Bangkok Travel Guide

Colourful night market Bangkok

The Ultimate Bangkok Travel Guide

This guide of Bangkok is going to make it much easier to plan your next visit to Bangkok. 

There are no less than 13 different topics, including an extensive section ("Where to go") on all the different areas of Bangkok, a suggested 4 day itinerary, top activities and much more. 

My name is Frederik and i'm the co-founder of Bikudo Travel and author of this guide.

I have years of experience living and working in Bangkok, helping and advising backpackers on how to get the most out of their visit to Bangkok. 

I hope you will find everything you need below - otherwise use the chat to ask any questions you might have.

Enjoy.

This guide includes the following topics:

  • Where to go
  • Where to stay
  • When to go
  • Getting to and from Bangkok
  • Arriving in Suvarnabhumi Airport
  • Bangkok by Night
  • Bangkok for foodies
  • Shopping – Malls and Markets
  • Getting Around
  • Safety
  • Top attractions
  • Top activities
  • Bangkok in 4 days

Where to go in Bangkok

Knowing where to go and where to stay in Bangkok can be a challenging task as Bangkok have multiple, but very different, downtown areas. 

Bangkok can be divided into many different areas, but the for the sake of this guide, I have focused on six different areas of interest and my suggestion to which area is the best to stay at. 

Below you'll find a description of each distinct area, what to see and do there and a few tips to each area as well. 

The old city (Rattanakosin)

The old city of Bangkok is where you'll find most of Bangkok's "must sees" as it is home to the city’s main cultural heritage sites. Dominated by glittering temples, this part of town sees huge number of tourists with The Grand Palace being the main attraction.

Unless you can’t be bothered at all by temples and culture, you should set aside at least half a day to explore the temples of the old town as they are impressive.

Grand Palace is by far the most visited and it is also spectacular in both size and beauty. Strict rules apply to visitor’s dress code as it is home to Thailand’s most sacred place – the Temple of The Emerald Buddha.

A short walk from The Grand Palace, you’ll find the reclining buddha at Wat Pho which is one of my favourite temples in Bangkok. Less hectic than The Grand Palace, Wat Pho is a beautiful temple complex that is heavily inspired by Japanese culture.

Take your time to just stroll around the temple complex, and if the queue isn’t too long, you can get a great massage here too as the temple is famous for educating masseuses.

Wat Saket, or Golden Mount, is another beautiful temple that’s worth a visit. It’s not by any measure as popular as the Grand Palace or Wat Pho, but it offers a great view of the old town as you climb the “mount” to reach the top of the temple.

Not exactly in the old town of Bangkok, but Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) deserves a mention here nonetheless. It is located just across the river from Grand Palace and is true icon of Bangkok. This is a different temple experience altogether and absolutely worth a visit!

Both Wat Arun and Wat Pho are accessible at night, making it a popular stop on many night bike tours which is a great alternative way of exploring these two temples if you've had enough of temple wandering in the midday heat.

Finally, the old city district is also home to one of the most popular backpacker areas in the world, namely Khao San Road.

This place is the backpacker hangout area with plenty of bars, small restaurants, street vendors, hostels, tattoo shops and much more. If you are looking for a good night out in Bangkok, Khao San Road is not a bad place to start.

Should you stay here? It largely depends on you and what you are looking for. If you are looking for proper backpacking vibes and just need to stay at the legendary Khao San Road, then absolutely, you should stay here.

There are several great hostels close to Khao San and I would recommend staying close to the river for easier access.

If you don't necessarily have to stay at or near Khao San Road, i wouldn't recommend the old city as your resting place, simply because of lack of infrastructure. The old narrow streets mean that this place is terrible during rush hour.

Getting to and from your hotel can literally take hours of being stuck in traffic. 

Tips for exploring the old town:

If you are on a temple run here, I can highly recommend searching the riverside for some outside seated restaurants for a refreshment or great lunch. It’s a bit expensive on a backpacker’s budget but sitting next to the river looking at Wat Arun is a perfect place for a refreshment.

If you are exploring Khao San Road, walk through the small sois (side alleys) as they connect with Rambuttri Alley running parallel to Khao San.

It’s a bit quieter than its noisy neighbour, home to some good restaurants, but most importantly, on these small alleys connecting the two streets are some gems of bars if you are visiting at night time.

See more about Khao San Road under Bangkok by night.

Chinatown and Talat Noi 

Chinatown sits just south of the old town district and is one of my favorite areas of all of Bangkok.

Bustling Chinatown at night is a sight to behold and a must in my opinion. The main street, Yaowarat, is a 6 laned one way street lit up by countless neon signs in Chinese.

With tiny foldable tables and small plastic stools on every corner of Yaowarat, this is a great place for some world class street food.

In fact, one of the street kitchens on the outskirts of Chinatown is so good, that it has earned a Michelin Star (Book well in advance!)

If you are looking for a local hipster hideout place, Soi Nana in Chinatown (not to confuse with Soi Nana at Sukhomwit) is home to a few small hipster bars with Teens of Thailand being the pick of the lot.

Talat Noi is a small, but oh so charming part of old Chinatown and where I lived with my parents when I went to kindergarten in Bangkok.

It’s home to numerous old car dealers which is characteristic to this part of the city. Strolling from bustling Chinatown through these quiet streets is amazing.

Head to River View Guest House and take the elevator to their rooftop restaurant for a great view of the city overlooking the busy river in cozy surroundings. 

Another hidden gem in this area is the cozy Baan Rim Naam bar and restaurant.  Find a riverside table and watch the busy river as enjoy a cocktail or two.

Should you stay here? Chinatown is also considered as the old part of Bangkok having small narrow streets and terrible traffic during peak hours.

However, a Metro Station recently opened close to Yaowarat Road, meaning staying in the vicinity of the metro equals easy access to for example Lumpini Park, which connects with the BTS (skytrain). 

There are some great hotels and hostels nearby the metro station. If you want to stay in Chinatown, i'd suggest finding something near the Wat Mangkon Station as its also close by the main train station, Yaowarat road and Soi Nana. 

Tips for exploring Chinatown and Talat Noi:

Make your way to Yaowarat early in the evening and locate one of the many street food restaurants for your dinner and witness how the street lights up after dark. 

After dinner, make your way down south towards River View Guest House. Make your way to the rooftop for a refreshment and enjoy the view over the river.

Stroll towards River City (15 minutes walk) and if you are up for one more drink try to find the Baan Rim Naam bar on the way.

This walk takes you from crazy busy Chinatown to the quiet and unspoiled Talat Noi and back to busy Bangkok at River City. Here's a map and walking route from Google Maps.

Silom and Sathorn (Bang Rak)

This area is also known as Bang Rak, which is the name of this city district of Bangkok. Connecting Chinatown and this area of Bangkok runs the oldest road of Bangkok, Charoen Krung road where our first Travel Center was located.

At the corner of Charoen Krung and Silom you will find the now world famous and iconic Sky Bar, made famous especially by the movie Hangover Part 2, which takes place in Bangkok.

Silom and Sathorn are two major streets running parallel with each other and with many major banks and embassies located either on or between the two streets, this is the de facto financial and embassy district in Bangkok.

Don’t let that fool you to think it’s a boring place though, as this area is home to some incredible buildings, world class roof top bars, Lumpini park (a small version of New York’s Central Park) and of course the infamous Pat Pong.

Sitting between Silom and Sathorn you will find Bangkok’s tallest building, the skyscraper that looks like a not yet finished Lego tower. Mahanakhon, as it's called, is an impressive building by any measure.

Lumpini Park is a great place for a breath of fresh air (well not really, but it feels like it) and sits just atop Silom Road. It is great for an early morning run when the temperature is still cool, and the local Chinese are performing morning Tai Chi.

The night scene here is set around Pat Pong, a night market with numerous go-go bars, sex clubs, stripper joints, ping pong shows and regular bars. It is located between Silom and Surawong Road. Bangkok have several red light districts and this is probably the most popular for "regular" tourists. 

If you do find yourself here one night and want a quick escape from the go-go bars see if you can find the bar called Old Other Office. Tucked away in the corner of Pat Pong, this is a true time capsule where the outside world is forgotten.

Should you stay here? Bang Rak would be my preferred destination to stay in Bangkok, preferably nearby where Silom and Charoen Krung connects.

It's close to the BTS, it's close to the river, there are some great choices of accommodation, its easy access to the highway and also close to Lumpini Park, nightlife, sky bars etc. 

Unlike Chinatown and the Khao San area it's not as hectic as those narrow traffic congested streets (at least it doesn't feel that way). You will find accommodation suited for any tourist in this area too. 

Tips for this area:

For a great dining experience head down to the river right next to the giant Peninsula hotel, where you’ll find Jack’s Bar.

This restaurant is built on wooden stilts sitting top of the river, giving its guests a great view of the busy Chao Phraya River. Only downside is that it’s quite small and usually busy.

Consider crossing the river to Bangkok’s newest crown jewel of shopping malls, the gigantic and impressive Icon Siam. The gold covered shopping mall is home to some of the most exclusive brands in the world.

Sukhumvit area

The undisputed area for middle-class Thai’s and foreigners, Sukhumvit is home to some of the finest hotels and restaurants, large shopping malls, one exclusive sky bar after another, nightlife of all sorts, including Bangkok’s infamous sex industry, and much more.

Sukhumvit is more of an entertainment area of Bangkok rather than a tourist destination for interesting sights. Except maybe for the Khlong Toey Market, which is one of the city’s largest wholesale markets and worth a visit!

Should you stay here? Depending on what you are looking for, Sukhumvit is another great area to stay. With plenty of shopping malls, bars and restaurants, night markets and the BTS line running along Sukhumvit road there is no shortage of activities here.

The hotel scene is dominated by large expensive hotels but you can find something for any budget here as well. 

If you are in Bangkok just to have a good time, this is not a bad place to stay. Are you in Bangkok to explore and experience what Bangkok is all about, then i wouldn't recommend Sukhumvit, but rather Silom or Chinatown. 

Tips to Sukhumvit:

If you are looking for a good night out and not on a tight budget, consider heading towards Sukhumvit Soi 11. Start out at the Aussie bar with live music and afterwards see if you can find the secret bar Havana Social.

Havana Social is impressively “Havana like” and if you’d like to know how to find it and acquire the secret password to get there, you should read this article.

At the end of the night, why not try one of Bangkok’s best burgers at Daniel Thaiger’s small burger joint on Soi 11.

Siam Square 

The main shopping district of Bangkok, Siam Square connects with the two main sky train lines and if you are to point to a specific city center, this would probably be it.

Siam Square is dominated by four large shopping malls, all connected via a walking bridge hanging above the traffic.

MBK, one of the four malls, is a huge 8 stories mall/indoor market with much on offer being fake or low quality goods. There are also regular stores and luckily it’s easy to identify what is what.

The three other malls are Siam Discovery, Siam Center and the luxurious Siam Paragon. These three are interconnected and offer branded and regular goods with Siam Paragon being the largest and most exclusive of them all. 

Should you stay here? Siam Square is all about shopping and if you are looking to stay close to the shopping scene, I would recommend looking towards Sukhumvit. 

Tips to Siam Square:

In the basement of Siam Paragon is a large (very large) underwater world called Bangkok Ocean World. It’s quite impressive but mostly for families with kids. On the top floor is a huge cinema and entertainment area with a large bowling alley.

Also in the basement is a large dining hall with broad variation of restaurants and cafés.

However, if you’d like a proper fresh meal with a good salad (which you don’t often get while traveling in Asia), I can recommend Okhajhu Organic Restaurant on the opposite side of Siam Paragon behind another, smaller mall called Siam Square One.

Khlong San (the other side of the river)

Most of the tourist activities takes place on the east side of the river with the exception of Wat Arun also known as the Temple of Dawn. However, this side of the river has plenty to offer too.

The new landmark of Bangkok, Icon Siam, has just recently been completed on this side of the river.

If you head further up north, following the river, you will reach a small and very old Portuguese settlement, most recognised by the Santa Cruz Church built in 1770.

This area is best explored with a guided bike tour, which takes you through the narrow alleys to show you a hidden side of Bangkok.

Should you stay here? My short answer would be no, simply because I think there are better alternatives regardless of what you are looking for. Unless you are staying in the luxurious Peninsula or Hilton, both by the river, I don't know of many other options. 

If you are a fan of this part of the city, I would recommend staying nearby Charoen Krung and then explore this part of the city during the day. 

Tips to Khlong San:

Head for a shopping experience like no other at Icon Siam and enjoy the view from the top deck restaurant. Afterwards, follow the road to Hilton and make your way to the river through Hilton.

When you reach the river, then to your right there's the greatest small local restaurant called "Be My Guest" and is sitting right at the river front tucked in between the large Hilton hotel and the monstrous Icon Siam complex. 

Many evening bike tours explore this quiet area of Bangkok biking in and out of tiny alleys and through the Portuguese neighbourhood - one of the best ways to experience this part of Bangkok. Alternatively, this is one of the best privately arranged bike tours in all of Bangkok and a former colleague. 

Where to stay in Bangkok:

To make it easy for you, here's a summary of Bangkok's main areas with regards to where to stay. 

The old city (Rattanakosin): It largely depends on you and what you are looking for. If you are looking for proper backpacking vibes and just need to stay at the legendary Khao San Road, then absolutely, you should stay here.

There are several great hostels close to Khao San and I would recommend staying close to the river for easier access.

If you don't necessarily have to stay at or near Khao San Road, i wouldn't recommend the old city as your resting place, simply because of lack of infrastructure. The old narrow streets mean that this place is terrible during rush hour.

Getting to and from your hotel can literally take hours of being stuck in traffic. 

Chinatown: Chinatown is also considered as the old part of Bangkok having small narrow streets and terrible traffic during peak hours.

However, a Metro Station recently opened close to Yaowarat Road, meaning staying in the vicinity of the metro equals easy access to for example Lumpini Park, which connects with the BTS (skytrain). 

There are some great hotels and hostels nearby the metro station. If you want to stay in Chinatown, i'd suggest finding something near the Wat Mangkon Station as its also close by the main train station, Yaowarat road and Soi Nana. 

Silom and Sathorn (Bang Rak): Bang Rak would be my preferred destination to stay in Bangkok, preferably nearby where Silom and Charoen Krung connects.

It's close to the BTS, it's close to the river, there are some great choices of accommodation, its easy access to the highway and also close to Lumpini Park, nightlife, sky bars etc.

This is also where our focus is when we do tours in and from Bangkok and where our Travel Center is located. 

Unlike Chinatown and the Khao San area it's not as hectic as those narrow congested streets (at least it doesn't feel that way). You will find accommodation suited for any tourist in this area too. 

Sukhumvit: Depending on what you are looking for, Sukhumvit is another great area to stay. With plenty of shopping malls, bars and restaurants, night markets and the BTS line running along Sukhumvit road there is no shortage of activities here.

The hotel scene is dominated by large expensive hotels but you can find something for any budget here as well. 

If you are in Bangkok just to have a good time, this is not a bad place to stay. Are you in Bangkok to explore and experience what Bangkok is all about, then i wouldn't recommend Sukhumvit, but rather Silom or Chinatown. 

Siam Square: Siam Square is all about shopping and if you are looking to stay close to the shopping scene, I would recommend looking towards Sukhumvit. 

Khlong San (the other side of the river): I would not recommend staying here, simply because I think there are better alternatives regardless of what you are looking for.

Unless you are either looking for somewhere where not many other tourists stay or staying in the luxurious Peninsula or Hilton, both by the river, I don't have many arguments for choosing to stay here. 

If you are a fan of this part of the city, I would recommend staying nearby Charoen Krung and then explore this part of the city during the day.

My advice: Almost regardless of who you are and what you are looking for, I'd recommend Bang Rak/Silom as a "base" while exploring Bangkok. However, if you are only here to have fun and shop and not necessarily on a budget, then I'd say Sukhumvit.

Are you on the other hand in Bangkok to really experience Bangkok, Thai culture while also have some fun and don't mind a fast paced and congested city, then Chinatown in the vicinity of the metro station would be my preferred destination. 

When to go

Bangkok follows the same seasonality as the rest of Thailand, which consist of a dry season (winter months) and a rainy season (summer months). 

During dry season, which is considered to be high season for tourists, prices increase as more and more tourists are arriving in Bangkok. Most popular hotels and hostels are fully booked and popular tourists sights become very crowded. 

High season: November to March is considered the dry season, where temperatures are at its lowest (still warm between 25-35 degrees), the air is dry, and rainfall are rare. Temperatures starts rising in March and by end March/start April it gets very hot and Bangkok can at times be relentless. 

Cost and tourist numbers tend to spike around Christmas and last until February. Don’t expect last minute deals on your accommodation and be prepared for crowded tourist attractions.

Shoulder season: Either side of the high season is considered the shoulder season. From April to June, just before the monsoon season hits, and from September to October when the monsoon wears off.

April and May get extremely warm with high humidity and the occasional to daily downpour, which is a blessing this time of year as it takes the top of the heat and pollution in Bangkok. 

If you don’t mind the heat and humidity, April can be a good month to visit Bangkok. It has less tourists and it’s when Songkran is celebrated, which is a celebration you don’t want to miss, especially not in Bangkok.

Low season: From July to September is considered low season in Bangkok and rest of Thailand as this is the rainy season. Expect heavy downpours especially through July and August, as the monsoon is at is highest here. 

Getting to and from Bangkok

Being the largest travel hub in South East Asia, Bangkok is easily accessible from every corner of the world.

Flights: Traveling to and from Bangkok via plane is done through either Don Muang or Suvarnabhumi airport.

Suvarnabhumi is by far the busiest of the two airports as it was completed in 2006 to become the main airport to and from Bangkok. Therefore, the majority of international flights are arriving here with the old airport, Don Muang, being the main hub for domestic traveling. 

However, as international traffic to Bangkok have only increased since then, Don Muang are now considered the low cost airport of Bangkok serving many international flights from low cost carriers.

If you are backpacking on a budget and flying with low cost carriers, make sure you take notice of which airport your flights departs from.

Suvarnabhumi airport is considered to be the unofficial airport of Bangkok and the airport code is BKK for Bangkok. Don Muang’s airport code is DMK.

When going to any of the airports it’s a good idea to consult locally with your accommodation what to expect in terms of travel time, as it can vary from 30 minutes to 2 hours getting from the city center to the airports.

Trains: Hua Lamphong is the main railway station in Bangkok, which connects with four main lines, namely the Southern, Northern, Northeastern and Eastern line which connects most of the country by rail.

It is relatively easy to travel by train from Hua Lamphong, however I do advice you to arrive early as there are 14 platforms and can be busy.

Bus: With Bangkok as your vantage point, you can reach almost every corner of Thailand by bus. With 4 main bus terminals though, you would need to double check which one you should go to as they are located far apart.

The four terminals are divided into three geographical regions and one short distance terminal:

  • Ekkamai (Eastern Bus Terminal): Located at near Sukhumvit Road near Ekkamai BTS station, Ekkamai is serving the eastern part of Thailand, including Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and much more.
  • Mo Chit (Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal: Located near Chatuchak weekend market, Mo Chit covers all northern and northeast destinations, major cities in Laos and Cambodia. Expect this place to be quite hectic so plan to come well in time for your scheduled departure.
  • Sai Tai Mai (Southern Bus Terminal): The southern bus terminal is located west of the city centre (on the other side of the river) and serves all southern destinations as well as West Thailand, such as Kanchanaburi.
  • Suvarnabhumi Public Transport Centre: Located close to the international airport, this bus terminal serves destinations such as Trat (Koh Chang/Koh Kood), Cambodian border, Pattaya and more.

Alternatively, locals also make use of the minibus terminal at Victory Monument, which serves destinations surrounding Bangkok within approximately a 5 hours’ drive.

Although these minibuses are cheap and convenient as they depart on a shuttle like basis whenever the bus is full, I do not recommend using them. Thailand’s road rules are notorious and especially the minibuses have a bad reputation.

Arriving in Suvarnabhumi Airport

When you arrive in Bangkok from your international flight you will likely arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Upon arrival, clear immigration to collect your luggage. While you wait it’s a good idea to withdraw money from one of the ATMs.

Clearing customs, you enter the busy arrival hall. There are three exit areas A, B and C, with B and C being international arrivals. Here you have options left and right for getting transport back to the city, however these are all limousine service and are expensive.

This is also the meeting area if you have prebooked any transfer service like our Arrival Package in Bangkok. If you have, your meeting point will be highlighted on your voucher and you will usually be able to spot your driver holding your sign up, when you exit through either exit B or C.

If you haven’t prebooked a transfer service, getting to the city is relatively easy, either by skytrain or taxi.

A good idea is to find a small kiosk where you can buy a sim card. If you go by Skytrain or taxi it makes it easier with google maps to find your location.

Skytrain is approximately half price of a taxi depending on where you are going. Certain Skytrain stations links with the metro. Make sure your accommodation is located close to a station.  

Alternatively, you should take a taxi. There’s a taxi stand on the ground floor, where you write down your address and someone helps you pull over a cab and helps explain to the driver exactly where you are going.

It’s usually between 250-500 baht from the airport to the city center plus highway fees which are approximately 80 baht.

If it’s your first time in Bangkok I would recommend going down to the public taxi stand and have someone explain you where to go. It might be a bit more expensive, but after a long flight, you don’t want to struggle with the Skytrain, changing train etc. unless of course your hotel is located right by a station. 

Bangkok by Night

A city famous for its night scene, there is no shortage of activities after dark in Bangkok. 

From the legendary backpacker’s party street, Khao San Road to some of the most exclusive sky bars in the world, Bangkok has plenty of options if you are looking for a fun night out.

Here’s a brief guide to Bangkok by night, whether you are looking for a good night out, want to experience one of its many night markets or looking for other activities.

A night out in Bangkok

If you are looking to blow off some steam it doesn’t get much bigger than Bangkok.

Unfortunately, the government imposed forced closure of bars and restaurants throughout the city between 01.00 and 02.00 am, which is being enforced by the police, especially around the busy areas. Keep this is mind when planning your night out.

Khao San Road is a backpacker’s party paradise and really comes to life around sunset. If you are looking for a party with fellow backpackers, go here early to find a place to eat before hitting the bars.

You will find everything from small pubs to major clubs here and can basically spend the whole night going from one place to another. Don’t miss the small bars and clubs hiding away in the small side alleys of Khao San.

If you're more into experience Bangkok by night then try out Chinatown. Start at the main road for some great street food and then head for some of local hipster bars in Soi Nana in Chinatown (not to be confused with Soi Nana at Sukhumvit), with Tep Bar and Teens of Thailand being the pick of the bunch here.

For more upscale partying you should look towards Sukhumvit road around BTS station Nana and Asok.

As mentioned under the tip for Sukhumvit, Soi 11 is a good place to start your night out, starting at Aussie Pub and then trying to find the secret Havana Social.

Havana Social is impressively “Havana like” and if you’d like to know how to find it and acquire the secret password to get there, you should read this article.

There are also plenty of sky bars if you fancy starting your night out up in the clouds with a view of the entire city. Above Eleven on soi 11 is not a bad choice (be aware of dresscode and budget). 

This area is also where you’ll find two out of Bangkok’s three most prominent red light district areas. Nana Plaza and Soi Cowboy are infamous for their many go-go bars, prostitution and middle-aged white men looking for some nightly entertainment.

The 3rd red light district of Bangkok is at Pat Pong Night Market located on upper Silom and is probably the less obscure party destination of the 3.

There’s no shame in going either of these places for a fun night out as long you don’t act out as there are some dodgy bouncers and people working at some of these bars. If you are looking to experience Bangkok's infamous red light scene I would recommend Pat Pong, Soi Cowboy and lastly Nana Plaza in that order. 

Pat Pong, also being a night market, is more "easy going" than the other two, Soi Cowboy being a proper party destination while Nana Plaza is more of a proper red-light district. 

There are several fun and "normal" bars at both Cowboy and Pat Pong and a visit here can be an obscure and fun night out. Be aware of petty theft and scams and do mind which bars you are trying to get into. Some are quite dodgy and fear tactics are not uncommon to trick you into paying hefty entrance fees. 

For a real clubbing experience, you should head for RCA for some of Bangkok’s most prominent night clubs.

The audience here are mostly high society locals, expats and tourists all coming here for the largest dance floors and hottest music. Be aware of a strict dress codes. 

Night markets

Bangkok is also known for its many colourful night markets where you can haggle all night for all sorts of goods and products.

Most of the night markets offer a variety of entertainment, bars and restaurants ensuring visitors a great evening and a chance of getting up close and personal with the locals in Bangkok.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular markets and a few gems. All markets below are listed in no particular order.

Train Night Market at Ratchada: A very popular and colourful night market, this vibrant venue is famously photographed from above, thanks to 100s of similar and colourful shopping tents placed side by side.

The market is located behind the Cultural Center (a large shopping complex). Remember to go around the mall. First time I went, we tried to go through the mall and spend half an hour finding the market when really, it’s quite easy.

This night market has a very lively and vibrant atmosphere, with plenty of street food vendors, restaurants, bars with live music and loads of small shops selling all kind of goods. 

Pat Pong Night Market: Already featured as a party destination, Pat Pong is a unique combination of a night market and red-light district.

The experience at pat pong is becoming a “must” for many tourists due the strange combination of go-go bars and street vendors.

Before going here though, be prepared for a low quality of goods and inflated prices compared to many other night markets.

Asiatique: Located right at the river, the setting of Asiatique as a night market is unmatched. This night bazaar is a more upscale night market destination with plenty to offer.

With more than 1500 vendors and several restaurants ranging from street food to pricy riverside restaurants, Asiatique has something to offer most visitors.

Entertainment is also a key attraction here with the very popular Calypso Cabaret performed every night by ladyboys.

Chang Chui Plane Market: I have unfortunately not been here myself, but it is one to look forward to with the key attraction being the large airplane in the middle of the market.

The concept of this night market is that everything is recycled with plenty of artists bringing new life into old scraps and selling it here.

With food venues and live music, this place guarantees a fun and different night market experience and is touted as one of the best in Bangkok.

Khao San Road: Khao San Road is first and foremost a party destination, but it does also offer a night market.

You will mostly find tacky overpriced tourist souvenirs and “must have” backpacking clothing. It’s not so much a shopping destination as it is a fun place for a stroll, but if you are looking for that backpacker’s outfit, Khao San Road is not a bad place to get that.

Yaowarat Night Market (Chinatown): Being one of my favourite night time destinations in Bangkok, Chinatown also features a large night market.

You will find street vendors and small shops on either side of the main road as you walk down the small side alleys. However, as far as a shopping destination goes, you will find night markets with more to offer, but then again there’s nothing quite like Chinatown.

Artbox Bangkok: Situated between the Nana and Asok BTS stations at Sukhumvit, Artbox sits right in the middle of some of the most in places to go out at night.

This trendy outdoor market mostly consist of old metal containers turned into trendy shopping stalls or showrooms.

The market attracts many young locals with plenty of fashionable clothes and handmade accessories made by local designers.

Go here for a relaxed and different shopping experience, with live music and picnic like restaurants scattered all over the market.

Bangkok for foodies

Bangkok is world famous for its fabulous food scene with some of the best restaurants in the world and touted as one of the best cities for street food. There are even street food restaurants that have been granted a Michelin star.

For a general guide on Thai food please see our guide to Thailand.

The food in Bangkok is one of its main attractions and you will quickly experience Thai’s love for food.

With food trucks and small kitchens everywhere, strolling the streets of Bangkok you can get everything from a snack to a 5-course menu almost anywhere anytime.

If you are looking for a quick bite while exploring Bangkok, you should try one of the many BBQ carts scattered all over the city. Many of them serve small pork, chicken or beef skewers which are simply delicious! 

Mobile fruit carts are another genius appetiser when in need of a quick snack. For 20 baht you can have a whole papaya, pineapple, melon or something else, freshly cut. 

Even 7-Elevens offer decent food if you need a quick meal. Their toasts are a must if you are on a night out and craving a late night snack. 

When it comes to street kitchens you will find most of them on the corner of major roads and the small side alleys and back alleys.

Simply locate a busy looking one, grab a plastic stool and wait for the menu card. As you can find them all over the city it’s difficult to point to any specific street kitchen, but these are some of my favourite places to go, while in Bangkok.

  • In lower Silom, right where Silom and Charoen Krung Road meets are some great small street kitchens on Soi Charoen Krung 49
  • A small hideaway cluster of street kitchens are found close to River City You won’t find many tourists here as it’s mostly a local area in the outskirts of Chinatown.
  • Yaowarat Road in Chinatown is maybe the best area in Bangkok for street food with small kitchens everywhere serving the most delicious food.

Many first-time visitors question the hygiene and overall quality of many of these street foods, and generally speaking there is nothing to worry about. The quality is good, and so is the hygiene.

General rule of thumb is to follow the locals. If the kitchen is busy the food is usually good.

Just as with street kitchens, restaurants are scattered all over the Bangkok and there are so many great picks. These are a few of my favourites I go for whenever in Bangkok and need something else than street kitchens: 

  • Tucked in between Icon Siam and Hilton you'll find Be My Guest, a small riverside cozy restaurant with some great local thai food. 
  • Located right next the grand Shangri-La Hotel in the Bang Rak area you'll find the ever popular Jack's Bar. Situated on the river, build on wooden stilts, the location of this place is near perfect. The food is decent here but the pull factor for me is the riverside dining experience. 
  • If you want a good local restaurant experience in Chinatown as an alternative to the plastic stools on the street, I can recommend Hua Seng Hong. My family and I have come here since I went to kindergarten in Bangkok and they still have some of the same staff as back then. The food is great albeit a little expensive on a tight travel budget. 
  • If you are growing tired of rice and noodles, then Ohkajhu in the Siam Square area is a great choice to get a fresh salat (a rarity in Thailand) and generally some western like food. 

for upscale dining experiences you'll find some of the best restaurants in Asia here. If you are going all in then the two star french Michelin restaurant at Hotel Oriental called Le Normandie is one the best, and probably most expensive, restaurant in Thailand. The Mezzaluna at Lebua (Sky Bar building) is another world famous two star Michelin restaurant. 

Personally I've been to a couple fine dining restaurants in Bangkok. Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin is by far my best dining experience and something I can highly recommend if you want to try a Thai fine dining experience. It's in the lower price category 

Shopping in Bangkok

With some 50 different shopping malls, Bangkok is a shopping mecca and a worldwide renowned destination for shopaholics. If you love shopping, you are going to love Bangkok.

Regardless of what you are looking for, chances are you are going to find it here. From the most exclusive brands in Icon Siam and Siam Paragon to the weekend market at Chachutak, you should be able to find just about anything in Bangkok.

The main shopping area is located around Siam Square, with 5-6 mega malls in close proximity and connected by a walking bridge.

Here you'll find MBK, the low budget, indoor market type of shopping mall. If you are looking for cheap knockoff products MBK is the place to go. There's also a decent food hall and a huge entertainment and cinema floor at the top. 

A 5 minute walk take you to Siam Discovery, which is connected to Siam Center. Both sell local and internation brands. Go here if you are looking for a regular shopping experience. Siam Paragon was until recently the undisputed luxury shopping mall until Icon Siam opened. You'll find a huge dining hall in the basement of Siam Paragon and a large cinema and entertainment floor on top. 

Central World is another huge mall located just 5 minutes further down the road from Siam Paragon. 

Anything computer and IT related can be found at Pantip Plaza, which is exclusively (almost) an electronics shopping mall. This too is located 10 minutes from Central World. 

Not located in the same vicinity but in Bang Rak, close to Silom, you'll find the the newest addition on Bangkok’s shopping stage – Icon Siam. A golden covered shopping mall on the inside and outside, this gigantic shopping complex is located right at the riverbank just across Silom and Charoen Krung and is not to be missed if you are into shopping. 

When here, check out the top floor and head towards the outdoor seated bar/restaurant overlooking the river.

If you are more into the outdoor markets you should try the Chachutak Weekend Market. It is only open on weekends and is a maze of shops and small restaurants with a great variety of clothes, souvenirs, arts and much more.

If you won’t be in Bangkok on a weekend, head then towards Chinatown’s Sampeng Market which is probably one of Bangkok’s busiest outdoor markets.

For a proper outdoor fresh food market experience head then to Klong Toey Fresh Market where they will sell you any food imaginable. Many of the great restaurants come here to get shop fresh ingredients. 

Getting around in Bangkok

Getting around in Bangkok is easy and cheap with plenty of options to choose from: 

Taxi: Arguably the most popular mean of transportation in Bangkok, taxi's are everywhere anytime. If it's rush hour or raining you might find it difficult to get a taxi and especially one willing to drive by meter. Generally speaking though, make sure to always ask for the meter. The fare starts at 35 baht. 

Tuk Tuk: The iconic Tuk Tuk's of Bangkok are a fun alternative to the taxi's albeit more expensive, as you need to bargain for a fixed price. If you have far to go or driving in rush hour consider a taxi instead due to pollution and cost. 

Scooter: You will also see plenty of locals on a scooter with a bright orange vest on. Those are scooter taxis and just like the Tuk Tuk's you need to bargain over prices. It's a great alternative in rush hour as the scooters in Bangkok are immune to traffic as they just zigzag through it. Do consider safety though, as traffic accidents involving scooters are common in Bangkok. 

Bus: Old looking public busses drive all over Bangkok and are a fun and cheap (!) alternative. Ask the locals for bus routes. Tickets are bought on the bus. Remember to bring coins or 20 baht bills. If you stay near Charoen Krung, bus 1 drop you right in the middle of Chinatown on the main road. 

Metro: The Bangkok MRT consist of two lines, the Blue Line and Purple Line. The Blue Line connects with the BTS Skytrain at Silom, Sukhumvit and Chatuchak. The Purple Line connects with Northwestern suburbs and downtown Bangkok and will eventually serve the old and historic quarter of Bangkok. 

River Express (river bus): All the way up and down the river you'll find designated "bus stops" for the Chao Phraya Express Boat. If you stay nearby the river and are heading up to see any of the temples or Khao San Road, you should try the Express Boat. It's a fun and different way of transportation, and on a hot and humid day, an open air boat ride with a cool breeze is a treat. 

BTS Skytrain: Like the metro, the BTS have two lines, the Silom Line and Sukhumvit Line, which connects at Siam Square. There's also an airport rail which connects Bangkok Airport with downtown Bangkok. Taking the BTS is relatively easy. Simply go to the counter at the station, say where you want to go, pay the fare and you'll receive a ticket. Take note of which direction you are heading before boarding the train.

Safety in Bangkok

Personally, I have never felt unsafe in Bangkok and only rarely felt uncomfortable as Thais are generally a very friendly bunch.

If you take your precautions, respect the traffic (remember they drive in the left lane) and don’t act out when you’re out partying, chances of something happening to you are slim.

Remember though, it can be dangerous as a pedestrian in Bangkok if you are not careful. The traffic can be dreadful and crossing the road can be a nightmare. Look carefully before crossing any road.

Also, be careful not to criticise the Thai monarchy as it can land you in a world of trouble. Respect the king and the monarchy at all times.

The most common safety issue that tourists experience in Bangkok are likely to be Tuk Tuk drivers scamming tourist by offering extremely cheap transportation to any given tourist attraction.

Instead of doing so, they’ll take you to several jewellery stores and tailors before dropping you off at your destination or if they are disappointed you didn’t buy anything, they’ll just drop you somewhere.

Being a major city, petty theft does also occur in Bangkok, however, to be honest, I haven’t experienced it. On the contrary I once lost my iPhone in a taxi. Two days later he came back to my hotel to deliver it to me – how incredible is that?

What to see in Bangkok

Being one of the most visited cities in the world, Bangkok has no shortage of tourist attractions. While many have already been mentioned throughout this guide, here is a list of some of the top attractions in Bangkok:

Grand Palace: Indeed the most popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, the Grand Palace used to be the official residence of the Royal family since 1782. Today several official government and Royal events takes place inside the walls of the temple complex every year.

At 218,400 square meters, the entire temple complex is huge and consist of multiple stunning temples, old royal residences, and government buildings.

By far, the highlight of The Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew also called The Temple of The Emerald Buddha. This impressive temple is Thailand’s most sacred.

Visiting the palace, you should be aware of the strict dress code required to enter. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves (t-shirts are fine but no tank tops). You are also not allowed to have bear feet so if you are wearing flip-flops or sandals remember to bring socks.

Same dress code applies to woman. No see-through clothes and no bare shoulders. At the entrance there is a possibility of renting a sarong to cover up your body for a small deposit.

Wat Arun: Also known as The Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun sits right at the riverbank all mighty and majestic and is truly one of the most impressive temples Thailand has to offer.

Not a traditional Thai Temple, Wat Arun consist of 4 colourful spires surrounding the main spire (or prang) towering 70 meters up in the air. Each prang is designed with colourful glass and Chinese porcelain making it one of the most famous landmarks of Bangkok.

Wat Arun is best visited in the evening around sunset as it becomes simply stunning at night when lit up. Mind you it busy almost any time of day except early morning and after dark. 

Sitting right across Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, it is easy to take a river crossing ferry/boat to visit this place. It is also included in several evening bike tours.

Wat Pho: Another incredible temple complex in this area is the Wat Pho, best known for its Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

Wat Pho together with Wat Arun is probably my favourite temple sites in Bangkok for a couple of reasons. First, it is, like Wat Arun, a glorious sight at night when lit up and a popular stop on the evening bike tour (although you are not allowed to see the reclining buddha at night).

Secondly, it is usually less crowded than the Grand Palace and thus have a certain tranquility and peace to it. The reclining buddha is impressive and worth a visit and the garden complex is quite stunning.

Plus, Wat Pho is famous for educating some of the best masseuses in Thailand making it a great place for a massage after a day of temple sightseeing (if the que isn’t too long!).

Khao San Road: Nearby the Grand Palace, Khao San Road is a popular backpacker destination in Bangkok and world renowned for its backpacker vibes.

If not for the parties at night, you should go here just to soak in the atmosphere of the many backpackers having the time of their lives, shop around the open market or find a decent place to eat.

Chinatown: One of my favourite areas of Bangkok, especially at night, Chinatown is a vibrant and lively destination worth a visit or two during your stay in Bangkok.

The main street, Yaowarat, is where all the action happens with bright neon signs lighting up the whole area, Chinese restaurants everywhere, street kitchens on every corner and a few sky bars overlooking the spectacle. Chinatown guarantees an interesting evening in Bangkok.

If you are up for a walk then I can recommend getting “lost” in Talat Noi, a very old neighbourhood in Chinatown and home to some great hidden gems such as River View Guest House with its rooftop restaurant/bar called River Vibe.

Golden Mount (Wat Saket): Even if you've had enough of temples, Golden Mount is worth a visit. Not so much for the temple of it, but by scaling the stairs leading to the top, you’ll get awarded with a great view of the old city district and the many temples around here.

Lumpini Park: If you are looking for a breathing space from the bustling city, then this New York Central Park look alike is a good place to relax for a while.

Situated atop of Silom and Sathorn and surrounded by skyscrapers Lumpini Park is a beautiful green oasis in the middle of the big city.

If you are a morning person, getting here around 7 in the morning for a morning run or walk is something you will not regret. Chinese locals are performing Tai Chi, a form of shadowboxing, in the early hours while it’s still relatively cool in Bangkok and the fresh morning market on the parking area is a perfect place for a local breakfast (or just some fresh fruits).

Lego Building (Mahanakhon): One of the most daring and iconic skyscrapers to feature Bangkok’s famous skyline, the Lego building (don’t know if that is an official nickname) is a very interesting building indeed.

When the building was completed in 2016, Mahanakhon, as its called, was the tallest building in Bangkok with its 314 meters and 79 floors, but was overdone by Icon Siam Residences at 318 meters.

Go here for the stunning view over Bangkok and try the SkyWalk followed by a (overpriced) cocktail at the outdoor skybar.

What to do in Bangkok

If you really want to see a different side of Bangkok you should absolutely consider going on a city adventure.

You can do a lot of exploring of Bangkok on your own, but going on a bike tour or exploring the back channels of the Chao Phraya River gives you a completely different perspective of this city.

My personal favourite activity to do in Bangkok, and something I would recommend anyone coming here, is going on a bike tour as you are taken places you would never dream of coming on your own.

Here’s a list of some top activities to do in Bangkok:

City bike tour: This is one of the best ways of exploring Bangkok in my opinion. With a bike you can cover a relatively large area compared to walking and you can go down narrow alleys.

Usually, you go in smaller groups of up to 10 people and a couple of tour guides who safely navigate you through the traffic. It might sound a bit scary to bike around the streets of Bangkok, but it’s not.

It’s a lot of fun and the places you go are simply incredible. Some tours are better than others of course, but either way, this form of sightseeing is the best.

You should either opt for a trip which starts and end in Khlong Toei. The tour starts near Sukhumvit and takes you through small alleys and a huge open air fresh market. You will cross the river and explore the “green lungs of Bangkok”, Bang Kachao.

Its surreal to go from bustling Bangkok on one side of the river to a forest like neighbourhood. Experience local life in a completely different way.

A great alternative is an evening bike tour, which starts close to Silom, take you across the river, where you’ll bike through small neighbourhoods, the Portuguese quarter and the Santa Cruz church and, the highlight, Wat Arun at night.

Cross the river again to experience Wat Pho at night, before biking back towards Silom through Chinatown.

Klong Tour: Another great way to experience a different side of Bangkok, as you sail up the river and into the smaller canals (klongs) in a longtail boat.

This tour lets you experience how the locals use and live by the river and the great contrasts of Bangkok as you have wooden houses on stilts next to some very large mansions.

Morning exercise in Lumpini Park: This is an activity for the morning people, but if you get yourself to Lumpini Park between 7-8 am for a morning run or walk, you’ll see how the locals use the park for exercising before it gets too hot and humid.

Many Chinese locals are doing Tai Chi, a form of shadowboxing, throughout the park, others are running round the park while others are just here for a morning stroll. There’s a great atmosphere and it’s a beautiful park.

Partying in Bangkok: Going out at night in Bangkok is a must, whether just for a beer or a proper party, Bangkok is a great city to have some good fun at night.

Head to Khao San Road for a good night out or Chinatown if you don’t want to party hard but looking for a great evening experience.

For more details read the section “Bangkok by Night”

Shopping: Bangkok is home to some incredible shopping malls and there are no shortage of them either. With more than 50 large malls throughout the city, you are in for a proper shopping experience.

If you are not a shopaholic, you should still consider visiting the impressive Icon Siam, the newest addition of mega malls in Bangkok. A golden giant by the river, this mall is the most exclusive in Bangkok and with an outdoor restaurant/bar overlooking the river and the city, this mall is worth a visit just to experience it.

For more details on shopping see the "Shopping in Bangkok" section above. 

Thai boxing: A very popular sport in Thailand and a good way to spend half a day in here.

There are 3 distinctive venues to watch Thai boxing. Rajadamnern Stadium is the oldest one with the first match fought here back in 1945. Tickets vary from 500 – 2000 baht, and fights are scheduled on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. Best to buy tickets in advance through your hotel, a small travel operator or similar. 

Second venue, and the only one of the 3 I have been to, is the Channel 7 stadium. It was a great experience plus its free and easy to reach. Well, we took the skytrain and walked around for 20 minutes to find it, but with a taxi it should be easy.

This stadium gives a better feel of the atmosphere and the locals are going crazy and gambling on the fights which just gives a more traditional experience. 

The third venue is located around the old airport, Don Mueang, and is called Lumpinee Boxing Stadium. It's relatively new and modern with plenty of snack vendors inside. Tickets range from 200 – 2000 baht.

Local football: Having been to Bangkok so many times and being a football fan myself, I am massively disappointed that I haven’t thought of going to local football match in Bangkok sooner. I was invited a few years back by one of my friends and it dawned on me that of course Thailand have a professional football league with top teams in Bangkok.

Top teams might be a stretch, but there are two of the better teams in the Thai League playing in Bangkok.

Port F.C is located in Khlong Toei as the most centrally located stadium. If you can time your Bangkok visit with a game night here, you should go! Even if you’re not the biggest football fan, it is a really good experience.

The area outside of the stadium turns into a mini food market, with food stalls and small bars serving ice cold draft beers. If you really want to get in the mood and gain some respect from the local fans, get a Port F.C jersey to wear at the match.

Tickets are bought at the stadium. 

The other large club in Bangkok is Muang Thong United and is supposedly the wealthiest club in the Thai league.

Unfortunately I have never been at the stadium, but it is supposedly a great experience as well. Located north of the city centre, you should take a taxi to get there via the highway. From Silom, it’s 20 minutes with no traffic. That can easily translate to an hour and a half though. 

There’s plenty of food stalls and venues here as well and even an Irish pub with happy hour from 4-8. Not a bad place to warm up before the big game.

Bonus activity: Play golf at the old airport, Don Mueang: At this golf course, you are literally playing golf between the two runways, which is a bit surreal. 

You don’t have to be any good and it’s not a fancy golf club or anything, just a different and fun experience. It was my first time playing golf and we had a lot of fun. 

There is a casual dress code, but a dress code nonetheless. Closed shoes and a shirt or polo is required. Shorts are okay.

Find out more at Kantarat Golf Course.

Bangkok in 4 days

If you have read through this guide, you will hopefully have some ideas yourself on how you want to spend 4 days in Bangkok, but nevertheless, here is a suggested itinerary for how you can get the most out of Bangkok in 4 days.

Day 1: Arriving in Suvarnabhumi Airport, grab a taxi from the ground floor at the public taxi stand. Alternatively, if you’d like a soft landing and not having to worry about getting to your hotel on your own, consider booking an arrival package.

Depending on when you arrive, take the rest of the day off, get some rest and maybe stroll around the neighbourhood. Try and get some good advice from the hotel staff or other guests on some good nearby restaurants for dinner. 

Our Travel Center staff are experts in Bangkok and the neighbourhood and are happy to give advice and help you out. 

Day 2: After a good night’s sleep, you should be ready and excited to explore Bangkok. For your first full day in Bangkok I would recommend you start out easy with a Klong Tour.

It’s a relaxed and easy sightseeing tour that really gives you a greater understanding of Bangkok as you’ll see a completely different side of the city. Enjoy the cool breeze as you cruise down the main river and into the small canals in a traditional long tail boat.

The tour ends at the Grand Palace. I’d suggest you find a place to grab a launch here. There are few great restaurants overlooking the river and the impressive Wat Arun, although they are a bit pricy. Alternatively, grab some fruit and grilled chicken from one of the many foot stalls.

Head to the Grand Palace followed by Wat Pho as these are must see’s for any first time visitors to Bangkok.

After a long day with many new impressions, head back to your hotel to relax for a bit before finding a place to eat. If you are in the Silom area head for Jacks Bar by the river. Alternatively, head to Chinatown for some of the best street food you’ll find in Bangkok.

If you are up for a night out head towards Khao San Road or Pat Pong, the latter being a “light” version of Bangkok’s different red light district areas.

Day 3: Before you leave Bangkok, you must do a bicycle tour. If you’re not too hungover from the night before, I’d recommend you go for the morning tour starting in Sukhumvit, which takes you to Bang Kachao and Klong Toei. 

If not, then enjoy a slow morning and head towards the Siam Square for a shopping spree. You may also want to visit Icon Siam, the largest and most prestigious mall in Thailand. Alternatively, see if you can make a Thai boxing match. 

If you didn’t go for the morning bike tour, join an evening tour which takes you to the other side of the river and through Wat Arun and Wat Pho at night, which are simply stunning! On the way back you’ll drive through the old streets of China Town.

In the evening, consider one of the city's many sky bars for an incredible view of Bangkok. 

Day 4: Your last day in Bangkok can be spend in many different ways depending on when you are leaving. Typically, you have to check out of your hotel around noon.

If you are leaving in the evening, you might ask if the hotel have luggage storage and if they are good, you can get a shower to freshen up before you move on.

A cool afternoon activity I can highly suggest is to take a stroll through the old Chinatown. Head towards River City, and from there make your way on foot to River View Guest House for a proper lunch and a great view of the river and Bangkok.

Continue through the small streets and alleys towards Yaowarat, the main street in Chinatown and check out the huge market in the side streets of Yaowarat.

Head back to your hotel early as you don’t want to get caught in Bangkok’s traffic. Grab a quick dinner and head towards your night bus or night train. Ask the hotel staff for advice if needed. 

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