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About Destination

Bangkok is one of those cities that never gets old. No matter how many times you’ve been, you’ll always discover something new and exciting to see, do, and eat. It’s got a near perfect mix of food, culture, nightlife, shopping, and affordability that’s unmatched anywhere in Southeast Asia. We’ve traveled to Bangkok so many times over the years that it feels almost like a second home. Such is the allure of the world’s most visited city for the last four years and running. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you’re into. Bangkok will have something for you. If you’re visiting Thailand for the first time, then I hope this comprehensive Bangkok travel guide can help you plan your trip.

PLACES TO VISIT IN BANGKOK

1. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew

The Grand Palace is considered by many to be the single most important attraction in Bangkok. Built in 1782, it served as the official residence of Thailand’s Royal Family until 1925. The King now resides in Dusit Palace though the Grand Palace is still used for official events like royal ceremonies and state functions. There’s lots to see at the Grand Palace so plan to spend a couple of hours here. It’s a large complex comprised of several ornate buildings, pavilions, courtyards, and manicured gardens. One of the most important structures at the Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It houses the famed Emerald Buddha and is considered the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand.

2. Wat Pho

Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is located just south of the Grand Palace. It’s home to nearly 400 gilded Buddha images, none more impressive than its giant reclining Buddha measuring 15 meters tall and 46 meters long. Together with Wat Arun, Wat Pho is one of six temples regarded as the highest grade of first-class royal temples in Thailand. It was the country’s first public university and considered the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, which is still taught and practiced at the temple today.

3. Wat Arun

Wat Arun is located directly across the river from Wat Pho. Aside from being one of the most important temples in Bangkok, it’s also one of its most beautiful, renowned for its striking riverside location and interesting design. Getting to Wat Arun from Wat Pho is easy. Just walk to Tha Thien Pier and take a quick ferry ride across the Chao Phraya River for THB 4.

4. Wat Saket

Wat Saket is an Ayutthaya-era Buddhist temple known for its striking gold chedi. Also known as the Golden Mount, it sits on top of an 80-meter tall manmade hill about 2.5 km east of the Grand Palace. Climb up over 300 steps to reach the stupa on top and get great views of Bangkok in all directions. There are no BTS or MRT stations near Wat Saket so it’s easiest to get there by Grab from the Grand Palace, or on foot from Wat Suthat.

5. Wat Suthat Thepwararam / Giant Swing

Located between the Grand Palace and Wat Saket, Wat Suthat Thepwararam is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It’s classified as one of ten royal temples of the first grade in Bangkok. Wat Suthat is a noteworthy temple though its biggest claim to fame may be the gigantic red structure standing just outside its gate. Measuring over 21 meters tall, the Giant Swing consists of two red pillars connected by an intricately carved crossbar. During the Brahmin thanksgiving ceremony, young men would ride the swing up to 24 meters in the air to try and grab a bag of silver coins with their teeth. It was a precarious practice that was abolished in 1932.

6. Jim Thompson House

The Jim Thompson House is a museum located in the Siam area, about a 10-minute walk from the MBK Shopping Center. It houses the impressive Southeast Asian art collection of American businessman Jim Thompson, the man credited for saving Thailand’s silk industry in the 50s and 60s. Aside from its interesting design, part of what makes the Jim Thompson House so fascinating is his disappearance. Jim Thompson disappeared while out on a walk in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands in 1967. His body was never found and his disappearance remains a mystery to this day.

7. Erawan Shrine

Erawan Shrine is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in Bangkok. Throughout the day you’ll find worshippers offering flowers, incense sticks, and fruit to a gilded statue of Phra Phrom. Phra Phrom is the Thai representation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. Erawan Shrine is located near the Skytrain’s Chit Lom Station. It’s in a busy commercial area straddling Siam and Sukhumvit so you can make a stop here while shopping in the area. Traditional Thai dance performances are held at the shrine throughout the day.

8. Bangkok Art and Culture Center

The Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) is a contemporary arts center offering free exhibits spread out over ten floors. It’s an interesting space with commercial art galleries, cafes, bookstores, and craft shops. BACC is located near the MBK Shopping Center and is accessible via the National Stadium BTS Station. It’s a great place to visit while shopping in the Siam area.

9. Erawan Museum

This is one of the most unique museums I’ve visited in Bangkok. It features a colossal bronze statue of a three-headed elephant weighing 250 tons and measuring 29 meters high (95 ft) by 39 meters long (128 ft). It’s a short Grab ride away from Samrong Station, the last stop on the Skytrain’s Sukhumvit Line. It’s a bit hard to get to but worth it if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary in Bangkok. Check out my post on the Erawan Museum for more pictures and information. You can purchase tickets at the gate but you can save on the cost if you buy them in advance through Get Your Guide. You can also get combo tickets through Klook or Get Your Guide that give you admission to both the Erawan Museum and the Ancient City.