Looking for the best places to visit in Bangkok on your first trip to this vibrant city? Well, you’re in luck! As someone who has called Bangkok home for many years, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring its hidden gems and immersing myself in its rich culture.
From navigating the bustling markets to exploring its many temples, I’ve curated a list of the absolute must-visit locations based on my personal experiences.
Planning your visit to Bangkok? Check out my in-depth article on the best months to visit the city.
1. The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is a large royal housing complex showcasing the history of Thai architecture and history which was once the residence of Thai Kings and Queens.
One of The Grand Palace’s most popular tourist attractions is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, with its impressive golden spires.
If you’re visiting for the first time, the Grand Palace offers a glimpse into Thailand’s rich cultural heritage, royal traditions, and religious roots.
A great way to learn more about The Grand Palace is by participating in a guided tour led by an expert. They will assist you in navigating the complex and offer valuable insider information. You can conveniently book these guided tours on Klook.
To beat the crowds and avoid the afternoon sun, try to get to the temple in the early morning.
2. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho is next to The Grand Palace, one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples, home to the famous reclining golden Buddha statue.
The impressive 46-meter-long reclining Buddha statue situated within the temple offers a glimpse into the traditions of Buddhism.
Wat Pho is renowned for its traditional Thai massage school. If it’s your first trip to Bangkok, then why not indulge in a rejuvenating massage from experts while learning about the art of Thai healing and relaxation?
Don’t forget to wear appropriate attire that covers your shoulders and knees as a sign of respect when visiting the temple.
3. The Golden Mount (Wat Saket)
Another popular temple for first-timers to Bangkok is The Golden Mount, which is atop an artificial hill.
If you climb the stairs to the top you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree panoramic views of the city while being immersed in the calm Buddhist temple atmosphere.
The lust tropical temple grounds surrounding the Golden Mount offer a peaceful escape from the bustling city, a great spot to rest after exploring the city, but don’t forget a drink!
Climb the Golden Mount in the late afternoon to witness a stunning sunset over the city skyline.
4. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun, situated along the Chao Phraya River, is a stunning temple known for its unique architectural style and porcelain-decorated exterior.
The temple’s distinctive prang (tower) covered with colorful ceramics, allows you to admire Thai architecture’s craftsmanship and artistic perfection.
If it’s your first time in Bangkok, then Wat Arun is the perfect temple because of its prime riverbank location, where you can enjoy the picturesque setting along Chao Phraya River.
Visit Wat Arun during sunset to witness the temple’s stunning illumination against the backdrop of the setting sun.
5. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the biggest outdoor weekend markets in the world, offering various products, from trendy clothing and accessories to unique handicrafts and delicious street food.
First-timers to Bangkok can visit the market, immerse themselves in the bustling atmosphere, and hunt for unique souvenirs or cheap wholesale clothing.
Chatuchak is also a great place to sample local street food, from delicious snacks to popular Thai cuisine.
The market can get very hot during the day, so wear sunscreen and bring a hat.
6. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is an iconic market located on the canals outside Bangkok.
Vendors sell their goods from traditional wooden boats, so a unique market experience where you can buy from the vendors or sit back a sip coffee by the canal.
As a first-time visitor to Bangkok, the floating market is an excellent place to grab a bite and take some memorable pictures.
The vibrant colors, lively scenes, and picturesque canals make Damnoen Saduak Floating Market a photographer’s dream, allowing tourists to capture memorable moments.
Arrive at the floating market early in the morning and avoid the crowds that arrive later in the day.
Opening times: 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Location: Damnoen Saduak (map)
How to get there: The market is located approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes away from the city center. You can choose to travel there using a tour shuttle, a public bus, or a private taxi.
7. Jodd Fairs night market
Jodd Fairs is one of Bangkok’s most popular night markets, offering a fusion of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
It features an array of stalls selling trendy clothes, accessories, vintage items, and delicious street food.
As a first-timer to Bangkok then, the market is a great nighttime activity where you can find unique Thai crafts or sample the local food.
Bargain and negotiate prices with the vendors to get the best deals.
CentralWorld is one of Bangkok’s largest shopping complexes situated in the heart of the city, with easy access to public transport.
The mall is a shopper’s paradise with shops catering to various budgets and preferences with international and local brands.
Apart from shopping, CentralWorld provides entertainment options, such as catching a movie, indulging in diverse cuisines, or trying indoor ice skating.
CentralWorld is one of the busiest malls in Bangkok, so if you don’t like crowds, avoid weekends and peak hours.
9. Khao San Road
Khao San Road is a well-known backpacker zone in the old town area of Bangkok made famous in Hollywood movies such as The Hangover Part 2.
If you want to experience an exciting and lively nightlife scene, Khao San Road is a great place for first-timers with its affordable accommodations, street food stalls, and inexpensive lifestyle.
Khao San gets very crowded on weekends, so keep an eye on your belongings when strolling through the street at night.
10. Chinatown (Yaowarat)
Chinatown, also known as Yaowarat, is a bustling neighborhood filled with markets, street food vendors, gold shops, and Chinese temples. It’s a sensory-rich area known for its vibrant ambiance and wide selection of street food cuisines.
Chinatown is a great place to visit if it’s your first time in Bangkok because of its vast food selection, offering a wide range of authentic Chinese and Thai dishes, from local snacks to outdoor street food dining options.
Explore the narrow alleyways and side streets to discover hidden gems, from traditional herbal medicine shops to local street food stalls.
Map of best places in Bangkok for first-timers:
Before you go…
If you’re interested in exploring destinations beyond Bangkok and discovering other places in Thailand, be sure to take a look at my recommended must-visit locations in the country for first-time travelers.