Flights to Bangkok

Any Bangkok city guide worth their salt will tell you that the place to start is Ratanakosin, the royal island on the east bank of the Chao Phraya, where the city’s most important and extravagant sights are located.

They include: the Grand Palace and adjoining royal temple, Wat Phra Kaeo; the Wang Na (Palace of the Second King), now the National Museum; Wat Pho, which predates the capital’s founding; Wat Mahathat, the most important centre of Buddhist learning in Southeast Asia; the National Theatre; the National Gallery; and Thammasat and Silpakorn universities.

Banglamphu and the Democracy Monument area

Immediately north of Ratanakosin, Banglamphu’s most notorious attraction is Thanon Khao San, a tiny sliver of a road built over a canal in 1892, whose multiple guesthouses and buzzing, budget-minded nightlife have made it an unmissable way-station for travellers through Southeast Asia.

There is plenty of cultural interest too, in a medley of idiosyncratic temples within a few blocks of nearby landmark Democracy Monument, and in the typical Bangkok neighbourhoods that connect them, many of which still feel charmingly old-fashioned.

Chinatown and Pahurat

When the newly crowned Rama I decided to move his capital across to the east bank of the river in 1782, the Chinese community living on the proposed site of his palace was obliged to relocate downriver, to the Sampeng area.

Two centuries on, Chinatown has grown into the country’s largest Chinese district, a sprawl of narrow alleyways, temples and shophouses packed between Charoen Krung (New Road) and the river.


For fifteen years between the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 and the founding of Bangkok in 1782, the west-bank town of Thonburi stood in as the Thai capital.

Its time in the spotlight was too brief for the building of the fine monuments and temples, but some of its centuries-old canals, which once transported everyone and everything, have endured. It is these and the ways of life that depend on them that constitute Thonburi’s main attractions.

The most popular way to explore these old neighbourhoods is by boat, but joining a bicycle tour of the older neighbourhoods is also very rewarding.


The spacious, leafy area known as Dusit has been a royal district since the reign of Rama V, King Chulalongkorn (1860–1910). The first Thai monarch to visit Europe, Rama V returned with radical plans for the modernisation of his capital, the fruits of which are most visible in Dusit, notably at Vimanmek Palace and Wat Benjamabophit, the so-called “Marble Temple”.

Dusit is also the venue for the spectacular annual Trooping the Colour, when hundreds of Royal Guards demonstrate their allegiance to the king by parading around Royal Plaza. Across from Chitrlada Palace, Dusit Zoo makes a pleasant enough place to take the kids.

Downtown Bangkok

Downtown Bangkok is central to the colossal expanse of Bangkok as a whole, but rather peripheral in a sightseer’s perception of the city. In this modern high-rise area, you’ll find the main shopping centres around Siam Square.

Travel further east, you’ll find yet more shopping malls around the noisy and glittering Erawan Shrine, where Rama I becomes Thanon Ploenchit, an intersection known as Ratchaprasong. It’s possible to stroll in peace above the cracked pavements, noise and fumes of Thanon Rama I, by using the elevated walkway that runs beneath the Skytrain lines.

The city outskirts

A handful of places that make pleasant half-day escapes, principally Chatuchak Weekend Market, the cultural theme-park of Muang Boran, the upstream town of Nonthaburi and the tranquil artificial island of Ko Kred.

Top things to do in Bangkok

A Bangkok city guide boiled down into nine brilliant things to do

    1. The Grand Palace

The country’s most unmissable sight, incorporating its holiest and most dazzling temple, Wat Phra Kaeo. Experience it as part of the Flexi Private Temple Tour.

  1. Wat Pho

    Admire the Reclining Buddha and the lavish architecture, and leave time for a relaxing massage.

  2. The National Museum

    The central repository of the country’s artistic riches.

  3. Thanon Khao San

    Legendary hangout for Southeast Asia backpackers; the place for cheap sleeps, baggy trousers and tall tales.

  4. The canals of Thonburi

    See the Bangkok of yesteryear on a touristy but memorable longtail-boat ride.

  5. Jim Thompson’s House – An elegant Thai design classic, can be discovered on a guided tour including a weaving community visit.
  6. Chatuchak Weekend Market

    Eight thousand open-air stalls selling everything from triangular pillows to secondhand Levis.

  7. 63rd-floor sundowner

    Fine cocktails and jaw-dropping views, especially at sunset, at The Sky Bar and Distil.

  8. Thai boxing – Witness a fight in style with a VIP ticket to Rajadamnern Stadium or try it yourself by taking a class.

Best time to visit Bangkok

The climate of most of Thailand is governed by three seasons: rainy (roughly May–Oct), caused by the southwest monsoon; cool (Nov–Feb); and hot (March–May).

The cool season is the most clement time to visit Bangkok, although temperatures can still reach a broiling 30°C in the middle of the day. Bear in mind, however, that it’s also the busiest season, so forward planning is essential.

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