Bangkok is one of those places where a lot of backpackers start their backpack journey around Southeast Asia. So did I. The first time that I arrived in this massive city, I was literally in shock. The Thai capital brings an impressive mix of bright colors and unrecognizable smells, and the busy traffic and chaotic structure reminded me every second that I really moved to the other side of the world to travel. However, nowadays I can really appreciate the character of Bangkok, but it will always be a fascinating place for me. There are just so many fun things to do in Bangkok, combining Thai tradition with the modern side of the city.
This Bangkok itinerary shows you my personal top 10 list of fun things to do in Bangkok. I am not going to tell you how to fill in your day exactly as your Bangkok itinerary really depends on where you stay in the city and when you arrive. Allow yourself two of three days to do all these activities and to give yourself some time off in between as well. Enjoy!
- 1 Where to stay in Bangkok
- 2 Bangkok Itinerary: A top 10 list of fun things to do in Bangkok
- 2.0.1 1. Go for a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River
- 2.0.2 2. Experience culture and history at Wat Arun
- 2.0.3 3. Grab a beer at Khao San Road
- 2.0.4 4. Explore Bangkok on a bicycle
- 2.0.5 5. Climbing the one and only ‘Ghost Tower’ Sathorn Unique
- 2.0.6 6. Explore abandoned airplanes in the Airplane Graveyard
- 2.0.7 7. Relax and watch monitoring lizards at the Lumpini Park
- 2.0.8 8. Have a drink on one of the many rooftop bars
- 2.0.9 9. Eating Thai food on a floating market
- 2.0.10 10. Driving around Bangkok in a tuk tuk
Where to stay in Bangkok
Before you go to Bangkok, it’s good to know the area where you will stay. Bangkok is a massive city and well, in my opinion, public transport isn’t always that great. Especially when you compare it with other big cities in Southeast Asia, like Kuala Lumpur. However, we are not there. We are talking about Bangkok here. So, where to stay in Bangkok?
I always prefer to stay around the area that’s called Banglamphu. You can find this area roughly between the Chao Phraya river and Khao San Road. There are so many fun things to do around there and there are a lot of nice cafes and restaurants and tons of hotels. During our last stay in Bangkok, we stayed for a couple of nights at Villa Siam & Spa. I loved this place as it is situated in a small alley not far from busy Khao San Road. But it was so quiet there. I didn’t hear any traffic noise or whatsoever. The rooms are really basic but clean. If you want to stay even a bit closer to everything that’s happening, I can recommend you to stay at Lamphuhouse at Rambuttri Road, a nice road with a lot of bars and restaurants.
Bangkok Itinerary: A top 10 list of fun things to do in Bangkok
A Bangkok Itinerary for 2 or 3 days
1. Go for a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River
Bangkok is a city filled with small canals and rivers. But the main Chao Phraya river is one you simply cannot miss. Life in Bangkok wouldn’t be the same without this mighty river. Every day around 50.000 people will use the water taxis on this big river. They are really cheap and convenient and can take you to some great places in a blink of an eye. Places as Wat Arun and Wat Po are so easy to reach by boat. Just make sure you know the difference between a public boat and a private boat. The latter is much more expensive. You pay for the public boat on the boat itself.
2. Experience culture and history at Wat Arun
Wat Arun is one of the most impressive temples around Bangkok if you want to get to know a bit more about history and culture of the city. The Temple of Dawn (doesn’t that sound like some futuristic Bangkok movie!?) is a Buddhistic temple complex. It exists of one big 79 meters high pagoda surrounded by four smaller ones. It’s a great example of Khmer architecture and they maintain the building so well. If you go to the historical park of Ayutthaya for example, you will find a lot of temples with the same architecture. But most of them are dilapidated. Wat Arun is covered in little pieces of colorful porcelain and it just looks amazing.
3. Grab a beer at Khao San Road
You can’t go to Bangkok without a short visit to Khao San Road. Yes, it might drive you crazy and just five minutes might be enough for you. But still. During the day it’s not even that crowded yet actually. There are just a few street vendors around trying to sell you tailored suits and souvenirs. But the evening on the other hand, that’s when it gets busy. Suddenly you will find a night market on the street, where they try to sell you cheap pad thai, barbecue and scorpions on a stick on one side and pants with elephant decoration and ‘Chang’ shirts on the other. Yes, life gets crazy, busy and active during the evening on Khao San Road. But you can drink a cheap beer or (disgusting) cocktail on the street. And don’t let the loud music scare you away straight away. Just indulgence the moment.
4. Explore Bangkok on a bicycle
Yes, this is a very Dutch way of traveling and I am sorry for that. But still. Taking part in a bicycle tour is really a fun thing to do in Bangkok and a great way to explore the city. Unless you don’t know how to ride it. Anyway, there are multiply tour operators organizing bicycle tours, but one of the most popular ones is Co van Kessel. Co van Kessel, one of the co-founders, sadly passed away, but he started to bike around Bangkok for more than thirty years ago. After spending more than thousands of hours on his bicycle, he was able to put different routes together. Nowadays, you have different options to choose from, biking in and around Bangkok for 3 till 9 hours. One thing is for sure: you will explore a whole different side of the city.
5. Climbing the one and only ‘Ghost Tower’ Sathorn Unique
Ok, first things first. I did not give you this tip. Deal? So, the ‘Ghost Tower’ of Bangkok is one of those fun things to do in Bangkok but has also a really weird side. Officially you are not even really allowed to visit this tower, although the rules are a bit vague. The Sathorn Unique Tower is an unfinished skyscraper. They stopped the building process suddenly in 1997, after an economical depression, together with a lot of other building processes for all different buildings. After a few years, they continued to finish most of them, but Sathorn Unique Tower sadly remained an abandoned building. The result is a massive but empty building and o boy, the Thai do know a lot of ghost stories about it.
During my first stay in Bangkok, the tower was still open for visitors. The atmosphere feels a bit weird and it was kind of a workout to reach the 49thfloor. Since May 2015 they closed the doors to visitors, and I was about to remove this tip from this list. But then I found out that some guards actually still give you the opportunity to take a look. Of course, for quite a high entrance fee. It’s a matter of luck and chances are not that high that you will get entrance to this Ghost Tower. Next to that, safety is not their main concern so watch your step!
6. Explore abandoned airplanes in the Airplane Graveyard
Basically, this is the same category as the Ghost Tower and also a really fun thing to do in Bangkok: the Airplane Graveyard. It’s an activity in Bangkok that’s not really well-known (yet). Therefore, you won’t find many tourists around this place. You have to take a little boat ride for about an hour to get to this place (or take a taxi). After that, you will find a big open space with around seven abandoned (parts) of airplanes, even a Boeing 747. The airplanes are empty, but still really interesting to see. You might find some airplane parts around and you can climb and walk around as well. There are some Thai families living on this property. They are not the owners, but they will charge you around 200 baht entrance fee.
7. Relax and watch monitoring lizards at the Lumpini Park
Time to take a break! In my opinion a city is nothing without a great place to relax. Lumpini Park in Bangkok is the perfect place for that. It’s a spacious green area in the middle of the busy city, with a few ponds and enough places to unwind. But do pay a little attention, as you can find monitoring lizards in this park as well.
8. Have a drink on one of the many rooftop bars
If you search on Google on ‘rooftop bar Bangkok’, you will get a lot of suggestions. Not surprising, if you count all the skyscrapers around the city. And yes, the view from most of these rooftops bars is amazing, especially around sunset. Just make sure to go to one that suits your personality. And backpack. Most of these rooftop bars do have a dress code. I don’t know about you, but I am not carrying any fancy clothes around in my backpack. A great one (but not a cheap one with an entrance fee of around 1000 baht) is King Power Mahanakhon, with a glass skywalk you can walk on and look through…
9. Eating Thai food on a floating market
Floating markets are inseparable from Bangkok and there are a few around the city. But, some of them are super touristy. They might be fun, but you won’t really experience the authentic Thai atmosphere around them. An example of these is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. But if you are willing to take a bit more effort in visiting a floating market, I can recommend you Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. Less crowded, more authentic. Just keep in mind that a lot of these floating markets are only open during the weekends. Does that not fit your Bangkok itinerary? Make sure you visit at least a night market then. I can recommend you the Ratchada Train Night Market.
10. Driving around Bangkok in a tuk tuk
They are far from comfortable, and they can drive like crazy around the city. So be prepared to get sweaty. Not because of the heat, but because of fear. But anyway, a tuk tuk ride is so much worth it and one of the fun things to do in Bangkok. Just make sure you don’t go with a tuk tuk driver that barely charge you anything. You will think: wow, that’s cheap! But you will end up in a lot of stores where they just try to sell you a lot of crap. And it will take you hours to reach your destination. That’s a pain in the ass I can tell you from experience…
How does your Bangkok itinerary look like now? Are you planning on some fun things to do in Bangkok?