Ten Great Places to See in Bangkok

by Chris Foley

Bangkok is a city of sights, sounds, and amazing experiences. If you are luck enough to be studying abroad in Bangkok, take time to wander around and discover new places, but don’t miss these 10 amazing sights. 

Royal Palace Bangkok Thailand
Royal Palace Bangkok Thailand. Photo by Troy Peden

10. Sky Lounge. 

Architecture students, this one's for you. From many vantage points in Bangkok, one can look up and see the top of Baiyoke Tower — Thailand's tallest building at around 1,000 feet high. For great views of the city, take the elevator to the tower’s public observatory on the 77th floor. Or, head straight for the rooftop bar on the 84th floor, complete with a giant circular deck that rotates for a 360-degree view of Bangkok.

9. Siam Malls, Siam Square, And Central World. 

At one of the busiest Sky Train stops, people shuffle about between various parts of a massive shopping complex. There are two malls immediately at the stop — Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon. Opposite of these towering malls lies a low-key shopping area spread out among a few blocks, known as Siam Square. This area is very popular among young people.

Around the corner from all this is yet another huge mall, Central World. There are often concerts held in front of Central World's main entrance, many of which are free (perfect for international students in Bangkok). A few blocks away are many smaller shopping centers in the Pratu-Nam district. For shoppers, Bangkok offers an overwhelming selection with prices that range from real bargains to luxury purchases.

8. Bangkok Art And Culture Center. 

The Bangkok Art and Culture Center can be easily identified by its modern artistic style of architecture and a large sculpture of a seated figure out front. It is a contemporary arts museum, which includes a cafe, restaurants, bookshops, and an art library as part of the facility too.

7. Bang Kra Jao. 

Juxtaposed with the chaotic megacity of Bangkok is something surprising. Bang Kra Jao lies just a short ferry ride across the Chao-Praya River and boasts 2,000 hectares (about 5,000 acres) of undeveloped land. Without a doubt, it is the closest place to the capital that offers an escape from the urban lifestyle, if the city gets a little overwhelming while you're studying in Bangkok. This area represents what the Bangkok region of Thailand used to be — thick jungle, abundant wildlife, plentiful fruit trees, and lots of small canals. The quiet, open spaces found here offer an opportunity to recharge before returning to the urban hustle and bustle.

6. Lumpini Park. 

More than 140 acres of green space has been set aside here since 1920. Cyclists and joggers take laps, while paddle boats slowly traverse the pond, weight lifters work out in the outdoor gym, and an outdoor aerobics class starts up. The park is also a great place for relaxation in the shade of the trees.

5. Khaosan Road. 

The backpacker center of Bangkok is firmly established at Khaosan Road, a street filled with hostels, bars, street vendors, street performers, and throngs of people — Thai and foreign alike — milling about from end to end. In the daytime, the street is lined with vendors of all sorts of goods; at night, it transforms into a place of rambunctious night life.

4. Jatujak Market And Park. 

Jatujak, or “J.J. Market,” is the biggest weekend market in the world. Wandering without direction takes hours and the heat is unbearable at midday. Yet, it is an amazing labyrinth to experience and a great place to find just about anything and bargain for cheap prices. After traversing through the crowded market, take a breather in the adjacent Jatujak Park.

Note: These last three places can be visited in succession, due to their proximity to one another. Visiting all three make for a perfect day trip.

3. The Temple Of The Emerald Buddha And The Grand Palace. 

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or wat pra gaew, is a famed place of worship in Thailand. Located in a corner of the Grand Palace grounds, this temple is home to a small jade Buddha figure, which traces back to India before it was fought over throughout Southeast Asia and finally brought to Bangkok in the late 18th century.

It is dressed in 3 different golden outfits, which are changed in accordance with Thailand's changing “seasons” — the summer season, rainy season, and cool season. Adjacent to the temple is the Grand Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Siam (now Thailand) since 1782 — the same year that the Emerald Buddha was brought to the site. This is a great place to peruse Thai history and marvel at the ornate architecture.

2. The Temple Of The Reclining Buddha. 

Known in Thai as wat pho, this temple features a massive golden statue of a reclining Buddha and incredibly adorned architecture. This temple is also home to one of the earliest schools of Thai massage therapy, hence the best place to experience a true Thai massage.

1. The Temple Of The Dawn. 

Continue along the route towards the banks of the Chao-Praya River, where long slender boats ferry people across. On the opposite bank, The Temple of the Dawn can be seen, majestic against the sky's backdrop. It gets its name from the way the morning's first light reflects serenely off of its surface. Take a climb to the top of the towering stupa in the center and gaze back across the Chao-Praya at the other temples and the expanse of the city, stretching as far as the eye can see.