Always dreaming of a trip to Bangkok but not sure where to begin? Fear not! This guide will help you prepare for that much needed break.
Check the weather. The best time to visit is from late October to late February, when Bangkok is at its coolest and driest. By April, the weather is already hot and humid, while the rainy season begins in June.
Book your flight. The price of your flight ticket will make or break your trip, especially when you’re on a tight budget. Skyscanner helps you compare prices of different airlines so you can travel at the best price.
Where to stay? There are a lot of dorms, guesthouse and budget hotels for backpackers. Make your search easier with Fodor’s Travel! Hotels are listed down by price, style and area so you can find the perfect room!
Getting around. Bangkok’s traffic is notorious, but navigating your way around is surprising easy, thanks to the efficient public transportation system. Skytrain (BTS) and underground metro (MRT) connect major parts of the city, while taxis are convenient and cheap (buses incredibly so!). River taxis and tail boats are the best options if you want to explore the canals (locally known as klong). The iconic tuk-tuks are slowly disappearing, but still worth a ride for experience! Plan your routes with Transit Bangkok.
Things to do
1. Visit the Grand Palace
Don’t miss Bangkok’s most iconic landmark and most holy place when you’re in the city! Once home to Thailand’s royal family and the seat of the Thai government, The Grand Palace is now a huge complex of Thai temples and historical buildings with remarkable architecture influenced by both Thai and Western designs. The grounds are open to visitors but not the buildings.
Credit: Greg Knapp on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: Beware of well-spoken gentlemen in suits or official-looking outfits, often found lurking outside the Grand Palace, who will con you into purchasing entrance tickets from them or taking a tuk-tuk tour of nearby temples.
Opening hours: 8.30 am to 4.30 pm daily
Ticket price: 500 baht for non-Thais, including admission to Wat Phra Kaew and Vimanmek Mansion
Getting there: From Sukhumvit, take the MRT to Hua Lamphong, then take bus 159 to Sanam Luang. Either walk to the Grand Palace from there or take another bus (44, 82 or 512) to Tha Chang-Wat Rakhang Pier.
2. Wat Pho and Wat Arun
Located within walking distance from the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok famous for the incredible 160 foot Reclining Buddha statue.
Credit: achmadsholeh on Instagram
Spend 3 baht on a cross-river ferry ride from Tha Tien pier near Wat to get to Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is another picturesque temple just right across Chao Phraya River!
Credit: Werapat Apirojananan on Flickr
3. Shop at Terminal 21
Credit: Dushan Hanuska on Flickr
If you’re on a lookout for a shopping mall that’s unlike any other, Terminal 21 might be the place for you. The airport-inspired mall is divided into several zones, and each of them is designed to imitate the international city they represent, so you can travel the world without actually leaving the country. Located at Sukhumvit Road, this nine-floor mall houses over 600 shops, 50 restaurants and cafes, a food court and a cinema. A great stop to temporarily escape the heat!
Credit: Iin Judy on Flickr
Opening hours: 10 am to 10 pm
Getting there: Within walking distance from Sukhumvit MRT and Asok BTS (direct access via Skywalk)
4. Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre
Although the art scene has never been a thing in Thailand, it’s slowly gaining momentum among the local youth today. As the hub of the city’s growing art scene, Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC) hosts many exhibitions by both Thai and international artists, and is also the new favourite hangout place for Thai youngsters since the building is complete with shops, cafes and an art library.
Credit: Marco Capitanio on Flickr
Opening hours: 10 am to 9 pm, closed on Mondays
Ticket price: Free entry!
Getting there: From Asok, travel to Siam via BTS Sukhumvit line, then transfer to Silom line to National Stadium. BACC is several minutes walk away.
5. Night Market – Rod Fai Market
Bangkok’s Rod Fai Market (or Train Market) is the definition of insane! The open air bazaar is divided into three different sections: Warehouse Zone, where you can find all sorts of secondhand items, be it household goods, fashion items or electronic devices; Market Zone, with over 2000 stalls selling everyday products, snacks and knick knacks; and Rod’s Antiques, home to rare and unique vintage items you probably never imagined. Plenty of stalls selling halal food can be found at this market. All you need to do before coming here is prepare an empty stomach and a full wallet.
Credit: Isaac Loo
(If you’re too tired to explore a market at night, you can check out these street markets instead)
Opening hours: 5 pm to midnight, Thursday to Sunday
Getting there: Take a BTS skytrain to On Nut station, and catch a taxi from there. The market is located at Srinakar in Soi 51, behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall.
Food to eat
Credit: Fareiny Morni
Sophia Restaurant is one of the best known halal Thai restaurants in Bangkok with an extensive menu and over 20 years of experience. Their simple and open setting enables customers to dine comfortably, and the reasonably priced meals make them a popular choice. Don’t miss their deep fried ice-cream for dessert!
Opening hours: 9 am to 10 pm
Address: 1681 Ramkamhaeng, Soi 5 Suanluang, Bangkok 10250
Phone: +662 314 0039
2. The Gallery Restaurant and Bar
Credit: Ziniza Place on Instagram
Looking for a fine dining experience at an affordable price? The Gallery Restaurant and Bar, which is also the main restaurant of Ziniza Hotel, is the place to go. This trendy restaurant in northern Bangkok serves a modern and fresh interpretation of Thai cuisine, with several other Asian and Italian dishes on the menu.
Opening hours: 10 am to 10 pm (breakfast for hotel residents is between 6 am to 10 am)
Address: 494 Rimklongprapa Phankwa Road, Bang Sue, Bangkok 10800
Phone: +662 5560 2401
3. Cili Padi
Credit: Fareiny Morni
Surprising, Malaysian cuisine isn’t that common in Bangkok despite being neighbouring countries. Cili Padi is one of the few options but one of the best in town. This Malaysian owned restaurant serves classic Malaysian dishes, including the scrumptious Nasi Lemak and mee goreng mamak. Most of the staff speak Malay so you will feel like you’re in Malaysia here!
Opening hours: 10 am to 11 pm, closed on first Friday of every month
Address: 107/3 Pan Road (Soi Wat Kaek), Silom Bangrak Bangkok 10500
Phone: +662 635 1167 or +668 7864 1234
There are so many more places to explore and unique food to discover in Bangkok! If you can’t decide where to go, here’s an idea of how you can make the most of your weekend in this city. Pack your bags now because Bangkok is awaiting your visit!
Are there any other attractions that we should visit on our first time to Bangkok? Let us know in the comments below!