With incredible sacred temples, beautiful royal palaces, great shopping opportunities and an active red lights district, Bangkok is an appealing travel destination for basically anyone. It is the gateway to Thailand through which many people travel, and most of them decide to stick around and enjoy the local tourist attractions and sights that this culture center has to offer.
There are so many things to see and do around the city that you will probably want to spend most of your vacation outside exploring. Just be prepared for the heat since the weather can be extremely hot, which is why you might want to visit during the cool season! Otherwise, make sure that your hotel has air conditioning.
As you navigate your way through the city you will probably pass by hundreds of interesting places that you will want to visit, like museums and parks. We understand that traveling can be pricey and not every activity is affordable when you are vacationing on a budget. That's why we've put together this list of activities and attractions that won't cost you a penny, so you can make the most of your trip without breaking the bank. Before you head out to knock things off of your travel itinerary, find a place where you can store your bags in Bangkok. Safe luggage storage in Bangkok is a bargain too!
Browse the Chatuchak Market
The Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is also called the JJ Market, is a must-see in Bangkok since it is actually the largest market in the city and one of the biggest in the entire world! It is definitely worth visiting, even if you don't want to buy anything. There are over 15,000 stalls set up each weekend and it can be fun to just browse and see what is available!
Once you get to the market you will find 27 different areas that are all covered to protect you from the elements. The stalls here sell almost everything, including antique furniture, street food, clothes, and accessories. It is also a fantastic place to find souvenirs or gifts to bring to your loved ones back home. As you've probably guessed, the market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Watch Traditional Thai Puppet Shows
This one will be a big hit for those who are traveling with kids, although the shows can be entertaining for audiences of all ages. The Artist's House is an art gallery and culture center that puts on Thai puppetry performances every day at 2 pm (except Wednesdays). They also offer free food if you visit on weekends.
Aside from the puppet shows, the Artist's Center offers some other activities as well. Take a stroll through the back garden and go see the stupa which is 600 years old! There are some nice life-sized statues, too.
Walk Through Lumpini Park
When you are looking for free things to do in Bangkok the parks and gardens are always good options. Found right in central Bangkok is a lovely greenspace that stretches to about 58 hectares of space, and it is open to the public for free. Lumpini Park has lovely open spaces as well as a beautiful lake. Consider taking a walk around the area or maybe bring a picnic lunch. Be aware that smoking is not prohibited in the park.
As you walk around the winding paths try to spot the statue of the king near the southwestern entrance. You will probably see locals exercising in the greenspace and you can join in yourself if you enjoy aerobics, yoga, or jogging. You are lucky if you visit during the wintertime since the park hosts free concerts every Sunday. Come enjoy the classical and jazz music being performed by the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.
Enjoy the Zen Wat Mahathat
Wat Mahathat is one of the many gorgeous temples found in Bangkok. We urge you to visit as many of them as you can, but especially this one. The reason is that the Mahathat temple offers meditation courses every single day, and as well, there is no entrance fee. You can just walk right in and join the rest of the people participating in the class.
The class will be taught by the monks of the temple and although the classes are usually offered in Thai, you will also find English speaking monks who can give you a hand. You will get to choose from either seated or walking meditation and each class will last for several hours. It is a fantastic way to experience Bangkok's culture and traditions.
Visit the Flower Market
If you enjoyed strolling around the JJ Market mentioned above then the Flower Market will be right up your alley. This one is open 24 hours a day, so whether you want to visit in the early morning or late at night the market is ready to welcome you. The giant warehouse filled with beautiful, blooming fresh flowers is a nice place to relax, and it smells wonderful as well.
The markets of Bangkok are a really unique part of city life, and it is nice to see what the locals do on a daily basis. It is also a good spot to do some people watching! If you want to see something really incredible try to find a floating market to explore, too.
Go See the Erawan Shrine
Every day the Erawan Shrine welcomes hundreds of people who visit to bring offerings as well as pay their respects. This shrine has a really interesting history; when the Erawan Hotel was being constructed (it was demolished in 1987), a series of misfortunes kept happening, supposedly because they laid the hotel's foundations on the wrong date. The events ranged from construction workers being injured to a ship bringing marble for the hotel sinking, and it got to the point that the people decided to consult a Brahman priest.
The priest suggested that a passenger, which was the shrine, needed to be built since the hotel was being named after the escort of Indra, an elephant from Hindu mythology. After the Hindu shrine was erected the unfortunate events came to an end. At least, that is until 2015 when a bomb went off near the shrine and killed 20 people. That is why you still see locals paying respects today, and there are also occasional live performances by classical Thai dancers.
Explore the Siam Paragon
The Siam Paragon is a massive shopping mall in Bangkok and a favorite shopping destination for the city's upper class population. Although it is definitely not a place for budget travelers to shop, it is still a fun place to explore! It is also fun to people watch as some of the trendiest locals go searching for the newest fashion.
Each level of the mall follows a different theme, with a separate floor dedicated to women's clothes, men's fashion, technology, home decor, and more. If you want to treat yourself you can go catch a movie at the massive cinema on the top floor, or check out the aquarium located in the mall's basement. Another great mall to check out is called Central World.
Listen to Music on Khao San Road
Khao San Road is one of the most lively places in the city and also a great place for shopping. As you walk down the street you will find hawkers and people selling all sorts of things from CDs to t-shirts. Many of the stalls selling music discs will be playing tunes as you pass by, and it can be fun to hear the different songs as you make your way down the street.
If you listen really closely as you wander down the road you will probably be able to hear live acoustic music being played. If you follow the source of the sound you will eventually end up at the "Roof Bar", which is a favorite place for locals to chill out with a beer and enjoy live entertainment. Order a drink for yourself then sit back and relax to some awesome sounds for free!
Admire the Views atop Wat Saket
Just next to Khao San Road you will spot the Golden Mount Soi Borommabanphot Ban Bat, which is pretty hard to miss. When you get closer, you will notice a staircase leading up the mount and a temple perched on top. Those who are brave enough to climb the 318 steps to the summit will get to see the temple up close.
The temple of Wat Saket houses a large golden Buddha statue and is also found next to an old cemetery that you can check out. During the 19th century, it became the final resting place for about 30,000 people after an epidemic plagued the city. After visiting the cemetery and exploring the temple you should stop for a little while to admire the incredible views of the city below you!
Explore the Insectarium and Butterfly Garden
If you head to Rot Fai Park you will find the Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden. It is home to a leafy dome that holds the city's insectarium and it is the perfect place for nature lovers and insect enthusiasts to spend an afternoon. Especially since you can go for free!
Inside the insectarium, there are areas like the Butterfly Garden where you can go to see nearly 500 species of butterflies and other kinds of bugs. They will definitely brighten up your day with all of the beautiful colors.
Go Sightseeing at Local Temples
Bangkok is full of gorgeous temples other than the Wat Mahathat and Wat Saket mentioned above. Lots of them offer free access and are very beautiful to visit at any time of day. Want to check out some other stunning temples? The Wat Mangkorn Kamalawat in Bangkok's Chinatown is a great place to start, and Wat Kuhasawan should definitely make your list as well.
Wat Arun is one of the most visited Bangkok temples, although it is almost better to admire it from a distance. It is famous for being a beautiful sight at dawn when the sun sets behind its silhouette. Try to find a nice spot across the Chao Phraya River to watch as the sun goes down.
Stop By the Bangkok Art and Culture Center
Are any art lovers taking a trip to Thailand? The Bangkok Art and Culture Center will be one of your favorite places to visit and is the hub for all of Bangkok's arts, music, film, theater, and design talents. Its exhibits showcase some of the best talents of both locals and other artists around the world.
Some of the artwork being displayed is from well known names as well as upcoming artists who are looking for publicity. Either way, it is still cool to see modern art and contemporary art in the galleries, or shows and performances in the theaters and venues.
Popular Bangkok Attractions That Won't Cost Money
Vacations can get pricey, but the great news is that a trip to Southeast Asia doesn't have to be expensive. These are just a few places that you can check out that offer free entry, and the parks, gardens, and temples offer a unique experience for everyone.
If you happen to get a rainy day while you are traveling here there are lots of impromptu cafes, art galleries, or shopping malls where you can spend the day! And with public buses strategically located around the city, many of these attractions will be easy to get to using local transportation, too.