Bangkok is a thriving and vibrant metropolis which perfectly blends modernity with old-world charm. With its street food vendors, ornate temples, immense shopping malls and unrestrained nightlife, one thing is certain: you will not get bored.
It is important to try and make the most of your time in the Thai capital because there is plenty to see. After spending a week in this fantastic city I have tried to distill what are the best things to do if you’re short on time. You will at least need to allocate two days to see the basics so here is a Bangkok itinerary for 48 hours.
In Bangkok I based myself at the lovely Here Hostel in the suburb of Phra Nakon. This hostel was in a great area (around 5 minutes from Bangkok’s best Pad Thai — how could you not?!), and had wonderful facilities including a slide from the dorms to the common area.
After enjoying the free breakfast at the hostel, walk down through the vibrant old town streets to Wat Pho, this takes around 30 minutes and is best done before the heat of the day kicks in.
It costs 100 baht to enter Wat Pho and the photo ops here are nearly endless. This iconic Buddhist complex is truly mesmerising. Here you can also see the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Remember to wear shoes that slip off easily and clothing that covers the shoulders and knees. If you forget, you may be provided with a cover-up gown upon entering at temples of the complex. It’s a matter of respect so it’s best to cover up!
After leisurely taking in the beauty of Wat Pho there are some great lunch options along Maha Rat Road (the road between Wat Pho running parallel with the river). Whether it’s some cheap street food or an air-conditioned restaurant you’re looking for, you’ll find it here. Try a Pad Thai or a Pad See Ew — both delicious noodle-based dishes.
To work off the food-baby continue down Maha Rat Road, cross the canal, and keep on walking straight down Chakphet Road. Here you will find Bangkok’s famed Flower Markets. There are also vendors selling produce from the truck tray, souvenirs and other trinkets along the way. It’s a wonderful place to visit to get a glimpse of local life in Bangkok.
Following this, the walk back to Here Hostel is only around 30 mins and allows you to take in more of the less tourist-frequented backstreets. However if your legs are giving way a tuk tuk or taxi is another option.
Bangkok Tip: make sure the taxi uses the meter or you bargain down the tuk tuk price otherwise you’re in for a rip off!
Time for the best Pad Thai in the world, head down along Maha Chai Road find Thip Samai restaurant. It is only a few minutes’ walk from the hostel. The restaurant is running out of wall space with all the awards and accolades hanging off them. However if the line to get in is too long, there are many other cheap and delicious street food stalls spilling out onto the footpath along Maha Chai Road. The pad thai place right next door is also delicious and only 40 baht for a plate – bargain!
Now it’s time to head to Khaosan Road – Bangkok’s famous/infamous nightlife strip. It’s either a 20 minute walk or a 5 minute tuk tuk from the street food strip of Maha Chai Road. Whether you just want to grab a beer from 7/11 and stroll around, buy some fluoro gear for an upcoming Full Moon Party, enjoy the bars or hit up some pumping clubs it’s all on offer. There are also plenty of fried bugs and creepy crawlies to sample. Yep, you read that correctly.
READ MORE: How To Survive Your First Full Moon Party
No need to rush out of bed this morning, especially if you overindulged in the affordable drinks on Khaosan Road. After a lazy start you can either walk or tuk tuk down to Tha Tien Ferry Pier (close by to the Grand Palace). From here you can catch the river-crossing ferry to Wat Arun. The boat should cost 4 baht and the temple is a spectacular sight situated right next to the river.
Following this (especially if you’re templed out), nip back to the Grand Palace side of the river and catch the blue flagged tourist ferry (40baht), or yellow flagged express ferry (15 baht) down the river. When heading down Chao Phraya River the contrasting new and old aspects are easily seen and some great pictures can be snapped showcasing this.
Jump off the boat at Sathon Pier and catch the new and modern Bangkok Metro to Siam, the location of many of Bangkok’s monolithic shopping malls. Even if you’re not into shopping a visit is very worthwhile. Here you can witnesss consumerism on a large scale. Take your pick on lunch here too as you can find nearly every cuisine known to man in these malls.
After you’ve shopped ’til you dropped or simply got lost in the multi story maze, head back to the hostel. You can spend the late afternoon chatting in the common room before getting amongst some more street food and night time strolls.
It is night market time! There are plenty to choose from and the best ones are summarised here: The 5 Best Night Markets In Bangkok. Head down to the night markets near the river to wander around and see some of the goods on offer. There are a couple of nice bars that dot the river bank as well if you fancy a beer with a skyline view.
Bangkok has something for everyone and you can make it as busy or as relaxing as you please. Whether you have come for the temples, the food or the massages, you can fill your day with heaps of activities. This is a guide based off what I enjoy and prioritise: a combination of food, nightlife and culture. There are so many options for activities in Bangkok you will always feel like there is more to see and do.
If you’ve visited Bangkok or have questions, comment below! I would love to hear from you.
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