19 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Bangkok
The gateway to Southeast Asia is a vibrantly cosmopolitan and sophisticated city known for its street life and nightlife. Two major rivers, the Kwai Noi and Kwai Chuk, flow through the city and provide a natural boundary that separates the central areas and those east and west of the city.
Among its myriad shopping districts and busy bazaars, Bangkok is also home to elaborate temple complexes and famous as a center for Buddhist art, literature, and learning.
With a few days in Bangkok, you'll have a chance to see many of the city's historic and tourist attractions, including some of the country's best-known Buddhist sites, charming colonial bungalows, grand mosques, and important government buildings.
The best times to visit are from November to February, June to August, and from December to January. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Bangkok.
Wat Pho was first built in the 17th century and is the most important temple in Bangkok. Its elaborate, gold-plated Wat Phra Kaew and numerous Buddha statues are worth a visit in themselves. The temple also has some interesting architecture. The look is a mixture of traditional and modern; traditional elements include its huge, teak gates, elegant stone carvings, interior woodcarvings and attractive corbelling and gargoyles. The most famous structure is the Phra Chinn Chit, or Emerald Buddha, a figure made of emerald-green jade which is protected by elaborate gold and bronze statues and golden stupas. The temple hosts a number of festivals and is a venue for sacred art exhibitions.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is probably Bangkok's most famous attraction, and is located just across the river from the old city. The palace was first built in 1782, and has been under continuous development since then. It's divided into two sections: a north and a south one. The north section houses the country's most important religious institutions. It is here that you can visit the king's throne room, the monks' living quarters, and the country's two most sacred Buddhist temples: the Mahabodhi Temple, which is made from the base of the Buddha's shoulder, and the Sri Mahapandita Naradhiwasi Temple. The other section of the Grand Palace contains many palaces, and the temple of Chakri Mahaprasit. There are often candle-light and live music performances held in the buildings, making the palace a lively and crowded place, where you can see people selling the traditional local treats of flowers and lemon grass. Getting around the palace is easy by foot. You can take a taxi from the nearest station for a very cheap price. If you are interested in knowing the history of this impressive complex, visit the New Grand Palace Museum. This museum is situated on the ground floor of the central building of the Grand Palace. If you want to spend your evenings in a wonderful historical atmosphere, go to Siam Square for good restaurants and upscale bars.
This vast new shopping center in Bangkok was once the site of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, which hosted the Asian Games in 1973. The building is now home to Siam Paragon, a collection of unique shopping centers and food outlets and has over 300 shops selling a huge variety of items, as well as galleries and cafés. Among the highlights are the Centre Court and Palace Court, two glass-domed buildings with an elegant air around them.
Constructed by King Rama I, the National Museum was opened to the public in 1927 in what was then Bangkok's main European residential district. The museum displays an impressive collection of Thai arts and artifacts, particularly bronzes. Highlights include "Sacred Amulets," "Lights of the Fire-god," and "Phra Chetiar Phrathep," a 14th-century reclining Buddha which was found in Bangkok's BTS Skytrain Station.
Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya River or Praya to the Thai is the longest river in Southeast Asia, running for 890 kilometers (565 miles) through nine provinces from northeast Thailand to the Gulf of Thailand. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit word for "magnificent." Several of Bangkok's main tourist areas are located along the river, including the golden Ayuthaya district and the Chao Phraya River Floating market. To see the best views of the river, take the "long boat" sightseeing cruise. It's a short trip but can be breathtaking. Chao Phraya Canal Cruises has a tourist boat with 2,600-plus seats and a 3-hour cruise.
Wat Suthat is a temple at the center of Bangkok's Chinatown. Its centerpiece is a huge, octagonal, gold-plated stupa (Indian-style stupa), believed to have been used as a celestial observatory and astronomical calculator. Because of this, the stupa was built to house sacred astronomical and medical instruments, as well as 5,000 Buddhas. It is made from more than 4,000 Buddha images and is topped by a gold-plated chedi, which itself stands in a golden pool. It is also home to a temple and is a popular spot for Buddhists.
Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn as it is better known, is a Buddhist temple located in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok. It was built between 1859 and 1863 to honor the beloved son of Rama III, the first king of the Chakri dynasty. Since that time, the temple has undergone a number of refurbishments. In its latest guise, the temple's appearance is modern and sleek, with its intricate carvings and walls finished with polished marble. Also of interest is the large lotus pond that surrounds the temple, replete with its lotus pond flower which blooms in all seasons. The temple can be reached on foot, by car, or on the Skytrain from the Phaya Thai station, and the views from the temple are as striking as its architectural style.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market (ตลาดชุดสุดสัปดาห์), is the largest open-air market in Thailand. It attracts travellers and locals from all over the world, and draws around a million people a week. Much of the merchandise is sold at bargain prices, but there is plenty of luxury brand shopping to be found as well. A visit to this market is best done by tuk-tuk, taking in a whole day. Spend most of the day finding clothing or housewares that are inexpensive, but beautiful in quality and unique in style. Most of the major brands are available in this market, along with products from all over Asia. Visit the food section to get a sampling of Thai cuisine, while bars and restaurants offer a variety of local cuisine.
Jim Thompson's House
Spirited away from Thailand to the southwest of India by Thakin "Jim" Thompson in 1937, Jim Thompson's House is an exquisite house located in the rolling hills of the Dusit (Thai for Imperial) District, Bangkok. Built in the colonial period style, the charming house is framed by formal gardens, sits in a landscaped garden and is supported by spectacular views. As Thakin Thompson himself was a noted art collector and photographer, the house is filled with much of his own art, memorabilia and possessions. While you are at Jim Thompson's House, visit the nearby Jim Thompson Art Centre, which is currently under reconstruction following a devastating fire.
Bangkok is a vibrant city bursting with activity, and its Siam Square can be both a blessing and a curse. With the Square in the center of the city, it's an amazing sight, with everything at your disposal including the local market, gift shops, food stalls, massage parlors, international bank, and a pharmacy. On top of that, Siam Square can be tricky to navigate, but is well worth the hassle if you have an empty pocket. If you've got lots of money to blow, the area around Siam Square is home to the shopping mall, Central World.
Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is Thailand's first national park, and like many parks in Thailand, it's not just for tourists. Featuring a mix of tropical forest, savannah, wetlands and swamps, this 74,000-hectare park covers a vast region of what is now Bangkok. Sai Yok National Park and Tao Poon Wetland Park are both located close to the southern border of the park and are generally much quieter and less crowded than Khao Yai National Park, which is so large it offers a little something for everyone.
Erawan National Park
Erawan is an attractive natural habitat of indigenous tigers and elephants, both of which are endangered species. The park is in a remote location north of Bangkok but is easily reached by water taxi or helicopter. After arriving at the park office, walk through a trail of bamboo, orchard, and tropical forests to a good view of the sunset. The park consists of clear lakes and forested hills, home to a thriving population of tigers, elephants, monitor lizards, deer, monkeys, and many bird species. The park can be visited on foot or by boat. The park may be reached by air or boat from Bangkok.
Thanon Khao San
Often referred to as Bangkok's Little India, this is a popular place for shopping. Here you can find a wide range of items including silk, gold, and silver jewelry, fabric, and clothing. Most shops are on-street vendors who cater to tourists. Some shops sell postcards, traditional Thai paintings, and other souvenirs. Make sure to walk through the night market for the most interesting sights. On the morning streets, there are few other people aside from vendors. Open on the clock-towered government building at the Thanon Khao San intersection is a statue of Nai Khanom Pramoj, a famous Thai poet and statesman, seated beneath a canopy reading The Ramayana. A replica of the statue is at the Phra Suthat Worawong opposite. Both statues are of great interest to Buddhists. The CentralWorld tower can be seen just a few blocks south of the intersection, just off Thanon Phahurat. Built in 1994, it contains shopping malls and includes an exhibition hall of famous Thai sculptures and is the home of the Central Chidlom department store. Also near the intersection is the famous Prasart Museum. This museum has one of the best collections of traditional Thai art, with items dating back hundreds of years. It contains a temple where the king has been an occasional visitor.
Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Reclining Buddha) is, by anyone's standards, an incredible sight. Though still under construction in the early 21st century, the 13.5-meter-tall Buddha reclines amid elaborate surroundings of flamboyant proportions. The complex is the most important religious site in Thailand, where there is a wide variety of visitors from all walks of life. With places to buy souvenirs of all sizes, from jewellery and silver to flat screen TVs and digital cameras, there are plenty of opportunities for people-watching as well as taking photographs of visitors to the temples. You can also go on guided tours of the temple for some insight into the area. Bangkok's equivalent of the Eiffel Tower, the Burmese Embassy building, looms over the Temple, which was completed in the early 19th century. The exquisite golden-coloured Buddha is topped by a large and elegant orb.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is a large, near-pristine wetland on the eastern edge of Bangkok, on the southern bank of the Chao Phraya River. At 1,000 square kilometers, this park is Thailand's largest freshwater swamp. It is home to more than 400 species of wildlife and 260 species of plants, which are protected by the park's 11,000-hectare forests and its rich variety of flora and fauna. The park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including sambar deer, wild boar, sambar monkeys, wild water buffaloes, an endangered species of turtle, and five species of macaque. Among the plant life are banana trees, rafflesia, bonsai plants, a number of palm species, nymphaeas and lotuses. Frequent ferries leave Tha Chang Pier in Thonburi across the Chao Phraya River from Ratmalang and Rang Thong for the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Boat trips to the park depart regularly between 4am and 4pm and tickets cost around 80-100 baht. A one-day trip can take 2-3 hours and some visits are made in a group.
Central World is a shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand. It is located in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping district, Lumpini, known as the Golden Mile. The area is most famous for its rows of high-end retail and fashion shops, as well as a shopping concourse for international designer brands. Highlights include the area’s three historic landmarks: Chatuchak Weekend Market, a market where farmers can sell directly to the public; Mahatun Pier, which is Asia’s largest shopping mall; and the Central World shopping concourse, a full-scale replica of the New York City’s Time Square, which is the world’s largest of its kind.
Golden Mount Temple
Golden Mount is the temple atop the ragged spires of the ruins of the ancient city of Ayuthaya. Built in 1748 by Prince Suraphon, the temple's golden spire is apparently a recreation of the original brick spire that originally topped the temple, but was destroyed in 1767. Outside the temple stands a beautiful 40-meter-tall chedi, built to house the Buddha relic stolen from a temple in Bangkok during its occupation by the Burmese in 1767.
The Golden Triangle, Bangkok's most fashionable area, is a small area of Bangkok including Ramkhamhaeng Road, Siam Square, and Ratchadamri Road. The high-rise buildings, shops, and restaurants are all in a U-shape around Siam Square and lead to Th Ratchadamri Road. The high-end shopping is at Siam Square, known for its luxury shopping and the Gucci and Prada stores are on the ground floor, along with other high-end luxury brands. The higher end restaurants at Siam Square can be very expensive with prices ranging from $30 to $60 per person. At Th Ratchadamri is one of Bangkok's main night markets, which includes a temple fair on the first Saturday of the month, and Ratchadamri Road, which is the main shopping area and will be crowded with vendors selling vegetables, noodles, clothing, and cheap toys. The area is best to visit during the day as it can get quite crowded at night. The area can be accessed by taxi, local bus, or skytrain or subway at Siam Center station.
Bangkok Grand Palace
The stunning Grand Palace is the most awe-inspiring of all the buildings of Bangkok. Its impressive, albeit ramshackle, exterior wall is one of the most photographed views of the capital. The palace was built between 1782 and 1824 as a residence for the monarchs of the late Rattanakosin (later the Rattanakosin) period. The name, which translates as "The Royal Palace," reflects this. Many of the buildings in the palace were once part of the palace's extensive water system, built at the same time as the palace itself. All have been restored and renovated in recent years, and offer tours and exhibits on the lives of the Thai royals during the Rattanakosin period.