Bangkok Holidays

Bangkok is as chaotic as cities get but pause and look closer and you’ll discover deep-rooted traditions and a radiant culture.

Zip down the streets in a colourful, tassel-lined tuk-tuk, passing Starbucks and food stalls selling grilled pork skewers for breakfast. Once you reach your destination, you approach the entrance of the resplendent Grand Palace, a gilded masterpiece in the middle of a clamorous capital. Loud and energetic, Bangkok is modern Thailand at full capacity. Contemporary high-rise hotels with rooftop pools punctuate the skyline, and yet traditions remain as important and visible as ever, whether it’s Songkran (Thai New Year, which is celebrated with water fights on the street in the sweltering heat of April), traditional night markets and floating markets, or a sticker above a seat on the Skytrain designating priority seats for monks.

A city that feels alive day and night, Bangkok offers a lot more than your average stopover destination. Most travellers stop for a few days before heading on to Northern Thailand or to southern beaches like Koh Samui or Phuket – days that can easily be filled up with visiting beautiful temples, navigating night markets and sampling Bangkok’s famous food. Street food is a staple all over the city, so you don’t need to look hard for authentic cuisine, and the recent introduction of the Michelin-guide has only cemented the city’s place on the culinary city hall of fame.

Talk to us and we’ll help create a Bangkok holiday to suit your travelling style.

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Bangkok Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Bangkok

Rembrandt Hotel & Suites

This hotel’s central location and excellent value make it a great base for exploring.

AVANI+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel

Fresh, elegant and understated with panoramic views out across the Chao Phraya River.

Banyan Tree Bangkok

This elegant award-winning hotel in central Bangkok has one of the best rooftop bars in the city.

Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok

An elegant hotel by the Chao Phraya River with stellar service and easy access to Bangkok’s Skytr...

Sindhorn Midtown Hotel Bangkok, Vignette Collection

A contemporary hotel at the heart of the city with high-end design, a Thai-inspired restaurant an...

Oriental Residence Bangkok

This lavishly appointed 5* hotel in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping and embassy district is a wel...

Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok

With its striking but unpretentious design, excellent food scene and welcoming atmosphere, this b...

The Salil Hotel Riverside – Bangkok

This stylish lifestyle hotel has an enviable riverside setting, an array of imaginative dining op...

The Standard, Bangkok Mahanakhon

The new Asian flagship of the born-in-Hollywood Standard brand offers glamour, inventive dining a...

Holidays in Bangkok

hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 4 Star

This hotel’s central location and excellent value make it a great base for exploring.

From £1,046 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 5 Star

Fresh, elegant and understated with panoramic views out across the Chao Phraya River.

From £1,213 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 5 Star

This elegant award-winning hotel in central Bangkok has one of the best rooftop bars in the city.

From £1,441 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 5 Star

An elegant hotel by the Chao Phraya River with stellar service and easy access to Bangkok’s Skytrain.

From £1,475 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 4.5 Star

A contemporary hotel at the heart of the city with high-end design, a Thai-inspired restaurant and cool and comfy rooms.

From £1,246 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 5 Star

This lavishly appointed 5* hotel in the heart of Bangkok’s shopping and embassy district is a welcome oasis in the fast-paced metropolis.

From £1,306 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 5 Star

With its striking but unpretentious design, excellent food scene and welcoming atmosphere, this boutique-style hotel ticks all the boxes.

From £1,685 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 5 Star

This stylish lifestyle hotel has an enviable riverside setting, an array of imaginative dining options and superb facilities including a soothing spa.

From £1,349 p/p
hotel
  • Bangkok
  • 5 Star

The new Asian flagship of the born-in-Hollywood Standard brand offers glamour, inventive dining and made-for-Instagram looks.

From £1,395 p/p

**Unearth centuries of religion and tradition with a small group escorted tour starting in Bangkok **

Our Thailand tours begin in Bangkok. You’ll have a local guide to enlighten you with insider information as you visit famous attractions including the Grand Palace. Our small group numbers mean you get a more intimate experience and time to ask questions. Visiting significant historic sights and diverse landscapes like the Bridge on the River Kwai and northern capital, Chiang Mai, our tour itineraries offer a cultural experience with hands-on cooking classes, too. 

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Muay Thai Master Class

The ancient art of Muay Thai - also known as Thai boxing - is an integral part of the country’s culture, and there’s no better place to learn about it than in its birthplace. For this two-hour masterclass, you’ll be collected from your hotel by an English-speaking guide and driven to one of Bangkok’s most important boxing stadiums. If you’re a Ryan Gosling fan, it might just look familiar; it was one of the locations for the action film Only God Forgives, in which he played the lead role. During the training session, you’ll learn some of the principles of “the art of eight limbs”, before trying out some basic moves for yourself under the supervision of an expert instructor. Afterwards, you’ll be taken back to your hotel for a well-earned rest.

• Duration: half day (class is 2 hours)
• Time: 8am to midday
• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
Soft drinks, coffee, water and all the boxing equipment you’ll require are provided, but you’ll need to bring a towel and wear suitable sportswear.

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Bangkok's Highlights in a Day

For those who like to pack the maximum into each day, this trip will take you to some of Bangkok’s most famous sights in comfort. The first stop of the morning is Wat Traimit, home to a three-metre-high statue of a seated Buddha made from solid gold; from here, you’ll travel to another temple, Wat Pho, with another statue of Buddha - this time reclining - that’s a massive 46 metres long. Next on the itinerary is the Grand Palace, a former royal residence, and the temple of the Emerald Buddha, though the statue is actually made of jade. After lunch, you’ll board a traditional boat to cruise along some of the city’s canals, taking in the sights of daily life along the way, before disembarking at your final temple of the day: the riverside Wat Arun, known for its distinctive multicoloured spire.

• Duration: full day
• Time: 8am to 3pm
• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
You’ll need to dress appropriately for visiting the various temples: that means long trousers - not leggings - or skirts below the knee, and covered shoulders. Carry a lightweight, though not see-through, cover-up if you want to be more casual the rest of the day.

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Bangkok By Night

In the evening, temperatures drop and there’s less traffic, so it’s an ideal time to discover a different side of Bangkok. On this fascinating tour, you’ll travel by tuk tuk from the departure point at Lebua State Tower, a luxury hotel with amazing views from its various bars, to Chinatown for a herb-infused cocktail (or soft drink) and a Thai meal. Afterwards, you’ll whizz around the city’s historic heart past some of its most famous sights, including the Grand Palace - all lit up to spectacular effect. You’ll stroll through the grounds of a temple to admire the illuminations and explore bustling areas known for their amazing street-food scene. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to try some local sweet treats such as kluai thot - deliciously sticky pieces of deep-fried banana coated in sesame seeds - the perfect way to round off the evening.

• Duration: evening
• Time: 6.30pm to 10.30pm
• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
The tour is not suitable for children under 10. As for what to wear, you’ll need smart casual clothing if you want to visit the Lebua State Tower before the tour and suitable clothing for visiting temples. It can get surprisingly cool zipping around at night in an open-sided vehicle, so you’ll be grateful for the extra coverage. Transfers to departure point not included

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Bangkok Your Way (Private Driver and Guide) - Half Day or Full Day

Whether you know precisely what you want to see or are looking for some suggestions from someone who knows the city like the back of their hand, there’s no better way of exploring Bangkok at your own pace than with a private guide and chauffeur. With the help of their insider tips, you’ll be able to get unique insights into the city’s most famous sights, discover hidden gems you’d never have stumbled upon on your own and learn about the country’s culture along the way. With stops wherever and whenever you want, and the ability to change course on a whim, it’s a superb option for those travelling with children and those who want a tailor-made immersion in the history and culture of Bangkok.

• Duration: half day or full day
• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
You’ll have to pay locally for parking fees and tickets to any attractions you visit, and for any refreshments.

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Ayutthaya’s Highlights In A Day

If you have a passion for history and a love of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you won’t want to miss the chance to explore Thailand’s ancient capital. The city of Ayutthaya was one of the world’s most important urban areas from 1350 to 1767, before being sacked by the Burmese, and its ruins are a fascinating place to wander. On this engaging private experience, you’ll travel by train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. Here, you’ll hop on one of the distinctive local “kermit” tuk-tuks - so-called because of their frog-green colour - to enable you to explore every corner of the Historical Park effortlessly, something that families, in particular, will appreciate. Soak up the views of crumbling temples, ancient statues and romantic towers, before boarding a riverboat for a restful, and scenic, return to Bangkok.

• Duration: full day
• Time: 6.30am to 4pm
• Departures every Wednesday to Monday
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
Proper clothing is required for visiting temples. Includes roundtrip transfers.

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Bangkok Street Food

Thailand is known for its delicious street food, and one of the best places to sample it is in Bangkok’s historic Rattanakosin district, also known as the Old Town. On this four-hour tour, you’ll head off on foot with a local English-speaking guide to explore the narrow streets and alleyways of this atmospheric area, stopping at family-run shops, tiny cafés, street vendors and market stalls to sample their wares and learn about how they’re made. Sip a cup of old-style coffee, the thick and sweet kafae boran; feast on Chinese chive dumplings and succulent roast duck; and try typical sweet treats such as sticky-rice dumplings filled with mung-bean paste. Be sure to leave room for some coconut ice cream, handmade by the same family for generations.

• Duration: half day
• Time: 8.30am to 1pm
• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Group experience

Good to know
Suitable for children aged 12 and upwards. The tour includes visits to a temple and shrine, so dress appropriately. Transfers not included

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Bangkok’s Floating Market

One of Bangkok’s more colourful attractions, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is rightly on many visitors’ not-to-be-missed lists. Heading out in the cool of the early morning, you’ll stop at iconic Wat Bang Kung, an ancient temple almost completely surrounded by the roots of a vast banyan tree, to soak up its unique atmosphere and learn about its not-always-peaceful history. From here, you’ll carry on to the floating market itself, which occupies a maze of narrow canals (khlongs) crowded with narrow wooden sampans piled high with produce. You’ll venture out on the water in your own boat, where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take some superb photos and bargain for typical snacks. Your final destination is the extraordinary Rom Hub Railway Market, whose stalls lie on either side of an active railway track, meaning that the vendors have to pull everything out of the way every time a train goes past - which is quite a sight!

• Duration: half day
• Time: 6.30am to 1pm
• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
Not recommended for families with younger children.

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River Kwai Highlights In A Day

Symbolising the horrors of World War II in Asia, the bridge on the River Kwai at Kanchanaburi is almost a place of pilgrimage for history buffs, film aficionados and anyone curious about the relatively recent past. On this poignant trip, you’ll learn all about the building of the infamous bridge that was designed to link up a direct railway line from Bangkok to Rangoon (now Yangon) to support the Japanese occupation of Burma (now Myanmar) in 1943. You’ll visit the graves of members of the Allied Forces on a tour of the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, before looking at historical photographs and paintings at the JEATH War Museum, both emotionally moving experiences. To complete your day, you’ll take a memorable ride on the Thailand-Burma Railway itself, also known as the Death Railway because of the thousands of POWs and forced local workers who lost their lives during its construction.

• Duration: full day
• Time 6.30am to 6.30pm
• Daily departures
• Operates year round
• Private experience

Good to know
The trip is suitable for all ages.

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Get to know Bangkok and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.

Capital
TIME DIFFERENCE

GMT +7 hours

CURRENCY

Thai Bhat

FLYING TIME TO DESTINATION

11½ hours

RELIGION

The most common religion in Thailand is Buddhism

LANGUAGE

Thai; over 73 languages are spoken throughout Thailand

Where is Bangkok?
North of the Gulf of Thailand, Bangkok sits on the Chao Phraya River. Its position in Central Thailand makes it ideal for multi-centre holidays in combination with popular destinations such as Northern Thailand and the glorious beaches of the south. From Bangkok, you can reach many destinations in little more than an hour’s flight; Chiang Mai takes 1¼ hours, and Phuket, Koh Samui and Krabi all take around an hour.

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Grand Palace
Bangkok’s most iconic landmark is the spectacular Grand Palace. The official residence of the King of Thailand for nearly 150 years from 1782-1925, it remains continuously in use for important national ceremonies and events. The palace is fabulously preserved and is home to a collection of spectacular gardens, the Royal Thai Decoration, Coin Pavilion, and the city’s most famous temple, Wat Phra Kaew, also known as The Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

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Temples
Bangkok is dotted with over 400 glittering Buddhist temples and many can be found in the Rattanakosin area on the western side of the city. Wat Pho, known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, neighbours the Grand Palace and is one of Bangkok’s largest temples. Built in 1832, this famous gilded Buddha is 46 metres in length and 15 metres high with exquisite mother-of-pearl eyes to represent Buddha’s entry into Nirvana. Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is on the Thon Buri side of the Chao Phraya River opposite the Grand Palace.

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Getting around
Even getting around in Bangkok is an adventure, whether it’s in a brightly-lit taxi cab, the city’s signature tuk-tuks, by river taxi or aboard the air-conditioned and efficient BTS Skytrain. Bangkok’s main station is Hua Lamphong – a beautiful 100-year-old building shaped like an arc. The space-age Skytrain was built to relieve congestion on the city’s key thoroughfares, and the light green Sukhumvit Line runs along high-rise Sukhumvit Road, through Siam and then on to the north of the city. The system’s dark green Silom Line makes its way along Silom Road and on to the world-famous MBK shopping centre.

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Food & drink
You'll find somewhere to eat around nearly every corner in Bangkok – a bustling market, food courts in shopping centres, stalls on the side of the street, or on the rooftop of some of the city’s most luxurious hotels. Street food is a staple all over the city, so you don’t need to look hard for authentic food. Taste skewers just off the grill, quench your midday thirst with a just-cut coconut and order a portion of pad thai that'll only cost you a few hundred baht. The arrival of the Michelin guide in 2017 has cemented Bangkok's place in the culinary hall of fame with restaurants awarded a Michelin star or two.

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Shopping
Shopping is almost obligatory in Bangkok. Even if you have no intention of spending your time here at the shops, it’s hard to avoid the many malls and outdoor markets as you wander the city streets. The iconic MBK Centre has approximately 2,000 shops spread over eight floors. Stay at the Rembrandt Hotel (p77) and you’ll have the famous Sukhumvit Road practically on your doorstep. Thai silk, jewellery and semi-precious stones such as opal, jade, silverware and ceramics are popular purchases in Thailand. There are local craft workshops that you can visit to see these Thai handicrafts being made.

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Multi-centres
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is the nation’s hub and is home to the national carrier, Thai Airways, as well as a number of domestic airlines that fly out to the country’s major cities and resorts. Offering the perfect mix of city life with the tropical tranquillity of a beach resort, the classic combination of Bangkok and beach is ideal for any first timer in Thailand. For more authentic experience, you could discover the delights of Northern Thailand with its many temples and unique hill tribes. For those that want to see more of the country’s idyllic islands and coastlines, we recommend combining two or more of Thailand’s many beautiful beach resorts.

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