Bangkok is the heart of Southeast Asia. This vibrant city in Thailand is like a drum, beating out a song that brings tourists to it in droves. Some come here to see the historical and spiritual sites, of which the city has many, some want to learn more about the Thai culture and others come to find themselves in Thailand. If you're travelling here independently, this article will give you some ideas of what to see and do in Bangkok.
Solo Travel to Bangkok
As a Bangkok solo female traveller, you may feel overwhelmed when you arrive in the city for the first time. It's humid and noisy and trying to take a tuk-tuk may sometimes feel too much. The city is large and can be a bit challenging to navigate so you could find yourself feeling isolated if you stay in an area without other tourists.
But if you're looking to be completely alone, then you may prefer to stay in a comfortable hotel with a rooftop pool in the city and take day tours to see the temples and sights. If you're backpacking Thailand, one big tip for travelling to Bangkok alone is to head to Khao San Road. It's backpacker central and you'll find tour companies and hostels here. Below are the best things to see in Bangkok.
1. The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is, well, grand. But it’s really more than that, and it’s one of the tourist spots in Bangkok that you absolutely should not miss.
As it’s not the official residence of the royal family, the Grand Palace is open to tourists and provides people with a look at the stunning architecture, artefacts, and art that is housed here. Just remember to plan ahead: wear clothing that covers your legs and arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. If you can swing it, try to arrive by boat; it’s the most stylish and breathtaking way to arrive.
* Check prices, dates and availability: Grand Palace Tours
2. Wat Phra Kaew
Wat Phra Kaew, known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is located right next to the Grand Palace and is worth taking the time to explore. This is the royal family’s private chapel, and as such, you’re going to be expected to show a massive amount of respect. This means legs and shoulders are covered, as well as no photography inside the main temple.
But the complex houses more than just the temple. There are libraries that are sometimes open to the public; the Royal Pantheon, a series of statutes that can be viewed only on the anniversary of the founding of the dynasty; and the Phra Si Rattana Chedi, where the ashes of the Buddha are reportedly held.
* Check prices, dates and availability: Wat Phra Kaew Tours
3. Wat Pho
Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha to tourists, is a massive temple complex that houses this famous statue as well as a variety of interesting architectural and sacred spaces. Most people just saunter through to see the Reclining Buddha statue, but don’t make that mistake. Take the time to look around and find a sense of peace in Wat Pho’s many gardens and tucked away quiet spaces.
* Check prices, tours and availability: Wat Pho Tours
4. Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you’re lucky enough to be in Bangkok at the weekend, make sure to set aside time to head to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. This is one of the largest markets in Asia, housing over 15,000 different vendors, and you can find anything you could ever want or need here. Seriously, everything you ever want is here, from clothes and jewellery to souvenirs and even electronics.
5. Stroll Along Khao San Road
Khao San Road isn’t for everyone, particularly people who just want to relax, but it is worth mentioning. This is considered the nightlife market for ex-pats and tourists and is literally a road in Bangkok that can service your every need, from repairing your travel gear to giving you great street food at affordable prices. Get a Thai massage or just sit at a cafe or bar to meet others.
6. Siam Paragon Mall
If you’re in Bangkok and you want to do some luxury shopping, Siam Paragon Mall is just the place with six stories of every type of shop imaginable. And even if you’re not in the mood for shopping, you can also visit the mall’s aquarium. Yes, this mall has an aquarium.
7. Lumphini Park
When you’re ready to collect your thoughts, or you just want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, walk over to Lumphini Park. This is the city’s biggest park and it’s found right in the heart of the city. Go for a walk, lounge on the green or take a boat ride on the water and feel all your worries just disappear for a little while.
8. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
If you've never been to a floating market, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a good introduction. It is one of the most popular markets in Thailand and you'll be floating past both tourists and Thais as you admire colourful garments and all types of exotic fruit and vegetables. It only operates in the morning so make sure you get up early not to miss it. You can take a tour here or take the bus from Bangkok to get here.
* Check dates, prices and availability: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Accommodation in Bangkok
Once Again Hostel is one of the best hostels in Bangkok for solo female travellers. Just a 15 minute walk to Koh Sang Road, and 20 minutes to the temples, this super stylish hostel is on a quiet street with a nice rooftop.
They offer daily activities as well as bike hire and have a 24-hour reception so you can arrive in Bangkok on a late flight and still be able to check in. The rooms are clean with comfy beds with your own personal curtain for more privacy. All of the rooms have balconies with a view. Choose from the 8-bed female-only dorm or a mixed 4, 6, 8 or 12-bed dorm room.
- Prices start from £10 / $13 for a 12-bed dorm per night
- To book, check prices or availability for Once Again Hostel
Bangkok – Asia Hotel ($$)
This Thailand accommodation is the perfect place to stay in Bangkok with the Skytrain nearby. If you love food, the Asia Hotel has an impressive range of cuisine with 6 different dining options. The rooms are really spacious and include a fridge, minibar and flat-screen TV.
You can take a bath in your own marble bathroom or relax in the hotel’s hot tub after a workout at the gym. This 4-star hotel is great value for money and you’ll feel like a princess walking into the Palacio surroundings on a traveller’s budget.
- Prices start from £24 / $30 per night for a superior double room
- To book, check prices or availability for Asia Hotel Bangkok
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of things to see and do in Bangkok, it will give you a head start for your trip to the Thai capital. There’s something for all types of solos here, from popular Bangkok tourist spots to fun activities to do in the city. Then when you're all citied out, head north to Chiang Mai or south to the stunning Thailands for a well-earned break.
If you're planning a trip to Thailand, check out my Solo Travel in Thailand guide to help you plan your trip