21 Best Bangkok Tourist Attractions for First Time Travelers: Must-See Spots

Bangkok beautiful view of Wat Arun

Bangkok, the vibrant capital city of Thailand, has long been a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. With its rich cultural heritage, bustling markets, and stunning temples, there is no shortage of attractions to delight first-time travelers.

This article will explore 21 of the best tourist attractions in Bangkok! Many of these should not be missed on your inaugural visit to this incredible city.

For those who appreciate history and architecture, Bangkok offers an astounding array of awe-inspiring temples, such as Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Ratchanatdaram, Wat Suthat, and Wat Traimit. In addition to these magnificent structures, visitors can also experience the city’s bustling street life, sample delicious local cuisine, and shop till they drop in sprawling markets like Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is one of the top attractions in Bangkok.

From navigating the fascinating network of waterways by boat to hopping on the efficient BTS Skytrain to reach various neighborhoods, Bangkok is a city that continuously enthralls and surprises, ensuring that first-time visitors will have an unforgettable experience exploring its many wonders.

Historical Temples and Shrines

Wat Phra Kaew

Located within the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew is the most visited temple in Thailand. This temple holds the Emerald Buddha, a jade statue from the 1400s considered to be the protector of all of Thailand. The Buddha statue is adorned in a garment of gold that is changed seasonally by the King of Thailand.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, is another must-visit temple in Bangkok. This architectural wonder features a beautiful central Khmer-style tower that’s adorned with porcelain and seashells. Wat Arun is especially stunning during sunset, when its spires appear as a beautiful silhouette against the colorful sky.

Several factors add to its distinctiveness:

Wat Arun is famous for its beautiful design, which includes a central prang (Khmer-style tower) surrounded by four smaller prangs. The prangs are decorated with colourful glass and Chinese porcelain, lending a unique appearance to the temple.

Wat Arun is situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, directly across from the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. This location offers visitors a breathtaking view of the temple and surrounding region, particularly at sunset.

Wat Arun has a long history that dates back to the Ayutthaya era. (1351-1767). It was initially known as Wat Makok before being renamed Wat Arun after the Hindu god Aruna, who is often depicted as the sun’s charioteer.

Wat Arun is a significant religious place for Buddhists in Thailand. Visiting the temple is thought to bring good luck and wealth.

Overall, Wat Arun is a must-see destination in Bangkok due to its unique architecture, location, history, and importance.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, and quite possibly one of the most famous temples in all of Thailand. Sometimes referred to as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, it houses a 46m (151ft)-long, 15m (49ft)-high Buddha at its core. In addition to the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho is also known for its traditional Thai massage center, where you can experience a truly authentic massage after a long day of exploring.

Museums and Galleries

Jim Thompson House

The Jim Thompson House is a must-visit destination for first-time travelers to Bangkok. This historical residence turned museum showcases the unique blend of Thai and Western architecture, while containing an impressive collection of Southeast Asian art. The lush garden surrounding the house provides a serene atmosphere.

Bangkok National Museum

As the largest museum in Thailand, the Bangkok National Museum, offers visitors an immersive experience into the country’s rich history and culture. With countless exhibits on display, the museum provides a fascinating insight into ancient Thai art, pottery, weaponry, and more. Highlights include the Royal Funeral Chariots and the Chamber of Regalia, Royal Decorations and Coin.

Art in Paradise Bangkok

For a fun and interactive experience, look no further than Art in Paradise Bangkok. This 3D art museum boasts over 150 large-scale hand-painted illusions and murals, where visitors can unleash their creativity and snap some memorable photos. The museum houses different themed zones, such as underwater, jungle, and classic art, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Shopping Experiences

Shopping is an integral part of any Bangkok visit, and there are a variety of unique shopping destinations to explore. In this section, we will highlight three of the most iconic shopping experiences in the city: Chatuchak Weekend Market, ICONSIAM, and Siam Paragon.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

As the largest and most famous market in Bangkok, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must-visit for any first-time traveler. This massive market is home to over 15,000 stalls, offering a wide assortment of items such as clothes, accessories, handicrafts, and even exotic pets.

Indulge in delicious local food while you shop, as the market is also known for its mouth-watering street food options. Haggling is a common practice here, so don’t be shy to negotiate the prices to get the best deals. Do remember that the market is open only on weekends, so plan your visit accordingly.


ICONSIAM is the ultimate shopping experience for luxury seekers. Situated along the Chao Phraya River, this high-end shopping center boasts over 500 brands, along with an extensive range of entertainment options and dining choices. The glittering facade and artistic interior design make it a truly delightful place to explore.

For a more authentic Thai experience, visit SookSiam, a simulated Thai floating market located within ICONSIAM. Here, you can find traditional Thai crafts, clothing, and delicious street food from different regions of Thailand. Don’t forget to admire the captivating views of the river outside, especially during the evening.

Siam Paragon

One of the most iconic and prestigious shopping malls in Bangkok is Siam Paragon. Located in the heart of the city, it is home to various luxury global brands, high-end restaurants, and even an opera hall. The shopping mall has a wide range of offerings, from fashion and electronics to gourmet food and beauty products.

Beyond shopping, Siam Paragon also houses some entertainment attractions like Siam Ocean World, an expansive aquarium, and KidZania, an interactive kid’s attraction. With so much to see and do, Siam Paragon is a fabulous destination that caters to all interests and age groups.

Parks and Nature

Lumphini Park

One of the most popular nature attractions in Bangkok is Lumphini Park. This oasis of greenery offers a peaceful escape from the bustling city life, where visitors can relax and enjoy activities like jogging, cycling, and outdoor yoga. The park also features a picturesque lake with boat rentals, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely paddle.

Dusit Zoo

For animal lovers, the Dusit Zoo is an essential stop during your Bangkok trip. This popular attraction houses various animals, including elephants, tigers, and flamingos. The zoo provides educational programs and interactive experiences, allowing visitors to learn more about the diverse wildlife while having a fun and engaging experience.

Chao Phraya River

The Chao Phraya River is the lifeline of Bangkok, and a leisurely cruise along this majestic waterway offers stunning views of the city’s iconic attractions. While sailing, witness the juxtaposition of modern structures and traditional wooden homes that perch along the riverbanks. There are various boat rental options available, with companies offering guided tours and dinner cruises.

Canal Tours in Bangkok

Another must-do activity for nature enthusiasts in Bangkok is embarking on a canal tour. These tours provide an opportunity to explore the city’s intricate network of canals or ‘khlongs,’ which offer a unique perspective of Bangkok’s daily life. Cruise past lush greenery and local stilt houses, while feeding the fish for good luck. A variety of tour operators are available, each offering a distinct and memorable experience.

Food and Local Cuisine

As a first-time visitor to Bangkok, experiencing the local cuisine is an absolute must. In this section, we will explore some of the best areas to indulge in delicious Thai food.

Yaowarat Road

Yaowarat Road, located in the heart of Bangkok’s Chinatown, is a renowned street food destination. The vibrant atmosphere and the irresistible smells of freshly prepared food make this area truly captivating. You can find a wide selection of dishes, from traditional Chinese cuisine to Thai street food classics such as pad thai, grilled fish, and mango sticky rice. The lively vibe and delectable culinary treats make Yaowarat Road a must-visit place for foodies.

Khao San Road

Khao San Road is not only famous for its energetic nightlife but also as a food hub offering an extensive variety of local Thai dishes and international options. As you stroll down the street, you will discover numerous food stalls, bars, and restaurants serving both traditional and fusion dishes. Some of the must-try delicacies include green papaya salad, grilled prawns, and fresh coconuts. With its diverse food offerings and buzzing atmosphere, Khao San Road is a great place to experience the Thai culinary scene.

Or Tor Kor Market

Or Tor Kor Market is one of Bangkok’s most renowned markets, known for its high-quality fresh produce and delicious local dishes. The market boasts a wide range of food stalls where you can find traditional Thai favorites such as tom yum soup, som tam, and grilled meats along with exotic fruits and refreshing beverages. As you explore the market, don’t miss the opportunity to sample some iconic Thai snacks and desserts. The combination of exceptional ingredients and vibrant atmosphere makes Or Tor Kor Market a fantastic place to immerse yourself in the local food culture.

Cultural Performances and Entertainment

Bangkok is a city rich in cultural experiences and live performances. In this section, we will explore some of the most popular shows and entertainment venues for first-time travelers.

Siam Niramit

Siam Niramit is a world-class theatrical performance that showcases Thailand’s cultural heritage, history, and traditions. With state-of-the-art technology and a talented cast of more than 100 performers, Siam Niramit takes you on a breathtaking journey through the Kingdom’s mythical past. The show includes stunning costumes, intricate set designs, and vibrant music, offering a complete cultural experience for the audience.

Guests have the opportunity to enjoy Thailand’s traditional buffet dinner and witness authentic cultural demonstrations, such as handicrafts and Thai dance, before the show begins. Siam Niramit should not be missed if you’re keen on experiencing the rich beauty of Thai culture.

Muay Thai Live

Muay Thai Live is a unique live show that combines action-packed martial arts performances with theatrical storytelling. The show takes place at the ASIATIQUE The Riverfront, where the audience can witness the thrilling history of Muay Thai and the heart-pumping action of real Muay Thai fights. This authentic and highly entertaining glimpse into Thailand’s national sport is perfect for visitors seeking an adrenaline-fueled cultural experience.

In addition to the captivating performances, guests have the opportunity to dine at the venue and explore the beautiful open-air mall environment at ASIATIQUE The Riverfront, with its picturesque riverside location, shopping, and various dining options.

Calypso Cabaret

Calypso Cabaret is a spectacular showcase of Bangkok’s renowned “ladyboy” performers who deliver an entertaining and energetic extravaganza featuring stunning costumes, beautiful choreography, and expertly executed acts. Located at Asiatique The Riverfront, Calypso Cabaret has earned a reputation as one of Bangkok’s must-see cultural experiences.

Visitors can expect a vibrant mix of comedy, dance, and classic tunes that have audiences singing along and laughing throughout the night. The fantastic performers and lively atmosphere make Calypso Cabaret an unforgettable night of fun and entertainment for everyone.

Fun for the Whole Family

When visiting Bangkok, there are plenty of attractions perfect for family members of all ages. In this section, we’ll explore three top sites that are ideal for families during their stay in the city.

SEA LIFE Bangkok

SEA LIFE Bangkok is an expansive, world-class aquarium that offers an exciting underwater experience. Home to thousands of aquatic creatures, visitors can get up close and personal with species like sea turtles, stingrays, penguins, and more.

One of the highlights is the 270-degree Ocean Tunnel, where you’ll feel like you’re walking under the sea surrounded by mesmerizing marine life. SEA LIFE Bangkok also offers various educational programs, making it an excellent learning opportunity for children and families.

Madame Tussauds

For a unique and unforgettable experience, visit Madame Tussauds Bangkok. This famous wax museum allows you to get up close with lifelike wax figures of celebrities, world leaders, and historical figures.

Strike a pose next to your favorite stars or take a selfie with iconic figures like President Obama, David Beckham, and even the Thai Royal Family. In addition, interactive zones like the Kung-Fu World will engage children and add an element of excitement to your family’s visit.

Safari World

If wildlife excites your family, then Safari World is a must-visit attraction in Bangkok. This massive park is divided into two sections – Safari Park and Marine Park.

In Safari Park, you can embark on an open-air drive through African-inspired landscapes, witnessing animals like lions, giraffes, zebras, and more roaming freely. Marine Park offers animal shows, including dolphin and sea lion performances, and houses other exciting attractions such as the Jungle Cruise and aviaries filled with exotic birds.

These family-friendly attractions in Bangkok ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience for all. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit SEA LIFE Bangkok, Madame Tussauds, and Safari World while exploring the vibrant Thai capital.