We weren’t exactly the best of tourists in Bangkok. We were craving for some ‘normal’ stuff, so we kind of just chilled instead of stressing about checking the ‘must see’ list. So instead of writing up the usual ‘where to go, where to eat’ guide, here’s a suggested itinerary.
As for where to stay, you can read this post from Nerd Nomads, which is absolutely brilliant (honestly the best thing you’ll find on the areas of Bangkok!) as it describes each neighbourhood in detail, so that you know what suits you best.
We stayed at the Ibis Styles Phra Khanong which was awesome. Great location close to the BTS (the skytrain) and a really nice food market at W District. The beds were extra comfy and the room was great for travellers because it had space and places to drop your luggage, which is unusual. It was also one of the most expensive places for us, but one of the most affordable in Bangkok, if that makes sense.
(Here’s £15 off on Booking.com when you use this link to book your stay)
Without further ado, here’s our suggested itinerary
DAY ONE – temples, temples, temples…
Get to the river and get on a river boat heading to the Grand Palace and the Temples. Sathorn Pier/ central pier is a great place to start as it has a connection with BTS skytrain (Saphan Taksin station), but it will depend on where you’re staying at, of course.
*tip for the boats: there are several lines. The blue line which is the more frequent one (and the tourist one) is 40baht. The orange one is much cheaper (15baht) and goes to all the same places. We got our tickets at Sathorn Pier where there is a ‘blue boat’ team directing you to the ticket office as if that’s the only ticket office. Just kindly say ‘no’ and head to the more modest counter on the right (literally a desk with someone selling tickets instead of an actual booth). There are also private boats trying to sell you much more expensive rides so watch out for that (unless that’s what you want).
The Grand Palace
If I were you I’d start here. And an early start at that. The Grand Palace is one of the main attractions of Bangkok and it gets crowded. Like Disneyland on school holidays if they were giving tickets for free. Yup. So, go here very early and avoid the crowds. (I think it opens at 8.30 but you should double check).
Make sure to check out the temple of the Emerald Buddha (inside the palace).
*IMPORTANT tip: wear trousers (not shorts or skirts)! Even if you’re a guy, wear trousers and a t-shirt that covers your shoulders. Oh and girls, no low-cut tops. Seriously, they’ll make you buy clothes there unless you’re properly dressed. Even if you bring a sarong with you, which we did, it won’t cut it for the men, you need to wear trousers. So no skirts for the guys.
Wat Pho (temple of the reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn)
You can easily walk from Grand Palace to Wat Pho. The dress code is less tight around here, and they’ll provide you with sarongs to cover when you enter the temple of the Buddha, but other than that you should be OK. I really loved this temple, it’s really beautiful, and much less crowded.
You can then get a boat to cross the river to Wat Arun (it’s literally on the opposite river bank), but you’ll probably need to grab some food by this point, but there’s some street stalls around. We didn’t visit this temple, but it looks gorgeous from the outside though.
The Giant Swing and Wat Saket (Temple of the Golden Mount)
Once you’re done, cross the river again. IF you are a walker (we are), and don’t mind the scorching temperatures, you can walk for about 30min over to the Giant Swing (a bizarre attraction, which was under repair when we visited). From there it’s really easy to walk to the Golden Mount (about 10min?). I really loved the Golden Mount temple and funny enough it wasn’t on any of the suggested itineraries for three days. It’s a small temple located, as the name suggests, on the top of a mount. It is really lovely up there.
It’s also really beautiful at night, so defo try to ride or walk by to see it when it’s lit.
Eat at Thip Samai
Which apparently has the best padthai in town. We wouldn’t know because we went there for lunch and it was closed, as it only opens at 5pm. So if it’s after 5pm and you’re hungry, eat!
Flower market (if you like markets) and Chinatown OR backpackers’ street (Khao San Road)
After that you can head down to the flower market (we walked but you can easily get a tuk-tuk) and then go explore Chinatown. We did the market (to be honest, I’d skip it unless you really love markets) and we were too tired to do Chinatown. But hey, we’re a couple of oldies, so you might have the energy to do it. (If you do you’ll probably need a taxi or tuk-tuk to go home as the boats don’t run after 7pm).
If you’re in to that kind of stuff, and want to check out the road DiCaprio so famously walked through on the movie ‘The Beach’, you can head to Khao San Road – it’s only a 20min walk from the Gold mount, so I’m sure it will be a really quick tuk-tuk ride)
DAY TWO – modern Bangkok
Lumphini Park and Silom area
You’ll probably be exhausted from the previous day so take your time. Head to Lumphini park either before or after lunch, but you should know, Silom is a really cool area with loads of hip restaurants so it’s the perfect place to have lunch.
The park is really cool and chilled, a bit warm but there are loads of shades you can sit under. There are massive lizards in and out of the water, which ends up providing all the entertainment you need.
Siam square – the malls and the shopping
After lunch and checking out the park you can head to Siam Square and check all the malls. There are loads and they are massive. I mean ginourmous.! If you like shopping, you’ll feel right at home.
We don’t, so we went to the movies instead. But there are zoos and aquariums and all sorts of stuff at the malls, so there’s something for everyone. Oh not to mention the food courts!
Bangkok is known for having tones of rooftops providing amazing views of the city. The best time to visit would be sunset, but they’re pretty cool at night too.
In Siam we went to Redsky bar at Centara Grand Hotel right next to Central World mall and it was stunning. Not for the fainted hearted, it’s really high up and for those who are scared of heights (such as myself) it might take you a while to adjust.
*tip: Dress up a bit (not much, but you know, clean up). Most rooftops are at hotels or slightly fancier than say, backpacker’s street, so to make sure you don’t waste your elevator trip, and put on something other than flip flops?
DAY THREE – out and about
On your last day you can book a trip to one of the floating markets or even a railway market. Just note that these are located a bit far from the city (about 100km) so you’ll need a full day to explore the outskirts.
There are also temples outside the city centre that you can visit.
We actually didn’t do any of it. We split the activities of day one into two days and chilled at the hotel’s pool in the afternoons. But that’s because we had been already two months on the road and were craving some ‘normal city life’. If you’re looking to get the most of Bangkok you should defo go check out the markets.
Another thing we’d have loved to do, but just couldn’t afford it on our budge, was a tuk-tuk night tour. There are loads, but Expique seems to have some pretty cool ones, check it out and let me know how it went!
Planning a trip to Bangkok and still have a few questions? E-mail me or leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!