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What To Do In Bangkok - A 3 Day Bangkok Itinerary

Bangkok or Krung Thep, "City of Angels", is like our home away from home. We simply love this vibrant and urban big city with all its life, delicious street food, green and lush parks, a network of rivers, amazing shopping, some of the biggest markets in the world, and of course, it's friendly people. We have visited Bangkok many times, and in 2014, we lived there for four months. Each time we come back we fall deeper and deeper in love with this amazing city!

Beneath the dust and chaos, Bangkok is packed with things to do and places to see. From street-side restaurants with plastic chairs and road-side amulet stalls to top-notch restaurants and the world's hippest rooftop bars. From exploring ancient temples to taking a tuk-tuk tour through the Bangkok night to Muay Thai boxing at the gigantic new Lumpini Stadium or visiting a colourful flower market. Bangkok has it all and there is never a dull moment when you hit the streets of this city.

Here is our ultimate 3-day itinerary with our highlights of what to do in Bangkok. It is a combination of the typical can't miss tourist sites of Bangkok, but also some corky and off-the-beaten-track places that you will not find in the tourist guides. If you have less than three days to spend in this big city, feel free to choose parts of this itinerary and mix it up as it suits you best.

DAY 1 – The River, Temples and Historic Sites

After breakfast(at your hotel or a street stall), take the sky train to Saphan Taksin and jump on a ferry from Sathorn/Central Pier station on the Chao Phraya river. The rivers and canals are the heart of Bangkok and it's cross-river ferries are still the main transportations for the locals. The area along the main river of Bangkok(Koh Ratanakosin) used to be the ancient royal district and this is where many of Bangkok's most famous attractions is located. You can easily walk between the temples and sites in this area, but it is best to get an early start as most of these sites close around 15:30 and there is plenty to see!

Whatever you do, be wary of anyone who approaches you in this area, speaks perfect English and tell you that the sight is closed today. They are often people who want to steer you to a gem or tailor shop where they will get a commission. Even guards and other official-looking people may sometimes try to convince you to go to one of these shops.

Take the Public River Ferry from Central Pier up to No.9 Tha Chang and get off to start your walking tour to see some of the most famous landmarks of Bangkok:

1. Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew(Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

The former home of the monarch, the Grand Palace is located right beside the architectural wonder that is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The grounds contain more than 100 buildings, all beautifully decorated with gold and diamonds in different colours in old-Bangkok style. The Temple of Emerald Buddha is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand.

Opening hours: Every day 08:30 – 15:30.

Ticket price: ฿400($13).

Estimated time: 2-3 hours.

What to wear: You must be properly dressed before being allowed entry to the temple. Wear shirts with sleeves, long pants or skirts and shoes. So no tank tops! If you're wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks, so no bare feet. If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entry that provides clothes to cover you up properly. You must leave your passport or credit card as security. Shoes should be removed before entering the main chapel. Also, when sitting in front of a Buddha image, remember to tuck your feet behind you to avoid the very offensive pose of pointing your feet towards Buddha.

2. Wat Pho – Gigantic reclining Buddha

From Grand Palace, walk about 10 minutes or take the ferry one stop to No.8 Tha Tien pier. Grab something quick and delicious to eat and drink at one of the many food stalls along the street on your way to Wat Pho. Wat Pho – the gigantic reclining Buddha is amazingly beautiful covered in gold leaf and mother-of-pearl ornaments inlaid in his feet. It is a remarkable 46m long and 15m high(!!) and illustrates Buddha entering nirvana(Buddha's death).

Wat Pho also contains four chapels with no less than 394(!!) gilded Buddha images, a long line of golden Buddhas from all over Thailand sitting in lotus position.

Even though your main mission at Wat Pho is of course to see the reclining Buddha, don't forget to wander around in the courtyard and admire the Chinese statutes that were once used as ballasts on ships, as well as the 91 stupas that are beautifully decorated in ceramic pottery flowers and colourful and sparkling tiles.

Wat Pho is also Thailand's headquarter for the teaching of traditional Thai medicine and Thai massage. After this walk around Grand Palace and Wat Pho, nothing beats a relaxing head or foot massage. If this is your first time in Thailand, this is a safe and very authentic place to try out Thai massage. If this is something you want to try out here, you should pop over and book a spot when entering Wat Pho as there can be a waiting list.

Opening hours: Every day 08:00 – 17:00(Thai massage is available till 18:00).

Ticket price: ฿100($3).

Estimated time: 1-2 hour(extra time if you want a Thai massage).

3. Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn

Now it is time to cross the river, so jump on a cross-river ferry from No.8 Tha Tien to Wat Arun pier only ฿3($0.09). On your way to the Grand Palace and Wat PhraKaew you passed this temple with the ferry, so you already know that it is spectacular and atmospheric with it's steep piers reaching up in the sky. It is at it's most impressive after dark when it is lit up and looks a bit magical and like a fairytale. Unfortunately, it closes before nightfall.

This is my favourite temple in Bangkok. In the middle of this temple lays it's most prominent characteristic, a 82m high beautifully decorated Khmer-style tower where you can walk up the steep stairs and admire the view of Bangkok and it's rivers. Ah, I love this temple!

Opening hours: Every day 08:30 – 17:30.

Ticket price: ฿100($3).

Estimated time: 1-2 hour.

4. Eat Bangkoks Best Pad Thai

After all this walking and sightseeing you will probably be starving! Now it's time to eat. From Wat Aron, take the cross-river ferry back to No.8 Tha Tien. From there take the river ferry to No.6 Memorial Bridge and grab a tuk-tuk to Tip Samai restaurant(313 Th Maha Chai, Banglamphu). Just make sure it's after 17:00 as this is when Tip Samai opens.

The small restaurant Thip Samai has some of the best Pad Thai in Bangkok! Not bad considering that they sell Pad Thai EVERYWHERE in this city.

Thip Samai also has the most delicious freshly squeezed orange juice I have ever tasted! It is really fresh and full of flavor!

The first time we ate Pad Thai at Thip Samai was on a Night Tour with Tuk-Tuk. We have been back several times after that!

Address: 313 Th Maha Chai, Banglamphu.

How to get there: It is best to take a taxi or tuk-tuk here.

Opening hours: 17:00 – midnight.

5. China Town

After this delicious Pad Thai and orange juice, your energy is back up and it's time to head on to the famous and vibrant China Town that is located by the river. Go for a walk through the narrow streets and beautiful buildings in China Town, shop Chinese green tea and other Chinese souvenirs, and just watch the life on the streets.

How to get there: It is best to take a taxi or tuk-tuk to China Town.

Estimated time: 1-2 hour.

6. Kao San Road

Now it's finally time to wind down with something cold in your glass, or go partying with backpackers, hippies and hipsters if you still have some energy left. Kao San Road is a crazy street packed with partying people, street food and street stalls selling clothes and souvenirs.

In Kao San Road you can stroll around among the many shopping stalls selling everything from strange Thai snacks like barbecued insects, hand painted t-shirts, beautiful lanterns, crazy party hats and fake lonely planet books to leather handbags. Grab an ice-cold Chang beer and relax in a chair at one of the many street-side restaurants and bars while you watch the street life go by or party hard late into the night if you still have some energy left…….

DAY 2 – Modern Bangkok, Shopping and the Cinema

After all the sightseeing and temples of day 1, it's time to dig out your credit cards and go shopping bonanza for gifts, souvenirs and everything you did not know you needed!

1. Go Shopping Bonanza At Siam or Chatuchak Weekend Market

If you are staying in Bangkok during a weekend, Chatuchak Weekend Market is a real MUST! Chatuchak Weekend Market is the mother of all markets!

Chatuchak Weekend market is probably the biggest weekend market in the world. It consists of about 15,000 stalls covering more than one km and it has been in Bangkok for decades. Here you will find just about anything you can imagine, both useful and not so useful stuff.

When: Saturdays and Sundays 06:00 – 18:00.

What to get there: Well, basically just about everything you can imagine!

How to get there: Sky train to Mo Chit station or the underground to Chatuchak station and follow the stream of people.

If you are not in Bangkok a Saturday or Sunday, it is time to experience the modern side of Bangkok and visit the Siam area to go shopping. Take the sky train to Siam station or Chit Lom station.

Siam is a shopping bonanza and we love it! You can spend hours and hours exploring big shopping centres that are located next to each other in the Siam area:

- Central World(has an ice skating rink at ground floor).

- Siam Paragon(has South East Asia's biggest aquarium, Siam Ocean World at base level and the Exotic Thai store on 4th floor – perfect for gifts and souvenirs).

- Siam Center

- Siam Discovery(has Bangkok's Madame Tussauds on 6th floor).


Opening hours: 10:00 – 22:00 every day.

How to get there: Take the Sky train to Siam station or Chit Lom station.

2. Lunch at Kalpapruek at Central World

Oh boy do you get tired and hungry from all this shopping! Now it's time to sit down and have a lunch break.

Almost all of the big and posh shopping centers in Bangkok have food courts with food from all around the world. Many of them are in a big open areas which are usually very crowded and noisy. Kalpapruek on 7th floor of Central World is a lovely quiet exception with some tasty Thai food.

With its nice and relaxed atmosphere, tasty and reasonably priced Thai food, delicious smoothies and super tasty cakes, it is a great place to get your energy back in between the shopping! And their Mango Bingo smoothie is a must-try, it's fabulous! If you are not that hungry, and more up for something sweet, try one of their super tasty cakes. Their famous chocolate mud cake just melts in your mouth..mmmm…..believe me it is worth a try.

Address: Kalpapruek has three restaurants in Bangkok.

- Central World shopping center 7th floor: take the BTS Skytrain to Siam station.

- Pramuan Road Silom: take the BTS Skytrain to Surasak station.

- The Mercury Ville shopping center 1st floor: take the BTS Skytrain to Chidlom station.

Opening hours: 10:00 – 22:00.

3. Jim Thompson House

After some more shopping in these fancy and super big shopping malls, take a detour from modern Bangkok to explore a bit of it's history. The Jim Thompson House, which is kind of like a museum, is located close by Siam Square and is just a short walk away from the shopping centres.

The story of Jim Thompson is a fascinating one and quite a mystery too! His lovely house and garden is now a museum and is well worth a visit! A guided tour around the garden and house, as well as a demonstration of how Thai silk is made, is included in the cheap ticket. The house also has a silk shop where you can find beautiful gifts and souvenirs and a very nice restaurant/cafe tucked away in the green and lush garden serving delicious Thai food.

Address: 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road(take the Sky train to the 'National Stadium' stop, and follow the signs).

Webpage: jimthompsonhouse.com.

Ticket price: ฿150(฿100 for students)

Opening hours: Every day 09:00 to 18:00.

4. 4D or IMAX cinema

After the lovely Jim Thompson House, it is time to wind down and enjoy some modern entertainment. Bangkok has some of the best cinemas in the world, showing Hollywood movies in english with Thai subtitles.

Head back to Paragon shopping mall and take the escalator or lift up to the 5th floor where they have 4D cinema and IMAX cinema. Paragon has probably the best cinema complex in Bangkok, with both 4D, 3D and IMAX(all together they have 15 large-sized theatres). There are monitors at the entrances of Paragon, displaying an overview of which movies are showing and at what time.

Sink down into the comfortable cinema chair and end your busy shopping day relaxing with some popcorn watching the latest Hollywood movies in 4D or IMAX. Oh, and by the way, don't forget to stand during the tribute video to his majesty the king that is shown before every movie!

DAY 3 – Silom Area, Lumphini Park and a Skybar

1. Relax by the pool at your hotel

After two intense days packed with sightseeing and shopping, it is time to wind down and spend the morning soaking up some sun by the pool. You deserve it!

2. Lunch at Bangrak or Somtum Der

After this laid-back start of the day, head out and hop on the Skytrain or MRT to discover the Silom area of Bangkok. Start your Silom exploration with lunch at either Bangrak restaurant or Somtum Der restaurant. Both Bangrak and Somtum Der serves delicious freshly made authentic Thai food. They are located in the same street, so you can go and check out both if you want.

Somtum Der may have Bangkok's best Som Tam(Papaya salad). Somtum Der is an affordable, friendly place with delicious and authentic north Isaan Thai food. The atmosphere is great! They have a great outside area where you can sit and eat and drink their tasty martinis of vodka and lemongrass or Rosella.

Their specialty is the Som Tam(Papaya Salad) of which they have eight versions at the menu.

Address: 5/5 Sala Daeng Road, Silom.

How to get there: Take the sky train to Silom station and walk from there(very short).

Opening hours: 11:00 – midnight Closed on Sundays.

Bangrak is a cool and hip little place with tasty Thai food! The place has a nice and cool atmosphere, with live music and art exhibitions now and then.

Address: 4-6 Soi Saladang, Silom Road.

How to get there: Take the sky train to Silom station and walk from there(very short).

Opening hours: 10:00 – 22:00. Closed on Sundays.

3. Lumphini Park

After some delicious Thai food for lunch, it is time to burn off those calories or lay down in the park for a siesta. Head over to the nearby Lumphini Park, Bangkok's green lung and biggest park. It is loved by both it's inhabitants and visitors. We love it too!

The park is beautifully maintained and is perfect for a stroll or some relaxation on the grass or on one of it's benches. If you visit it in the afternoon, around 17-18 o'clock, you can also watch or participate in the aerobics taking place in the park. Great fun!

Oh and by the way, if you are there at 18 o'clock, hear a song being played over the speakers and suddenly everyone around you stops running and stands still for a few minutes, just do as they do. It is a song played in tribute to his majesty the king.

4. Dinner at La Table De Tee

After your park exploration and exercise, it is time to fill up the energy again and there is not a better place to that than La Table De Tee restaurant.

La Table De Tee restaurant is a real gourmet treasure in Bangkok! The food is absolutely stunning, both in its presentation and taste! Each evening the chef have a set menu where you can choose between two starters, two main dishes and two desserts. In between you also get two small dishes, so all together five dishes. All dishes are very well composed to fit together as a whole set dinner. It all cost ฿1,100 per person, not including drinks. Expensive by Thai standards, but so much value for your money compared to what you would have to pay for this kind of gourmet dinner in Europe or USA! You can easily walk here from Lumphini Park.

Address: 69/5 Saladaeng Road, Silom.

How to get there: Take the sky train to Silom station and walk from there.

Opening hours: Only open in the evenings, from around 18:00. Pre-book a table as this place is small and very popular!

5. Drinks at a Rooftop Bar

Top off your three days Bangkok visit with some fancy drinks at a rooftop bar. In the Lumpini area we recommend Moon Bar at 61st floor at Banyantree Hotel. Let the wind blow in your hair while you admire the magnificent view of Bangkok's skyline! Nothing beats this ending and it will for sure make you love this city and long to return. You can walk here from La Table de Tee restaurant. There are several rooftop bars in Bangkok. We also like the rooftop bar at the Muse Hotel and the Bangkok Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit Thonglor, but the Moon Bar at Banyantree Hotel is our favourite.

Opening hours Moon Bar at Banyantree Hotel: 17:00 – 01:00 every day.

Address: 21/100 South Sathon Road.

How to get there: Take the sky train to Chong Nonsi or metro to Lumphini station and walk from there.

Day trips

There are also plenty of interesting places around Bangkok that can be visited on a day-trip. The ancient city of Ayutthaya is beatiful and well worth a visit. Many also want to see the famous floating market of Damnoen Saduak but if you go there be aware that it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Thailand, so expect to encounter far more tourists than Thais.

You can do these on your own or join an organized tour with an English speaking guide like the ones below:

Ayutthaya Temples & River Cuise.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets & Bridge on River Kwai Tour.

There you go, our three days itinerary packed with what we consider it the "heart" of Bangkok. Three days is in our opinion not enough time to spend in this magnificent city. A week is more what we would recommend, then you have time to really enjoy yourself and your time in Bangkok and also have some time to relax.

The options and variety of things to do in Bangkok are almost endless! Hope you enjoy this city as much as we do!

What To Bring To Bangkok

Bangkok is hot all year around and gets very humid during the rainy season from June to October. Below are some of the essentials you need before heading to Bangkok.

Travel Insurance - While Thailand has excellent international hospitals, it can also be one of the world most expensive countries to get sick in. With travel insurance costing just a few dollars a day and potentially saving you thousands of dollars if something happens, you really can't go wrong. We've used World Nomads in the past, and they offer an excellent service for backpackers, vacationers and short-term travellers alike.

Map - A good map of Bangkok is a must. Our favourite map is The Groovy Map to Bangkok. The map is accurate, durable and also contains Skytrain & MRT maps, plus it has a lot of great tips about what to see and do in Bangkok by people that have lived there and know the city. It's really like a mini travel guide in map form.

Sunscreen - Sunscreen lotion is expensive in Thailand and often contains whitening, so bring some from home.

Walking sandals - A good pair of walking shoes are an absolute must. We have been using our Teva sandals for years.

Clothes for temples - For entry into religious temples and the Kings Palace you need to wear long trousers and a top/t-shirt that covers your shoulders. We recommend getting something light and breathable that packs down small.

Power adapter - Make sure you can use your electronic devices in Thailand by bringing a travel power adapter. Our favourite is the FosPower Fuse. It is small, light and sturdy and can also charge USB devices.

Sunglasses - Bring a good pair of sunglasses.

Walk around daypack - A small walk around daypack is highly recommended. We travel with Osprey travel backpacks; that come with a useful detachable daypack. For stand alone daypacks, we like the Pacsafe Venturesafe with its anti-theft design.

Water - Make sure to drink plenty of water. With the heat and humidity, you can quickly become dehydrated.

Camera - Don't forget a camera to document your adventures in Bangkok!


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