Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, is a buzzing exotic waterfront city with an eclectic mix of temples, theme parks, floating markets, incredible street food and a legendary entertainment scene. Here are seven attractions I would recommend when spending time in the city. With so much to see and do it’s also worth checking out a guide to Bangkok before you plan your trip.
- Pilgrimage destination
Located in the Old City of Bangkok, on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the imposing Grand Palace was a former residence of Thailand’s royal family. Among its many treasures is the iconic Temple of the Emerald Buddha, guarded by two imposing ’demons’, a gift from Chinese merchants. As an important pilgrimage destination for Buddhists it is Thailand’s most sacred site.
- Atmospheric Chinatown
With the entrance clearly marked by a massive ceremonial Chinese gate, Chinatown is one of Bangkok’s most atmospheric districts. Yaowarat Road, the main thoroughfare, is lined with shops selling gold. Stalls in the adjacent maze of narrow streets are also crammed with every imaginable item. As you might expect, Chinatown is a foodie paradise, packed with street food vendors and small restaurants. Look out for Wat Traimit – the home of the world’s largest solid gold Buddha.
- Watch out for the lizard
Lumphini Park – named after the Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal – is an oasis of peace, a welcome expanse of greenery with a network of paths to wander. Essentially, it’s a great way to escape the chaos and noise of the city. There’s a large artificial lake, paddleboats for hire and playgrounds for the children. It’s also a venue for concerts and other events. Just be aware that you may well come across one of Bangkok’s ubiquitous monitor lizards, also out to see the sights and take in the fresh air.
- Talk of the town
Jim Thompson was an American expat who moved to Bangkok and started a textile company, the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. For his contribution to the Thai silk industry he was awarded the Order of the White Elephant. By this time, immersed in local culture he built his remarkable Thai-style home using traditional materials. It became the talk of the town. Now a museum, it is one of Bangkok’s most popular visitor attractions.
- Family fun
Siam Park City is the oldest and best-loved amusement and water park in Southeast Asia. It’s the ultimate in family fun. With five separate zones, its 120 acres is crammed with rides, roller coasters wave pools and whirlpools which promise many hours of family fun. You’ll also find some shops and restaurants, and you can even hire a golf cart to get around. It’s a taxi journey from the centre of Bangkok, or if you fancy a tour with an English-speaking guide you can be picked up at your hotel.
- It’s almost endless
Chatuchak is the world’s largest weekend market with a staggering 15,000 stalls spread over 35 acres. Not only is it a favourite destination for visitors, it’s popular with locals too, so expect it to be very busy. The list of items on sale is almost endless but includes clothing, antiques, handicrafts and ceramics. It’s definitely the place to buy unique souvenirs. Thankfully there are a number of cafés and restaurants where you can relax and refuel before heading back out again.
- Hedonistic hotspot
Khao San Road is one of Bangkok’s most colourful and cacophonous streets, beloved by backpackers who flock to the area in search of a good time. It’s the place to be if you’re after fun bars, restaurants and night clubs but it’s definitely not for the feint hearted. Expedia’s guide to Bangkok has more information about this hedonistic hotspot.