Located on the northern shores of the Gulf of Thailand, Bangkok is a sprawling metropolis with shining gold temples, frenetic markets, and cutting-edge malls. Visitors have endless options for exploration amid its bustling avenues, back lanes, gardens, and the boat-filled Chao Phraya River. Among its popular destinations: Grand Palace, with its rich history and dramatic architecture; Buddhist shrines such as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho); street markets alive with aromas and colors; and stilted houses viewed on river cruises. On tours of the city, visitors can discover its many highlights with ease by car, tuk-tuk, or boat. They may also want to break up their urban forays with trips out of town to see attractions such as the UNESCO-listed ruins of Ayutthaya, the Bridge over the River Kwai, and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Bangkok’s most-visited attraction, the sprawling Grand Palace comprises palaces, temples, and courtyards used by Siam’s and Thailand’s kings for 150 years. It can only be explored foot, and guided tours are vital to steer visitors through the crowds to the top treasures, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and its must-see golden pavilions. The palace’s central location means most excursions also include visits to nearby shrines such as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and the Temple of the Golden Buddha (Wat Trai Mit).
This half-day experience offers an in-depth look at the Grand Palace, ensuring visitors see and learn about all its top sights, including the spectacular Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
If your clients are pressed for time, consider booking this tour, which covers a lot of ground, including the Grand Palace and two of Bangkok’s principal temples—the Temple of the Golden Buddha and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Ideal for those wanting to check off the Grand Palace and other signature Bangkok sights in one fell swoop, this full-day tour provides a useful orientation of the city and a bonus boat ride along the Chao Phraya.
This private tour will appeal to clients wanting and in-depth guide commentary but also some flexibility. It includes the Grand Palace and Temple of the Reclining Buddha, followed up with a long-tail boat ride on Bangkok’s canals.
Read more about Grand Palace tour options here.
The oldest hub of Bangkok’s Chinese community, this maze of streets off of Yaowarat Road captures the city at its vibrant best. By day, it’s a bustling shopping destination, while at night, it’s a bustling street food market with stalls and outdoor kitchens jamming the alleyways. Most tours happen after dark, and feature guided walks and tastings to ensure visitors taste the classic local dishes—and don’t get lost. Other options broaden the experience to include tuk-tuk rides to explore other areas of Bangkok at night.
Ideal for foodies seeking a well-rounded taster of Chinatown’s culinary offerings, this evening walk hits top eating spots for tastings of goodies such as coconut noodles and sweet donuts.
This nighttime Chinatown tour combines a street-food walking tour with rides on tuk-tuks and local buses, meaning clients will cover more of the area’s food scene.
If your clients only have one evening in Bangkok, consider this tour, which combines dinner in Chinatown with visits to a temple and the Flower Market.
Read more about Chinatown tour options here.
Boasting a swathe of broken medieval-era temples, monasteries, and statues, UNESCO-listed Ayutthaya is the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Located just north of Bangkok, it can be explored independently, but visitors interested in its history should choose guided tours as signage is piecemeal. Top options include walking and bicycle tours; the latter cover a greater area of the spread-out ruins. Many excursions visit the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace en route, and most end with a late-lunch riverboat cruise back to Bangkok along the Chao Phraya.
This popular day trip covers two classic experiences of an Ayutthaya visit: a guided introduction to the principal ruins and a return river cruise to Bangkok.
If your clients fancy a personalized perspective on Ayutthaya and time at Bang Pa-In along the way, this private tour steps up with a guide of their own to show them around both.
Perfect for outdoor-loving types, this biking tour is an easy way to cover some of Ayutthaya’s widely dispersed highlights, and starts with a longish bike ride to the park itself—great for experiencing the local countryside and towns.
Read more about Ayutthaya tour options here.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
One of Thailand’s biggest (and last remaining) floating markets, Damnoen Saduak is made up of canals packed with long-tail boats and wicker-hatted vendors selling brightly colored produce. Tours start early and last until the afternoon, or take the whole day, especially if combined with other attractions, such as the River Kwai’s Kanchanaburi Bridge. Most tours include prearranged boat rides through the crowded waterways, and can also be booked as private or small-group excursions.
This no-frills, 6-hour tour offers a Damnoen Saduak experience by boat, and takes clients to some of the best shopping opportunities at the market.
If your clients have limited time in Bangkok, consider this tour, which provides an overview of Damnoen Saduak in just four hours.
For a comprehensive day trip outside of Bangkok, this tour starts at Damnoen Saduak, then visits Kanchanaburi to see the Thai-Burma Railway and the Bridge on the River Kwai.
Read more about Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
While it can always be warm in Bangkok, November through February is known as the “cool season,” and usually means less rain.
Bangkok is vast and offers excellent and affordable public transportation, including the metro (MRT) and the elevated Skytrain (BTS). Alternatively, taxis are cheap and plentiful, as are tuk-tuks for short trips
Travelers should be respectful when visiting temples, talking quietly and wearing clothes that cover their arms and knees. Wearing slip-on shoes is also recommended as many temples require footwear to be left outside.
Things to Bring
Sun protection is vital in Bangkok’s heat, as is mosquito repellent to keep the bugs away, particularly come evening. Lightweight fleeces are also handy against the often Arctic-like cold of the city’s air-conditioned malls.
What the Locals Know
Visitors should ask taxi drivers to switch on their meters before getting in. For a quick way to Wat Arun temple from Wat Pho, stroll to nearby Tha Tien Pier for a scenic ferry ride across the river.