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14 Best Things to Do in Bangkok Old Town

What to Do in Bangkok Old Town?

The best things to do in Bangkok Old Town highlight the city’s cultural heritage. Also known as Rattanakosin Island, the area was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. You can explore some of the most impressive and iconic landmarks in the country, including grand palaces, ancient monuments, and ornate temples.

While the Old Town is known as the city’s historical centre, you can find many modern attractions throughout your visit. Shopping malls, riverfront restaurants, and lively bars are great alternatives to the district’s traditional landmarks, resulting in a diverse sightseeing experience.

1. Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace

Wat Phra Kaew at the Grand Palace in Bangkok Old Town

Wat Phra Kaew, the highlight of Bangkok Old Town, is an ornate temple within Bangkok’s Grand Palace complex. It dates back to the late 18th century and is widely known as one of the most important Buddhist temples in Thailand. Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, it enshrines a 66-cm-tall jade statue of Buddha. The sculpture is dressed in gold robes, which are changed 3 times a year to coincide with the changing of the seasons.

The Grand Palace covers over 200,000 sqm, housing several notable monuments and halls, including the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, the Royal Pantheon, and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles. You can also find plenty of unique Buddha images and mythological figures throughout the complex.

Address: Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 750 m
Phone: 02 623 5500
Open: 8.30 am – 3.30 pm
Price: 500 baht (Free for Thai)
Guides: available from 10 am to 2 pm, but you can borrow an Audio Guide
Year built: 1782
Dress Code: No short skirts or short pants

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2. Wat Pho

Wat Pho, one of Bangkok most important temples, Bangkok Old Town

Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest temple complexes in Bangkok. While originally built in the 16th century, it has undergone numerous renovations and additions over the years, resulting in a mix of architectural styles and influences.

A notable feature of Wat Pho is the massive reclining Buddha statue, a must-visit in Bangkok Old Town, which spans around 46 m in length. Built in 1832, the 15-m-high sculpture is decorated with intricate gold leaf and mother-of-pearl. You can also explore the many buildings and structures within the complex, including smaller Buddha statues, pagodas, and shrines.

Address: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 330 m
Open: 8 am – 6.30 pm
Phone: 02 226 0335
Price: 100 Baht
Completed: 1788
Official name: Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan

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3. National Museum Bangkok

National Museum Bangkok

The Bangkok National Museum is a great place to learn about valuable information from different periods of Thai history. The exhibits are displayed in several galleries, covering topics like Buddhism, Thai royalty, architecture, and traditional crafts.

One of the museum’s highlights is the extensive collection of Buddhist art and artefacts. Statues, manuscripts, and religious objects representing the different styles and periods of Buddhist art in Thailand can be found in the gallery. Another must-see is the Thai Royal Regalia Gallery, which displays the ornate costumes and accessories worn by Thai royalty during different periods.

Address: 4 Na Phra That Road Phraborommaharatchawang Khet Phra Nakhon Bangkok 10200
Hours: 8.30 am – 4 pm, closed on Monday and Tuesday
Phone: 02 224 1370
Price: 30 Baht for Thai citizens and 200 Baht for foreigners
Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 1.6 km

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4. Khaosan and Rambuttri Roads

Where to Stay in Khaosan? Khao San Hotels, Bangkok Old Town

Khaosan and Rambuttri Roads are found in the Banglamphu district of Bangkok Old Town, a historic area that’s known for its vibrant street life and cultural attractions. Khaosan Road is arguably the more famous of the two, thanks to its backpacker-friendly nightlife scene and bustling street markets. Expect a variety of restaurants, bars, and guesthouses lining this street.

Rambuttri Road is known as Khaosan Road’s quieter and more relaxed alternative. Similarly, you can find many boutique hotels, sidewalk cafes, and traditional Thai massage parlours. This road also hosts local street vendors selling traditional Thai crafts and souvenirs, as well as restaurants serving both local and international dishes.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sam Yot: 1.4 km

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5. Loha Prasat

Loha Prasat Temple in Bangkok Old Town

Loha Prasat is a unique and striking architectural landmark in Bangkok Old Town. Also called the Metal Castle, this 37-m-high temple dates back to the late 19th century. The multi-tiered structure is part of the Wat Ratchanaddaram temple complex, just 700 m northeast of Wat Saket.

The exterior of Loha Prasat comprises 37 spires, each representing one of the 37 virtues for achieving enlightenment in Buddhism. These spires are topped with bronze finials that sparkle in the sun. The temple’s interior is equally impressive, consisting of 5 concentric square levels. You can climb the metal walkways to the top of the temple, where panoramic views of Bangkok Old Town await you.

Address: 2 Maha Chai Rodd, Wat Bowon Niwet, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Closest MRT Station: MRT Sam Yot: 880 m
Open: 8:30 am – 9:00 pm
Phone: 02 224 8807
Price: Free
Dress Code: No short skirts or short pants, no sleeveless T-shirts

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6. Wat Saket

Wat Saket Bangkok Old Town

Wat Saket (Golden Mount) dates back to the Ayutthaya period but was renovated during the reign of King Rama III. Its iconic feature is the golden chedi, a large dome-shaped structure enshrining a Buddha relic. The temple sits on a rather steep manmade hill, with around 318 steps leading to the top of the chedi. It’s a great spot for panoramic views of Rattanakosin Island in Bangkok Old Town.

Wat Saket also hosts a bell tower and a prayer hall, plus a museum that displays a collection of artefacts and historical items about the temple and Buddhism. Note that the temple gets especially busy in November, during the Loy Krathong festival.

Address: 344 Thanon Chakkraphatdi Phong, Ban Bat, Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Bangkok 10100
Closest MRT Station: MRT Sam Yot: 880 m
Open: 7:30 am – 7:00 pm
Phone: 065 010 3131
Dress Code: No short skirts or short pants, no sleeveless T-shirts
Price: Free

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7. Ta Thian Market

Ta Thian Market in Bangkok Old Town

Ta Thian Market is a sizable community marketplace on Rattanakosin Island, right next to Wat Pho. It offers a unique shopping experience, thanks to its largely local clientele. Most of the vendors sell wholesale and retail dried salted seafood, but you can also find fresh produce, antiques, and daily necessities.

As these stalls are found along the market’s narrow alleys and streets, expect to bump shoulders with locals shopping for groceries. Like most markets in Bangkok, Ta Thian Market is a great place to sample street food, such as pad thai, grilled seafood, and meat skewers, all of which are available at reasonable prices.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 480 m
Hours: 11:00 am – 6:30 pm

8. Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit Temple

Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit Temple

Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit, a Buddhist temple in Bangkok’s Old Town, is one of the city’s ten royal temples of the highest class. Originally named Wat Salak, it was built during the Ayutthaya period and later became a focal point for royal ceremonies and funerals due to its strategic location between the Grand Palace and Front Palace. Renovated and elevated in status by Thai kings over the centuries, it was renamed Wat Mahathat in 1803 and received its current name in 1996. The temple is also home to a Vipassana Meditation center, adding to its cultural and spiritual significance.

Address: 3 Road Tha Prachan – Wang Lang, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Hours: Open 24 hours
Phone: 080 546 4497

9. Tha Maharaj

Tha Maharaj by the river in Bangkok Old Town

Tha Maharaj is an open-air retail complex in Bangkok Old Town overlooking the Chao Phraya River. Its ground floor hosts several restaurants and cafes that serve both Thai and international cuisine. The outdoor seating area provides a breezy atmosphere for taking in the beautiful views of the river.

Head to the upper levels of The Maharaj to browse Thai-brand boutiques that offer stylish clothing and accessories. If you’re interested in bringing souvenirs back home, this shopping mall in Bangkok Old Town has a variety of speciality stores selling handmade crafts and unique trinkets. End the day at its rooftop garden, adorned with lush greenery, a pond, and seating areas to enjoy and immerse in Bangkok Old Town.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 1.4 km
Hours: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

10. Museum Siam

Museum Siam Bangkok Old Town

Museum Siam in Bangkok Old Town offers an interactive and engaging way to learn about Thailand’s history and culture. It occupies a 19th-century building on Sanam Chai Road, which puts you within a 5-minute walk of Wat Pho. The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including the Thai monarchy, cultural traditions and daily life.

You can explore the museum at your own pace, with audio guides and interactive displays providing additional information and context. One of the standout features of Museum Siam is the “Time Tunnel” exhibit, which uses virtual reality to transport you back in time. This allows you to explore key moments in Thai history in a fully immersive way.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 100 m
Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed on Monday)

11. Wat Suthat (Giant Swing)

Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing of Bangkok Old Town

Wat Suthat (Giant Swing) is a famous Buddhist temple dating back to the late 18th century. It’s mostly known for its towering red teak swing standing at 21 m. Due to its towering height, it can be seen from other areas in Bangkok Old Town. Originally used in a Brahminic ritual to celebrate the rice harvest, the swing was later incorporated into Buddhist ceremonies. It’s adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures of mythical creatures, and its impressive height makes for spectacular photoshoots.

Wat Suthat is also home to impressive structures, such as a large assembly hall with beautiful murals depicting the life of Buddha, and a golden pagoda that houses various Buddhist relics.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sam Yot: 450 m
Hours: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm (Closed on Monday)

12. Tha Pra Chan

Tha Pra Chan in Bangkok Old Town

Tha Pra Chan is a historic pier on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Named after a bronze bell that once hung in a nearby temple, this important transportation hub serves as a gateway to many notable attractions in Bangkok Old Town, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho. You can easily board a ferry across the river to explore the opposite riverbank.

The area surrounding Tha Pra Chan is a bustling area with plenty of local vendors selling food, drinks, and souvenirs. The pier is also a popular spot for locals to fish and unwind by the water, especially during Bangkok’s cooler months.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 1.55 km

13. Bangkamphu

Bangkamphu is great for shopping in the old town, as it has several markets and street vendors selling a wide variety of goods. The main street itself is narrow and winding, with old-fashioned buildings and colourful storefronts lining both sides. Tuk-tuks and motorbikes weave through crowds of people, adding to the neighbourhood’s fast-paced vibe.

Surrounding this thoroughfare are many quieter side streets, where you can explore ornate temples and admire the traditional Thai architecture of Bangkok Old Town. Backpackers are often drawn to the famous Khao San Road, which offers plenty of bars, restaurants, and affordable accommodations.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sam Yot: 1 km

14. Old Flower Market

Bangkok Old Town Flower Market (Pak Klong Talat)

The Old Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) is a picturesque sight in the old town. The marketplace hosts dozens of vendors selling just about everything, from fresh-cut flowers and potted plants to traditional garlands and flower arrangements.

Located near Saphan Phut (Memorial Bridge), the market is usually busy in the early morning, when fresh shipments of flowers arrive from nearby farms and wholesalers. While exploring the picturesque streets, you can also find food stalls and shops selling traditional Thai snacks and souvenirs, making it a great place to explore Bangkok Old Town.

Closest MRT Station: MRT Sanam Chai: 150 m

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Willy Thuan

Born in France a long long time ago, I started to travel the world early until I settled in Phuket in 1994. For the past 30 years, my passion for photography and my curiosity have taken me to every corner of Phuket, Bangkok and everywhere I could go in Thailand. My goal is to share my discoveries, photos and tips to help travellers plan their holidays by making Phuket 101 as easy as possible to use for everyone!