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From Michelin-starred meals to serene island escapes, your Thailand adventure awaits. Here's where to visit in Bangkok

Both Bangkok and the tropical islands beyond deliver a memorable mix of history, culture and cuisine that will delight all your senses. | By Paul Oswell | April 4, 2022

The vast metropolis of Bangkok is one of the most exciting and explorable cities in Southeast Asia. This sprawling city is alive with age-old history and tradition, as well as a dynamic modern energy and contemporary urban aesthetics. The Thai are welcoming, enthusiastic ambassadors, and authentic experiences abound, be it culinary, artistic or cultural. From the grandest of palaces to unforgettable street food, a visit to Bangkok and the islands beyond provides a wealth of memories. There are a wealth of attractions and places to visit in Bangkok, Thailand. Here are our recommendations for a seamless Thai vacation:

  • Culture and shopping: Ancient temples evoke the city’s history, while huge modern plazas and markets create a dream retail scene

  • Culinary adventure: Thai cuisine may have conquered the world, but there’s nothing like experiencing truly authentic flavors from holes in the wall or high-end little-known eateries

  • Island life: Escape the demands of city life with an easy hop to Koh Samui, where the tropics work their reviving magic

For the culture

Your Bangkok experience should start with world-class shopping and stunning historical temples.

Your hotel concierge can suggest local tour companies and places to visit in Bangkok that will show you the city's most beautiful temples. Unmissable sites include the sublime Emerald Buddha at Wat Phra Kaew, the awe-inspiring, golden reclining Buddha at Wat Pho and the ancient Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn — be sure to time your trip here for the evening as it looks particularly spectacular as the sun sets.

For those in search of tangible memories from their trip, the city’s near-endless street stalls, dazzling array of markets and chic modern shopping arcades draw in shoppers from all over the world. Transform your shopping experience with a little more help from your hotel concierge. They can guide you through a day trip that takes in some of the city’s more unusual markets, with comfortable transfers taking the stress out of traversing Bangkok. Be sure to include stops at the famous Maeklong Railway Market, where shops literally brush up against the tracks, and then the evocative ‘floating market’ at ​​Amphawa, bobbing along the river in a long boat.

A classic Bangkok experience is to have a bespoke suit or dress made at one of the city’s many tailors. The process of being measured and fitted feels decadent as the Parisian-trained professionals at Narin Couture in Sukhumvit or Perry’s Custom Tailor in Bang Rak give you a completely personal service.

Conrad Bangkok in the Central Business District is ideally located for all of your shopping spree needs. Just a few minutes away is the huge plaza of CentralWorld, one of the world’s largest retail complexes with dozens of international brands. Cap off your day of retail adventures with a relaxing treatment at Seasons Spa, which uses aromatherapy and other methods to rejuvenate and balance the body.

Try Thai cuisine

One of the most compelling reasons to visit Bangkok is to experience the panoramic delights of its cuisine. Prepare your tastebuds for adventures well beyond your local Thai restaurant, and revel in a culinary excellence that extends from gourmet restaurants to market stalls brimming with authentic flavors.

The city is rightly famous for its world-class street food, but with a dizzying array of options, you should sign up for one of the award-winning explorations offered by Bangkok Food Tours. The best stalls typically just excel in one dish, and having an expert on hand to pick out the must-visit spots is a real boon for foodies. Head for established spots such as Ratchawat Market or Sriyan Market, where you can try succulent roasted duck, pan-fried curry shark and all kinds of spicy seafood soups. Raan Jay Fai on Soi Samran Rat was even awarded a Michelin star, and is famed for sublime crab omelets.

Speaking of Michelin stars, Bangkok has 30 such restaurants to choose from. At Mezzaluna, two Michelin stars and commanding views of the Chao Phraya River combine with Chef Ryuki Kawasaki’s winning fusion of French and Japanese cuisines. A more traditional setting awaits at Chim by Siam Wisdom, with its wooden furnishings that evoke a traditional Thai house. You can indulge your appetites even further at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, where the hotel’s top three floors are dedicated to gastronomic pleasures. Book the property’s Taste of Thailand, which features a four-course meal of elevated homestyle Thai dishes such as seared Hokkaido scallops (Phla Lai Bua Hoy Shell) and marinated wagyu beef with roasted rice and chili powder (Suea Rong Hai) at Front Room.

Island vibes

After enjoying the rich culture of Bangkok, reward yourself with some serenity on one of Thailand’s beautiful islands. Koh Samui is the country’s third-largest island and has some of the most alluring, unspoiled beaches.

The best and most relaxing way to see Koh Samui is via private speed boat or longboat, offered to guests staying at Conrad Koh Samui. Experienced captains offer trips around the island or to neighboring islands such as Koh Tao or Koh Nangyuan, where you can enjoy a private lunch and snorkeling, with only white sands and the sound of lapping waves for company.

Entire days can be spent out on the water, island hopping in a private yacht or catamaran. The Gulf of Thailand has many memorable spots for snorkeling or scuba diving, such as Hin Bai, where you’ll see barracuda, manta rays and whale sharks. Needless to say, Koh Samui's seafood is incredibly fresh, and there are plenty of high-end spots in which to enjoy it.

The area’s natural beauty is both celebrated and conserved at Conrad Koh Samui, located on the tranquil southwestern tip of Koh Samui. A progressive, caring ethos is tangible throughout the resort, such as at Bottanika, an eco-cafe that doubles as the hotel’s garden. Microgreens, herbs, and other vegetables that are featured in many of the resort’s restaurants are grown here using a continuous flow of recycled water. This sustainable bounty also supplies Jahn, the hotel’s signature fine dining restaurant. As well as this gorgeous candlelit dining room, guests can have Thai barbecue prepared in their villa, or have an intimate sunset dinner on the beach. The hotel also has a full range of water activities out of its own Diving and Sailing Center.

Make your Thai travel memory

Whether you’re in the city or at the beach, authentic Thai culture surrounds you, and you can seamlessly plug into the local dining, cultural and artistic scenes. You’ll find a people who are sincerely welcoming, and enough new and memorable experiences to ensure that you return before too long.

Start PlanningView list of Hilton hotels in Thailand

Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”

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