Brimming with ancient history and culture, outdoor markets and bazaars, temples and more, Bangkok is one city break that you’ll definitely want to factor into your travel plans time and time again. But if you’re unsure where to start, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite things to do in the City of Angels.
1. Visit the Flower Market
A regular in the guidebooks, the Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) has an obvious appeal – endless rows of bright, colourful, and exotic flowers as far as the eye can see. But a little-known fact about the market is that it’s also home to an incredible array of other fresh produce, so while you’re not likely to bring a bouquet home with you, a sweet treat isn’t likely to go amiss.
Localiiz Tip: The market is open 24-hours a day, but if you’re looking to get in the thick of the action, head over in the early hours of the morning when wholesalers do their trade.
Pak Khlong Talat, 116 Chakkraphet Rd, Khwaeng Wang Burapha Phirom, Khet Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
2. To Market, To Market
A firm fixture on the tourist and local circuit, Chatuchak Market is a sprawling outdoor bazaar that sells everything from trinkets and clothing to home furnishings, pots and plants, and a treasure trove of authentic local dishes to try. The market is open from 9am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as for limited hours on Friday evenings (though this is primarily the territory of food and drink vendors, as other sellers tend to shut shop until the weekend).
Localiiz Tip: Download a map of the market beforehand, and plan your itinerary to avoid unnecessarily traipsing from end to end in the blistering heat.
Chatuchak Weekend Market, Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Bangkok
3. Feed the Fish
Cliché though it may seem, a riverside tour of Bangkok’s canals is a great way to spend an afternoon. Most riverside temples have a fish feeding station and sell food pellets and bread for visitors. The act of offering is returned with a prayer by the local monks inhabiting the temple. The catfish have grown accustomed to these mid-afternoon snacks, and are known to grow to enormous sizes – we wouldn’t lean too far out of the longtail to throw in a slice!
Localiiz Tip: Arrange your boat trip through a tour operator at one of the ferry piers, rather than a street-side vendor, who is likely to charge you double or even triple the standard fee.
4. Sip on the Ultimate Sundowner
After a long day of sightseeing, temple hopping, and retail therapy, you’ll have earned a drink. No matter your poison, Viva Aviv The River is likely to pour it. The riverside bar and eatery boasts a spacious terrace, great sunset views, and an ambient atmosphere that makes for the perfect spot to while away an evening. Situated on the edge of the River City shopping complex, it’s a great place to escape the hoards without leaving the city.
Localiiz Tip: River City is accessible from the public pier. It’s also next door to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, which operates its own boats across the Chaophraya River.
Viva & Aviv The River, River City Unit 118, 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng, Yota Road, Talad Noi, Sampantawong, Bangkok
5. Visit the Jim Thompson House Museum
For art and design enthusiasts, there are few better places to visit in Bangkok than this former silk merchant. The Jim Thompson Museum houses Thompson’s private art and antique collection, amassed over his years in Thailand before he mysteriously went missing in Malaysia in 1967. Guided tours offer a great insight into the history of Thai architecture, which is well worth a look.
Localiiz Tip: You’ll be given a ticket with your scheduled entrance time, so arrive early.
The Jim Thompson House Museum, 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok
6. A Night Out on Khao San Road
Late night revellers, rejoice, because Bangkok boasts bars aplenty. For a Hangover 2.0-esque experience, there are few better options than Khao San Road. The 400-metre stretch of street boasts countless hostels, bars, and restaurants. Popularised in the 1996 novel The Beach (and the Leo DiCaprio film that followed), the area has since become a firm fixture on the tourist circuit. Look out for those fishbowl cocktails, too!
Localiiz Tip: Rambuttri and Phra Athit Road are smaller, quieter adjacent roads dotted with bars and restaurants. If you’re not quite ready to face Khao San head on, these are great places to start.
7. Head to Beacon Place
This new food and drinks complex is neatly housed in a series of old shipping containers, situated in the up-and-coming district of On Nut. Among other bars and restaurants, Cheap Charlie’s is the clear frontrunner in the attractions – the famed dive bar moved from its original Soi 11 location last year to make way for redevelopment in the area.
Localiiz Tip: Cheap Charlie’s is a stone’s throw away from craft brew bar, Dog Step, if you’re looking to make a night of it.
Beacon Place, 12 Soi Sukhumvit 50, Khwaeng Phra Khanong, Khet Khlong Toei, Bangkok
8. Take a Cooking Class at Blue Elephant
This is one for the foodies. The famed Blue Elephant runs cooking classes from the second floor of its restaurant, teaching students to master the art of Thai cuisine. Half day tours (available both morning and afternoon) begin with a classroom introduction, followed by a market tour where fresh ingredients and produce are sourced. Students then cook between four and five authentic local dishes before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of their labour in the restaurant below.
Localiiz Tip: Hot though it may be in Bangkok, the Blue Elephant does have a dress code, so leave your shorts in your hotel room.
Blue Elephant, 233 S Sathorn Rd, Khwaeng Yan Nawa, Bangkok
9. Unwind at an Urban Sanctuary
Conveniently housed among Bangkok’s busy shopping centres, the Thann Sanctuary Spas (of which there are three), offer some much-needed respite for tired travellers after a day of retail therapy. While the spas have branches in international locations – including one in Kowloon – there’s nothing quite like treating yourself to a traditional Thai massage in the heartland.
Localiiz Tip: Book online to guarantee a convenient time slot and location.
10. Leave the Fighting to the Pros
Love it or hate it, Muay Thai is the national sport. If you’re looking to take in an authentic experience, head to the studios of Channel 7, which hosts live tapings of Muay Thai matches every Sunday at 2pm (with an additional match every third Wednesday of the month, at noon). Entrance is free for standing tickets, and ringside VIP seats are priced at 300 Baht.
Localiiz Tip: The audience can be lively at the best of times, so this is an activity best done without the kids in tow. There is a limited capacity in the studio, too, so we’d advise arriving early to avoid disappointment.
Studio 7, 998/1 Phahon Yothin Road, Soi 18/1, Jomphol Jaktujak, Bangkok