Golden temples, buzzing streets, languid rivers and spiritual retreats – Bangkok is a city alive with the meaning of 'contradiction'.

At first glance, Bangkok can overwhelm. It's a city spilling with the bright colours of tacky tuk-tuks, saffron-robed monks and street vendors’ wares. The noise is exuberant, the smells are fragrant and the chaos infectious. It can seem a long way from the spiritual peace that the Thais like to claim as their own.

Delve a little deeper and Thailand's capital city will show you her other, calmer side; a weeping fig in a garden, casting shade from the sun; a monk sitting cross-legged in contemplation; the curl of incense from a temple door. Bangkok has been immersed in Buddhist tradition for centuries, and the trappings of modern society can't distract you from its quest for inner peace, for long.

But this is also a city full to bursting with showy sights that insist on being seen. None more so than the Grand Palace, home to the shimmering golden spires of the Wat Phra Kaew - Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It's also here, in Rattanakosin Island, the historic centre of Bangkok, that the similarly magnificent temples of Wat Arun and Wat Pho are to be found. For the 10 million inhabitants of the 'City of Angels' (as the local name 'Krung Thep' means), the Grand Palace is more than a tourist attraction – it is also the spiritual heart of the city.

The parks of Bangkok are also coloured by the quest for 'higher planes'. See the green splendour of the Lumphini Park, and you'll be very tempted to enrol in a tai chi or yoga class under the sun, or to jog around its pretty lakes. But once you have ridden those spiritual highs, you may want to descend to the material world – and in Bangkok that comes in the form of the cosmopolitan buzz of Khao San Road. A backpacker's paradise, it is home to a noisy profusion of stalls, bars and (allegedly) fabulous merchandise at exceptionally low prices.

Travelling around Bangkok is best done – for fun – in the ever-present tuk-tuks. But for efficiency and comfort, the Thais have excelled themselves in terms of their public transport systems. The Skytrain whisks you over and above Bangkok's swarming crowds, while the MRT underground system will speed you beneath its streets. And don't forget to explore the Chao Phraya river. Boats can quickly take you to many of the city's best locations. And one of the most interesting of those is the quiet river island of Ko Kret. This is home to the Mon people, an ancient culture distinct from the Thai culture. One that has somehow managed to evade Bangkok's endless tussle between bustle and calm.

Where to stay in Bangkok

Sukhumvit
Sukhumvit

Sukhumvit

Known for Shopping, Bars, Dining

4/5(235 reviews)

Street markets and sparkling malls, parks, nightlife districts and museums await at this bustling boulevard, which is one of Thailand’s longest roads.

Top hotels in Bangkok

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
lebua at State Tower (The World's First Vertical Destination)
lebua at State Tower (The World's First Vertical Destination)
5 out of 5
State Tower 1055/111 Silom Road, Bangrak, Bangkok
NZ$187
per night
25 Nov. - 26 Nov.

This family-friendly Bangkok hotel is located on the riverfront, within 1 mi (2 km) of Sri Mariamman Temple and Iconsiam. Asiatique The Riverfront and Siam Paragon ...

4.5/5Wonderful! (7,983 reviews)

"From check in to check out everything was wonderful. The most amazing breakfast we've had on our entire trip."…"

Reviewed on 21 Nov. 2019

lebua at State Tower (The World's First Vertical Destination)
Mandarin Hotel Managed by Centre Point
Mandarin Hotel Managed by Centre Point
4.5 out of 5
662 Rama IV Road, Bangkok, Bangkok
NZ$120
per night
25 Nov. - 26 Nov.

Located in Bangkok City Centre, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Lumphini Park and MBK Center. Siam Center and Pratunam Market are also within 3 mi ...

4.2/5Excellent! (5,284 reviews)

"The food was good! Good area and can take MRT or Sky train to places"…"

Reviewed on 18 Nov. 2019

Mandarin Hotel Managed by Centre Point
Shangri-la Bangkok
Shangri-la Bangkok
5 out of 5
89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangrak, Bangkok, Bangkok
NZ$258
per night
5 Dec. - 6 Dec.

Located in Bangkok City Centre, this luxury hotel is within 2 mi (3 km) of Bangkok Riverside, King Power MahaNakhon and Iconsiam. Patpong Night Market and Asiatique ...

4.6/5Wonderful! (3,139 reviews)

"Very large and grand hotel with great facilities. But size has disadvantages as one is always competing with other guests for staff attention, esp at reception. The hotel also hosts large conventions which create a certain corporate atmosphere: generally a large and good value hotel but lacking a ..."…"

Reviewed on 19 Nov. 2019

Shangri-la Bangkok

Popular activities in Bangkok

Grand Palace
Image for Grand Palace

Grand Palace

4/5(211 reviews)

A city-within-the-city, this palace is a fabulous concoction of temples, halls, pagodas and royal residences that took two centuries to build.

Wat Pho
Image for Wat Pho

Wat Pho

4.5/5(137 reviews)

Wat Pho is the largest and oldest of Thailand's many temple complexes, with over 1,000 Buddha images – but it's just one that draws all the attention.

Wat Arun
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Wat Arun

4.5/5(124 reviews)

A temple that climbs towards the seven heavens – and which glows at dawn, and smoulders at dusk.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha
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Temple of the Emerald Buddha

4/5(105 reviews)

A visit to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha will take you to one of the most beautiful, and deeply revered, sanctuaries of this deeply Buddhist natio

Khaosan Road
Image for Khaosan Road

Khaosan Road

4/5(177 reviews)

With cheap hotels, diverse food, and cut-price clothing to bring in the back-packers, this street also offers fun, noise and eclectic cultural mix.

Lumphini Park
Image for Lumphini Park

Lumphini Park

4/5(101 reviews)

Young or old, to keep fit or kick your heels, if you want to breathe easy in Bangkok, you come to Lumphini Park.

Top activities in Bangkok

Floating Market Tour with Long-Tail Speedboat Ride
Image for Floating Market Tour with Long-Tail Speedboat Ride

Floating Market Tour with Long-Tail Speedboat Ride

NZ$47

Take an unforgettable boat tour on a peaceful canal that weaves through Thailand's picturesque countryside. Experience the lifestyle of locals who live and work on these interconnected waterways, and take in the daily bustle at Damnoen Saduak, popular floating market selling colorful handicrafts and fresh produce.

Ayutthaya Ancient Capital with River Cruise, Lunch & Palace
Image for Ayutthaya Ancient Capital with River Cruise, Lunch & Palace

Ayutthaya Ancient Capital with River Cruise, Lunch & Palace

NZ$83

Discover the rich history, fascinating architecture, and iconic buildings of Ayutthaya, an ancient royal capital. Visit the former royal residence at Bang Pa-In Palace, marvel at the Wat Mahathat and Wat Na Phra Men temples, and cruise the waters of Chao Phraya River while enjoying a delicious lunch.

Siam Niramit Show
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Siam Niramit Show

NZ$77

Feast your senses on the sights, sounds, and tastes of Thailand. Savor a delectable Thai dinner and a renowned theatrical production of otherworldly proportions telling Thailand's legendary heritage.

Bridge on the River Kwai with Speedboat, Train Ride & Lunch
Image for Bridge on the River Kwai with Speedboat, Train Ride & Lunch

Bridge on the River Kwai with Speedboat, Train Ride & Lunch

NZ$102

Spend a day exploring historic sites throughout the Mueang region as you learn about WWII and POW labor camps. Travel by road, river, and railway as you visit a prisoner cemetery, examine exhibits at the JEATH Museum, and see the span made famous by Bridge on the River Kwai.

Tuk Tuk Hop – Central Bangkok Hop-On Hop-Off App
Image for Tuk Tuk Hop – Central Bangkok Hop-On Hop-Off App

Tuk Tuk Hop – Central Bangkok Hop-On Hop-Off App

NZ$17

Hop aboard a tuk tuk, an automatic rickshaw, and enjoy rides between some of Bangkok's top attractions. The elegantly simple Tuk Tuk Hop app allows you to book a tuk tuk at numerous locations across town, meaning that you don't have to worry about transportation between the top spots in the city.

Baiyoke Sky hotel Observation Deck Tickets with Lunch / Dinner
Image for Baiyoke Sky hotel Observation Deck Tickets with Lunch / Dinner

Baiyoke Sky hotel Observation Deck Tickets with Lunch / Dinner

NZ$39

Visit: Baiyoke Sky Tower, 222 Ratchaprarop Rd Pratunam District, Bangkok 10400 Thailand The Baiyoke Sky Hotel, the longest champ of Thailand's Tallest Building where you can enjoy the spectacular view of Bangkok.

Reviews of Bangkok

4.2

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
357
5 - Excellent 38.72017353579176%
4 - Good
448
4 - Good 48.590021691973966%
3 - Okay
102
3 - Okay 11.062906724511931%
2 - Disappointing
15
2 - Disappointing 1.6268980477223427%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

21 Nov. 2019

Make sure to allow yourself ample time (about 1.5 hr or more) for taxi travel between the city and the international airport.

5/5 - Excellent

RebeccaEames

20 Nov. 2019

I love Bangkok. Always something to do and the thai people are lovely

5/5 - Excellent

Marc

20 Nov. 2019

Great place to spend sometime, like

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

19 Nov. 2019

Use Sky Rail traffic on roads is very heavy, dont miss MBK Centre, be adventurous with the food.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

19 Nov. 2019

Very busy city. Traffic is very bad tbough.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

19 Nov. 2019

Love Thailand and Bangkok ❤️

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Bangkok

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