6 unique and fun things to do in Bangkok
What to do in Bangkok – making the most of Thailand’s capital
By Mark Burton
Bangkok is a sprawling city in every sense. There are hundreds or even thousands of fun things to do in Bangkok.
However, if you’re just visiting, it can be hard to know what to do in Bangkok. Having lived here for a while now, we’ve had the chance to experience a lot of what Bangkok has to offer, so here’s a guide of our top 6 things to do in Bangkok. Some are touristy, some are off the beaten track, but all of them are great ways to spend your time here.
1. Tick off the temples
Almost every guide to Bangkok will recommend a day at the temples and palaces on the royal island of Rattanakosin. Our picks would be Wat Arun and Wat Pho, which are conveniently located across the river from each other. Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, has been recently renovated and sparkles on a sunny day with pottery shards adorning every surface. A short ferry across the water spits you out at Wat Pho where you can see the unmissable Reclining Buddha.
To make a full day of it, take the tourist boat from Saphan Taksin (NB: the old, noisy boat on the left of the pier is both cheaper and more fun than the new catamaran directly at the front of the pier). The boat will drop off right outside Wat Arun. From there you can see the temple, then hop across on the ferry for Wat Pho.
Stop off at Err restaurant for a spectacular bite to eat, then go next door to watch the sun go down over Wat Arun with a beer at the Deck bar. You can even make a full day walking tour taking in a quieter side of Bangkok – here’s how.
2. Search for Dragons in Lumpini Park
Bangkok is crowded, noisy and hectic. Right in the middle of it is Lumpini Park, which is relaxed, quiet and peaceful. Follow the paths round the many lakes, looking for the monitor lizards which inhabit the park. They come in all shapes and sizes but there are some monsters over 5ft. They’re harmless if you leave them in peace.
As things to do in Bangkok go, Lumpini is a very relaxing place to spend an hour. watching locals having Tai Chi classes and playing board games in the shade of trees.
Lumpini Park is also a popular running and cycling destination for those looking to get some activity into their stay.
3. Get lost in Chinatown
We didn’t end up in Chinatown for ages after moving to Bangkok, and in hindsight that was a mistake. The area around Yaowarat Road is a superb place to wander around – full of activity, culture and old buildings. It feels like a throwback compared to the more modern centre of Bangkok.
The easiest way to get to Chinatown is by boat to Ratchawong Pier – or you can walk/taxi from the MRT at Hua Lumphong.
Yaowarat Road is heaving with people, food vendors and hawkers of every possible ware. Off the main road is effectively a permanent market which you can easily wander around for hours.
Late afternoon is the best time to go as the food vendors get fully set up. Pick your way along food stalls snacking on anything from grilled meat and seafood to fresh, spicy insects from the barbecue.
Make sure to come hungry to Chinatown. If eating isn’t one of your top things to do in Bangkok it should be, and Chinatown is heaven for food lovers.
Be sure to check out Ann Guay Teow Kua Gai for a brilliant Thai Chinese special of fried flat noodles. It’s in our guide to the best eats in Bangkok along with a map.
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4. Cook like a professional, with Poo
As Thai food is so delicious, it would be a shame not to go home without some knowledge of how it’s made. One of the best things to do in Bangkok is a cookery class. Our favourite is Cooking With Poo – something of a hero in Bangkok for her success in building up a cookery school in the Khlong Toei slum district. For a shade over $30 you’ll get a full market tour of the local Khlong Toei market – one of Bangkok’s busiest – and then a morning of cooking and eating delicious Thai dishes with Poo and/or her friends. The groups are small and the classes are very well run.
The class also finishes by lunchtime, leaving you more things to do in Bangkok, although you’ll probably want to sleep off the food for a while!
You can book directly on their website.
5. Feast at Lat Mayom floating market
Lat Mayom is our favourite floating market in Bangkok. It’s also one of our favourite things to do in Bangkok, full stop.
You’ll need to get a taxi but this will only set you back a few dollars. The market itself is a treasure trove of tasty food at ridiculously low prices.
Particular highlights are the salt grilled fish, the prawns with glass noodles, and bamboo sticky rice. Save room for some delicious fresh fruit and desserts. You can also take a tour around the neighbouring canals (klongs) from the market.
Be advised that it’s only open at weekends and gets pretty crowded, so aim to arrive by around 10am. Here’s a full guide to Lat Mayom with everything you need to know.
6. Escape to the jungle in Bang Krachao
Did you know that there’s a real piece of jungle just a stone’s throw from central Bangkok?
Bang Krachao, Bangkok’s ‘green lung’, is just a few minutes across the water from Khlong Toei and is like a step back in time.
Hire bikes for pennies and cycle around quiet, lush scenery. For something a bit different, a visit to Bang Krachao is one of the best things to do in Bangkok.
Read about our day out in Bang Krachao for all the info on this little-known gem in Bangkok.