There’s a LOT to do in Bangkok. The city is enormous and even just visiting the big sights like the Wat Pho, the Grand Palace and Khao San Road will take the best part of a one week trip to the city, but, while you’re scoping out those sights, or, if it’s your second or third trip to the city (or eighth like me!) and you’ve already seen them and looking for something different to do, here’s a few ideas of some more fun and unusual things to do in Bangkok.
1. Check out the Cartoon Temple
When you first walk into Wat Pariwat in south Bangkok, you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. From a distance it just looks like a normal Bangkok temple – but, get closer and you’ll realise that the statues lining the edges aren’t quite what you expect.
There’s what looks like a Pikachu, a few superheroes, some monks waving chain saws and, I’m pretty sure that’s Dobby the House Elf and Fawkes the Phoenix from Harry Potter!
That’s why the temple is known as the Cartoon Temple, or, also David Beckham Temple, as one altar has a carving of the footballer.
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You can spend hours here walking around spotting all the tiny details, and if you really want your mind blown, every single detail here was carved by hand – they were adding petals to the flowers on a second structure when I was there.
To get to Wat Pariwat, you take the BRT – Bus Rapid Transit – from Sathorn Station. You need to get off at Wat Pariwas. It looks complicated but it’s actually very easy and you can pay with your Rabbit Card.
If you don’t know what that is, check out my guide to your first time in Bangkok, it contains 40 tips that will help you enjoy your trip more – and has a few other sightseeing ideas in it too.
If you want to see more pictures of Wat Pariwat, or, to get more detailed directions on how you get there, check out my longer post on Bangkok’s Most Unusual Temple.
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2. Behold Icon Siam
The new Icon Siam shopping mall is one of the newest fun things to do in Bangkok. It’s not just a mall, it’s a mega destination.
They’ve got a fake floating market on the first floor which gives you a chance to sample heaps of iconic Thai dishes in air-conditioned comfort. There are shops that actually sell supercars. The restaurants on the 6th-floor balcony have a lovely view over the river – and then, there are the water features (plural).
The one outside the mall is the longest fountain in Southeast Asia at a stretchy 400m. It struts its stuff to music four times a day at 4.30, 6.30, 8 and 9 pm
However, inside on the 6th Floor is another amazing waterfall type feature that I spent a good twenty minutes staring at. Designed by the same people who did the mega fountain, it falls 15 metres from the ceiling in an ever-changing display of lights and water shapes. It’s mesmerizing.
3.Visit the Unicorn Cafe
Okay, so the plushies are getting a bit grubby, but this explosion in a pastel paint factory is still fun to visit.
There are actually two cafes now – known as site A and B. Having been to both, there’s not really a huge difference between them.
Load up on selfies and sugary drinks and basically be a big kid for half an hour or so.
The address is 44/1 Soi Sathon 8, Silom, Bang Rak – it’s pretty near the King Power Building (see below) if you want to double up your sightseeing.
4. Drink at #FindthePhotobooth
This cool bar on Soi 11 in Sukhumvit is well known for its excellent cocktails and esteemed list of barkeeping royalty for owners – but also famous for its cool, hidden, entrance.
Let’s see if the name gives you a clue as to how you get into it! If not, have a look at the photo….
Basically head into the Score sports bar on Soi 11 and walk towards the back. From that point it’s up to you, I’m not going to spoil what you have to do.
If you’re travelling on a budget, hit up their Happy Hour for classic cocktails at 200 baht a pop. It’s currently running from 5-8pm but check details on their Facebook page. in case that changes.
#FindthePhotobooth also has a sister bar called Find The Locker room in Thonglor (guess how you get into that one).
And, if you’re not bored of ‘secret entrances’ once you’ve found those two, also check out Havana Social in the tiny alley opposite the Fraser Suites hotel at the bottom end of Soi 11. They charge an entrance fee at weekends, so you might want to check it out in the week.
5. Day Trip to Maeklong Railway Market
Okay, it’s not strictly in Bangkok, but it’s a fairly easy day trip and definitely top on the list of quirky things to in Bangkok.
Most of the day the market is a fairly not-at-all interesting for tourists local market selling fruit, vegetables, fish and household goods, but eight times a day everything stops as the local train runs through the market – and I mean right through it.
And while that happens you get the chance to stand on the tracks and get up close and personal with it!
You can get tours to the Maeklong Railway Market (ones like this one also take you the nearby floating market), but the cheapest – and, in my opinion, most fun way to get to Maeklong Railway Market is to travel there on the train – you go through the market on your incoming trip, and then can head into the market to watch it come back out again.
How to do it, is a bit lengthy so for full details on the journey, and video of what it’s like when the train goes past, check out this longer post on how to get to Maeklong Railway Market.
While I’m here though, I need to mention this little structure….
Halfway between Bangkok and Maeklong Railway Market is one of the most unique sights in Bangkok, Wat Samphran – aka the dragon temple. Look how cool it is!
It’s not that easy to get to under your own steam from Bangkok so I wasn’t going to mention it on here, but then I saw a tour that covers this and Maeklong Railway Market so I figured I’d just throw it in here in case you fancied a super cool day out.
6. Go Play with Some Huskies
If you’ve ever wanted to be climbed on by a heap of very fluffy, over excited dogs, this is going to be your happy place.
It’s called True Love Neverland and it’s located in the increasingly trendy Ari area of Bangok.
Once your session begins you get time to play with the wandering dogs and, have the iconic ‘huskies sitting on your head’ photo the place is famous for. At the end, the dogs run back to their (hopefully air-conditioned) shelter and snacks which is also, quite the sight.
Whether it’s a good idea to have a heap of very fluffy dogs used to ice in the steaming heat of Bangkok does need to be pointed out, but the dogs do seem to enjoy being able to jump all over willing humans.
They offer two doggy meeting sessions a day – and you’ll need to get there a bit early to buy tickets as space as limited (the ticket office opens at 11.30 am).
Find the timing on their Facebook page which also explains how to get there and age requiments.
Ari is reached easily on the BTS, you’ll then need to get a tuk-tuk down to the husky house.
When the show is over there are tuk-tuks outside to deliver you back to the station, but there are fewer rides than people so I’d advise making a hasty exit so you aren’t stuck there for too long.
7. Drink Unicorn Blood
As I arrived back at Ari Station after buying my husky tickets, I was distracted by a sign – Unicorn Blood – it said.
Intrigued, I wandered to the small row of shops and found The Chamber of Wellness – a Harry Potteresque themed-cafe selling smoothies, salads and other healthy treats with a mystical theme.
If’s super cute so if you do have time, pop in before or after your visit to True Love Neverland.
8. Eat a Puppy Ice Cream
No, not one made from real puppies…but they are scarily realistic. Look at those eyes!
The treats are made by ice cream designers Icedea who specialize in making ice cream treats in unusual shapes.
Their designs change regularly so have a look at their Instagram page to see what’s on when you are there – last time I looked they had a fantastic ‘cats in hats’ collection going on.
I went to the branch in the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre opposite MBK, but when I went to have lunch in MBK Food Island afterwards, I noticed they also seem to have a stand there.
NB: MBK Food Island is also one of the best places to get cheap food in Bangkok and I always visit at least twice when I’m in town.
If you’re looking for other cheap eats ideas, have a look at this post full of some other favourite suggestions.
9. Have a Cocktail at Tuba
How I have managed to go to Bangkok eight times and not find this treasure trove of a bar until my last visit is beyond me. It’s AMAZING.
Run by the same people who run Papaya (see the next entry), it’s full of vintage objects, but you get to have cocktails while you check them out!
There are cabinets full of trolls and other toys. Giant Star Wars characters and mannequins, old gadgets and the odd $15,000 Kaws statue dotted about the place.
The cocktail menu is also pretty exciting. I had a The Black Magic which involves fire, dry ice and a side of charcoal.
It’s located in Ekkamai at 34 Soi Ekkamai 21, Khwaeng Khlong Tan Nuea, Khet Watthana – but you’ll probably want to get a Grab as it’s a bit far from the station.
10. Get Lost in Papaya
Papaya is Tuba’s sister spot – and it’s like the bar on steroids.
It’s technically described as a furniture shop – but that doesn’t quite cover what you’ll find in this fantastic, unique place.
It’s four stories high and crammed with an estimated one million items including pretty much any genre of retro item you can think of.
The Boyfriend who loves tat and so took himself off for a pilgrimage one afternoon is currently wandering about behind me trying to describe it but has basically said, ‘it’s a museum of junk, well not junk as this stuff is great’…and then he went off on another five-minute ramble about old televisions, cameras and lamps… to summarise though if you like vintage technology, furniture or nick nacks, you’ll absolutely love it.
Papaya is a bit of a trek to get to – taking about an hour by public transport from Nana. Get a SIM card so you can find the bus stop and know where to get off. Click here to order one before you leave home.
The other option would be to get a Grab which, traffic willing, will take about 20 minutes from around Nana or Asok (although much longer if you have to go too far along the Sukhumvit road)
It’s address is 306/1 Soi Lat Phrao 55/2 Lat Phrao Rd, Phlabphla, Wang Thonglang. Find opening hours on their website.
11. Cook With Poo
No, not literally – I know this is a post on unusual things to do in Bangkok but even I’m not going to get you to actually make poop Pad Thai!
Instead, Poo is the nickname of Bangkok chef Khun Poo and Cooking With Poo is the name of her cooking course.
Now, there are a lot of cooking courses in Bangkok, so why I am suggesting this one?
Well, it helps that the name doesn’t get old – but more importantly, Poo is from Khlong Toey, which is bluntly known as Bangkok’s biggest slum, and when you take her class you directly help the people who live there.
Poo buys from local suppliers during the market tour you take before the class, your lessons are held in her classroom in the slum, she employs local staff and the shop opposite that you get a short wander around at the end is stocked with crafts from local people so every baht you spend really goes to helping some of the people of Bangkok who need it most.
For more details of the day and what you might end up cooking, check out my post on the course here.
12. Go Street Art Hunting
I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it before, or if there’s been an explosion in street art areas in Bangkok, because whereas before I’d just see the odd mural here and there, I found heaps of the stuff on this trip.
If you want to do the same, four of the main areas to check out are…
Chaloemla Gardens (and the surrounding streets). A short walk from the MBK shopping centre this park is full of murals and tas, including renowned ones like Alex Face. It also seems to be super popular for photoshoots.
Talat Noi: This is one of my favourite areas for wandering in all of Bangkok and should definitely be on your list of things to do in Bangkok, and it now seems to have a thriving street art scene along the Trok San Chao Rong Kueak Alley.
Watch your step around here though. I went down there after a massive rainstorm and nearly stepped in this alley – I don’t even want to know how deep that was, or what else was in there!
Charoen Krung Road. This is rapidly becoming one of Bangkok’s hipster areas, and that and murals, go hand in hand. Wander around the streets by Tropic City bar (another must stop) and see what’s new.
The Canal Bank. I was staying at the Fraser Suites hotel at the bottom end of Soi 11, near Nana, and one day, the fastest way to get where I was going was via Petchaburi metro station – the quickest way to which was via walkway alongside the canals, and the walls were teaming with murals.
13. Investigate the Sathorn Ghost Tower
This is my favourite building in Bangkok.
I’ve been fascinated by it since the very first day I saw it, probably about 15 years ago, and realised it was finished externally, but completely empty. Then the difference was more obvious, as the walls looked white, but the cavernous empty windows gaped open to the sky like big black mouths. Also, there were fewer skyscrapers around it.
I’d get out at Saphin Taksin station ready to board the boats up the river and gaze upwards at it, wondering its story.
As the years have gone on, the building has been more camouflaged by dirt building up on the outside and the other towers growing up around, it, but as its exterior gets more hidden, its story has become more well known.
Started in the 1990s when Asia was booming, the 49-storey tower, officially called the Sathorn Unique building, was built as apartments, but when the baht crashed in 1997, the developers just walked away. It now towers over the city all empty and spooky.
Most locals steer clear of the place, not least because a number of bodies have been found there (including of at least one tourist) which adds to its scary image and new name of the Ghost Tower.
If you like urban exploring though rumour has that, a small fee paid to one of the security guards might allow you access. Technically this is completely illegal, the building is falling to pieces and so, if you do go in you could add to the body count, but a quick google will give you the tips you need.
The owners hope to finish the building one day – part of me would love to see it used, part of me would be sad to see a part of my Bangkok disappear.
Erm, I think I just wrote a love letter to an abandoned building!
14. Visit the Airplane Graveyard
Talking of abandoned, I can’t really write a post on offbeat things to do in Bangkok without mentioning the Airplane Graveyard.
This is basically, a couple of old planes just randomly left on a bit of land to rot – but you can go and climb around it.
I haven’t actually managed to get here yet for a few reasons.
It’s a bit of a way out of town (boat to Wat Sriboonreung is probably the easiest way to get there), the electrics and control panel which Mr Differentville would be most interested isn’t intact so he’s not bothered about coming with me – and when I first heard about it, some people were having scary experiences with the people living there which put me off going alone.
This seems to have stopped now though, and people are now more welcome – but do expect to pay an entrance fee.
For all the details check out this post on the planes by Kathmandu & Beyond who also kindly let me use their photo of the planes.
15. Go to the Boat Temple
Built in the 19th century, Wat Yanawa as it’s officially known, is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples – and, yes, it’s shaped like boat!
Apparently, King Rama III, who was ruling Thailand when the temple was built that it should be boat-shaped in honour of the foreign ships helping Bangkok prosper.
Wat Yannawa is located at 40 Charoen Krung Road just a short walk from Saphan Taksin BTS so you can quickly nip there before getting a boat up the river.
It’s also a great place to check out the view of the Sathorn Ghost Tower – it’s where I took the picture above.
16. Drink at Jacks Bar
This is probably my favourite bar in Bangkok.
Why wouldn’t you love it? It’s cheap, authentic, rickety as heck and, located directly on the banks of the Chao Praya river.
The real estate around here is pricey, the hotels are five star but Jack’s carries on oblivious to the gentrification. Don’t be fooled though, it might look basic, but at least one renowned Thai chef comes here to eat.
Grab one of the front seats and watch the world float past as you drink beer and eat spring rolls at budget-friendly prices – it’s the perfect way to spend the afternoon, evening, early hours of the morning – the choice is yours.
Jacks is at 62/1 Wat Suan Phlu Alley, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand. It’s easy to combine with a trip to Icon Siam (you can even watch the fountain if you pick the right seats), the Boat Temple or any boat trip that drops you at Saphan Taksin.
17. Eat Brains (and less scary things) on a Food Tour
I said I’d never eat brains – and then I went on the food tour from Food Tours Bangkok around Bangkok’s street food centre, Bangrak.
As part of this we ended up at the Muslim Restaurant on Charoen Krung Road – and one of the dishes they brought out was brains. There’s no picture, they aren’t photogenic! so have a picture of some soup from the tour instead.
Let’s just say, I do not need to try brains again – but I would take the food tour again as it also took us to try the delicious breakfast soup above, amazing coconut cookies and restaurant with a som tum so good I had to go back and have it a second time.
If you’re a bit nervous about where to eat in Bangkok, I’d definitely recommend the tour to get your confidence up – after all, if you can eat brains, you can eat anything!
You can book it here. Oh and don’t worry, they won’t force you to eat the brains!
This tour is a day time tour, but if you’re looking for an evening food tour, you might want to check out this super fun nighttime food tour by tuk tuk.
Or, the other great street food area in Bangkok is Chinatown – and this Lonely Planet-led evening food tour explores the best stalls there.
18. Visit Khlong Toey Market
This is Bangkok’s largest fresh food and wet market and, if you love food markets, a morning wandering the stalls here is a must do.
Row after row of tasty looking fruit – and less tasty looking insects – are there for you to explore.
It’s pretty easy to get to – just jump on the metro to the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre and then it’s a short walk – but make sure you wear closed-toed shoes. This is not a flip-flop friendly market!
I’d also suggest going early in the morning. It gets hot in the inside areas.
19. Meet Some Bangkok Snakes
Close to the dodgy bars of Bangkok’s infamous Patpong district is the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute and it’s snake farm
It’s open to tourists, but it’s actually run by The Red Cross and its main purpose is to help police, health workers and local people learn about snakes, it also helps create antivenom via its snake milking programme.
Every day the Institute puts on snake show for tourists. It’s 2.30 on weekdays, at 11am at weekends. If you’re interested in snake milking that happens at 11 am on weekdays. Confirm the timings and see more here.
20. Try 40-Year-Old Stew
The enormous pot of beef soup bubbling at the front of Wattana Panich restaurant has apparently not stopped cooking in the 40 years the restaurant has been open.
They just add to it at the beginning of every day.
The closest station is Ekkamai, but it’s still a bit of a walk up the road. They are open until they sell out so, if you’re going for lunch, aim for the early part of lunchtime so you don’t walk up there and find them closed.
There’s no English menu, but just gesture at someone else’s dish and you’ll do fine.
21. Watch Sunset Atop King Power Mahanakohn Tower
Towering 314 metres over Bangkok heading up to the top of this innovative-looking building is also one of the newest fun things to do in Bangkok.
The easy bit is the observation deck located on the 74th floor, but if that’s not enough for you – you can take a glass lift to the 78th floor. Here you’ll find areas with glass floors and an outdoor observation deck that seemingly has to no walls (gulp) it is NOT suitable for anyone with vertigo!
There is also a bar up there if you want to say you have drunk at the highest rooftop bar in Bangkok.
The tower is open from 10 am to midnight – the last entry is at 11 pm. You can buy tickets here.
22. Eat from the Emoji Menu at Gaggan Anand
The original Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok was voted one of Asia’s best restaurants four times.
Famous for mixing Indian flavours with experimental techniques and the most amazing presentation (the dish below is from when I went a while back), the multi-course menu was the stuff of legend. Oh, and you also didn’t actually know what you were eating until afterwards as the whole menu was described only by emoji.
The place was booked out night after night so, it was therefore a bit shocking when Gaggan announced he was closing it after a few disagreements with his partners.
It didn’t take him long to open up a new site though.
Now called Gaggan Anand, it’s located in close to Asok or Phrom Phong stations, and trust me, if you manage to snag a table, you’ll be impressed.
There’s still a multi-course menu 15 for 4000 baht++ or 18 courses for 5000++. There’s also a lunch sitting with 8 courses for 2000 baht ++
23. Find the Giant Buddha
I stumbled across this while doing a walk around the backstreets north of Khao San Road and at 32 metres high and 10 metres wide, it’s pretty huge.
Apparently, the statue took 60 years to build.
To give you an idea of scale, this is just his feet.
The temple is called Wat Indharaviharn and it’s also known for it’s altar that is sid to bless success on people.
This is pretty much off the tourist trail, but the area around here is fun to wander if you want to see a bit of a less-touristy area of Bangkok. If that sounds like fun, check out our mini-walking tour showing you this, and a few other of the less touristy things around Khao San Road.
So, there you have it – a few of the more unusual things to do in Bangkok, or some just plain fun ones. Hope you liked it…
Where We Stay in Bangkok
Hotels in Bangkok usually give you a lot for your money – and on this trip, we stayed at the Fraser Suites on Soi 11 in a room, quite possibly bigger than my own house! Click here to check out rates and availability.
It had a full size kitchen, dining table, lounge with a massive sofa, huge bedroom with a king size bed and a large balcony.
As normal, I forgot to take the pictures as soon as we checked in (we’d just got off a night flight from the UK, don’t judge!) and grabbed them as we checked out, but this gives you an idea – there was also a massive bathroom.
Soi 11 is one of the main bar roads around Sukhumvit and is a little bit more upmarket than nearby Nana. The hotel is also the site of Above Eleven bar and restaurant – even if you don’t stay here, it’s a nice place to spend an evening..
We’d been meaning to stay here for ages and were really glad we did – it’s the biggest room we’ve stayed in so far in Bangkok (and that’s saying something- you’ll find a list of other hotels we’ve stayed in this post).
The only downside was that the pool doesn’t have many sun loungers and you have to walk through the restaurant to get to it – that might not bother you, but having been to Bangkok many times I like to spend my mornings relaxing by the pool and then head out.
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