalongkorn in the style of an Italian palazzo and has long served as the Royal throne hall. In our days Ananta Samakhom is mainly used for receptions of foreign royalties, presidents and other guests of the highest rank.
In addition, the palace home an exhibition of art whose exhibits were created by orders of the Thai Royal family (or presented to it by various foreign visitors). A little to the South of the Palace stands an equestrian statue of king Chulalongkorn — a monarch whose skillful play on the contradictions between European powers saved the country from colonization (Siam, the only state in Southeast Asia, has never been a colony).
13. Wat Benchamabophit (Marble temple)
This grandiose temple was built by the order of king Chulalongkorn by the Italian architect Manfredi, who brought Carrara marble from Italy and decored his creation with it from the basement to the roof (the roof itself, however, is covered with red tiles according to Thai tradition).
Wat Banchamabophit is one of the most revered Buddhist temples in Bangkok: it contains the ashes of Chulalongkorn, who, thanks to his wise policy, became almost the father of the nation for Thais.
14. Dusit Zoo
The zoo, like so much else in the Dusit area, was established by the same indefatigable Chulalongkorn, who brought this idea from his European tour – at first it was a small garden with deer, intended exclusively for the king. In 1938, several additional hectares were added to the former Royal garden and it was converted into a public zoo. Now you can see many representatives of tropical (and not only) fauna: lions, tigers, rhinos, monkeys, crocodiles – there is even a small aviary with penguins.
15. Chinatown and Little India
Bangkok’s Chinatown stretches South of the historic center, between Hualampong railway station in the East and» Little India » in the West. Before the era of mega-malls and giant shopping centers, Chinatown was a favorite shopping destination for many residents of Bangkok — the Chinese have always been born merchants.
Walking through Chinatown, try to deviate from the main street Yaowarat Road and go deeper into the numerous dark winding alleys – the real «Bangkok China» is hidden there. If you do not hurry anywhere and just wander aimlessly through its streets hung with dragons and red Chinese lanterns, you can find real life — the one that was a hundred years ago in China itself (and which, unfortunately, is almost gone there): with delicious restaurants of Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, family pharmacies, selling traditional Chinese medicine like centuries ago, as well as the descendants of Chinese dissidents who fled from Mao Zedong’s Communists in the middle of the last century.
Coordinates of Chinatown: 13.74126, 100.50855.
The area with the unofficial name «Little India» is located next to Chinatown, between Phahurat and Triphet streets. Here, the multi-storey white-stone Sikh temple Sree Guru Singh Sabah deserves attention (gps coordinates 13.74377, 100.50165). If you are going to look at its oratory located on the 6th floor, keep in mind that the temple is open only in the early morning (from 7:00 to 9:00).
16. Wat Traimit (Temple Of The Golden Buddha)
The main relic of this temple is a 3-meter gilded statue of the Buddha. According to legend, during one of many wars with neighboring Burma, it was covered with plaster — and only this helped the statue survive the terrible devastation that the Burmese made in the ancient capital of Siam, Ayutthaya.
All the people who knew the secret of the «plaster Buddha» died in that war — and the statue was placed in the courtyard of a small temple as one of the countless Siamese statues of the Buddha. One day it was decided to move it to a new place — a tropical rainstorm began during the transportation and washed away part of the plaster from the statue, revealing a layer of gold under it. Specially for newfound Golden Buddha it was decided to built a new temple — Wat Traimit.
17. Jim Thompson House Museum
This museum is dedicated to a stunningly interesting and versatile personality: a spy, a textile magnate, a fighter for the revival of ancient traditions of Thai silk production and an art collector who lived in Thailand from 1946 to 1967, until his mysterious disappearance during a trip to the Cameron plateau in neighboring Malaysia.
The museum’s collection is represented by unique works of art from Siam, China, Cambodia and Burma and is located in an old wooden house that has survived among the concrete jungles of present-day Bangkok only thanks to the sincere gratitude of Thais to Jim Thompson.
18. Siam Paragon Shopping and Entertainment Center
At the moment, the huge Siam Paragon is the largest shopping center in all of Southeast Asia. In addition to the incalculable number of shops, boutiques and showrooms, it houses a very interesting aquarium, the Thai branch of the Madame Tussauds wax museum, a huge gastronomic market (smoothly turning into the best food court in Bangkok), a 15-halls cinema, a fitness center, an art gallery and much more.
19. Siam Ocean World Aquarium
One of the most fascinating attractions in Bangkok is located on the first floor of the Siam Paragon shopping and entertainment center: the Siam Ocean World aquarium (new name Sea Life Bangkok), the largest in Southeast Asia. The aquarium, whose total area is about 10 thousand м², consists of seven different zones: «Living ocean», «Rain forest», «Rocky coast», «Open ocean», «Sea jellyfishes», «Strange and beautiful ones» and «Deep-sea reef».
In addition to observing the life of the inhabitants of the deep sea, in the Bangkok aquarium you can ride a boat with a transparent bottom, feed fish (including sharks) and even scuba dive.
20. Central World Shopping and Entertainment Center
Central World is more than 300 stores and showrooms located on an area of about 550 thousand м². This is the main point of attraction in Siam, the biggest shopping district of Bangkok.
A walk through the seven floors of this shopping center is virtually a thematic tour «who is who in the world of Thai clothing, electronics, perfumes and home and leisure goods». The last eighth floor with its huge food court will be a well-deserved reward for those who courageously overcame the previous seven floors. There is also a very good food court located on the square in front of the building.
21. Baiyoke Sky
This is one of the most interesting attractions in Bangkok outside of its historical center. Once the tallest hotel in Asia (302 meters), Baiyoke Sky is known for its rotating observation deck on the 84th floor, which offers fantastic views of Bangkok’s downtown – with its skyscrapers and multi-tiered road interchanges.
Not only hotel guests can get to the observation deck — you only need to pay 500 baht at the ticket booth at the entrance to the building (the ticket price includes 1 alcohol or soft drink). I recommend to come around 5 PM — then you can enjoy both the day panorama of Bangkok, and night views of this amazing Asian metropolis.
22. Lumpini Park
This park was laid out by the order of the king on a plot of land that belonged to him personally — for which bangkokians are sincerely grateful to their monarch. Now it is a favorite place for runners, cyclists, fans of Chinese tai Chi gymnastics and huge monitor lizards, basking in the sun peacefully:
Cyclists, by the way, are much more dangerous than lizards for people who just walk. They fly out of the corner at high speed, and thank Buddha if you manage to avoid them. Meanwhile a monitor lizard will only bite you if you step on its tail, and even that is not a fact.
Short video from the Lumpini Park (1 min 51 sec):
23. The observation deck of the skyscraper Mahanakhon
The newly built Mahanakhon skyscraper (314 meters) is the second tallest building in Thailand and 65th one in all of Southeast Asia. The observation deck is located on the roof at an altitude of 310 meters and, IMHO, at the moment it is the best viewpoint in Bangkok. In addition to the amazing panoramic views, there is also a section with a transparent floor — great fun for children and many adults.
24. State Tower
State Tower, the second tallest Thai skyscraper (247 meters), was built in 2001 during the Thai economic and construction boom. For the tourist, it is interesting mainly for its several high-rise restaurants with excellent views of Bangkok stretching below. The views are particularly good at sunset and at night — and this is why all restaurants are only open from 18: 00 to 01: 00. Among the disadvantages, I can mention a fairly strict dress code: trousers and a long-sleeve shirts needed.
25. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak is the world’s largest open-air market, spread out on a giant territory near the Skytrain station (BTS) «Mo Chit» and MRT «Chatuchak», near the bus station «Mo Chit». The market is famous for its low (even for Bangkok) prices and unlimited choice — in more than 15,000 stores and shops you can find absolutely everything that exists and is sold on our planet. Many respectable Bangkok shopping centers have long opened their branches on Chatuchak, where prices are significantly lower than in the city. If you are faced with the task of buying Thai souvenirs for your family and friends, Chatuchak is the best place for this.
Even if you are not interested in shopping, you can find something interesting in the Chatuchak area: this part of Bangkok is known for its beautiful park, which is located to the north of the market.
26. Erawan Museum
This unusual Museum is one of the most interesting attractions not only in Bangkok, but also in the whole Thailand. The museum is located in a three-story building, whose upper floor is inside a statue of the huge three-headed elephant Erawan, one of many Hindu gods. The structure of the museum reflects the Hindu view of the universe: the lower floor is the underground world, the middle one is the world of people, and the top level is the abode of the gods situated on top of mount Meru.
The «underground world» of the museum contains a unique collection of Chinese vases of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the «world of people» is filled with an extensive collection of antiques and objects of European and Asian art – for example, a statue of the thousand-armed goddess Guanyin is displayed here. «Heaven», located inside the huge elephant Erawan, is packed with the most valuable relics and the most ancient statues of the Buddha.
This unique art object was created thanks to the efforts of Thai millionaire and philanthropist Lek Viriyapant, and is designed to help preserve the unique cultural heritage of ancient Siam. In addition to the Erawan Museum, with the active participation of Viriyapant, two more interesting sights of Thailand appeared: the Muang Boran Museum complex and the Temple of Truth (Temple of All Religions) in Pattaya.
27. Muang Boran
This attraction, whose name translates as «Ancient City», is located on the road from Bangkok to Pattaya and it’s very convenient to explore it by the way from the Thai capital to the sea and beaches. Muang Boran presents both copies of the most significant architectural monuments of ancient Siam and modern Thailand, and real historical buildings that were delivered to Muang Boran in disassembled form, where they were reassembled under the supervision of the best experts in the history of Thai architecture.
Muang Boran is considered the largest open–air park in the world and it’s almost impossible to get around it on foot, so you can rent a bike at the entrance.
28. Dream World Amusement Park
Dream World is a great place to relax with children who got bored by the countless temples of Bangkok. The amusement Park is a Thai version of Disneyland: copies of the 7 wonders of the world, a children’s town with characters from world-famous fairy tales and cartoons, and countless attractions that will be interesting not only for children, but for many adults as well.
Park’s «cherry on top» is the funicular, which allows you to see all this splendor from a bird’s eye view. The park, divided into four thematic zones, is located on the northern edge of Bangkok, quite far from the center, so it is better to go there for a whole day.
29. Siam Water Park (Siam Park City)
If you want to take a break from the famous Bangkok’s heat, then Siam Water Park is just what you need. The park consists of three large areas: the water park itself, the amusement park, and the learning park. The water park is the oldest one in Thailand and the largest one in Southeast Asia – its world’s highest artificial wave once was even listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
30. The Chao Phraya river and Bangkok’s klongs
The Chao Phraya river, which flows through the entire Bangkok, is both a self-sufficient attraction of the city, and one of its most important transport arteries. There is a very well-established transport system on the river and its main klongs (channels), so sometimes it can be easier and faster to get to the center from some parts of the city by water.
Besides, the river often becomes the scene of colorful shows – for example, in September (the Great Royal regatta) and in late July, when a flotilla of luxury Royal boats make a colorful river parade in honour of the king’s birthday.
Short video about a boat ride on the Bangkok’s klongs (1 min 40 sec):
Attractions in Bangkok on the map:
Where to stay in Bangkok
The capital city of Thailand has absolutely no shortage of hotels and guesthouses for every taste and budget. And every year the choice becomes richer and more diverse. Below you can find the TOP-5 of the best Bangkok’s hotels in terms of price and quality:
Rating on reviews 8.7 («Fabulous»), price from $22 for a double room.
Great new hotel with good design. Beautiful rooms, good shower, soft and comfortable bed with quality linen. Extremely convenient location: a 5-minute walk from the Airport Rail Link «Ramkhamhaeng» station (the road from Suvarnabhumi airport takes only 40 minutes). It is also a 5-minute walk to the pier of the river tram, which is the most convenient way to travel between the downtown of Bangkok and its Old city.
Link: BBHouse Khlongtan.
Arun Old Town
Rating on reviews 9.7 («Exceptional»), price from $27 for a double room.
Very nice and cozy hostel (you can book both a bed in the dormitory and a private room). Clean rooms, comfortable new beds, spacious modern shower cabins, friendly and helpful staff. On the roof there is a very pleasant sitting area with a good view. Excellent location: in a quiet residential area near Itsaraphap subway station (2 minutes walk) and close to Thonburi railway station (100 baht by taxi – convenient if you want to go to Kanchanaburi). Famous Wat Arun is a 5-minute walk away.
Link: Arun Old Town.
Uncle Loy’s Boutique House
Rating on reviews 9,5 («Superb»), price from $35 for a double room.
A cozy small guesthouse with a great location: near the Chao Phraya river and the ferry pier, from where you can easily get to the opposite bank, where most Old city’s attractions are located. Wonderful hospitable hosts, ready to help with any questions. Homely ambience, lots of greenery, very quiet, away from the noisy streets. Rooms and the courtyard are clean, very tasty plentiful breakfast.
Link: Uncle Loy’s Boutique House.
Focal Local Bed & Breakfast***
Rating on reviews 9.6 («Exceptional»), price from $60 for a double room.
Stylish and comfortable hotel, which fully meets the stated three stars. Spacious and cozy rooms with everything you need, very friendly staff — ready to help in everything they can (for example, call a free tuk-tuk to the Skytrain station or the ferry pier). The hotel is located in a quiet and peaceful place — and there are not many of them in Bangkok.
Samsen Street Hotel****
Rating on reviews 9.5 («Exceptional»), price from $110 for a double room.
It is an ideal place to plunge into the bubbling energy of fabled Khaosan road, and at the same time not to huddle in the squalid slums that make up most of its housing stock. Samsen is a good 4-star hotel within walking distance to all the main attractions of Bangkok’s Old city (while the hotel itself is located in a relatively quiet place). The rooms are spacious, quiet and very clean, good breakfast, nice pool.
Link: Samsen Street Hotel****.
©, Roman Mironenko, 2007-2020.