Thinking of a trip to Thailand? If you’re heading to the capital and want to know some recommended places to visit and where to go in Bangkok, check out this roundup of neighbourhood highlights by the EL team, with additional suggestions from Thailand-based contributor Michael Cullen. Everything in the list is family-friendly, with some extra ideas of things to do in Bangkok to entertain the kids.
Places to visit and things to do in Bangkok – by area
#1 Rattanakosin Island
Also known as Old Bangkok, Rattanakosin is the historical birthplace of Bangkok. It’s here you’ll find many “big hitters” as far as tourist sights go. Access to Rattanakosin and its attractions is easy, via the river at Tha Tian or Rajinee Piers. Alternatively, take the MRT (rapid train system) and alight at the beautiful Sanam Chai station (Exit 1).
The Grand Palace
Built in 1782, the Grand Palace is Bangkok’s most popular attraction. It includes Wat Phra Kaew, where the diminutive and highly revered Emerald Buddha resides. This vast complex has beautifully ornate and architecturally stunning buildings, courtyards and gardens, with many open for your exploration. Formerly the Thai royal family residence, it’s a great place to wander for a few hours – especially in the cooler earlier morning. Within, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles showcases an exquisite collection of classic Thai silk, traditional textiles and fashion. Do follow the strictly enforced dress code to avoid disappointment.
Home to the legendary Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho its own significant compound and adjoins the Grand Palace. Dating back to the same era as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho was the kingdom’s first public university and remains an educational centre for traditional medicine and Thai massage. The temple’s golden reclining figure depicts Lord Buddha ascending into Nirvana after enlightenment. At 15 metres high and 46 metres long, it’s one of Thailand’s most significant statues of its kind.
This highly interactive museum is great for adults and kids alike. It delves into ‘Thainess’ as a permanent exhibition, plus other rotating displays. Entry for kids under 15 is half-price. The museum is a five-minute walk from Wat Pho, and the Sanam Chai MRT station is within its grounds.
Pak Khlong Talat (Flower Market)
Just 500 metres from Museum Siam is Bangkok’s central flower market. A riot of colour, sights, scents and sounds, this 24-hour market is a great place to visit in Bangkok – in particular, come early in the morning and watch the city’s floral merchants, hotels and restaurants gathering fresh blossoms. Explore the labyrinth of alleyways and lanes in the market buildings behind the street stalls. This is an excellent stop before the Grand Palace. Grab a coffee or breakfast at the cafés along Maharat Road leading to the Palace.
Thonburi, on the sprawling west bank of the Chao Phraya River, is easily accessed by ferry or tourist boats. The atmosphere is like stepping back in time. Lined by canals, its rustic sights and tucked-away wats and museums can be explored by longtail boat, chartered from any pier or booked through your hotel tour desk. Historic and multicultural, the Thonburi neighbourhood of Kudi Chin, centred around the Portuguese-influenced Santa Cruz Church, is well worth exploring. Walking and cycling tours are best as you snack your way around.
Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Dawn, with its towering pagoda and rows of gilded Buddhas, is another stunning must-visit on the Thonburi side. For an Insta-worthy shot of Wat Arun, pop into one of the rooftop bars or cafés over the river at Rattanakosin at sunset to capture the grandeur of this pyramid-shaped temple.
#3 Chao Praya
Chao Phraya, or the River of Kings, dissects Bangkok and provides access to many of the city’s highlights. This broad, fast-flowing waterway teems with activity night and day and is an attraction in itself. Tugs, shunt barges and longtail boats convey visitors and locals while the ferries and tourist boats constantly move people. The Chao Phraya Hop-On-Hop-Off Tourist Boats stop at 11 major piers along the river, some connecting to the MRT and BTS Skytrain systems. They’re great fun for all the family, with the all-day unlimited pass at 150 THB per person (around S$5.50) providing excellent value.
Bangkok’s Chinatown centres around the busy Yaowarat Road and is the place for exploring the bustling markets, numerous gold shops, a plethora of dim sum and other eateries. The laneways and market stalls of Sampheng between Ratchawong Road and Ong Ang Canal will satisfy many bargain hunters. Chinatown extends from Ong Ang Canal bordering Rattanakosin for nearly 2km to Wat Traimit (home to the Golden Buddha) near Bangkok’s grand old central train station, Huay Lomphong. You can access Chinatown from the MRT station Wat Mangkon or from Ratchawong Pier on the river.
Yaowarat Road by Night
You’ll eat well here! Yaowarat Road is stacked with eateries all day, with food stalls constantly pumping out mouthwatering dishes. Evenings are especially atmospheric, with red lantern-lined footpaths bustling with hungry families. Don’t miss the grilled seafood, a bowl of khao kha moo (braised pork rice) or rolled noodle soup. Or munch on some delectable fried crispy pork!
Ong Ang Canal Walking Street
Khlong Ong Ang, an urban renewal project, has reinvigorated this waterway and its neighbourhoods. This neighbourhood comes to life on weekend evenings, particularly the 600 metres of canal between Damrong Sathit and Bophitphimuk bridges. Large wall murals celebrate the area’s history while people snack their way along both sides of the canal, browsing in market stalls and enjoying free live entertainment.
#5 Central Bangkok shopping and entertainment
Cosmopolitan Phatum Wan in central Bangkok is also known as Siam due to the mega malls and other businesses that have taken that name as part of their identity. Within a few short BTS Skytrain stops you’ll find more shopping malls and entertainment options to captivate people of all ages for days.
A short walk from BTS National Stadium station, this renowned location operates as a museum, arts centre and restaurant. It’s the former home of American businessman Jim Thompson, known for helping revive the Thai silk industry after WWII. You’ll find it a lovely garden-filled place to visit and shop.
Things to do with kids
There are quite a few options! Among the best are Madame Tussauds at the Siam Discovery Mall, ice skating on the second floor of CentralWorld Shopping Mall, and SEA LIFE Bangkok Ocean World on the lower floors of Siam Paragon Mall. The nearby Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC), with contemporary art from Thai and international artists, is suitable for all the family. And when people need to be fed, the food courts within each shopping centre provide economical and tasty options, even for the fussiest of eaters.
Other places to visit in Bangkok
The city’s green zones
Lumphini Park and Benchakitti Forest Park are just a few MRT or BTS stops from Siam. They provide the perfect green space escape from Bangkok’s chaos. Lumphini’s pathways wind through almost 60 hectares of ponds, trees and lawns, and playgrounds, while the walking/running paths are great for those needing to stretch out.
Benchakitti Forest Park was previously home to a tobacco manufacturing facility. Now, it offers 41 hectares with 5.8 km of low and raised walkways meandering through wetlands, grasslands and mature forested sections. In addition to the abundant walkways, Benchakitti has an impressive jogging track and separate cycling track. Both parks open from early morning and on into the evening.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Love a market? You’ll adore Chatuchak Weekend Market. With some 15,000 undercover stalls spread across 35 acres and divided into 26 sections, it’s understandable why Chatuchak is often hailed as the World’s Largest Weekend Market. Offerings include art, antiques, fashion, souvenirs, accessories and much more. There’s also some excellent street food. A few market sections open on weekdays, but the weekends provide full access. It’s located north of the city; take the Skytrain to BTS Mo Chit or the MRT to Kamphaeng Phet station.
Where to eat in Bangkok
Bangkok is a foodie’s delight, from its beloved street fare to world-renowned Michelin-starred restaurants. We’ve already laid out a few suggestions throughout this article. In central Bangkok, a short walk from BTS National Stadium station is Banthat Thong Road. Thanks to a significant redevelopment at neighbouring Chulalongkorn University, this area has become a foodies’ delight. Now, from late afternoon on, you can find hundreds of food vendors in shophouses, simple eateries, noodle shops, and side lanes offering everything from Thai-style hotpots, fried chicken, Chinese rice porridge, Korean barbecue and more. This is one of the new places to visit in Bangkok that is a street food haven.
Where to stay in Bangkok
Somerset Rama 9 Bangkok is a hotel and serviced apartment property that warmly welcomes families. Situated just north of central Bangkok and serviced by the MRT Blue metro line, it’s within easy reach of many of Bangkok’s attractions. Chatachuk is to the north, and Lumphini and Benchakitti parks to the south, while the BTS interchange takes you to Siam and the central areas. From studios to three-bedroom units, the rooms feature fully equipped kitchens, separate living and dining areas and plenty of mod cons. There’s a swimming pool, Splash Bar, Residents’ Lounge, steam and sauna rooms, children’s playroom, well-equipped gymnasium and a Sky Garden. Fortune Town and Central Rama 9 shopping malls are a short walk away.
InterContinental Bangkok is in the Siam district and immediately across from CentralWorld Shopping Mall. Stay here when you want a little luxury in the middle of the entertainment and shopping precinct! The five-star hotel recently reopened in 2023 following a two-year complete refurbishment. It boasts all the facilities a family would need, including the Level 37 rooftop swimming pool. And when the mood turns to food, SoCal on street level is a favourite, with lip-smacking Southern Californian comfort food and great tacos.
Enjoyed this list of places to visit in Bangkok? For more holiday ideas, read our piece on short breaks close to Singapore here.
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