Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city on the Chao Phraya River, is a bustling, vibrant city full of magnificent temples, a lovely maze of channels, “Klongs,” delicious food, great cafes, fantastic nightlife, and gorgeous parks.
Bangkok offers something for everyone. So it’s no wonder it’s visited by such an immense amount of tourists all year round.
However, people have a love-or-hate relationship with Bangkok. After all, Bangkok is a large Asian city with over 11 million people.
But it’s undoubtedly one of the best cities to experience in South East Asia.
Bangkok Travel Tips
But first, before we jump into the top things to do in Bangkok, let’s cover the essentials and tips to help you have a more fun, enjoyable, and safer trip to Bangkok, Thailand.
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We have compiled a Bangkok Travel Map, which you can refer to when exploring.
Top things to do in Bangkok
1. Visit Wat Arun – Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of the Dawn, is an absolutely gorgeous Buddhist temple on the Chao Phraya riverside.
UPDATE: You can no longer climb the stairs at Wat Arun above the second level.
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS
The entrance fee for Wat Arun is 100 THB (around 3 USD) and includes a small bottle of water.
Wat Arun is open every day from 8 am until 6 pm.
The best time to visit Wat Arun is in the morning, right at opening, or just before closing in the late afternoon if you want to avoid the crowds.
Wat Arun is a popular place for photoshoots, and you can even rent traditional Thai costumes to take photos in.
We visited Wat Arun just before the opening time in the early morning. And were one of the first visitors inside the grounds for about 15 minutes.
Please remember to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting Wat Arun. It’s a very important temple in Bangkok.
The easiest way to get to Wat Arun is to get to it by boat from the Tah Tian pier, the nearest pier on the side of the old city, nearby Wat Pho and the Grand Palace.
The price of the boat to Wat Arun across the Chao Phraya River from Tah Tian pier is 3THB, one way per person.
Wat Arun is a great place to watch one of the fantastic Bangkok sunsets. And the best place to do so is at one of the restaurants and bars on the opposite side of the river.
Plan to spend about 45 minutes exploring Wat Arun. We stayed for almost 2 hours at Wat Arun, from around 8 am to 10 am. But that’s because we took it slow and took lots of photos.
2. Visit Wat Pho – Temple of Reclining Buddha
Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s most famous and important temples, mostly known for the giant Reclining Buddha, which is 46 meters long!
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS
The entrance fee for Wat Pho is 200 THB (around 6 USD) per person.
Wat Pho is open every day from 8 am until 6:30 pm.
According to reviews online, if you visit Wat Pho after 5 pm, most temples inside the complex (except Reclining Budhha) will already be closed.
We visited Wat Pho straight after visiting Wat Arun. And we recommend you do the same.
Please remember to cover your shoulders and knees when visiting Wat Pho. It’s a very important temple in Bangkok.
Allow yourself at least one hour to explore the whole temple grounds, as Wat Pho is one of the biggest temples in Bangkok.
3. Visit The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a stunning historic complex of buildings that served as the official residence of the Kings of Siam from the 18th to the mid-20th century.
Bangkok’s Grand Palace is known for its beautiful architecture and intricate details, including the golden spires and colorful mosaics that adorn the various structures.
The palace also houses several important temples and relics, including the Emerald Buddha, a highly revered Thai cultural and religious symbol.
Overall, the Grand Palace is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Bangkok. It offers a glimpse into the country’s rich history and cultural heritage.
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS
The entrance ticket for Grand Palace in Bangkok costs 500 THB (about 15 USD) for foreigners and is free for Thai.
The Grand Palace is open every day from 8:30 am until 3:30 pm.
The entrance ticket to Grand Palace also includes Wat Phra Kaew and Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile, located on the grounds.
Another thing that the Grand Palace ticket includes is the “Khon performance” – a Thai classical masked dance. (check the performance schedule at the info point).
The dress code for Grand Palace is the strictest of any tourist attraction in Bangkok and includes covered shoulders, knees, and no open shoes.
4. Cycle through Bangkok
While in Bangkok, cycling through the city might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it’s something that you should definitely consider.
Cycling through Bangkok is such a fun way to see the city in a different way. Pass through narrow alleys off the beaten track, high-five friendly locals along the way, visit some temples and learn more about Thai culture and traditions. All while cycling around.
You’ll get all this by joining an organized Bangkok cycling tour like we did. We went on a Bangkok cycling tour with Co Van Kessel, which exceeded all our expectations.
They offer several tours, but the 3-hour cycling tour focused on Chinatown is the most popular.
We joined their 5-hour tour, which combines cycling and a boat ride along some of the canals. And we had a blast! It was such a fun way of exploring Bangkok. So happy we found this activity!
5. Observe Bangkok from above
From up high, you can admire Bangkok’s beautiful skyline with its tall buildings and iconic temples. You can also take in views of its many waterways that make it such a unique city.
There’s simply no better way to appreciate the beauty of Bangkok than by observing it from above.
Visit Bangkok’s best observation deck at King Power Mahanakhon
For the best views of Bangkok, head to the 314 meters high King Power MahaNakhon Skywalk, Thailand’s highest observation deck!
Besides amazing 360 views of the city, the Mahanakhon observation deck also offers a glass floor where you can test your fear of heights and observe the city beneath you as you stand on the see-through glass panels.
And for sunset, there’s also a DJ at the bar right by the skywalk, so you can enjoy a drink in a great atmosphere.
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS
The entrance fee for Mahanakhon Skywalk is about 25 USD for a daytime visit and 31 USD for sunset. And there are also some ticket combos you can choose from, like a drink or meal combo.
Mahanakhon Skywalk is open daily from 10 am until 7 pm, with the last admission at 6:30 pm.
We recommend buying your ticket in advance, especially if you plan to visit at a peak time, like sunset. We booked our tickets in advance online and got to skip a massive line at the counter!
Grab a drink at Bangkok’s rooftop bars
Along with observation decks, you can also find plenty of amazing rooftop bars in Bangkok that are great for spending an afternoon towards the sunset or enjoying the evening.
Most popular rooftop bars in Bangkok:
- Red Sky Restaurant
- Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar
- CRU Champagne
- Tichuca Rooftop Bar
- Sky Bar Bangkok
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6. Visit floating markets
A visit to one of the Bangkok floating markets is a must for anyone looking to experience the culture and charm of this dynamic city.
Bangkok’s floating markets offer an array of goods, from fresh produce to handmade souvenirs and delicious food.
Whether you’re looking for a unique shopping experience or just want to enjoy the sights and sounds, visiting one of Bangkok’s floating markets is an absolute must!
While some floating markets in Bangkok don’t seem as authentic anymore, and they’re mostly catered to tourists, it’s still a fun way to spend a few hours.
There are a lot of floating markets in Bangkok and around, so you’ll need to choose the one you want to visit. We’ll write a dedicated post for floating markets in Bangkok soon, as we visited quite a few.
The most visited and famous floating market nearby Bangkok is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. And it can get very busy as many tours go there. The most popular is the combo train market and floating market tour from Bangkok.
It’s a well-developed tourist attraction, and since you can go on a tour that includes the famous Maeklong Railway Market, it’s a common choice.
Our favorite floating market near Bangkok is Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, where we also enjoyed a boat ride through the canals.
While tourists visit Khlong Lat Mayom, it’s still much less visited than some other floating markets. And many locals also seem to shop there.
7. Visit the famous Maeklong Railway Market
Maeklong Railway Market, also known as Rom Hup Market, is an unusual local market along an active railway track.
Whenever the train approaches the market, the vendors quickly move all their goods from the tracks and close up umbrellas, so the train can pass without damaging anything.
And as soon as the train passes, they put everything back in seconds as if nothing happened.
Everything happens in a matter of minutes, and it’s pretty interesting to see the whole process of how the Rom Hup Market operates.
Respect the rules at the Maeklong Railway Market and always stay behind the red line that marks the safe area.
And do not try to take photos or videos by standing on the tracks until the last second. It’s irresponsible and dangerous; this unique place will cease to exist if people get hurt. So let’s be collectively wise and preserve this spot.
Maeklong Railway Market (Rom Hup Market) is located about an hour and a half drive out of Bangkok, and it’s often visited on a combo tour with the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
The easiest way to get to the Maeklong Railway market is by joining a tour. However, you can also drive there yourself as we did.
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS
There is no entrance fee to visit the Maeklong Railway Market as it is a fully functional market, not only there for tourists but is actually frequented by locals buying their daily produce and goods.
Maeklong Railway Market (Rom Hup Market) is open daily from 8 am until 7 pm.
8. Join a Bangkok food tour
Join a Bangkok food tour and explore the city’s culinary scene, sample some of best food that Bangkok has to offer and learn about the unique culture and history of this vibrant city.
Some of Bangkok’s best food tours:
- Bangkok Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk
- Chef Designed Bangkok Food Tour for 8 Exclusive Guests
- Chef Designed Bangkok Food Tour with Klong Boat Ride
- Bangkok Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours
9. Join a Thai cooking class
If you’re looking to learn more about Thai cuisine, then a cooking class in Bangkok is the perfect way to do it!
Join a Thai cooking class in Bangkok and learn how to cook delicious and authentic Thai food so that you can cook these delicious dishes at home.
Not only will you learn about the essential ingredients and techniques used in traditional Thai cooking, but you’ll also get to taste some of the most delicious dishes that Thailand has to offer.
Best cooking classes in Bangkok:
- Silom Thai Cooking School
- Sompong Thai Cooking Class
- Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy
- House of Taste Cooking Class
10. Eat, drink, and shop at the night markets
Bangkok is known for its vibrant night markets, where you can find an abundance of delicious street food.
Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a full-course meal, you’ll find it in one of these great night markets.
Not only do they offer an array of flavors, but they also provide a great atmosphere and experience with live music, entertainment, and shopping.
Popular night markets in Bangkok:
- Jodd Fairs Night Market
- Srinagarindra Train Night Market (Talad Rot Fai Srinakarin)
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Yaowarat Night Market (Chinatown)
- Chang Chui Plane Night Market
2023 UPDATE: Bangkok’s famous Ratchada Train Night Market no longer exists. In its place is now The One Ratchada, which is yet to fill all the stalls. And according to frequent visitors, it has lost its charm that it once had.
11. Visit Chinatown
Chinatown in Bangkok is one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, and its vibrant and colorful streets, full of beautiful temples and delicious food, make it one of the most attractive attractions in Bangkok.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is especially popular at night when all the street vendors and restaurants open, the streets get busy, and everything is more alive.
It’s possible to spend an entire day exploring the Chinatown of Bangkok. And while we only had time to spend half a day there, we definitely plan to dedicate more time to Chinatown on our next visit.
Top things to do in Bangkok’s Chinatown:
- Stroll along Yaowarat Road
- Eat delicious food
- Visit the Chinatown Night Market
- Visit Wat Traimit Temple
- Visit Wat Mangkon Temple
Join a Chinatown food tour
While you can easily explore Bangkok Chinatown’s cuisine by yourself, joining a Chinatown food tour is a great way to find hidden gems that you might not be able to find among the countless stalls and crowds.
12. Explore the Chatuchak weekend market
The Chatuchak weekend market is the largest market in Thailand, with over 15 thousand stalls where you can find almost anything!
While the Chatuchak weekend market is open from Wednesday until Sunday, the best days to visit are Saturday and Sunday, when all the stalls are open.
A visit to Chatuchak can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s advisable to arrive in the morning to have plenty of time to explore it leisurely. There are around 27 sections of the Chatuchak market, so you should also plan which sections you want to visit in advance.
13. Go on a river cruise
The Chao Phraya River is the lifeblood of Bangkok, and it provides stunning views of the city from a unique perspective. Take in the sights of the city’s skyline while cruising along this majestic river on one of the many river cruises available.
Some of Bangkok’s best river cruises:
- Chao Phraya Princess Cruise
- Chao Phraya White Orchid Cruise
- Meridian Dinner Cruise
- Royal Princess Dinner Cruise
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We spent over 5 months traveling around Thailand and have compiled must-do trips and activities you can safely pre-book online.
14. Learn about Muay Thai
Muay Thai is one of the most effective martial arts that has been practiced in Thailand for centuries. And while its home is in Thailand, it has become one of the most popular fighting styles in the world.
You can find Muay Thai gyms in every city and town in Thailand, and Bangkok is no exception.
It offers a wide range of gyms, classes, and workshops for all levels of experience – from beginners to advanced fighters.
Whether you are looking for an introduction to the sport, self-defense training, or just want to get fitter, Bangkok has got you covered!
Options for learning about Muay Thai in Bangkok:
- Watch a Muay Thai match at Rajadamnern Stadium
- Watch a Muay Thai match at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium
- Practice Muay Thai in a class at Watchara Muay Thai Gym
(join-in class or private session)
- Train like a real fighter on a Muay Thai Vacation Package
(3 Days, 3 Nights: Training & Room Stay)
15. Visit the Big Golden Buddha at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen
Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen is a temple home to a massive and impressive golden Buddha statue, one of the tallest Buddha statues in the world.
The Big Golden Buddha is a new tourist attraction, built in 2021, in front of the temple’s white stupa and is becoming one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions and part of many city tours.
16. Visit Wat Samphran – the dragon temple
Wat Samphran, better known as the Dragon Temple, is a Buddhist temple in Nakhon Pathom province, just outside Bangkok.
Wat Samphran is unique because you can visit the top of the building by ‘walking through the dragon’s body.’ We were quite impressed with the architecture of the building and loved our time in the temple complex.
The Dragon Temple is worth visiting if you have extra time in Bangkok or want to see something less visited.
OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS
The entrance to Wat Samphran is free of charge, but donations are appreciated.
Wat Samphran Dragon Temple is open daily from 9 am until 5:30 pm on weekdays (except Friday when it closes at 5 pm) and from 6 am until 5:30 pm on weekends.
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17. Go temple hopping
Besides the most famous temples on everyone’s itinerary, Bangkok holds many other small and big temples that are less known and less visited but equally beautiful.
So check our list below if you’re looking to explore some temples in Bangkok that not everyone visits but are close to the main city attractions.
Worth-visiting lesser-known temples in Bangkok:
- Wat Ratchabophit
- Wat Suthat Thepphawararam
- Loha Prasat
- Wat Saket
- Wat Benchamabophit Dusitwanaram
18. Visit Bangkok’s beautiful parks
Bangkok is a city full of life and beauty; its parks are no exception. From walking around the lush green spaces around the ponds of Lumphini Park to getting some fresh air at the Green Lungs of Bangkok at Bang Kachao, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Bangkok’s parks.
The most famous of them all, Lumphini Park, is a beautiful park in Bangkok that offers a big green area with walking paths surrounded by small lakes. It’s a perfect place to escape the busyness of the city.
Lumphini Park is perfect for exercising, and there are lots of group exercise programs available that you can just join. It reminded us of Vietnam and its parks, where we often saw the elderly exercising or dancing away.
The best thing about Lumphini Park is that you can rent kayaks and paddle boards for free!
However, even though we really wanted to try them out on our visit, they were already closed as it was just before sunset.
19. Shop till you drop at Bangkok’s fantastic malls
Bangkok is a shopping paradise for any shopping enthusiast. With its numerous shopping malls scattered all across the city, it offers something for everyone.
Whether you’re looking for luxury items, trendy fashion pieces, or local souvenirs and handicrafts, you’ll surely find them in one of Bangkok’s many shopping malls.
From the iconic MBK Center to the chic Siam Paragon, Terminal 21, and the huge Icon Siam, Bangkok has something for everyone’s taste and budget.
Make use of the Thailand VAT refund for tourists scheme, where you can get the tax returned to you before leaving the country.
* There are some limitations, though, like having to purchase more than 5000 THB worth of goods (about 140 USD).
The most famous shopping malls in Bangkok:
- MBK Center
- Siam Paragon
- Terminal 21
- Central World
Get yourself a free ICONSIAM Tourist Privilege Card to enjoy discounts while shopping at ICONSIAM.
While we’re not the biggest shopping fans, we needed some clothes. So we had to visit some of the malls, and they’re really huge and overwhelming. We visited Terminal 21 Asok, as it also had a great food court that we wanted to try out.
20. Enjoy a Thai massage
With its abundance of massage parlors, Bangkok is the perfect destination to enjoy a relaxing and rejuvenating Thai massage.
From traditional Thai massage to modern spa treatments, you can enjoy the best of both worlds in Bangkok. The city has some of the most highly trained and experienced masseuses in the world.
Thai massages are known for their unique combination of stretching, pressing, and kneading techniques that help to alleviate stress and tension in the body.
So if you’re looking for a way to relax and unwind while visiting Bangkok, be sure to check out one of the many Thai massage parlors around town!
Some of the best Thai massages in Bangkok:
21. Visit the famous Khao San area
Khao San is a popular backpacker area in Bangkok, full of food stalls, parties, and affordable hostels and hotels.
Khao San is very similar to the Bui Vien street in Ho Chi Minh City. We walked through the road several times, but it never caught our attention or interest.
While we weren’t the biggest fans of Khao San Road, we did stay in the area.
And while many accommodations in the center of Khao San suffer from excessive noise far into the night, we still found quiet budget accommodations on both visits. We recommend the U-need Guesthouse95 and Bedspread Hostel.
Day trips from Bangkok
If you’re based in Bangkok for a bit longer or really want to maximize your time, there are quite a few day trips to other beautiful areas you can do from Bangkok.
Some of the best tours from Bangkok:
- Ayutthaya half-day small-group tour
- Erawan Park and Kanchanaburi small-group day trip
- Khao Yai National Park small-group tour
- Pattaya Beach and Koh Larn Coral Island tour
Best time to visit Bangkok
Bangkok is a year-round destination that can be visited at any time!
But generally, the best months to visit Bangkok are between November and February when it’s not too hot or humid and mostly dry. However, this is also a high season for Bangkok, so we highly recommend booking your accommodation in advance!
March, April, and May are the hottest months in Bangkok and Thailand. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and use sun protection during these times. The heat here is no joke!
Bangkok’s rainy or monsoon season starts in late June and lasts till October, with the peak being in July and August. Despite the rain, there’s still lots of sunshine and good weather, so as long as you’re prepared, you should be fine.
Remember, Thailand is tropical, and the weather can always be unpredictable. Plus, the weather seasons slightly changed in South East Asia in recent years.
Another thing to note is the bad pollution in Thailand in recent years that’s affecting the whole country. This is when visibility and the air quality can be pretty bad. It usually happens due to the burning season in the north.
Where to stay in Bangkok
Bangkok is massive with loads of accommodation options, but a few areas are the best for staying in as a tourist.
Khao San is perfect for backpackers coming to Bangkok as it’s affordable, full of hostels, and close to the party scene.
For big spacious apartments and beautiful hotels with rooftop pools, Sukhumvit is the place to stay. And it’s well connected with many MRT (metro) and BTS (SkyTrain) stops.
Otherwise, the general area of Banglamphu in Bangkok is the best to stay in.
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Top-rated hotels in Bangkok
Where to eat in Bangkok
Bangkok is a bustling city that offers a wealth of culinary experiences and is a food-lovers paradise!
With its vibrant and exciting food scene, Bangkok offers a fantastic blend of delicious local Thai food and restaurants with famous international cuisines.
Michelin-awarded street food in Bangkok
Bangkok is home to many well-known and award-winning restaurants.
And not only are the restaurants receiving awards, but so are the street food vendors. Many have received the Michelin “Bib” for their great food.
And in 2018, one of the already famous street food places, Raan Jay Fai, was awarded a Michelin star.
And it has since become even more popular, with a long queue of people snaking around the small shop.
Vegetarian and vegan food in Bangkok
Bangkok is a paradise for vegetarians and vegans. With so many delicious local and international options, it’s easy to find vegetarian and vegan dishes in the city.
We have an excellent recommendation for affordable and tasty vegan food at So Vegan.
We’ve had some great burgers in Thailand. Still, the simple burger from So Vegan can top them all, primarily because of the still-low price (hopefully, it is still delicious and affordable on your visit). And not only the burger but their other food is also fabulous, like the vegan hotdog, tempeh, and mushroom dumplings.
For a more extensive list of must-try vegan restaurants in Bangkok, check out the Vegan Guide to Bangkok by Vegan Food Quest.
How to get to Bangkok
Bangkok is a hub for travelers from all over the world. With frequent flights from Europe, Americas, and other Asian destinations, it is super easy to get to Bangkok.
Flying into Bangkok
Often, Bangkok has some of the best flight deals among the nearby South East Asian countries. For example, it’s often the cheapest destination in SEA to fly into from Europe.
If you’re arriving by plane, we recommend you book your private airport transfer in advance.
Bus and train connections
In addition to flights, Bangkok is also connected with train and bus services that can take you to any part of the country.
And you can also get to Bangkok by bus from Siem Reap in about 9 hours.
How to get around Bangkok
Getting around Bangkok is easy with transportation options like the MRT (metro), the BTS (SkyTrain), countless buses, and ride-hailing rides. And for trips around, renting motorbikes and cars.
Bangkok’s public transportation is quite efficient and convenient, even though it’s so big and split by the wide Chao Praya River and countless small and big canals.
Useful Bangkok public transport cards and passes:
Also, walking around the main attractions of Bangkok is simple, as many are located close to one another.
And if no public transport is available for where you’re going, booking a ride on Grab (Uber) or similar apps is very convenient. You can choose between a car or even a motorbike ride if you’re traveling light.
Renting a car in Bangkok
Much like the motorbike, only a few tourists rent a car to explore Bangkok but rather rent a car to travel from Bangkok to nearby places like Ayutthaya and Khao Yai National Park.
How many days in Bangkok is enough?
You need at least 2 full days to scratch the surface of what Bangkok offers.
If you have time, we’d recommend at least 3 or 4 full days in Bangkok. That way, you can explore more of Bangkok’s hidden gems and get a deeper insight into its unique character.
Prices in Bangkok
Whether you want to save money or splurge on the perfect vacation, Bangkok offers something for every budget.
From high-end hotels and restaurants to great hostels and delicious street food, there are countless options to customize your experience according to your budget.
|Hotel: $20 – $150 / night||Inexpensive meal: $2 – $4||Taxi 1km: $1 – $2|
|Hostel: $5 – $10 / night||Mid-range meal: $7 – $10||Bike rental: $6 – $10|
Is Bangkok a safe destination?
Much like all of Thailand, Bangkok is a very safe destination for all travelers.
However, use common sense and be aware of possible pickpockets (especially at busy and touristic spots) and some common tourist scams.
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What to pack for your visit to Bangkok
Bangkok is hot year-round, so we highly recommend packing some lighter, breathable clothes and long pants (or any other clothes that cover your knees and shoulders). You will need longer clothes for visiting temples around Bangkok.
Take some light clothes that dry fast for your visit to Bangkok and Thailand. We traveled with our favorite travel clothes from Unbound Merino.
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We always carry our sarongs around, which are perfect for covering up while visiting temples. And you’ll visit lots in Bangkok!
Don’t forget to take plenty of sunscreen, as your visit to Bangkok will absolutely involve being in the sun a lot.
We highly recommend buying a reef-safe sunscreen if you plan to combine your trip with the seaside/islands in Thailand.
Reusable water bottle
Bring a reusable water bottle to refill it with fresh cold water.
Take a microfiber towel while exploring to wipe your sweat away.
We highly recommend traveling to Thailand and Bangkok with a universal adapter so that you can plug your electronics into different sockets.
Bring a power bank for your Bangkok exploration so you can keep your electronics charged.
Bring a daypack to carry your essentials.
Is Bangkok worth visiting?
Bangkok is absolutely worth visiting due to its vibrant culture, fantastic food scene, night scene, and endless activities.
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