Day trips & tours from Bangkok
Things to do in Bangkok on your holiday
It is no surprise that travellers return to Bangkok again and again; there is just so much to see and do here and it easily ticks all of the boxes for a satisfying city break. With some of the most beautiful temples in the country, well presented museum collections, bustling markets and ultra modern malls and sky bars - there is something for everyone. Although Bangkok proper is sure to occupy all of your time, you don't have to venture far out of the capital to find other noteworthy places of interest such as the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya.
Here you will find a selection of the most popular, interesting and inspiring sights that you can experience while based in the city;
|The Grand Palace|
Once the official residence of the king, the Grand Palace is the most visited attraction in Thailand, and remains the venue for important and ceremonial events.
King Rama I's ascension to the throne in 1782 was the catalyst for the palace to be built and the complex includes grand royal reception halls, administrative buildings, and the venerated Wat Phra Kaew - home of the Emerald Buddha.
The complex covers an area of 218,000 square metres and is located at the heart of Bangkok's historic centre.
The Grand Palace opens daily between 08:30 - 15:30 and has an entrance fee of 500 baht for foreigners.
|Wat Pho (Wat Phra Chetuphon)|
Home of the giant Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho lies just south of the Grand Palace and is one of the oldest temples in Thailand, believed to have been built around the late 1600s. The Reclining Buddha - its position representing Buddha's journey into Nirvana - measures 46m long and 15m tall, making it one of the largest Buddha statues in all of Thailand.
The Wat Pho complex has always been a site of education; once known for the study of literature, science and religion, but now it specialises in natural medicine and massage. After touring the temple complex, it is highly recommended to try out one of the therapeutic massages which are said to improve circulation and relieve stress. It may be worth booking in advance as these services are in demand!
The China Town Gate marks the start of this district; one of the oldest in Bangkok and is today a lively commercial hub and food district.
The bustling Yaowarat Road is undoubtedly best seen at night when the colourful neon signs come alive and the narrow shopping street of Sampeng Lane cuts through the district and is a fun, vibrant sojourn into all things 'Made in China'.
This district is also home to Wat Traimit which houses the largest solid gold statue of the seated Buddha in the world. Standing at around 3 metres tall and weighing an incredible 5.5 tonnes, it is a truly impressive sight.
To finish off a visit to China Town, see it all from above with a cold drink in hand at Sky View 360, part of the Grand China Hotel and marvel at the neon playground below.
|Damnoen Saduak Floating Market|
There are many floating markets to be found in and around Bangkok but tourist friendly Damnoen Saduak is by far the most well known and popular. It was also one of the filming locations for the classic James Bond film, ' The Man with the Golden Gun' so will be familiar to many.
Located approximately an hour's drive south west of the city centre, it is often best to book an excursion with your hotel or local tour operator to avoid the touts. Bring a hat, sunscreen, and your camera to get some great shots of the theatre of life on the waterways.
If you're looking for something quieter and a little more authentic then try nearby Tha Kha floating market with its lush surroundings. This is a locals market so you will be able to see what real life is like for these river dwellers.
Wat Arun - known as the Temple of Dawn - sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and stands majestically tall at 70 metres. By day it is an impressive sight but at night it is lit up in spectacular fashion.
The temple, often thought to be the most beautiful in Thailand, is an unusual design compared to others in country owing to its patterned spire intricately decorated in milky white Chinese porcelain and small pieces of shimmering coloured glass.
The complex, with its well maintained landscaped garden with curious topiary trees surrounding the temple, is a feast for the eyes, and it's possible to get an even better view by climbing the dizzying steep steps about halfway up the main structure.
When the sun goes down, the day is only just beginning in the backpacker's district of Khaosan Road. The place has a true festival vibe with street performers, hawkers and food stands lining the roads and travellers converge from all over the world to swap travel tips and stories, and experience the hedonistic nightlife of the bars and clubs.
If you want sizzling insects and scorpion snacks on a stick, drinks by the bucket, and an all night party then Khaosan Road is your place.
Merry-making aside, this is also a great place to pick up local handicrafts at good prices, as well as artwork and clothing.
| Maeklong Railway Market
Stalls selling household goods, fresh fish, exotic fruits and myriad vegetables line both sides of this shopping street which is not an uncommon sight in a Thai local market, however, this particular one has a trainline cutting right the way through it!
No less than 8 trains pass through here every day and tourists come to watch as shades, canopies and goods are skillfully drawn in and rolled back every time a locomotive rolls through, skimming the fruit and vegetables as it goes. No sooner has it passed and the stalls are unfurled with precision by the unphased traders, and life goes on.
The National Museum is one of the largest in South East Asia and has recently undergone a decade long rennovation.
The vast airconditioned complex explores life in the country since neolithic times, through the Dvaravati, Srivijaya, Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods to the present day. Collections include royal artefacts, bronzes, murals, buddhist antiquities, and costumes, jewellery, weapons and musical instruments.
The museum is very close to the Grand Palace in the historic core so it makes good sense to plan a visit to both on the same day.
|Wat Phra Kaew|
The impressive Wat Phra Kaew with its towering gold chedis is the most important buddhist temple in Thailand and is home to the the Emerald Buddha; a revered monumet intricately carved out of a single block of jade which has been in situ since 1784 CE.
The insides of the temple are decorated with intricately painted porcelain and the surrounding outer corriders feature murals depicting the Ramakien story.
Wat Phra Kaew is part of the Grand Palace complex so both can be explored in the same visit.
|Jim Thompson House Museum|
Jim Thompson was an American businessman with an eye for fine south east Asian art and furniture and the museum houses his stunning collection, as well as telling the story of how he revived the Thai silk industry in the 1950s.
The traditional style wooden house itself was constructed from 6 separate dwellings from the countryside that Thompson had deconstructed, transported south on the river and then reassembled. The finished product was a beautiful building to house his treasures that is still enjoyed today by its many visitors. Along with the museum and art collection, there is also a beautiful garden, ornamental pond, restaurant and shop within the grounds making it a very nice and relaxed space to spend an afternoon.
Lumpini Park is a rarity in that it is one of very few green spaces in the capital and located right in the centre, it forms the lungs of the city. Locals and tourists alike come to enjoy the parkland and the man-made lake where it is possible to hire small boats.
Jogging, cycling, skateboarding and rollerskating are all popular activities, as well as exercise classes. There are also playgrounds for children to enjoy.
Monitor lizards make their home here in this green oasis and are a great sight to see but it's best not to get too close!
|Pak Khlong Flower Market|
Although this is a wholesale market, the colour and beauty of the flowers has begun to attract tourists who come to view the exotic array of blooms and get some Insta-worthy photos. Most flowers are being prepared for ceremonial arrangements and garlands but city florists come here as well to stock up for their wreaths and bouquets.
This is a working market and chaotic with buyers on foot and on mopeds weaving through the alleyways so be mindful when taking photos.
|Bridge over the River Kwai|
Just a 2 hour drive west of the city centre takes you to Kanchanaburi, the site made infamous for the construction of the bridge over the River Kwai and the Burma Railway by Allied POWs and civilians under Japanese order in World War II. The line became known as the 'Death Railway' owing to the lives of 12,000 POWs and around 90,000 south east Asian civilians lost in the forced labour camp.
The bridge that stands today has undergone many repairs and has seen sections replaced but most components are original and it is now possible to ride a train on the line, although the railway no longer traverses into Myanmar (modern day Burma)
A day trip here encompasses war cemeteries, 2 museums and a memorial. The journey there and back provides a snapshot of the Thai countryside and village life which is a nice contrast to bustling Bangkok.
|Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage Site|
A journey of approximately 1 and a half hours north of Bangkok will take you to the vast UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya, the ruins of what was once the capital of the Siamese Kingdom.
The site, surrounded by lush green trees, is large and sits on an island between three rivers and comprises temples (old and new), Buddhist monasteries, and impressive statues. One of the best ways of getting around the site is to rent a bicycle and many tour companies include this.
A day trip here can be combined with a visit to the Ayothaya floating market.