Bangkok, Thailand: love it or hate it! It’s one of the best cities in the world, but to say this it took me almost 8 months living in Bangkok. On my first trip to Bangkok I simply hated it! I hated it with all my soul… But then, after doing some research and meeting local friends I finally learned to enjoy the city, and I also learned how to find cool things to do in Bangkok, awesome places and unique experiences that only this great city can offer.
You may be travelling to Bangkok for a holiday, or a few days stopover before heading to the amazing Thai Islands [click here to read our guides to Thailand and here to read our guide to Phuket]. And if this is the case, we know you can’t waste any time trying to discover the cool things to do in Bangkok. So, to help you make the best of your holiday, we wrote this guide. It’s an upgrade of the Ultimate Guide to Bangkok we wrote with all famous tourist attractions and transportation tips. Here you’re gonna find unique things to do in Bangkok, places and experiences that will turn your trip to Thailand quite memorable. I wish I had a guide like this before my first trip to Bangkok, it would have saved months of my unenjoyable life here.
Before we get started let’s assume you already booked your flight to Bangkok [if not, click here for the best airfares]. In case you are traveling overland, we recommend checking 12Go Asia, where you can search and book trains & buses. And let’s also assume you already have an idea of what the main tourist attractions in Bangkok are, if not discover them here. And this is important, because this post is gonna give you extra tips on how to have fun and enjoy Bangkok that goes beyond all that. That means we’re gonna focus on some amazing hotels to stay, local experiences and even some adventure. Follow us on a journey through the unique and cool things to do in Bangkok.
1st – Sleep in style and wake up with the best views of Bangkok
First things first: you need a place to stay in Bangkok. And it has to be a hotel that is well located, close to all tourist attractions, comfortable, and preferably with a scrumptious breakfast. And, if you are looking for awesome things to do in Bangkok I would add a great view, a stylish room and art to the list. It’s Bangkok, so a unique experience in the city starts with a unique hotel.
We have stayed at many hotels in Bangkok and some of them are incredible! Here are three suggestions of the best hotels in Bangkok for an out of ordinary stay:
» Artistic and with a view to die for: SO Sofitel Bangkok
The hotel concept was created by “monsieur” Christian Lacroix for the renowned French hotel chain Sofitel. The result is a hotel that goes beyond your senses, that will make you feel you’re in some type of art gallery, or in a trendy bar or restaurant, rather than in a hotel in Bangkok. You can choose among 238 rooms spread across 30 floors and 4 themes: Metal, Earth, Wood and Water. You can pick a room that suits your style or even try something new. We stayed at the SO Comfy Earth room, the edgy style and the view of the corner suit was jaw dropping.
SO Sofitel gives you more than a good night of sleep. Among the cool things to do in Bangkok, a few of them are literally inside the hotel. Pool party with gourmet food and special cocktails, checked! Rooftop bar on the 30th floor with the best view of Bangkok, checked! A breakfast and swimming pool overlooking Lumpini Park, checked!
Where else in the world can you stay in a french design hotel, overlooking a cosmopolitan skyline eating noodles for breakfast? Only in Bangkok, baby!
» Classy and luxurious: Oriental Residence Bangkok
Oriental Residence is one of the best hotels in Bangkok and we nominated it as one of the best choices for a romantic trip in Bangkok [check our full list of Romantic & Honeymoon Hotels in Thailand]. The hotel has everything you need and desire with elegant service and flawless decoration. It’s luxurious, classy and clean. There is nothing that seems over or maybe too much: everything there is always perfection.
It’s the perfect choice for people who want to be closer to all the attractions in Bangkok, with superb rooms and good options of dinner and breakfast at the hotel. We stayed at the Grand Deluxe Suite and loved it! The room had a homey feeling, all you need after a long day exploring all the awesome things to do in Bangkok.
» Affordable luxury and the best hotel for shopping in Bangkok: Amari Watergate
If your idea is checking all the interesting things to do in Bangkok, staying in a great hotel and also saving some money, Amari Watergate is the perfect place for you! The hotel is huge, and it’s right in the heart of Bangkok, surrounded by shopping centers, street markets and food stalls. But what we loved about Amari is not the strategic location, it was the Executive Club they have.
We stayed at the Executive Suite and had access to the Executive Club, which means we had the privilege of staying on the top floors, and also access to a lounge on the 32nd floor with special breakfast and daily happy hour only for executive guests. Super comfy rooms, great views and daily free drinks and gourmet food to start the evening. This was the best deal ever!
Did you know you can rent a house or a cool apartment in Bangkok via Airbnb? Curious? Sign up here and get a discount on your first booking!
2nd – Escape from the urban & chaotic Bangkok
When I say I hated Bangkok, I was telling you the truth. The traffic in the city is mad, some days the air pollution can make you dizzy, and the smell of Thai food can be surprisingly overwhelming. You will find yourself tired of haggling with taxi drivers and hopping for one stunning temple to another. When you feel you had enough of the urban and chaotic Bangkok, it will be time to see the other side of the city. It will be time to visit Bang Krachao, a unique attraction in Bangkok, still unknown to many travellers.
Most of Bangkok travel guides only mention Lumpini Park as the green escapade of the city, but actually Bang Krachao, an island in the middle of Chao Phraya River, is the green lung of Bangkok. A big part of the island remains preserved, with a few houses and cars, some local businesses and a park. The best way to get around is by bicycle, so prepare your comfy clothes and just go biking around.
Visiting the island is not that easy, but it is totally worth it. No doubt it’s one of the cool things to do in Bangkok, and if you go during the week it will be very quiet and enjoyable. The best way to go to Bang Krachao is to take the BTS Sukhumvit Line till Bang Na Station, there you’ll get a taxi and ask for Bang Na pier or Wat Bang Na temple [here is the map from the station to the pier]. At the pier you will find a ferry to Bang Krachao: don’t worry, people and motorbikes go all together, it’s fine.
When you arrive on the island, just beside the pier you will see a stall selling drinks and renting bikes. Rent a bicycle for the day, buy some bottled water and don’t forget to ask for a map. And then go explore Bang Krachao! You might ride a lot, but the vibe is awesome. And you might get lost, but don’t worry, it’s an island, you will ride your way back to the pier for sure.
On the island there is a nice and hipster hotel [Bangkok Tree House] with a cafe for a strategic stop and some refreshments. If you feel like doing local stuff, there is a cooperative group there, and they teach local activities, such as how to make herbal pillows – you can get a massage there too. And there is another place where you can learn how to make joss sticks and other Thai handicrafts. Don’t forget to visit the ancient temples, they are stunning!
3rd – Surfing is one of the cool things to do in Bangkok
Traditionally all the Bangkok travel guides will tell you to watch a Muay Thai Fight, and do it, it’s super great! On the other hand, as we are talking about cool things to do in Bangkok and unique experiences you can find in this amazing city, I will give you a different suggestion. When travelling to Bangkok, just go surfing! No, I’m not crazy, I’m only taking your holiday trip to Bangkok to a different and awesome level!
It’s no secret that Rob and I love water sports. While travelling around Bangkok we found a great way to fulfill our desire for adrenaline: we went surfing! And it turned out to be one of the coolest things to do in Bangkok. The name is Flow House and there you can surf on a static wave, try your balance and surf moves, or just laugh yourself off with all the falls. From kids to couples and friends, everybody can have fun, and you don’t need to be a surf expert.
Don’t forget to buy your Travel Insurance!
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4th – Discover delicious coffee and hidden places in Bangkok
Thailand produces a lot of coffee, and if you travel to the Northern part of the country you can visit hill tribes that produce organic coffee. But if Chiang Mai is not on your travel plans, you can satisfy your passion for coffee in Bangkok too. You can take your taste buds through a journey of heavenly coffee and discover hidden places in Bangkok. Cafes, restaurants and well decorated bars, with a stylish crowd and some specialty coffee.
Our journey through the best cafes and coffee in Bangkok was guided by Pippo, a lovely Thai guy that knows everything about espresso, cappuccinos and lattes. We found him through TakeMeTour, a really cool company that connects local people and travellers. You get to experience the best of Bangkok with a personal and passionate guide. We love coffee and the 4-hour tour we had with Pippo was beyond our expectations.
Pippo’s tour was the first coffee tour on TakeMeTour website, now they have different coffee experiences that you can choose from. My suggestion is to check all day trips and choose the one that suits your taste buds better.
We went to 5 different cafes, all of them hidden in trendy neighborhoods and small streets that we would have never found them if we were by ourselves. Pippo drove us to all of those places, and at every stop we got to hear about a new story and other cool things to do in Bangkok. We tried different types of specialty coffee from Thailand, Colombia, Costa Rica and many other places. We not only learned a lot about coffee, but we also discovered a new side of Bangkok unknown to most of the tourists: local designers, artists, coffee lovers and young entrepreneurs. All this while sipping good coffee and eating delicious Thai food!
Five stars for Pippo! What a unique experience in Bangkok we had! But if you’re not a coffee lover, worry not! TakeMeTour has many other local tours and I’m sure you will find other unusual and interesting things to do in Bangkok with them.
5th – Gourmet food market, one of the exciting things to do in Bangkok
Thai food is delicious [at least for us]! But I totally understand when travellers tell us that after a week in Thailand they are tired of eating Pad Thai and fried rice, that’s totally normal. That’s why our list of cool things to do in Bangkok includes food, but not only Thai food.
Before jumping on our 5th unique thing to do in Bangkok, a quick advice about street food: if you feel adventurous, go and try everything from the streets. If it smells good, if it looks clean, eat it!
However, if you are not confident enough about trying street food, we got you covered! One of the cool things to do in Bangkok is to go for lunch or happy-hour/dinner at the Commons Market. It’s a mix of gourmet food restaurants in an open space market. It’s basically a food market where people get together to share food and good moments, which is such a unique thing to do in Bangkok.
The crowd is a mix of expats and Thai. All the restaurants are gourmet, cooking with the best ingredients, fusion recipes, in a cool and modern atmosphere. You can try Thai dishes and also the international menu, such as lobsters, pasta, french pastries and many more.
Have you fallen in love with Bangkok already? Hope your answer is “Yes”! We want to inspire you to discover a new side of the city and all the unusual things to do in Bangkok. Thailand’s capital is more than temples and handcraft/souvenir markets, more than Khao San Road and Chinatown. All these places are great, interesting attractions that you must visit, but you should definitely go beyond them.
Bangkok is a destination itself, a place you can stay a week or more and your days will be packed with unique activities and awesome things to do. When planning your trip to Thailand, don’t use Bangkok only as a base to arrive, shop and leave the country. Stay some extra days and follow our tips for cool and unique things to do in Bangkok. I’m sure you will leave Thailand with a different perspective and a desire to come back! If you wanna know about prices and how much it costs to travel in Thailand, we have another blog post with all the costs to travel and live in Thailand, ready to help you!
Do you like our suggestions? Any more tips about unique and cool things to do in Bangkok? We are always in search of awesome experiences!
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