You’ve got just a few hours – maybe a day – to discover Bangkok? Here’s the page for you! “The perfect day in…Bangkok” will provide information about THE things to see and do in a day.
08:00 – 09:00
Breakfast at your hotel, like the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers , a hotel right on the Hcao Phraya River, with gorgeous views from your bed:
Or, if you’re more adventurous:, try a breakfast somewhere on the street. Thailand is the major street food country in the world – just try! And then: jump into a tuktuk or on the ferry and head for the Grand Palace area. A ride on the Chao Phraya River Boat Ferry is almost a must. It’s a scenic ride along very different areas, like downtown Bangkok or the historical Bangkok Palace district.
You can buy a 150 baht all-day express ticket on the Chao Phraya Express to all the popular spots, or buy individual tickets as low as 14 baht.
09:00 – 13:00
After a hearty breakfast you’re hopefully ready to do a walking tour. Bangkok is famous for its Buddhist temples or Wats. During the morning tour, you’ll see three of the most beautiful and famous ones: Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Wat Pho (Temple of the reclining Buddha) and Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn).
Wat Phra Kaew – Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The easiest way to get to the temple district is via the ferries, if your hotel is located on the Chao Phraya River. On the eastern river bank, you start with Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The Emerald Buddha is a pretty small (about 65 cm high) statue, seated in a yogic posture, is made of jade rather than emerald, and clothed in gold. It is the most respected Buddhist shrine in Thailand – so definitely a must-see.
The entire Grand Palace area expands on about 94 hectares, is surrounded by a compound wall and features more than 100 different buildings in the precincts of the Grand Palace in an area of over 94.5 hectares. Just to give you an impression of the size, here’s a picture of the map of the Wikipedia article of Wat Phra Kaew:
The architectural style is named as Rattanakosin or old Bangkok style. Many buildings exhibit fantastic external decorations, like these on the “ubosot”, the main building of the temple:
There are three pagodas on the temple grounds, and one is more beautiful that the other. Like this one, completely covered by gold, like this one:
In addition, there are golden (and other) statues everywhere:
Next stop on the Grand Palace grounds: the Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat building, which is a blend of Thai traditional architecture with 19th-century European styles. Being a magnificent former king’s palace built in 1782, the building is not open to the public, as state functions are still carried out within. The changing of the guards can be watched at the front courtyard every two hours.
Wat Pho – Temple of the reclining Buddha
Leaving the Grand Palace grounds towards the south, you’ll directly get to Wat Pho, also spelled Wat Po. This is another must-see Buddhist temple complex. Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, the temple is first on the list of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples. Built by king Rama I, the temple was expanded by Rama III and contains the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. And among those you’ll find the impressive “reclining Buddha” – 46 m long and golden:
The temple is considered the earliest centre for public education in Thailand, and is also known as the “birthplace of traditional Thai massage” which is still taught and practiced at the temple. You even can try it yourself! Facilities are clean and you’ll walk away feeling enlightening – despite being quite rigorous. They’ll work you like a bread dough…the price for this adventure is only around 100 Baht.
Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn
The final temple of the morning, the beautiful Wat Arun, is located on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Leaving Wat Pho towards the north-western corner, you’ll get to a ferry terminal. The ferry goes back and forth all the time, so you’ll not have to wait for too long.
The name Wat Arun derives from the Hindu god Aruna, who is often related to the radiations of the rising sun. The first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence. The temple dates back at least to the seventeenth century, but its distinctive prang (the Khmer-style tower-like buildings or spires) were built in the early nineteenth century during the reign of King Rama II. The central prang is covered by colorful faience ware, like these porcelain ornaments:
You can climb almost to the top of the central prang, which is about 70-80 m high. However, be aware that the steps are REALLY steep:
Based on the Buddhist iconography, the central prang features three symbolic levels—the base stands for Traiphum (all realms of existence), the middle level for Tavatimsa (where all desires are gratified) and the top level for Devaphum (six heavens within seven realms of happiness). Anyway, the steep climbs at least rewards with great views.
13:00 – 15:00
Lunchtime! After this extensive temple walking tour you’ll certainly be hungry and thirsty. Of course, there are mobile cookshops everywhere in Bangkok. However, a famous place is the Victory Monument square and the surrounding area, in particular the Thai Boat noodle market. The area is located about three kilometers east of the Grand Palace district – so the easiest way to get there is by tuktuk. Go to Ratchawithi Road, which is north of the Victory Monument roundabout. Here you’ll find local restaurants serving delicious small bowls of noodles along a klong (a small canal). Also known as Boat Noodle Alley, it’s usually full of locals, finishing off bowl after bowl of noodles. If you like it more authentic and less touristic, a good place to try street food is the busy Silom road
Here you’ll find lots of locals and many small food shops. The “Silom” is a business and shopping center with highrise buildings on the left and right to the road, featuring any shop you can imagine. The street in the middle, underneath the Skytrain line (BTS-Silom Line), is always crowded with taxis, lorries, mobile kitchens, tuktuks and any other vehicle you can imagine. It’s not as picturesque and famous as the Victory Monument area, but gives you the chance to take your food into the “Lumpini Park” at the eastern end of Silom Road. There you can enjoy your lunch outside, next to a beautiful lake. And maybe you’ll be joined by the huge lizards that walk around freely in the Park:
15:00 – 17:00
Another must-do in Bangkok is a tour on a long-tail boat through the klongs, the smaller and larger canals in the Thonburi area. We booked the tour via our hotel (i.e. is was pretty expensive, but nice).
You can try around the Wat Arun pier to find a cheaper local offer – but there’s a chance you get cheated…anyway, the tour usually is nice.
You get to see the nice as well as the run-down places…
…traders crisscrossing the water on small boats packed with fruit and drinks…
beautifully renovated traditional teak houses and temples. And you get an impression of how it is to live on the water. How it must have been in many areas of Bangkok, before the skyscrapers and six-lane expressways took over. Of course, it’s pretty crowded on the small canals, and it’s almost a “James Bond feeling”: in 1974, Roger Moore as James Bond was chased in the Klongs in “The Man with the Golden Gun”.
17:00 – 18:30
Another famous place in Bangkok is the notorious “Khaosan Road”, the backpacker meeting point number one.
To get there, you’ll need a tuktuk or taxi again (but they cost next to nothing). Is fun to sit down in one of the street cafes and just watch the hustle and bustle.
18:30 – 19:30
After that, you might want to get some rest before the dinner – so go back to your hotel and look forward to a dinner in a city that offers everything you can imagine.
19:30 – 22:00
Dinner time! You’ll have the choice between street food on the night markets on the “low-level end” like the famous Talad Rot Fai Ratchada or “train market” and a two star dinner e.g at the Restaurant “Gaggan”. And there’s a lot in between.
We tried the Thai Barbecue, a roof-top restaurant at the “River City Shopping center” (next to the Sheraton Hotel). They offer a “private grill” on your table: Each table is fitted with a central hole where a small clay pot full of charcoal is inserted then covered with a bulging metal plate. This is where you grill the meat and vegetables you ordered. It is very decently priced and really good. However, I could not find it on Tripadvisor – so I’m not sure that the restaurant still exists (our visit was some time ago…).
Definitely nice Dinner places:
The most famous nightlife quarter is Sukhumvit, and here you’ll have many choices just for dining or for partying or for enjoying views. I’d go for the latter and recommend the “Octave Rooftop and Lounge” at the Bangkok Marriott Hotel. This place stretches over the 45th to the 49th floor and is a great place for watching the sunset or having a romantic meal. It’s definitely one of the very best 360-degree views of Bangkok.
Another great place is “The Family”, located quite close to the Khao San Road. The restaurant features authentic thai food, is reasonably priced and offers a nice setting.
We also tried the “Thara Tong” restaurant at “our” Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. The food was excellent, you’ll sit next to the Chao Phraya River, but the prices are – of course – a lot higher than in a more authentic place. The restaurant is frequented by the hotel guests and only by the occasional local…but it’s convenient if you’re too tired to leave the hotel. But even then you may consider the above mentioned Thai Barbecue at the River City Mall just next to the Sheraton.
And the supposedly best Pad Thai is served at Thip Samai (https://grrrltraveler.com/things-to-do-in-bangkok-part-1/): The locals line up for what’s said to be the best pad thai (the noodle version of fried rice) in Bangkok. The menu selection is small and easy to choose from and the pad thai is made fresh daily. Address: 313 Maha Chai Road Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon.
Anyway, for the final nightcap I recommend a fantastic location high above the noisy, busy city – the Sky Bar at the Lebua Hotel (https://www.lebua.com/sky-bar). Featured in the notorious movie Hangover II, the bar – one of the highest in the world – provides an unbeatable view over the city. And if you would like to combine dinner and cocktails: the well-known Sirocco Restaurant is just next door.
And finally, some general hints for your visit to Bangkok
Where to stay?
For my suggested “perfect day”, staying at the Chao Phraya River or in Sukhumvit would be most convenient. Of course, there are hundreds – no, thousands of hotels. We stayed at the
Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers .. which is located right on the Chao Phraya River, and conveniently next to a ferry terminal. And reasonably priced, around 150 Euros per night. Featuring two pools, one right next to the river:
Other nice hotels on the river are:
Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, in the same price range.
Or the luxurious Peninsula Bangkok (a bit more expensive…)
Or the equally luxurious Mandarin Oriental
In the Sukhumvit area there are some high rise building with gorgeous views from the higher floors. I particularly recommend the Lebua at State Tower, featuring a fantastic breakfast and an even more spectacular nightcap. And also very reasonably priced around 130 to 150 Euros.
Best travel time:
Temperatures are above 30 degrees centrigrade around the year – so with regard to the temperatures it does not matter. You’ll sweat anyway. However, during the European summer months, like May to October, it’s a lot more humid, which definitely recommends the European winter months for travelling to Bangkok. There’s almost no rain in December and January – and night temperatures just slightly above 20.
Transfer from the airport:
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport is located about 40 Kilometer east of Bangkok. The fastest and most convenient way to the city center is the “Airport Rail Link”. For just around 50 Bath the climatized train takes you to 8 different stations in the city. Probably you’ll have to change to the metro at Makkasan station or the BTS Skytrain at Phaya Thai to get to your hotel. Still, it’s a fast and cheap way to the city.
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.