First Time in Bangkok Old City - What To Do

Bangkok Old City (Rattanakosin) Survival Guide

On your first trip to the Old City district in Bangkok, you will probably be struck by how exotic everything is. Whereas other neighbourhoods have become more internationalised, the Old City Bangkok has retained more of its unique charm. It’s home to a glittering array of temples, palaces and ancient architecture, representing the cultural and historical centre of the city. For anyone interested in the history and origins of this bustling city, a visit to the wide, tree-lined avenues of the Old City is a must.

Use this guide to help you find your feet on your first day. From the backpacker heartland of Khao San Road, to the sleepy backstreets of Dusit, you can find an easy-to-read guide to all the best places in Old City right here.

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Bangkok Old City at a Glance

Here’s a summary of what we like about this area, and also what we don’t like. We have tried to give a balanced view so you can decide in seconds if this is the right place for you.

  • Loads of sightseeing and photo opportunities
  • The original city - packed with cultural heritage
  • Plenty of traditional street food
  • Many good value hotels
  • Not much public transport makes travelling around difficult
  • Not much shopping
  • Nightlife is limited to Khao San Road
  • No five-star resorts in the Old City

The Best Things to Do in Bangkok Old City

As the historic centre of the city, it should come as no surprise that Old City has the finest collection of period buildings in all of Thailand. Grand palaces (including the Grand Palace), stunning temples that have graced countless postcards, and plenty other fabulous landmarks can be found here. The Old City is the packed with temples, palaces and cultural landmarks.

  • The Grand Palace

    The Grand Palace

    If there is one must-see sight that no visit to Bangkok would be complete without, it's the dazzling, spectacular Grand Read More»

  • Wat Pho

    Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha Read More»

  • Khaosan Road

    Khaosan Road

    Is Bangkok really "the centre of the backpacking universe"?. Judging by the truth-seeking travellers who converge here, Read More»

The Best Restaurants in Old City Bangkok

If you’re looking for Bangkok’s best street food, this is the place for you. You can find local joints and street food stalls throughout the area, serving authentic recipes that have stood the test of time. There’s also some fancier places along the riverside near to Wat Pho. Delicious yet affordable Thai food rules in Old City.

  • Steve Cafe and Cuisine

    Steve Cafe and Cuisine

    Steve Cafe & Cuisine is tucked away on the riverside, far from busy streets, with no easy access and with no big Read More»

  • Seven Spoons Restaurant

    Seven Spoons

    In a cosy double shophouse on a quiet road that visitors don’t really frequent you will find one of the best restaurants Read More»

  • Arun Residence

    Arun Residence

    Wat Arun is also known as 'The temple of Dawn', but the best time to capture its beauty is at sunset, and the best place Read More»

The Best Places to Go at Night

Old City is not blessed with many night spots, but the one it does have is amazing. Khao San Road, well known as a backpacker haven, is alluringly popular for all visitors as a place to shop, drinks, party and shop at the chap and cheerful stalls. Khao San is the best spot for some late-night fun.

  • Khaosan Road

    Khaosan Road

    Is Bangkok really "the centre of the backpacking universe"?. Judging by the truth-seeking travellers who converge here, Read More»

  • Brown Sugar Bangkok

    Brown Sugar Bangkok is a celebrated blues and jazz club featuring live music, and serving cocktails and Thai and Read More»

  • The Club on Khao San Road

    The Club on Khao San Road

    The Club on Khao San Road is large, loud and from around midnight on filled with people swaying to pumping music. Read More»

The Best Shopping in Old City

There are many shops and markets here, but the majority are quite local style. The only excpetion being the stalls along Khao San and the surrounding streets. Having said that, modernity is reaching into this neighbourhood and along the riverbank there are some new lifestyle malls opening up. You will probably do more browsing than buying here.

  • Bangkok Flower Market

    Bangkok Flower Market

    Bangkok Flower Market is the biggest wholesale and retail fresh flower market in Bangkok. It has all kinds of popular Read More»

  • Tha Maharaj Mall

    Opened at the start of 2015, Tha Maharaj is one of only a handful of shopping malls located in Bangkok’s historic Old Read More»

  • Yodpiman River Walk at Bangkok Flower Market

    Yodpiman River Walk

    Yodpiman River Walk is a lifestyle mall focusing on a heritage theme inspired by the architecture of Thailand’s Ayutahya Read More»

Hotels in Bangkok Old City We Recommend to Our Friends

There are so many places to stay in Bangkok Old City we could spend ages reviewing them all. To save you time, here’s a selection of three hotels we like: a luxury hotel, a mid-range and a budget one, too.

Riva Surya Bangkok

Just minutes walk from the pier at Pra Athit, Riva Surya is a visual delight, with as much consideration put into the hotels Read More...

Casa Nithra Bangkok

Casa Nithra Bangkok offers a four-star luxury boutique stay in Thailand thriving capital located on Bangkok 176 Samsen Road, Phra Read More...

sala rattanakosin

Sala Rattanakosin is a beautiful boutique hotel which offers one of the best views in the city, overlooking the river and directly Read More...


Hotels in Bangkok Old City (Rattanakosin)

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