Bangkok is a vibrant, bustling city and Thailand’s capital, the ‘land of smiles’ as many people call the country. The city offers an abundance of activities, from the striking temples to the legendary floating markets, from contemporary metropolitan neighborhoods to the endless street food stalls. With so many things to do in Bangkok, it gets quite overwhelming to create a perfect trip. Therefore, I created this Bangkok itinerary and incorporated a little bit of everything that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Bangkok.
But, first things first….
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HOW MANY DAYS TO SPEND IN BANGKOK
Bangkok is a huuuge city with A LOT to offer. Therefore packing your Bangkok itinerary to two-three days can be quite exhausting. To enjoy your time here and make the most out of it, I suggest staying in Bangkok for at least four days. This way, you’ll have enough time to visit all the must-see attractions in Bangkok, may even plan some best day trips from Bangkok to the nearby towns, or enjoy a relaxing time at one of those beautiful places in Thailand. And if you plan on visiting it with family, here’s your Bangkok itinerary with kids.
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HOW TO GET FROM BANGKOK AIRPORTS TO THE CITY CENTER
Bangkok has two international airports: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang. Depending on which one you are flying in, here’s a short guide on how to get from both airports to the city center.
Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok city center
The Airport Rail Link connects the airport to downtown in 6 stops and takes around 30 minutes to reach the city center. It is the best, cheapest, and quickest way to get to Bangkok.
You can get off at MRT underground (metro) at Makkasan City Interchange Station or at Phayathai Station to change to BTS Skytrain. The ticket costs 35 or 45 THB depending on where you get off.
Airport Express buses operate on four routes costing 150 THB per route. The buses, parked at Level 1 near entrance 8, run from 5 a.m. to midnight.
Alternatively, there is a 24-hour bus service outside the Arrivals Hall on the second floor that takes travelers to the Transport Center for 35 THB to change to the direct city buses.
Book a private airport transfer to get to your hotel hustle free
Don Muang Airport to Bangkok city center
By Airport Limo Bus Express
This service takes travelers to Lumpini Park in the neighborhood to Silom, where you have to change either to MRT trains or the BTS. You can book it online for a small fee or upon arrival in person. The desk is between gates 6-8 in Terminal 1 and gate 14 in Terminal 2. The price is 150 THB.
The cheapest option to get from Don Muang Airport to Bangkok city is by A1 bus to Mo Chit station and then change it to MRT or BTS trains to take you anywhere. The total cost of the journey will be between 70-90 THB.
Book a private airport transfer to get to your hotel hustle free
Ok, so as we got that important info out of the way, let’s talk about things to do in Bangkok.
BANGKOK ITINERARY: Mesmerizing Temples
Grand Palace is the most popular Bangkok attraction, so make sure to start your exploration here as early as possible to beat the crowds.
From 1782 until 1925, it was a residence of the King, the government of Thailand, and his court. Today, it’s a ceremonial palace used for official events.
Most of the complex area is open to the public to wander around and admire the gorgeous architecture of possibly every type of Buddhist structure, such as pagodas, stupas, and temples.
The most iconic attraction to visit is the Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Actually, it’s a royal chapel and not a temple, as it doesn’t incorporate the living quarters for monks to be referred to as a temple.
Apart from this, there are a couple of museums for you to visit, out of which the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile is quite interesting as it displays beautiful outfits of the royal household.
Opening hours: 8:30am – 3.30pm
Entrance fee: 500 THB
Nearest stops: Tha Chang ferry terminal and Sanam Chai MRT Blue Line.
After the Grand Palace, walk around 11 minutes to the Wat Pho temple, home to the largest collection of Buddha images in the country, including a 46 meters long reclining Buddha statue. With a height of 15 meters, it is one of Buddha’s largest statues and represents his entry into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations.
Tour around the temple itself to admire stupas covered in colorful mosaics and hallways lined with golden sitting Buddha statues before you stroll the courtyard.
Opening hours: 8 a.m – 6:30 p.m
Entrance fee: 200 THB
Nearest stops: Tha Tien ferry terminal and Sanam Chai MRT Blue Line.
Wat Arun, translated as the Temple of Dawn, is an iconic Bangkok attraction and one of the most Instagrammable places in Bangkok. This fascinating Buddhist temple, located along the Chao Phraya River, acquires its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often exemplified as the rising sun’s radiations.
The central piece of Wat Arun Temple is the Khmer-like tower you can mostly see in Cambodia, adorned with several layers of colorful porcelain mosaic and statues. Therefore, it looks more like a pagoda/stupa than a temple. You can walk up the very steep steps to have a breathtaking view of the river shore and the courtyard.
Walk around its courtyard to see giant Yaksha guarding the treasures hidden in the soil and tree roots, dozens of sitting golden Buddha statues, or just sit somewhere and take in the environment.
Tip: Come here to watch the gorgeous sunset or sunrise.
Opening hours: 8 a.m – 7 p.m
Entrance fee: 100 THB
Transportation: The easiest way to get to Wat Arun is by boat from Tha Tien ferry terminal. Alternatively, you can hire a taxi or a tuk-tuk but it will be a longer trip and quite costly.
Join Flexi Walking Tour to visit all three temples with admission fees included
If you are looking for a less touristy temple to explore, then make sure to add Wat Mahathat to your Bangkok Itinerary. The temple is across the Grand Palace road, offering tranquility, peace, and a glimpse of Thai Buddhism without too many people.
Opening hours: 9 a.m – 5:30 p.m
Entrance fee: FREE, however donations are highly encouraged
This absolutely stunning temple is home to the largest Golden Buddha image made from solid gold and weighing about 5.5 tons. For two centuries, the true value of the statue was hidden under the colored glass and stucco. However, in 1955, during a relocation process, the plaster chipped off and revealed the gold.
Opening hours: 8 a.m – 5 p.m
Entrance fee: 40 THB
Nearest Stop: Hua Lamphong MRT Blue Line
THINGS TO NOTE FOR VISITING THE TEMPLES
Watch out for scams – Tuk-tuk drivers love fooling tourists by saying that a temple is closed to the public that day as they park at a tranquil street close by and suggest taking you to a better sight instead for a meager price. Usually, the drivers partner up with people to create ‘better sights’ and extract money from you.
Note that those temples rarely close during the day, so either push them to take you to your destination, find a new one or don’t use them at all and stick with public transportation and walking.
Dress accordingly for temples – both men and women should cover legs and shoulders. You won’t be allowed to enter wearing shorts or a tank top. Better to wear trousers or long tress and have a scarf to cover your shoulders. Some temples require you to take the shoes off, while some might loan something to cover up your legs. However, it’s better to be prepared!
And if you have a tattoo of a Buddha in a visible place, cover it up too.
BANGKOK ITINERARY: Ethnic Neighborhoods
Considered one of the biggest Chinatowns globally, this ethnic neighborhood is centered around the Sampheng district. Chinatown’s center is Yaowarat Road, full of shops selling traditional goods, restaurants, and food stalls serving Chinese food. It’s a perfect place to experience a gastronomic destination and have a glimpse at Chinese culture.
Apart from walking through the Yaowarat Road, you can visit an ornate ceremonial gate called the China Gate, roam within the Sampeng Lane full of various goods, explore the largest and the most important Chinese-Buddhist temple Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, or relax at one of its parks. For more detailed exploration, join a 4-hour guided tour of Chinatown and discover its gems as well as sample the food.
Nearest Stop: Wat Mangkon MRT Blue Line
Little India, also known as Phahurat, is around 20 minutes walk from Chinatown. This one-short-road neighborhood is home to the capital’s largest Indian community featuring restaurants, shops, and several Indian sights.
Make sure to visit the golden-domed and second-largest Sikh temple outside of India, Sri Guru Singh Sabah Temple. Most travelers admire the beauty of the temple from the outside, but anyone is welcomed to have a peek inside.
Nearest Stop: Sam Yot MRT Blue Line
BANGKOK ITINERARY: Floating Markets
Floating markets are an integral part of any Bangkok itinerary. It is an iconic experience to see the traditional longtail boats loaded with veggies, fruits, or other goods. The most famous is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, just a 1:30 hr drive outside Bangkok, making it one of the best day trips from Bangkok.
The easiest way to visit the market is to join an organized tour offered by many tourist companies. The best time to visit the Damnoen Floating Market is early in the morning to avoid crowds, ideally before 10 a.m. Alternatively, you can join an organized tour and visit the market together with Maeklong Railway Market.
In addition, you can visit less touristy ones like Taling Chang Floating Market, situated only 12 km from Bangkok, or Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market very close to the city. The latter is a local market with very few tourists visiting it.
Please do note: not all those floating markets are open every day; some of them are weekend markets, so make sure to research and plan accordingly. Also, go with an empty stomach as there will be an abundance of food to try.
WHAT TO DO IN BANGKOK AT NIGHT
Watch the sunset from Bangkok’s rooftop bars
One of the things to do in Bangkok at night is to watch the sunset from one of its many rooftop bars enjoying your favorite beverage, be it a coffee, a cocktail, or just a juice. Do note that the majority of those bars are expensive by Bangkok standards.
Make sure to get to one of those rooftop bars at least 45 minutes before the sunset to find a good spot. It’s one of the popular Bangkok attractions, so it quickly gets crowded. Also, most of them have a strict dress code, so pack a nice outfit.
Here’s the list of some of the rooftop bars to consider for your Bangkok itinerary
- Vertigo and Moon Bar at Banyan Tree Hotel – one of the highest ones on the 61st floor
- Sky Bar Lebua at State Tower – a set for Hangover II movie
- The Speakeasy at Hotel Muse – not the highest rooftop bar, but quite stylish based on the 1920s prohibition era
- The Rooftop Bar at Baiyoke Sky Hotel – located on the 83rd floor, its currently the highest one in the city
- Cloud 47 Rooftop Bar and Bistro at United Center – one of the more affordable ones and with no dress code
Wander through the Khao San Road
Often referred to as a “backpacker ghetto,” Khao San Road should definitely make it to the list of your Bangkok itinerary because no visit to the city is complete without spending an evening here or just walking by.
The area is tranquil during the day and comes alive when the sun sets, and the lights turn on. Therefore, I would suggest visiting the street at both times of the day to see the contrast.
Even though it’s quite hectic, loud, and overpriced, visiting Khao San Road is still an experience worth stopping by and ticking off from your ‘been there, done that’ list.
After walking up and down the main road, explore its adjacent streets for a more calm atmosphere, browse the t-shirt stands, and buy some snacks from street vendors.
Nearest Stop: Sam Yot MRT Blue Line
Visit Night Markets
One of the things I loved in Southeast Asia was its customary night markets. Even though I had no space in my backpack to carry all those souvenirs, I still enjoyed a nice walk through the stalls, observing the local bargaining scenes, or snacking on the abundance of food. If I am sincere, food stalls were why I loved those night markets in the first place! :))
Bangkok has a good selection of night markets scattered across the town, so most likely, there will be one near your hotel neighborhood. However, do note that some of those night markets are not open daily, so do your research accordingly.
Two of the most famous ones are the Patpong Night Market (open every day) and Chatuchak Weekend Market open on Fridays and weekends. The latter is probably the biggest one in town with at least around 8,000 stands.
Nearest stops: Kamphaeng Phet MRT Blue Line for Chatuchak and Sala Daeng BTS Silom Line or Si Lom MRT Blue Line for Patpong Night Market.
Explore Soi Cowboy
This tiny street of around 40 go-go bars is often called the ‘Red Light District’ of Bangkok. Located between Soi 21 and Soi 23 streets, Soi Cowboy caters to expatriates, tourists, and curious minds who just want to walk through and look around.
The first bar here opened in 1970, but the street’s name comes from the owner of the second bar T.G ‘Cowboy’ Edwards, a retired American airman who opened the venue in 1977. He got the nickname because he was often wearing a cowboy hat.
And if you are after quirky things to include on your Bangkok itinerary, make sure to pay a visit to the famous Cabbages and Condoms Bangkok restaurant.
Nearest stops: Asok Station on BTS and Sukhumvit Station on MRT
Check Out: 10 Boutique hotels in Bangkok
BANGKOK ITINERARY: Food to try in Bangkok
Bangkok, and generally Thailand, is a gastro heaven for food lovers. There are so many varieties of food and snacks to try that you might get dizzy and feel anxious as you can’t decide what to try first. Check out the ultimate list of Thai meals to try once here.
Probably one of my favorite snacks to nibble on while walking around the night markets of Bangkok. The choices are chicken, beef, and pork meat chunks on a short skewer. Alternatively, meatballs of the same meat choices or fish grilled on a skewer and topped with a sauce of your choice.
I think we tried at least a dozen noodle soups that we don’t know the name of. However, we absolutely loved the iconic spicy and sour Tom Yum, Boat Noodles soup (Guay Tiew Ruea) in a thick brown broth made from cinnamon, blood, and meat of your choice, and egg noodle with roasted pork (Bha Mhee Moo Daeng).
This stir-fried rice noodle dish is not only popular in Thailand but the rest of the world. Served as street food, Pad Tai includes the meal is made from meat or seafood, peanuts, scrambled egg, and bean sprouts.
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