Bangkok is no doubt one of the most interesting cities in the world. This huge metropolis is the gateway to Southeast Asia, and a complete assault on the senses. This is a place where you will feel truly alive, with traffic filled streets and busy street side vendors and markets, to a rich Buddhist culture with incredible temples and sights to see, along with great food and shopping. Bangkok is ever changing, and you could never get bored here. There is so much to do, but here are 10 of the best to get you started.
1. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
Although it is no longer the actual residence of the Thai Royal Family, the Grand Palace is still the most important place in Bangkok and in fact all of Thailand. Located right in the heart of Old Bangkok, the palace is a grand example of Thai architecture and a must see in the city.
Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace is Wat Phra Kaew – the most sacred temple in Thailand and a sight that absolutely should not be missed. The temple is home to the Emerald Buddha – the most sacred object in all of Thailand.
2. Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
This old Buddhist temple is located close to the Grand Palace and is another must see temple in Bangkok. The most iconic part of this temple is its huge 45 meter long reclining Buddha that is covered in gold leaf with mother-of-pearl inlaid in its feet. The temple complex also has a lot of other interesting buildings and royal chedis to explore. Wat Pho is also the birthplace of traditional Thai Massage.
3. Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun can be seen from miles away. It stands out for its tall and beautifully decorated prangs (towers) that are covered in intricate porcelain details. You can climb to the top of the tower for a great view across Bangkok, and the temple is most beautiful around sunset.
4. Boat ride on the Chao Phraya River
The Chao Phraya River winds its way right through the heart of Bangkok, and it is more than just a river – it is like a main highway, and also the best way to get around the city. Ferries and other boats run up and down the river all day and night, and it is a great way to see the city. Ferries are cheap, but you can also take boat rides and night time dinner cruises.
5. Floating markets
Bangkok is known as the "Venice of the East" due to its network of canals. A lot of Bangkok's original canals have now disappeared, however the river and canal life still lives on in different parts of the city. One of the most popular attractions here are the floating markets, where vendors sell all kinds of things from their boats, right on the water! There are lots of different floating markets in Bangkok, most located on the outskirts of the city. You can take a boat tour of the canals and markets from central Bangkok.
6. Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you love shopping, you are going to LOVE Bangkok. It is a shopper's heaven. You can literally get anything that you can think of. One of the best places to shop is Bangkok's big weekend market – Chatuchack Market. It is possibly the largest open market in Thailand, and you can spend all day here getting lost among the isles and isles of stalls and still not see it all. You can get everything here from clothes, shoes, bags and household goods to fresh produce and souvenirs.
7. Wat Saket (Golden Mountain)
Another beautiful Buddhist temple, the highlight of Wat Saket is its manmade "mountain" that you can climb to the top of for amazing views of Bangkok. There is a huge golden chedi at the top, and the views can't be beat.
8. MBK Shopping Mall
If you prefer the shopping mall experience to the markets, MBK is the best place to go. It is a mall, but it also acts as a huge indoor market, with the comfort of air conditioning. This shopping center is right in the center of Bangkok, and it is HUGE.
Bangkok's Chinatown is located along Yowarat Road and is one of the best you will find. Here, you'll find interesting markets and temples, and plenty of amazing food options.
10. Street Food
Bangkok is one of the greatest "food" cities in the world, and the best place to try authentic (and delicious) Thai food is right on the street. You'll see little street side vendors and restaurants set up all over the city, particularly at night. Don't be afraid to give it a go, especially if there are lots of locals eating there. Your tastebuds will love you for it.
These 10 things should keep you busy for your first visit to Bangkok, and should give you a great taste of this amazing city.