Bangkok is the vibrant heart of Thailand that offers something for every type of traveler. There’s the upmarket hotels for high-end tourists. A booming backpacker scene for budget-minded nomads. Endless night markets, restaurants and bars for foodies. And a city bursting with Instagram photo locations for the social media free spirits out there. Below is my complete travel guide to Bangkok that suits all travelers. It includes the best temples, night markets, viewpoints, sky bars, hotels, restaurants, day trips and more.
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The spectacular Grand Palace dates back to the 18th century, and it’s the most popular tourist attraction in Bangkok, Thailand.
Mother of Dragons feels at Wat Samphran.
Wat Benchamabophit is known as the Marble Temple. Proper attire is clothing that covers both shoulders and knees.
Phra Siratana Chedi sits inside the Grand Palace.
FIVE DAYS. Bangkok is a massive city bursting with enough temples, night markets, restaurants, bars, cafes and shopping to fill weeks of exploring. Most travelers don’t have the luxury of an open-ended visit, so I often recommend four to five days in the city. It’ll give you a good taste of Bangkok, but still leave you wanting more.
Wat Arun is the prettiest temple in Bangkok. OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People dress linked here.
These adorable ice cream bars are in the shape of the Wat Arun tiles.
Similar to most of Thailand, high season in Bangkok spans November through February when temperatures are comfortable and rainfall is minimal. This is my favorite time of the year to visit Thailand.
Wat Ratchanatdaram is one of the less touristed temples in Bangkok.
CHAO PHRAYA RIVER CRUISE
Experience the Chayo Phraya River by public or private boat. There are ferries that make scheduled stops at piers along the river, or charter a private boat for a more relaxed experience from Supatra Boat. Several upscale resorts sit along the river, as well as popular sightseeing destinations including the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho.
Chinatown in Bangkok is one of the largest in the world, home to temples, gates, shops, food stalls and lots of people! Best time to visit is in the evening when Yaowarat Road comes to life with hundreds of street food stalls.
This might be the most popular tourist sight in all of Bangkok. The complex of ornate buildings was the former residence of King Rama I and King Rama V. Today it’s a popular tourist attraction that occasionally hosts royal ceremonies and dignitary guests. Must-see sights inside the palace grounds include Wat Phra Kaew, Phra Mondop, the Golden Stupa and Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn. It’s best to arrive right when the temple opens to avoid the onslaught of tourists later in the day. Dress code strictly enforced.
KHAO SAN ROAD
Iconic road that has become synonymous with backpackers in Bangkok. This bustling street is home to hostels, food stalls, bars and street vendors. Prices in this area are generally pretty cheap, and it’s a great place for solo travelers to meet people.
The Mahanakhon SkyWalk is the highest observation deck in Thailand. It stands at 314 meters, offering up 360 panoramas of the surrounding city. It’s one of the best views in all of Bangkok, particularly the hours surrounding sunset. Tickets should be booked in advance.
Rambuttri Road runs parallel to Khao San Road. It’s a bit quieter, but still a vibrant hub for street food, bars and restaurants.
Also known as Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is my favorite temple in Bangkok. It sits on the banks of Chayo Phraya River across from Wat Pho. The temple consists of four spires surrounding one central spire that rises 82 meters high. It’s the colors and ornate design of Wat Arun that make it so beautiful – the tiles look like shades of pastel under the sunlight. Don’t forget to order one of the pastel ice cream pops inspired by the tiles of Wat Arun. Dress code is strictly enforced.
Wat Benchamabophit, also known as The Marble Temple, is a beautiful red, white and gold temple complex. There’s an ornate archway along the marble courtyard of the main temple that is absolutely stunning – great spot for photos. Dress code is strictly enforced.
This Buddhist temple is one of the oldest in the city, and a popular stop on the Bangkok temple circuit. Wat Pho sits across the Chao Phraya River from Wat Arun, making it easy to visit both the same morning. The sprawling temple complex is most famous for its reclining golden Buddha measuring 15 meters tall and 46 meters long. It’s certainly a sight, but for me the main attraction is the 90 small chedis scattered across the grounds. Dress code is strictly enforced.
The beautiful Lola Prasat rises up out of this temple complex, boasting 37 metal spires that represent the 37 enlightenment virtues of Buddhism. Lola Prasat translates to “Iron Palace.” It’s one of the less touristed templed in Bangkok – more serene than Wat Arun and Wat Pho.
The spectacular ruins at Ayutthaya are an easy day trip from Bangkok, and feel like a completely different world.
This former capital of the Siamese Kingdom dates back to the 14th to 18th centuries. What’s left is now a historical park of dazzling ruins, a bit reminiscent of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia. There are several different temple sites to visit, all within close proximity to each other. Highlights include Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Phra Mahathat and Wat Chaiwatthanaram. It’s a 90-minute to two hours to reach Ayutthaya from Bangkok, depending on traffic.
DAMNOEN SADUAK FLOATING MARKET
Popular floating market in Ratchaburi, a 90-minute drive from Bangkok. The narrow waterways are filled with small wooden boats where traders sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Damnoen Saduak is more touristy than authentic, but nonetheless very scenic.
The Erawan Museum sits just outside of Bangkok in the Samut Prakan Province. An iconic three-headed elephant statue guards the museum filled with the art collection of Lek Viriyapant including rare Chinese vases, statues, relics, ceramics, paintings and more. The design of the Erawan Museum is particularly ornate – a pink ornamental staircase, blue stained glass windows, elaborate pillars, etc.
MUANG BORAN ANCIENT CITY
A sprawling open-air museum that is home to more than 100 re-creations of the Thailand’s most iconic sights including palaces, temples, castles and sculpture creations. It’s about an hour to reach the Ancient City from Bangkok.
Wat Samphran is a 17-story pink spherical building with a big green dragon wrapped around it from top to bottom. The dragon itself is actually a hollow staircase that visitors climb to reach the top of the building. A completely unique temple that sits an hour outside of Bangkok.
You’ll find the most epic pool in Bangkok at 137 Pillars. It sits on a rooftop 32 floors up overlooking sweeping panoramas of the city.
The views at Pillars 137 are spectacular. This place is a vibe.
Capella Bangkok is one of the newest luxury hotels in the city. It opened its doors in 2020 during COVID, and everything on property looks and feels brand new. It’s part of the Chao Phraya Estate, literally located steps away from the Four Seasons Bangkok. The rooms at Capella are completely luxurious boasting a color palette of deep neutrals, high ceilings, over-sized bathrooms with views of the river, floor-to-ceiling windows, walk-in closet, plush linens and a powder area. Highly recommend a stay here.
Another new luxury hotel in Bangkok, the Four Seasons Bangkok sits on the Chao Phraya River where the property’s dazzling infinity pools overlook the water. The hotel boasts nearly 300 rooms, all with the brand’s signature luxury touch – beautiful designs, lots of light, crisp linens and spacious bathrooms . I suggest opting for a room with a view of the river – the panorama from the floor-to-ceiling windows are a dreamy sight to wake up to in the morning.
Mandarin Oriental Bangkok also sits on the Chao Phraya River. It first opened its doors in 1876, and remains one of the most historic hotels in city. The hotel has been completely updated, and is nothing short of luxurious. My favorite spots on property are afternoon tea in a turn-of-the-century setting at The Author’s Lounge; jazz nights at The Bamboo Bar; and riverside swims in the hotel’s lush tropical pool.
The Japanese-owned Okura Prestige occupies floors 23 through 34 of the Park Ventures Ecoplex high-rise. Rooms aren’t particularly flashy – just simple, modern and elegant. The hotel’s infinity pool sits on floor 25 offering up a sweeping panorama of the city. It’s pretty spectacular.
137 Pillars 137 is an excellent luxury property located in Bangkok’s Phrom Phong neighborhood. The boutique hotel is home to my favorite rooftop pool in the city where guests are surrounded by a dreamy panorama of the metro skyline. The suites are retreats that feature spacious rooms, floor to ceiling windows, oversized bathrooms, walk-in closets and high ceilings. FYI, you must book a suite to have access to the rooftop pool.
The dazzling Art Deco design of The Siam is a real head turner if you’re looking for something flashy on the Chao Phraya River. It’s a lovely black and white space with hints of purple, and loads of lush greenery. Rooms are spacious with dark wood floors and wall paneling to match, white columns, white linens and purple furniture.
Capella Bangkok is a stunning new luxury hotel.
The abundance of food in Bangkok is mind-boggling, this doesn’t even scratch the surface.
AFTER YOU DESSERT
Popular dessert cafe with several locations around Bangkok. Menu includes a selection of kakigori, dessert toast, panookies, pancakes, pudding cake and more. For anyone with a sweet tooth, this place is a must!
BREAKFAST STORY PHROM PHONG
For a solid Western breakfast, grab a table at Breakfast Story for all the classics including omelettes, french toast, pancakes and avocado toast.
This Michelin-starred restaurant located inside Capella Bangkok is a contemporary twist on French and Italian Riviera cuisine from three-Michelin star Chef Mauro Colagreco. There are four, five, seven and nine course sittings with wine pairings.
Small family-run joint that has been serving classic Thai dishes for more than 20 years including pad see ew, pad krapow, curries, fried rice and more.
A two Michelin-star restaurant located inside the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Le Normandie is a completely exquisite setting for fine French cuisine. Menu offerings may include a selection of caviar, pan-fried blue lobster medallions with ginger flavored vegetable julienne, sea bass with salsify, brown shrimp in dieppoise sauce and wagyu beef Chateaubriand rossini with Perigourdine sauce.
NAI MONG HOI THOD
A Michelin Guide, no frills street food stall in Chinatown. Nai Mong Hoi Thod a famous for its oyster omelettes (crispy, fried or soft) that comes in small, medium, large or extra large.
For a solid Western fix, Nonna Nella serves up the best pizza and homemade pasta in Bangkok. Menu includes cold cuts, a selection of cheeses, fresh pasta, risotto and pizzas made with artisinal dough slow marinated for 72 hours.
Thipsamai has been around for more than 80 years, and is considered one of the oldest pad thai restaurants in Bangkok.
Charming little cafe near Chinatown bursting with potted plants and fauna. There is a rooftop bar to sip both coffee and cocktails, as well as a delicious offerings of sweets.
Bangkok is a home to loads of Michelin restaurants, and Côte by Mauro Colagreco is one of the best. It’s located inside Capella Bangkok.
There are loads of night and weekend markets in Bangkok, here are just a few highlights.
CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET
Chatuchak is the mother of all markets. This popular “weekend” market is actually open Wednesday though Sunday. There are more than 15,000 stalls that span 25 acres divided into more than 25 different sections (ceramics, clothing, handicrafts, antiques, etc.). It’s best to arrive when it opens, and have a strategy to your visit because the market’s size can be overwhelming.
Popular night market conveniently located close to the Phra Ram 9 MRT. A great place for food, drinks, shopping and music. There are more than 600 food vendors. Popular eats include taiyaki, khanom krok with mango sticky rice, stir fry, noodles and some of the craziest ice cream flavors (salted mackerel ice cream!).
ONE RATCHADA NIGHT MARKET
Bangkok is famous for its night markets, and The One Ratchada is one of the newest located in the same location as the former Ratchada Train Night Market. The outdoor market is lined with food tents, bar trucks, live music and shopping stalls. Visitors looking to eat will find noodles dishes, soups, seafood, skewered meat, fruit shakes, roti, mango sticky rice and boba.
SRINAGARINDRA TRAIN MARKET
One of the best Bangkok night markets that feels a bit more local thatn touristy. The hundreds of stalls at Srinagarindra Train Market sell a variety of food, drink and goods including clothes, antiques, vintage finds and more.
YAOWARAT NIGHT MARKET
Evening market located in Chinatown along Yaowarat Road. The stalls open around 6 PM selling every food item imaginable – dumplings, fruit shakes, Chinese donuts, pancakes, seafood, noddle dishes and even Michelin guide eats.
Tuk tuks are a fun, and affordable mode of transport around the city.
Head to the night markets for a plethora of affordable, delicious food options.
The historic Bamboo Bar is located inside the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. It’s a jazz bar that feels very Old World – like stepping back into the early 1950’s.
BKK SOCIAL CLUB
Fabulous bar located inside the Four Seasons Bangkok. The glam of Buenos Aires is the inspiration behind the atmospheric bar that serves bespoke cocktails, craft spirits and cigars.
FIND THE LOCKER ROOM
A fun speakeasy in Bangkok’s Thang Lor district. A cluster of lockers sits off a random alleyway. Find the correct locker, slide it to the left to reveal the entrance to the bar. Great cocktails and music.
Another fun Bangkok speakeasy, Havana Social is a pre-revolutionary 1940’s Cuban cocktail bar. It’s a fun little journey to get inside – find a secret phone booth in Suvkhumvit, enter the secret code and then the doors will open. The dimly lit bar is rustic and beautiful. All the feels of Old World Cuba.
MAHANIYOM COCKTAIL BAR
Cocktail bar located above 100 Mahaseth Si Phraya that serves an inventive menu of drinks including the Squid, Pomelo, Cow, Coconut, Orange, etc. Mahaniyom is considered one of the best bars in Asia.
Opium Bar is an unassuming little speakeasy that sits above Potong in Bangkok’s Chinatown. Terrific menu of craft cocktails – reservations recommended (the bar is tiny).
SKY BAR AT LEBUA
Made famous in the film The Hangover, the Sky Bar at Lebua is quite the rooftop bar scene. The views are fabulous, but the drinks are completely overpriced. Check the menu and prices before deciding if drinks here are a must. Reservations highly recommended.
Stunning cocktail bar inside Capella Bangkok that serves drinks inspried by four iconic women that helped revolutinoize the mixology culture – Ada Coleman, Maria Dolores, Rita Hayworth and Joy Perrine.
SUGAR RAY, YOU’VE JUST BEEN POISONED
Amazing little cocktail bar that serves up Classics, Poisons, Irregular Potions and Antidotes.
Lovely little bar that sits tucked away on an alley in Chinatown. The drink menu offers fun creations, especially the Thai herbal liquor menu. This place is a vibe in the evenings.
TROPIC CITY BANGKOK
A neon lit bar in Charoen Krung that serves up a selection of delicious cocktails, most made with tropical fruits. The bar has won several awards, and always makes the Top 50 list for Best Bars in Asia.
Cocktails at Stella and Tep.
Admiring the detailed spires of Wat Arun. OUTFIT DETAILS: Free People dress linked here.
Bangkok is home to two airports – the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang International Airport (DMK). The two airports are located in different areas of the city, and travel time between the two varies greatly depending on traffic. If you’re booking separate same-day flights, make sure you’re going in and out of the same airport. Or if you’re switching airports, leave plenty of time to travel between the two. For example, if you’re flying in on ANA from Tokyo and connecting on an Air Asia flight to Phuket, use the airport codes to plan accordingly. Both airports offer international and domestic connections, but DMK caters to more domestic and budget-airline options.
More than 90 of these small chedis are scattered across the sprawling grounds of Wat Pho.