What to See, Do, and Eat in Bangkok

Discovering the best of the city in 48 hours

By Google Arts & Culture

Bangkok welcomes over 20 million visitors a year, making it one of the most visited cities in the world. This city has it all, from fascinating museums and street art, to a lively (and often quite spicy) food scene, to ancient Buddhist temples. Bangkok is a complex and exciting amalgam of the old and new, which is sure to be an unforgettable experience for any visitor. Here are a few things that any culture-lover needs to pack into a Bangkok visit.

Museum of Contemporary Art

Built in 2012 by Thai telecommunications mogul Boonchai Bencharongkul, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has single handedly placed Bangkok on the cultural map as an arts destination. This museum holds the most comprehensive collection of painting and sculpture in all of Thailand. Housed inside a giant white cube near the airport, the museum encompasses six stories and contains 856 distinct works of painting and sculpture that demonstrate the sheer range and vibrancy of modern art in Thailand.

A notable Thai native artist to look out for in this museum is Prateep Kochabua. This Surrealist painter's artwork features a vibrant color palette, a fascination with the nude human figure, and an interest in the world of animals.

Calumny, Prateep Kochabua, 2002, From the collection of: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA BANGKOK)
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The museum also features the work of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, whose extraordinary inventiveness combines a traditional understanding of Buddhism with a fabulous imagination. Most notable for having designed the ethereal white temple Wat Rong Khun in the province of Chiang Rai, his paintings show otherworldly dreams-capes in a mix of Buddhist themes and traditional Thai style.

Paying Respect to Lord Buddha, Chalermchai Kositpipat, 1990, From the collection of: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA BANGKOK)
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Chatuchak Food Market

What began as a small market mostly for wholesalers and traders looking to ‘wheel and deal’ has grown into the largest market in the world. The sprawling complex covers a space of 35 acres and now draws a weekend crowd the size of a mid-size city, with over 200,000 enjoying its sights, smells, and tastes.

The market is divided into 27 sections with close to 15,000 stalls, selling almost any kind of product you could imagine, including clothing, furniture, and home decoration. If shopping gives you the munchies, you can always stop for a baked quail egg or fried insect while you're there.


Other dishes worth trying while in Thailand are the ever-classic Pad Thai, kaprow (a rice dish served with meat or fish that is stir-fried with Thai basil), som tam (a papaya sald), or khao soi (a curry and coconut-flavored noodle soup).

Bukruk Street Art

Begun in 2013, the Bukruk Street Art Festival takes art directly to the streets. The Thai term Bukruk actually means an “invasion,” and that is just what it is. Every year, for about 10 days, artists from across Thailand and Europe invade the streets to show the world — and each other — the power of art when it’s placed in the public square. Highly-regarded street artist Banksy has said about the festival: “Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better-looking place.”

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This open-air festival has slowly gained a strong following, attracting international press and finding a niche presence on social media. Its mission to showcase local and international talent continues to grow today.

Hattie Stuart 2013, Hattie Stewart, 2013 - 2013, From the collection of: Bukruk International Street Art Festival
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Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is known for her sense of personal style, her love of traditional Thai handicrafts, and her fashion legacy, which continues at Bangkok’s Museum of Textiles.

H.M. Queen Sirikit & Pierre Balmain, From the collection of: Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles
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Created in 2003 out of an abandoned building on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles is one of the most important museums in the city. It showcases, conserves, and educates visitors about the history of textiles in Thailand.

Neun Thammang: Phaa Yok, Anak Navaraj, 2011, From the collection of: Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles
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The Queen’s passion for local textiles started in the 1950s when she began to travel throughout rural Thailand. There, she discovered a rich, untapped textile tradition among the women, which impressed her so much that she made it her mission to preserve these weaving traditions.

Neun Thammang: Phaa Yok, Anak Navaraj, 2011, From the collection of: Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles
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At the museum, visitors can see some of the more elaborate pieces from the Queen’s personal collection. Some of the most notable pieces to look out for are the stunning designs by Pierre Balmain, who was known to dress the Queen as well as celebrities such as Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.

Evening Dress in Thai National Style, 1964, Pierre Balmain, 1964, From the collection of: Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles
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Kamthieng House Museum of The Siam Society

After a bit of fashion, food, and street fun, you’ll need a history stop at the Kamthieng House Museum on your Bangkok tour. Located in the Watthana District of Bangkok, the museum is found within the walls of traditional 19th century teak wood structures and is preserved under the Royal Patronage of the Siam Society (Thailand’s former name was Siam, before becoming a constitutional monarchy).

The museum’s mission is “Knowledge Gives Rise to Friendship,” welcoming visitors to Thailand’s traditions and culture. The Kamthieng House offers a glimpse of traditional Thai life through displays of a rice granary, tools, and other artifacts of traditional 19th century Thai culture. Through these displays, the museum preserves and protects the rural traditions of the country’s forest villages.

Kamthieng House Museum, Unknown, Not Applicable - Not Applicable, From the collection of: Kamthieng House Museum of The Siam Society
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