If you are visiting Bangkok for the first time, planning your itinerary can be daunting. There are so many places and things to see, do, buy, and eat around the city that it can feel impossible to choose. So, what exactly should you do during your first time in Bangkok?

Read on for a list of the 25 best places to visit in Bangkok for first-timers. It includes royal palaces, Buddhist temples, infamous night markets, high-end shopping malls, unexpected adventures, and fascinating day trips that can be booked from Bangkok.

The best things to do in bangkok

Pick the things that interest you and build your Bangkok itinerary around these top attractions.

If you are looking for where to stay in Bangkok, check out this guide to the best neighborhoods and hotels.

1. Visit the Grand Palace

The Grand Palace is one of Thailand's most iconic and historically significant landmarks and should be near the top of your list of Bangkok attractions.

Constructed in 1782, it has been the official residence of the Thai kings for generations and features golden spires and intricate mosaics. The famous Wat Phra Kaew, also called the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is inside the palace grounds, where there is an intricately carved Buddha figurine in jadeite.

2. Discover Wat Pho

Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, has one of the world's oldest and most impressive reclining Buddha statues. It measures 46 meters in length and is covered in gold leaf.

The temple feels like an oasis in the middle of busy Bangkok. As well as the statue, there are fascinating inscriptions, murals, and sculptures.

Best things to do in bangkok

3. Take a Tuk-Tuk Along Khao San Road

Khao San Road is well-known for being one of the busiest and liveliest areas of Bangkok, which has made it a mecca for backpackers and travelers. All along the street, you can find street food vendors, live music, bars and clubs, and budget accommodation.

Get to know the street by taking a tuk-tuk along the road. Weaving through traffic in one of the iconic three-wheeled vehicles is a Bangkok experience in itself!

4. Sail to Wat Arun for Sunset

While Bangkok has many beautiful and interesting temples, none offer a more spectacular sunset than Wat Arun.

As the sun sinks behind the temple it illuminates the thousands of porcelain pieces that adorn the Wat. Watching this sight while bobbing calmly along the Chao Phraya River is a romantic and spiritual experience.

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5. Learn at the Bangkok National Museum

Take a crash course in Thai art and culture by visiting the Bangkok National Museum. It has extensive collections of ancient sculptures, royal regalia, religious relics, and traditional Thai art.

Highlights include a beautiful emerald Buddha statue and a collection of Khon masks.

6. Discover Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets

Thailand is known for its vibrant floating markets, and the floating market at Damnoen Saduak is among the best in the country.

Traditional long-tail boats form narrow waterways where you will find fresh produce, delicious snacks, and unique souvenirs. It is quite touristy but somewhat still has a little bit of a feeling for what Thailand was like a century ago.

The market is about 100 kilometers southwest of Bangkok, so is best organized as a day trip. Take a tour that visits both the floating market and the railway market as a half-day excursion.

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7. Visit Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan

Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan is another of Bangkok's inspiring temples. This one has the largest solid gold Buddha statue in the world, weighing over five tons! The temple was originally built in the 13th century but is still a place of active worship.

If you are interested in Thai temples, visit Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and Wat Traimit together in a short 3-4 hour trip with Viator.

8. Book a Traditional Thai Massage

Everyone has heard of a Thai massage, but why is it so special? It uses a combination of stretching, acupressure, and energy work to align the body's energy pathways.

It is something that you must experience while in Thailand, and there are many excellent massage parlors in Bangkok. Despite popular myths, the massage is performed fully clothed on a floor mat.

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9. Meet the Fish at Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World

Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is one of the most fascinating aquariums in the world, with majestic sharks, playful penguins, and vibrant coral reefs to discover.

It is a mix of underwater tunnels and interactive exhibitions that provide a unique experience in Bangkok's busy shopping district.

10. Eat at Yaowarat Road

Yaowarat Road is the center of Bangkok's Chinatown and bustles with street markets, traditional Chinese temples, and lots of places to eat.

Visit at night when the streets are illuminated by colorful signs and feast on delights such as dim sum and fresh seafood.

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11. Shop the Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak market is one of the world's largest markets, with more than 15,000 stalls selling pretty much anything you can imagine. It can feel like a bit of a treasure hunt to find what you are looking for, whether that be clothing, antiques, plants, or pets.

It is known for having some of the most delicious street food in Bangkok, and that is saying something!

12. Explore the Modern Shopping District

While Thailand is best known for its markets, it also has some amazing and futuristic shopping centers.

Central World is the largest shopping mall in Southeast Asia, while Siam Paragon is known for its high-end boutiques and luxury brands. The MBK Center is more for bargain hunters looking for cheap electronics and fashion.

When you need a break from shopping, the Erawan Hindu Shrine is located in the heart of the shopping district. Make an offering to the four-faced Brahma statue known for granting wishes.

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13. Train to Rod Fai Night Market Ratchada

Jump on the train from central Bangkok to visit the Rod Fai Night Market Ratchada, which is known for hiding vintage and retro treasures.

While you are looking at local antiques and collector's pieces, take advantage of the fantastic array of street food stalls and have a drink while enjoying live music.

14. Train Watch at Maeklong Market

Most of the time, Maeklong looks like any other market street. But look down, and you will see that the stalls are sat on top of an active railway track.

As the train approaches twice a day, vendors quickly retract their goods to allow the train to pass before returning to business as usual. This is not only an amazing photo opportunity but is considered a right of passage in Bangkok.

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15. Discover Jim Thompson House Museum

Jim Thompson House Museum is dedicated to the life of American Jim Thompson, famous for revitalizing the Thai silk industry and famous for his mysterious disappearance.

Enjoy the architecture, fine gardens, and fascinating artifacts while trying to solve the mystery of what happened to this enigmatic figure.

16. Shop At Asiatique Riverfront

The Asiatique Riverfront, situated along the Chao Phraya River, combines the best of Bangkok shopping and entertainment.

Located in a 19th-century dock complex, it offers a distinctive mix of modern shopping and historic charm, and you can find fashion, handicrafts, and diverse riverfront dining spots. Go in the evening to catch the famous Calypso Cabaret show.

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17. Explore Patpong Night Market

Patpong market is the perfect mix of Bangkok nightlife and Thai shopping. This is where you will find many of your electronics and counterfeit goods, plus lots of adult entertainment venues. This is a safe environment for exploring this side of Bangkok life.

18. Have a Drink in a Rooftop Bar

There are lots of great places to have a drink in Bangkok, but you'll be missing out if you don't visit one of the city's rooftop bars. The Sky Bar at Lebua State Tower is located on the 63rd floor and has panoramic city views.

It is always lovely, but especially at sunset. If you are closer to the Sukhumvit Area, try the Octave Rooftop Lounge and Bar.

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19. Get Some Luck at the Amulet Market

If you believe in luck, it is worth visiting Wat Mahathat and exploring the nearby Amulet Market.

Ask local vendors to explain the significance of the different amulets in Thai culture and choose one that feels right to you. This is a place for collectors, spiritual seekers, and the simply curious.

20. Marvel at Wat Saket

Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount, is a serene temple with a hilltop location offering panoramic views.

Climb the spiral staircase to the Golden Chedi for the best views, especially at sunset and in the early evening.

Bangkok best things to do

21. Enjoy the Greenery at Lumphini Park

When Bangkok starts to feel like a concrete jungle, head to Lumphini Park to get back to nature.

Rent a swan-shaped paddleboat and cruise on the artificial lake, walk around and spot monitor lizards and native bird species, or join a local Tai Chi or Thai dance class right in the park.

22. Take in the View at King Power Mahanakhon

The King Power Mahanakhon building is probably Bangkok's most famous skyscraper and has many unique experiences. Start with an interactive exhibit of the history of Bangkok before climbing up to the observation deck on the 78th floor and walking the glass tray Skywalk.

You can then sip cocktails in Thailand's highest bar before descending to one of the building's many quality restaurants.

Get tickets for the Mahanakhon Skywalk with Get Your Guide.

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23. Meet the Elephants at Kanchanaburi

Get out of the city and join a day trip to visit the Erawan Waterfall, Krasae Cave, and Kanchanaburi Elephant Sanctuary with Viator. The waterfall is renowned for its seven emerald-green tiered cascades, each of which forms an inviting pool for swimming in the middle of the lush jungle.

This trip is combined with a visit to an ethical elephant sanctuary. Unlike some other elephant attractions in Thailand, you won't be able to ride an elephant here. The elephants are kept in conditions that allow them to engage in their natural behavior and in their natural environment.

24. Day Trip to the City of Ayutthaya

Another spectacular day trip from Bangkok is to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city served as the capital of the Siamese Kingdom from the 14th to the 18th century and is now an archaeological park with palace and temple ruins.

Trips, such as this one offered by Viator usually also include a river cruise or bike tour.

25 things to do in bangkok

25. Cross the Bridge on the River Kwai

Take a trip to Death Railway and visit the JEATH Museum with Viator. This is a poignant experience that pays homage to the thousands who suffered during the construction of the railroad in World War II.

The trip takes in the railway, the Bridge on the River Kwai, and museums documenting the sobering history.

The 25 Best Things to Do in Bangkok for First Timers – Frequently Asked Questions

⭐ What is the first place to visit in Bangkok?

When you visit Bangkok, the first place to go depends on what interests you, but the Grand Palace is a great place to start as it is in the center of the city and includes both royal memorabilia and Buddhist temples. Alternatively, you might want to walk Khao San Road to get a feel for street life in the city.

If you are looking for unusual things to do, read this guide to exploring Bangkok off the beaten path.

📍 Which area is best to stay in Bangkok for tourists?

There are a few neighborhoods that are great for first-time visitors. Sukhumvit has most of the luxury hotels and shopping malls, plus a vibrant nightlife. Bangkok Old Town is a more historical experience and is within walking distance of most of the major tourist attractions. Pratunam has affordable hotels and Khao San Road is best for backpackers and budget travelers.

❓ How do I spend my first day in Bangkok?

On your first day in Bangkok, tick off some of the must-see sights. Visit the Grand Palace in the morning to avoid crowds, and then make your way to important temples such as Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Stroll or cruise the Chao Phraya River and choose a riverside restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon, visit a shopping center or Chinatown, and then spend the evening soaking up the nightlife around Khao San Road.

If you only have a few days to explore Bangkok, it is worth booking a private tour with two of my favourite tour companies such as Viator or Get Your Guide, which will take you around to the best temples, markets, and must-see tourist attractions on your first day.

📅 How many days is suitable for Bangkok?

Depending on your interests, you need at least 3-5 days to see the best of Bangkok. You need three days to explore the historic sights, temples, and markets in the city and another two days if you want to take day trips to Ayutthaya, the floating markets, or Kanchanaburi.

The 25 Best Things to Do in Bangkok for First Timers – Final Words

Bangkok stands out as one of the most fascinating cities in the world. With a population of more than 10 million, it is a vibrant corner of the world where there is always something exciting going on.

It boasts magnificent palaces, historic temples, amazing food, overflowing markets, and much more, Start planning your trip with these recommendations of the 25 best things to do in Bangkomagnificentk for first-time visitors.

Don't forget to read our guide to 10 things to know about Thailand before you go.

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