This article contains affiliate links. If you click and make a booking I will make a very small commission paid by the booking company at no additional cost to you. Thank you for stopping by!

You can visit Bangkok and do the touristy things that everyone else does. Or you can travel to the Land of Smiles and find the cool and hipster things to do in Bangkok that make the city the up-and-coming Asian urban destination.

If you want to know the best things to do in Bangkok, you can check the many posts by the popular travel guides but if you are looking for the out of ordinary places to see, eat, drink and shop in Bangkok, look no further, the below guide to the things tourists don’t know about Bangkok is the right place.

1. Eat Bangkok with Chinatown street food

Ok so Chinatown food is not necessarily news, after all, you just need to stroll along the main thoroughfare of Chinatown to spot quite a few tourists, although far fewer than in other parts of town. But don’t come unannounced and join a Context travel tour of the area for the inside scoop on the best places to eat and the right dishes to order. Because you can only try so many before your stomach gives up so better make sure it is the best there is! Bangkok’s Chinese historical influence and trade stands out the most in the fusion food and stalls of Chinatown. For great food in Bangkok beyond pad thai, head to Chinatown. Read more details about my Chinatown food experience

2. Smell Bangkok at the Flower market


Bangkok Flower market

Bangkok Flower market

If you are joining Context Tours, this part can be added at the end but if you go to Chinatown on your own, you can still grab a tuk tuk and ride for about 10min to the Bangkok Flower Market, a true feast to the senses. However, the market is best experienced at night, when the truck loads of flowers coming from all parts of Thailand get unloaded and picked up for sale and delivery across the city. we are talking 4am but it will be well worth it to feel the real buzz of a working, crazy, colorful and nicely smelly market. Fill your senses with my piece on the Bangkok Flower Market

3. Drink Bangkok at the Thong Lor cocktail scene

The area around Thong Lor has recently exploded into Bangkok’s most hipster and fashionable area, the place to see and be seen. The scene developed thanks to a few popular spots. Make sure to stop at Iron Fairies, a workshop inspired by little iron figurines of fairies scattered between pots of fairy dust and darkness. The place has an unexplainable magic provided by the hyper tight space, the hidden doors and stairs and the multilevel open plan. it is very dark inside but their signature cocktails are worth it. And they say their burgers too. A very unique place. Maggie Choos, by the same owner, is a similar Shanghai inspired opium den. For a more Mediterranean inspired leafy patio feel, head to Badmotel, not too far from iron fairies, where light is brighter and you can actually hear and see the person across the table. For sweeping views, not so common in this part of town, you can check out one of the latest places to open, Octave Rooftop Bar.

If you are hungry and want to keep up with the designer feel with a Km0 twist, Bo.lan is the place. Although I warn you, I have been twice and every time I leave asking myself if the bill amount was worth or whether I am missing some incredibly understated cooking magic. perhaps I will need a third time. For a more humble option, Soul food Mahanakorn is a good option, beware the spiciness level.

To reach Thong Lo jump on the BTS, atop at the station of the same name and ride a motorbike taxi to Soi Thing Lo 11.

4. Feel Bangkok at the Wat Pho Traditional Massage School

The famed Wat Pho Traditional Massage School is credited for being the birthplace of the famous Thai Massage. You can take a week long course and learn. I bet your significant others will appreciate it. If you prefer to treat yourself to others, the school also offers massages. Book yourself in, after all, how can you come back home from Bangkok without a massage under your belly?

5. Admire Bangkok with Rooftop drinks


Moon Bar views Bangkok

Moon Bar views Bangkok

So maybe you did go to Octave in Thong Lor but Bangkok is known for the Silom skyscraper to-die-for rooftop hotel bars, like the one featured on The hangover at the Lebua Tower, which is permanently full. It is a bit of a mission to arrive and they might push you to get a dinner booking. Don’t, the food is Spanish/Mediterranean and severely overpriced, just go early. Or choose Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree instead for equally dramatic views and less stiff personnel.

6. Shop Bangkok till you drop at Siam Square

Bangkok’s Silom is filled with malls of all sizes and types but the only hip, new, alternative and avant-guard one is Siam Square where smaller brands mingle with cute coffee shops and an electronic backdrop. Expect a mix of High Street and individualistic. Worth spending a few hours sifting through as if you were at a bazaar.

7. Savour Bangkok at The Peninsula Sunday Brunch

It’s true, you can brunch like the ladies anywhere, but have you ever seen such pretty and delightful brunch that also tastes legendary? Indulge in pretty “caged” cakes, hand shaken vodka shots with caviar (notice the order of that sentence?), Chinese Peking duck and truffle at The Peninsula Bangkok Sunday Brunch. Can Sunday start any better?

8. Remember Bangkok with a traditional Thai cooking class

Thailand is synonymous with food but how many pad thais can one have? Learn how to make your own at the first ever Thai cooking school opened at The Mandarin Oriental in 1986, one of only two 5 Star Thai properties by Forbes. You can start the class with a trip to the market by booking one in the weekend. The school has many classes every week and you do not have to stay there to book one. But it may help, so that you can take as many as possible and come back the Martha Steward of Thai food.

9. Cool down in Bangkok at Erawan Waterfall

Located some 200km from the city, this is best visited on a guided train trip onboard one of Thailand’s heritage trains from the State Railway of Thailand. The journey starts really early so expect to be up with the sunrise. Some of the stops included in the trip are Nathorn Shrine, at the beginning of the trip, or the historically significant River Kwai and its iconic iron bridge. Finally, the train arrives at Erawan National Park where the seven layer waterfall is located. Freshen up, cool down, and back in the train.

  • I absolutely adore flower markets, so that would definitely be on my list of things to do in Bangkok. Thx for sharing.

  • Christina Guan

    Wow that rooftop bar looks incredible!! What a view. I feel like the more I travel, the less keen I am to only visit the tourist hotspots. There’s definitely great value in seeking out other places and really get a feel for the culture. Thanks for the great guide 🙂

    • My pleasure! I know what you mean, going off the beaten path is often very rewarding. Bangkok was buzzing with culture, I’m happy to share my methods 🙂

  • sanketdhume

    Lovely list. Some top recommendations. I love that you’ve included a cooking class. Nothing like it – one of the best ways to actually experience a destination in a local fashion. You get to visit somebody’s home, gain access to very private places like their kitchen, enjoy the warmth and friendship of a local host, and learn to cook a local delicacy! What else could one ask for?

    • Thank you! I agree, the intimacy of being in someone’s home really elevates a local experience. I have learnt much about their culture and lifestyle through the sharing of food 🙂

  • Cai

    I went to Bangkok and these are the things that I haven’t tried. Though I know that they have an awesome chinatown I wasn’t able to insert it to my itinerary plus the view from tye roof deck, I also plan to do that. Well, I know that I will revisit Bangkok soon so I’m looking forward to do things in the list 🙂

    • You have to visit Chinatown, the energy is fantastic and the food is delicious. You have lots to do, have fun!

  • It a great bargain to get a pass for the water taxi for the day. You can hop on/off as many times as you want and reach many of these things from the river. It stops at the royal Palace, Wat Pho, Chinatown and a ton of other stops. It also is a nice break from the heat.

    • Thanks for the tip Elizabeth! That sounds like a great alternative to battling the crowd on land and the warm weather. Will definitely check it out for my next trip 🙂

  • Jessica

    These are great lists! To relax in the waterfalls and experience a Thai cooking class are the top things that I will not miss whenever I will visit Bangkok.

    • Thai food is delicious and I would love to be able to prepare them at home. Also- who could say no to a waterfall? 🙂

  • Joe Ankenbauer

    Awesome list of what to do in Bangkok! I remember the first time I visited, I could have definitely used this list haha! We live and we learn right?

  • Kevin Wagar

    Great list of local favourites! So glad I’ve had a chance to read this before I visit.

  • If there’s one thing I failed to do in Thailand, it’s the cooking classes! I was really young when I went there for a volunteering gig and did not have any guide then. Looking forward to going back soon!

  • Pingback: Travel blog income report for September 2017()

100 Trips of a Lifetime
Recommended reads