Trying to fit the best of Bangkok into three days is a bit like those renovation shows which revamp a house in a short period of time: sure, it can be done, and done well, but it needs planning. Whilst we love the Thai capital, the fact is some people want to explore the rest of Thailand, whereas others are only using Bangkok as a springboard for further South East Asian adventures.
There is so much to do and see in this sprawling metropolis that it can cause even the most cocksure of travellers to have some anxiety around missing out, but you shouldn’t worry: we’re here to make sure your experience is everything you want it to be and more, even if you only have three days in Bangkok.
Start the day right with some breakfast from a street stall; no matter where in the city you’re staying, you’ll have something within a five-minute walking distance. After being fed, jump on the Bangkok Skytrain to Saphan Taskin station, before hopping on a northbound ferry from Sathorn Pier. You should look for the ferry with the orange flag, as that’s the local version and is a much more authentic experience (and costs a measly THB 15 – 37p). Once on the ferry, you sail up the Chao Phraya river and through the canals that make up the lifeblood of the city. The ride also affords the chance to see some excellent scenery and the exteriors of a lot of the more famous attractions in the city.
Once you reach Pier 9 (Tha Chang) you hop off; you’re now in the heart of one of Bangkok’s busiest tourist districts and home of the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. This sprawling complex contains the former home of the monarch and one of the most important temples in Thailand, and at THB 500 (£12) for entry, it’s well worth the visit. Just make sure you have a long pair of trousers or skirt and your shoulders are covered.
After seeing the splendour of Wat Phra Kaew, you move onto Wat Pho and the famous reclining Buddha. Just a ten-minute walk away and a THB 100 (£2.50) entrance fee, the main attraction isn’t the only astounding thing in the temple: there are many other statues and adornments, each as beautiful as the last. After you’ve had your fill, swing by any number of the street food stalls that line the roads in this area of Bangkok for a cheap and filling meal. When you’re feeling full, jump back on the ferry from Pier 8 (Tha Tien) to Pier 5 (Ratchawong Pier). This is the home of Chinatown and its famous markets, selling food, wares, and fabrics, and home to the largest flower market in the city, where you can wander around.
From Chinatown it’s about a half hour walk to the thrills of Khaosan Road, where you can drink and dance to your heart’s content. However, on the way we’d recommend stopping off to get some early dinner. Supa Restaurant is a local favourite: handily located right next to the Bangkok Railway terminal, their Red Curry is delicious. Follow your meal with a gorgeous sunset at neighbouring Rommaninat Park, before finally reaching the famous party street. On Khaosan road each bar has similar drink deals, so it’s simply a case of picking your favourite spot. Public transport around here isn’t great at the best of times, so make sure you know how to get back; Grab is a great local (and cheap) alternative to Uber.
Once again jump on the Bangkok Skytrain to Sala Daeng Station, where Lumpini Park is located. This is the largest park in Bangkok by some way; Monitor Lizards swim freely and there are often large events on, so you might experience something a bit more unique than expected. After surrounding yourself with nature, catch the Skytrain to Siam Station, the busiest station on the network and also home to Siam Paragon, Central World, and MBK, three of the largest shopping malls in Bangkok. There are plenty of gorgeous Bangkok cafes and restaurants around here, but we recommend Greyhound Café or Baan Ying Original Siam Kitchen for a quick snack or a coffee.
From here, head towards the Jim Thompson House (entry: THB 200 – £5) on the Bangkok Skytrain. This museum showcases the best of Thai architecture and style. Continue the culture vulture life with a stroll down to the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre, where you can see the best of contemporary Thai art. Head back to one of the many Bangkok shopping malls for an early dinner: MBK has two food courts which have a plethora of things to feast upon. As night falls, head to one of the famous night markets: Talat Rot Fai has two locations, and the one in the city is right near the MRT stop for the Thailand Cultural Centre Station. A more upscale Bangkok night market is Asiatique, which you can get to via Skytrain to Saphan Taskin Station and a free ferry provided by the market.
Catch a Grab in the morning to Golden Mount, a stunning religious complex which has a temple on top of a massive hill (entry: THB 40 – £1). The climb isn’t hard with an average level of fitness, but you should definitely take some water with you because of the heat. Even if you find the walk up a piece of cake, you should prepare to have your breath taken away by the gorgeous Bangkok Skyline; the unencumbered view from here combined with the serenity of the temple is awe inspiring. If you want a late breakfast of early lunch, Thip Samai Restaurant is nearby and serves an unforgettable Pad Thai in a city of astounding Pad Thai’s.
Once you’re fed and watered, head to Sam Yot station and catch the MRT to Itsaraphap. From there, it’s a short walk and ferry ride to Wat Arun (THB 103; 3 is for the ferry), also known as Temple of the Dawn. Continue the temple vibe by jumping back on the MRT and heading to Hua Lamphong; once you hop off you can stroll to Wat Traimit, home to the largest solid gold Buddha statue in the world and a Chinese Cultural Centre (THB 140 – £3.50).
As dusk approaches grab a Grab to Sukhmvit so you can celebrate your last evening in Bangkok in style. Soi 7 Seafood Market is made up of various different stalls, each selling their tasty wares at reasonable prices; if you’re feeling fancy, Basil does modern, sophisticated Thai food and is also in the area. After a hearty dinner, head to one of the many bars in this area: Soi Cowboy is a small street that has a large number of cheap bars on it; if you’re feeling fancier, Whisgars is just a short walk away and offers a more refined drinking experience. If you don’t want the night to end, then it’s a short walk to Insanity Nightclub, where there’s a great mix of locals and expats to dance the night away with.
Wanting to explore more of Bangkok’s markets during your visit? Check out our guide to the best market stalls in the city.
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