It’s not easy to determine where to begin with Bangkok, a city that so readily offers itself to visitors. Made of old world relics and modern monuments, the time capsule hybrid that is Thailand’s City of Angels is both fascinating and vexing to navigate. If you’re looking for just a little bit of everything during your first-time visit, we recommend a three-day stay featuring the following itinerary.
- Start your stay with a trip around Bangkok’s world-famous temples. Head to the old district of Rattanoksin and see Wat Pho, home to the world’s largest reclining Buddha statue; Wat Suthat, which stands next to the unmissable Giant Swing; and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha.
- After roaming Rattanoksin, cruise down the Phraya River toward Thonburi, another olden capital, with a trip aboard the Chao Phraya River Express. There, visit Wat Arun or the Temple of the Dawn, named so for the way its structure reflects sunlight during dusk and dawn.
- For lunch, make your way to the riverfront for a selection of dining options.
- Resume temple hopping afterward with a trip to Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple, in the Dusit district. It’s a breathtaking structure made of Italian marble at the request of Rama V.
- Then head up to Wat Saket, also named Golden Temple for its golden chedi. Tip: How about a private tour around the city’s temples, complete with pickup and transportation?
- As the afternoon wraps up, make it back to the city for a taste of the nightlife. Visit the Patpong Night Market in Silom, a district also known for its ladyboy bars. Alternatively (or, afterwards), drop by Sukhumvit for a sampling of the city’s restaurants and nightclubs. Soi 38 offers a good introduction to Thai street food. Restaurants Cabbages & Condoms, Soul Food and Bo Lan are among local favorites. You may also want to grab a drink or two alongside some entertainment at the ever popular Soi Cowboy.
- Tip: How about living the life a la The Hangover 2? If you don’t mind the tourist badge, you could also resume your exploration of the city via scooter, in these unique Eat & Ride and Drink & Ride scooter tours.
Malls & markets
- Get a little cultured on Bangkok’s heritage first thing in the morning, with a trip to the Erawan Museum, whose incredible three-headed elephant sculpture can’t be missed. Tip: Care for some discounted admission tickets? Also, Klook Connoisseur Nat P. has some recommendations on where to grab breakfast.
- Select from several options afterwards: visiting the shopping capital that is Siam, and its series of linked malls: Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, MBK Center and BTS National Stadium. The Jim Thompson House is also located in the vicinity…
- …OR: exploring the markets, particularly the Maeklong Railway Market and the Amphawa Floating Market. From here you could ride down the Maeklong River, as well as visit The Salt Fields. Tip: Be sure to grab a filling lunch before heading to the markets!
- Come nighttime, make your way to Asiatique the Riverfront for a wholesome evening spent in comfortable leisure and mid-range to high-end dining by the river. If you’re not yet out of energy, check out some of Bangkok’s rooftop bars, among the world’s best: Red Sky at Centara Grand in Central World, Octave at the Mariott, and Sky Bar at Lebua, to name a few.
Done with the city, it’s time to explore the fringes and faraway gems of Bangkok. We recommend either of these culture- and nature-inclined activities.
For a scenic day in nature with a sprinkling of Thai history:
- Head out to Kanchanaburi Province. Stop by the Bridge Above the River Kwai, which makes part of the Death Railway built by prisoners of War.
- Then visit the Sri Nakarin Dam – the largest producer of hydropower electricity in Thailand – for some incredible views of the reservoir.
- Afterward, make it out to the Erawan National Park, and don’t miss the spectacular 2,000m waterfalls.
- Tip: This private tour will take you around Kanchanaburi complete with transportation.
For a more adventurous excursion:
- Spend a day trekking through the Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s first national park. It’s home to hundreds of exotic flora and fauna, as well as a number of breathtaking waterfalls. From Pha Daew Dhai, you’ll also be treated to some of the most amazing views you’ll find of Thailand’s countryside.
- Of course, no trip to Thailand is complete without a 45-minute elephant ride, which you’ll get to enjoy afterward.
If you’d still like more history and heritage:
- Make a trip out to Ayutthaya, once the capital of Thailand, an ancient city now filled with the ruins and remnants of an age gone by. Visit Wat Yai Chaimongkon, which houses another reclining Buddha in saffron robes; the Grand Palace and Phra Mongkon Bophit; Wat Phra Si Sanphet; and Wat Chaiwatthanaram, which shares the likeness of Angkor Wat.