This ultimate guide provides tons of ideas and information on all the free things to do in Bangkok. From expansive green spaces and temples to free classes and crocodiles – this city really is your best friend if you’re on a budget as there are so many amazing free things to do in Bangkok.
Quick Links – Free Things To Do In Bangkok
- Lumphini Park
- The Golden Mount
- Free Temples – Wat Mangkorn Kamalawat & Wat Intharawihan
- Bang Krachao
- Khaosan Road
- Bangkokian Museum
- Bangkok Flower Market – Pak Klong Talad
- Muay Thai At MBK Center
- Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
- Puppet Show as The Artist’s House
- Erawan Shrine
- Benjakitti Park
- Amulet Market
- Sunset At Wat Arun
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Ko Kret Island
- Wat Chakrawat Crocodiles
- Free Meditation Class At Wat Mahathat
- Royal Elephant National Museum
- Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
- Rod Fai Train Market
- Wat Ratchabophit
1. Lumphini Park
Lumphini Park, named after the Nepalese birthplace of Buddha, is not only the largest, at 142 acres, but also the oldest park in the city. It’s one of the only places right in the heart of the city where you can get some peace and quiet. Amongst the many trees and lawns, there is also a lake where you can rent paddle boats! There’s plenty of paths around the park for you to take a stroll and just relax.
It’s the best outdoor escape inside Bangkok – you’ll leave the bustling streets behind for a while. You can walk, sit, exercise or even do a bit of lizard spotting! Yes, the lake is home to giant monitor lizards, some reaching 10 feet! You’ll definitely see them around the park, they’re not dangerous but it’s best to leave them alone. There is no entry fee to enter and it’s pretty easy to get to as it is centrally located.
2. The Golden Mount
Wat Saket, or The Golden Mount, is a gleaming, golden temple situated on top of an 80 metre-tall hill. You’ll have to be dedicated to reach it though as this requires climbing around 300 steps that circle the shrine. It’s definitely worth the hike though as you’ll also get an incredible 360 view up at the top, looking out over Bangkok Old Town.
Wat Saket is also a pilgrimage site where worshippers will flock all year round (but especially in November during a week-long worshipping period). This can actually be a pretty exciting time to visit as they also host an annual festival – expect colourful lanterns and a bright red cloth that drapes over the main central chedi.
The base of the hill does give off an eery vibe as it is actually an overgrown, unusual cemetary where the ashes of plague victims were scattered many years ago. It’s definitely worth a visit as the temple is free to enter and the views are just amazing.
3. Free Temples – Wat Mangkorn Kamalawat & Wat Intharawihan
Bangkok has many famous temples, such as Wat Arun, that are simply iconic but do charge a fee to enter. Don’t worry though, Bangkok has plenty of other temples that you can visit that are completely free (and they’re pretty cool too).
One of the best ones is Wat Mangkon Kamalawat which is actually the largest Chinese Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It hosts many celebrations, one of the most important being Chinese New Year – this is an especially great time to visit. It is located within Chinatown which is an adventure in itself.
Another free temple not to miss is Wat Intharawihan. This one is particularly noteworthy as it’s famous for having a 32-metre standing Buddha statue on its grounds. This statue, also known as Luang Pho To, took 60 years to build and is pretty magnificent so it’s definitely worth a visit.
4. Bang Krachao
This hidden jungle oasis is a piece of heaven hidden away from the skyscrapers and fancy condominiums of Bangkok. Despite being in Bangkok it feels worlds away as it is a very natural area and feels more like rural Thailand than Bangkok. As you explore this small island, you’ll see nothing but green (it is even also known as the green lung by many locals!).
Hidden amongst the thousands of leafy trees, you’ll find rustic Thai homes, treehouses, coffee shops and even a bird watching tower. Pathways will lead you through the wilderness and for around 100 baht ($3) you can even rent a bicycle which can be a fun way to explore this island area. You’ll definitely feel close to nature here, with the sounds of birds chirping in your ears as you glide through the greenery – it’s a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and is one of the best free things to do in Bangkok.
5. Khaosan Road
Everyone loves a bit of people watching and Khaosan Road is the perfect place for that! Check out our complete guide for visiting Khaosan Road for more information. Khaosan Road has been described as ‘the centre of the backpacking universe’. This 1-km long road is a vibrant hub where travellers from all over the world come together. Here you will find many budget hotels, mid-range hotels, bars, restaurants, massage parlours, market stalls and much more!
It’s a great place to come just to absorb the atmosphere, you’ll meet people from all over the world and you don’t even have to spend a penny! If you’re willing to spare a few baht though, you can get yourself a lot of cheap goods here – you can buy literally anything! Why not grab a cheap cocktail and make some new friends in one of Bangkok’s most famous streets.
6. Bangkokian Museum
This free museum will take you back to the late 1940s and early 1950s. It gives you a fascinating insight into the lives of the well-off people of Bangkok who lived during the early/mid 20th century. When you arrive you’ll find a preserved trio of houses draped in trees. The original owner donated them to the city in 2004, leaving them fully preserved to look as they would have in the early 20th century with the main house being built in 1937.
It has a very authentic and graceful feel to it that you’ll experience as you explore the homes, gazing at the elegant piano standing grand in the corner of the room, the standing clock, family portraits and even the delicate china. Throughout these homes that appear to be stopped in time, there’s a magnitude of objects from the era from stamps to postcards and magazines.
7. Bangkok Flower Market – Pak Klong Talad
This is definitely one of the most vibrant markets you’ll find in Bangkok; it’s also the largest wholesale flower market in the whole of Thailand! Here you’ll find many stalls displaying tons of fresh-cut flowers. From colourful carnations to ornate orchids and delicate roses.
Bangkok is known for its vibrancy and this market is no exception. It’s also open 24/7 and is a truly authentic experience. It can get quite busy and you’ll be overwhelmed by the aromatic smells and colourful displays – the flowers seem to go on forever and you’ll find every flower imaginable here.
8. Muay Thai At MBK Center
Thailand is pretty famous for Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, and is any trip to Thailand really complete without seeing a Muay Thai fight? If you’re on a budget but still want to experience this world famous combat sport in the flesh, then after you’ve finished your shopping and sightseeing for the day, head over to the MBK Shopping Centre.
Every Wednesday night they hold the MBK Fight Night. You’ll get a real taste of traditional Muay Thai boxing and the best part is that it is completely free. It generally features around 8 fights, covering a range of weights and fighters from all over the world. It’s a fantastic event, featuring live commentary and a purpose built ring right at the front of the shopping centre. This is definitely one of the best free things to do in Bangkok!
Bangkok’s Chinatown is the largest Chinatown in the world and offers a fascinating mix of Chinese and Thai culture. The main high street, Yaowarat Road, is packed with market stalls and street-side restaurants where you can sample the best food Bangkok has to offer. As one of the greatest street-food destinations in the world, be sure to try some of their most popular dishes such as dim sum, stir-fried crab, sweet and sour shrimp and oyster omelettes. For dessert, try some durian ice-cream!
As well as the cuisine, Chinatown also has some temples that you can visit. Wat Traimit is also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha. Here, you can see the world’s largest golden buddha! You also can’t miss the China Gate. Chinatown is a great place to just get lost and explore. It’s made up of lots of narrow alleys and lanes filled with a bustling market atmosphere. You’ll find charming wooden shophouses and gold shops.
10. Butterfly Garden & Insectarium
This tranquil oasis is home to thousands of fluttering butterflies, found inside a giant glass dome. To reach it, you’ll need to trek across Queen Sirikit Park which is itself an enchanting botanical garden with over 2,000 species of flowers and plants. You’ll be enveloped by radiant flowerbeds, shady trees, wildflowers and pristine lawns. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale!
If you do manage to make it to the butterfly garden (first of all congrats) you’ll finally be able to gaze at the wondrous butterflies such as the Golden Birdwing or the Siam Tree Nymph inside the glass dome. It gives a really up-close and personal experience, it’s not often you can get this close to these beautiful winged creatures in their natural habitat! Try to sit still if you can and you’ll find the butterflies will come to you and if you get super lucky, one might even land on you!
11. Puppet Show at The Artist’s House
Baan Silapin Artist’s Home is a centuries-old house which has now been converted into an art gallery and puppet theatre. It is located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River. Sculptures, photography and other artwork are scattered around the house and you can also get some traditional Thai food here.
One of the major draws to this attraction is the puppet show which is shown every afternoon at 2PM (except Wednesdays). Here you can see traditional Thai puppet shows featuring intricate handcrafted puppets enacting old Thai folktales on a small wooden stage. The puppeteers really bring the puppets to life and put on a spectacular show. There is lots of interaction with the audience. The puppet shows and entry to the home is completely free, however you can leave a donation if you want.
The neighbourhood surrounding the Artist’s Home is also really interesting to explore. You’ll see a much calmer side of Bangkok here and it showcases traditional Thai life. Look out for the human shaped statues painted in white, red and black sitting by the water – they’re a very unusual sight!
12. Erawan Shrine
The Erawan Shrine is a Hindu shrine in Bangkok that houses a golden statue of Phra Phrom – the Thai representation of the Hindu god of creation, Brahma. Whilst visiting, you’ll often see worshippers leaving flowers, garlands or incense sticks at the shrine. You’ll also often see free traditional dance performances here. It’s got a pretty lively atmosphere as the shrine is located on one of Bangkok’s busiest streets in the main commercial area of the city – many people who are simply passing by to get to work will quickly stop to worship and then carry on.
The history of shrines in Thailand is also very interesting as they are erected in order to keep evil spirits away – this particular one was erected next to Erawan Hotel as there were many mishaps during the construction of the hotel so they felt a shrine was needed to appease the spirits and eliminate any bad karma.
13. Benjakitti Park
This picturesque park surrounds the expansive Lake Ratchada and has some pretty impressive views as it is surrounded by many of Bangkok’s iconic high rise buildings. Alongside the many jogging and bicycle paths (that stretches for ~2km around the lake), there is an abundance of vibrant flowerbeds and leafy trees.
Why not bring a picnic and relax in this spacious greenspace or take a swan shaped paddle boat and glide along the tranquil waters taking in the views? It is truly one of the most beautiful green spaces in Bangkok. You’ll also find magnificent fountains here and can rent bikes for 50 baht an hour if you fancy it. This area is adorned with skyscrapers and Benjakiti Park sits right in the middle!
14. Amulet Market
Located in Tha Phrachan Pier, the so-called amulet market is a super interesting place to visit. The walls are lined with stalls all filled with thousands and thousands of small trinkets and amulets that offer varying protection to ward off evil or bring good fortune. You’ll see a mix of people purchasing these talismans, from monks to taxi drivers to locals and even people in more dangerous professions.
The amulets themselves come in all different shapes and sizes and they’re lucky for many different reasons. Some may claim to have pieces of sacred temples within them and some may have been blessed by monks. Prices of these amulets also vary immensely – if you want to pick something up as a souvenir then you can get some for as little as 5 baht ($0.15) however some do cost a fortune.
You’ll see a lot of bartering here and plenty of people peering at items through magnifying glasses so it’s a great place for people watching. It’s one of the most unique and interesting markets that you’ll ever come across so is definitely worth a visit.
15. Sunset At Wat Arun
An iconic symbol of Bangkok, Wat Arun, also know as the Temple of Dawn, is a glorious Buddhist temple situated on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Standing majestically along the riverside, this icon glows in the morning as the light hits its many spires. For info on visiting Wat Arun, check out our complete guide to Wat Arun here.
One drawback is that it does charge an entrance fee to enter. Don’t worry though, there is arguably an even better way to see it that will cost you absolutely nothing! One of the best viewing options is to go to the east side of the river at sunset or sunrise (Wat Arun sits of the west side of the river). One of the best spots is Riva Arun Pier – just look out over the river and you’ll see the glowing sun setting behind this iconic temple. It’s a sight you just have to see and is completely free!
If you have money to spend and want to get something to eat or drink, then there are plenty of restaurants and bars that offer a mesmerising view at sunset such as Sala Rattanakosin. There are plenty of great spots to catch the sunset that are completely free though. Wat Arun is an incredible site not to miss (and you won’t as it’s central pang is 80-metres tall) and is decorated with beautiful intricate porcelain designs.
16. Chatuchak Weekend Market
This is definitely one not to miss. Chatuchak weekend market is Thailand’s largest market featuring over 15,000 stalls with a variety of goods ranging from plants, antiques, clothing, furniture, books, food and so much more! It’s divided into 27 sections so there’s certainly something for everyone – make sure you grab a map from one of the information kiosks so you know where to go to find what you’re looking for. You’ll never get bored exploring this market as it just goes on forever. It’s not just famous in Thailand, it’s world famous being one of the most diverse markets in the world.
It can get very busy (sometimes seeing over 200,000 people in just one weekend) so you’ll sometimes be battling your way through the crowds but it’s worth it. From the colourful clothing stalls to the tech stalls pumping music. If you’re not looking to spend anything, just visiting is an experience you’ll never forget. If you have some baht to spare, then why not try to barter for a souvenir to take home with you. It’s free to enter and is open on Fridays (6PM – Midnight), Saturday (9AM-6PM) & Sunday (9AM-6PM).
17. Ko Kret Island
This small island, situated in the Chao Phraya River, is just 3km long and 3km wide. It’s a really interesting place to visit and explore. You can reach it by ferry which only costs 2 baht ($0.06!). Ko Kret is famous for its distinctive pottery that you’ll see all over the island – it’s really impressive as the people of the island are masters at what they do.
The island itself is actually man-made – about 300 years ago a canal was built as a short-cut and it essentially ‘shaved’ off a piece of land that is now Ko Kret Island – home to over 6,000 people today. On weekends, the island hosts markets filled with exquisite Thai craftsmanship and delicious food making it a great time to visit. It’s a great place to go to if you’re after an authentic experience. There’s also some great temples to see on the island too!
18. Wat Chakrawat Crocodiles
This is definitely not something you see everyday. Wat Chakrawat is a temple located in Chinatown. It is also known by locals as the crocodile temple – this is due to the 3 live crocodiles that live on it’s grounds in a cave and pond. You can view them for free if you enter the temple which has some pretty fascinating stories.
Ai Bod was the name of an infamous one-eyed man-eating crocodile in Thai legends. Back in the Ayutthaya period, this beast, after terrorizing people along the Chao Phraya River, was finally chased into the temple where the monks then built an enclosure for Ai Bod to live – today you can see this crocodile in the temple however it is stuffed and has been placed overlooking the pond in the temple, looking over the crocodiles that live there today.
19. Free Meditation Class At Wat Mahathat
Wat Mahathat is one of Bangkok’s oldest Buddhist temples, built back during the time of the Ayutthaya kingdom. It is located in the old Rattanakosin area on the east side of the Chao Phraya River. It is actually one of the 10 royal temples of the highest class in Bangkok and has previously been used for royal ceremonies.
It is also home to the well-known Vipassana Meditation Center where free 3-hour classes are held everyday. The English classes run from 7AM-10AM, 1PM-4PM and 6PM-9PM. Although classes are free, donations are welcomed. The classes teach Vipassana meditation which is a specific type of meditation also known as insight meditation – it generally focuses on gaining insight into the true nature of things. It is definitely one of the best free things to do in Bangkok.
The temple is also home to the first ever Buddhist university so it is an important centre for learning as hundreds of monks come here to study the teachings of the Buddha.
20. Royal Elephant National Museum
This small museum is entirely dedicated to Thailand’s royal elephants. It’s in an enchanting location, sitting in the grounds of the Dusit Palace – the actual museum itself is in the old elephant stables! This museum is very informative so expect to learn a lot. One of the most impressive things that you’ll see is the life-size royal elephant models! You’ll also be able to view and learn about a range of elephant artefacts and old rituals such as the royal elephant naming ceremony. It’s definitely great if you want to delve into Thai history and culture and is entirely free to enter.
21. Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple
This is a Hindu temple in Bangkok featuring impressive South Indian architecture. It was built back in 1879 by a Tamil Hindu immigrant who built it as a reminder of his culture and beliefs. It is the main Tamil Hindu temple in Thailand located in the Bangrak district of Bangkok and situated right on the corner between Silom Road and Pan Road.
You’ll see many stalls nearby selling beautiful yellow flower garlands and incense for worshippers as well as Indian food and desserts. The temple itself is made up of vivid designs and intricate sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses that are carved into the pillars and walls. It is a collision of colours and design and is an incredible site to see, costing absolutely nothing to visit.
22. Rod Fai Train Market
Rod Fai Market in Bangkok is an authentic night market selling an array of vintage collectables and items from many moons ago. From furniture to fashion, you’ll find it all here. It’s open from sunset to midnight, Thursday to Sunday and is located just behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall. You’ll find a huge variety of goods here and plenty of tasty snacks. From old leather jackets to antique home decor, you’ll find it all here.
It is also known as Bangkok’s first train market, weirdly though it is actually nowhere near any trains! Years ago, the market used to be held next to the train tracks close to Chatuchak Weekend Market but in 2013 it was forced to move due to expansion of the BTS Skytrain. Despite this move, it is now even bigger and better!
23. Wat Ratchabophit
Wat Ratchabophit is a Buddhist temple located on Atsadang Road, close to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. It is a spectacular hidden gem right in the heart of the city. As you enter, you’ll marvel at the Italian style architecture gleaming with gold – Rama V had seen this whilst visiting Europe so wanted to recreate it in Thailand. A gilded chedi sits right in the centre of the circular courtyard making it a very unique temple to visit.
Thanks for reading this ultimate guide on the top free things to do in Bangkok, Thailand. Check out our Bangkok page for more helpful tips and advice – such as where you should stay, when to visit and how to get around the city.