July 6, 2020

City Guide: Conquering Bangkok in 3 Days

Everyone knows that Bangkok is a favourite tourist destination by travellers from around the world. But it is more interesting to know that it actually receives more visitors than any other place in the world! It’s not difficult to understand though given its wonderful contrast of the old and the new and the traditional and the modern. While visitors can marvel at centuries-old temples, old buildings, tuktuks, and wooden boats, Bangkok is also home to romantic rooftop restaurants, luxury malls, boutiques and markets, and extravagant hotels. The city is never outdated when it comes to nightlife spots as can be seen in its cabarets, nightclubs, and red light districts.

Food and shopping in Bangkok

Of all things Bangkok is known for, its shopping and food scenes are among the most popular. People from all over the world come to the city to purchase merchandise at ridiculously low prices and sell them off for a lot more. It’s a thrilling and delightful experience for shoppers when they get in the midst of gleaming and modern air-conditioned malls and buzzing street markets. Whichever of the two you choose, you’ll surely find stuff that you like in all departments, especially on clothes.

girl shopping in Bangkok

Another fascinating aspect of Bangkok is its food scene, making it a heaven for all foodie travellers. Its restaurants cater to all price ranges and are open all hours! What makes its food really popular are the renowned Thai cuisine—a mix of sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter dishes, and its every other dish that’s been influenced by various cultures around the world. Whether you want to eat night or day, your options are limitless if you know where to go. There are food courts, riverside eateries, food markets, street markets, dinner cruises, and antique steak houses that dot the city.

Day 1 Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Lunch, Wat Arun, Chinatown, and Kao San Road

facade of the Grand Palace

Start your excursion of Bangkok with a bang as you head on your first day to the Grand Palace, which is one of the best and most popular attractions in Bangkok. It was once a royal residence and housed government administrative offices. Built back in 1782, the Grand Palace remains a popular go-to place for people who want to have the ‘royal experience’. As you go around the place, you’ll see the Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, as well as numerous jewelled mosaics and golden statues. Make sure though that when you visit the place, your shoulders are covered to pay respect to the place.

Next up is a visit to Wat Pho, one of Bangkok’s most famous Thai temples located just behind the Grand Palace. If you walk it to the temple, you can grab a snack from any of the stalls you see along the way. Wat Pho is the impressive reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf and mother-of-pearl ornaments on his feet. Measuring 46 metres long and 15 metres high, it illustrates the moment Buddha enters nirvana. Within Wat Pho are four chapels with 394 gilded Buddha images in a long line of Golden Buddhas from all over Thailand.

Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho temple

From here, lunch is next, and we recommend enjoying authentic Thai dishes at Sixth as it is just a short walk from Wat Pho. What makes this place great is that it only has a few tables to let you enjoy lunch quietly.

Then, after a brief rest post-lunch, it’s time to visit Wat Arun. To get here, you need to jump on a ferry to cross the river. Though it is more beautiful to see it lit up at night, it only opens to visitors during the day so you have to catch it before it closes. Considered one of Bangkok’s most favoured temples, you’ll see its most prominent feature—a Khmer-style tower that stands at 82 metres high with steep stairs that you can climb. At the top of the stairs, you can marvel at splendid aerial views over Bangkok and the rivers.

Buddhas at the Wat Arun temple

Next on your list is Chinatown—always a must-visit wherever in the world. It’s located on the opposite side of the river from the Wat Arun temple. The Chinatown in Bangkok is called Yaowarat after the main road Th Yaowarat Road. It dates back to 1782 and was the first settlement of Chinese people here in Thailand. Get ready to be smothered with the most delicious and authentic Thai food in the city as the sun sets because it is Bangkok’s street food central. Of course, you should try the many Chinese-inspired dishes that cannot be found elsewhere in the city.

scene at Bangkok chinatown

To complete your first day of exploring Bangkok, make your way to Kao San Road. If you take a taxi, Grab, or tuktuk, you don’t have to give them instructions because the place is very popular in the city. Here, you can enjoy partying with the locals and backpackers, enjoy a cold drink in hand, and shop through stalls that sell clothes and souvenirs. You’ll really be amazed to find everything here, including barbecued insects, leather handbags, party hats, lanterns, and shirts for sale.

scene at Kao San Road

Day 2 Shopping (Chatuchak Weekend Market and Siam), Lunch, Jim Thompson House, and Night Market (Talat Rot Fai Market and Chang Chui Bangkok Plane Market)

Bangkok: scene at the Chatuchak weekend market

Welcome to your second day in Bangkok! As mentioned previously, Bangkok’s shopping and food scenes are among the most popular attractions here. So, it is just right to do that on your second day. You can visit Siam or the Chatuchak Weekend Market. During the weekend, Chatuchak is a good choice because it’s the mother of all markets in Bangkok! It’s an open-air market with 15,000 stalls dotted along an entire kilometre.

On weekdays, go to Siam because it’s an air-conditioned mall where most tourists go to for retail therapy. In this area, you can find other shopping centres like the Central World, Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, and the MBK Shopping Mall.

people shopping at Siam

After shopping, you deserve to indulge in a bountiful lunch at the food court. Bangkok is really hot and humid so you might want to reserve street food explorations later in the evening. Every mall here has its own food court that serves authentic Thai dishes in a clean environment. You can trust that the food is delicious, clean, and cheap!

After lunch, shift from modern Bangkok to ancient or old Bangkok by heading to the Jim Thompson House. It’s sort of a museum that is just a short walk away from Siam Square. Jim Thompson was an American who made Thai silk famous to the world. One day, he suddenly disappeared and that remains a mystery to this day. Today, his house and garden have been turned into a museum, which is visited by all tourists.

Silk materials in Bangkok

Finally, the highlight of the evening is here. Make sure to visit the night market in Bangkok. It may be really hard to choose one to visit, so you can manage your time and visit two or three markets for the night. We suggest going to the Talat Rot Fai Market that has a retro vibe to it with antique items and retro clothes on sale. Of course, the food here is a must-try with numerous food trucks and pubs in converted VW vans.

stalls in Bangkok's Talat Rot market

If you’ve got the time and energy to go to another night market, the Chang Chiu Bangkok Plane night market is a good choice. From its name itself, it has the huge shell of a Tristar airliner in the middle of the market. Here, you can find everything you can think of, including recycled items from scrap materials.

Day 3 Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Lumphini Park, and Thip Samai

A wooden boat in the floating market

You can spend your third day in a more relaxed and quiet way, or you can make it as hyped up as the first two days of your excursion. If you choose the latter, we recommend going to the Damnoen Saduak floating market, which is one of the most popular ones in Bangkok and is more than 100 years old. It’s a touristy kind of floating market boasting with wooden boats loaded with exotic vegetables, fruits, and snacks. However, the market is located a bit out of the city (1.5-hour drive) and opens at 7 o’clock in the morning till noontime. This means you’ll have to get up early to get there on time.

Then, proceed next to Lumphini Park to see Bangkok’s green lung and biggest park. With beautifully maintained gardens and pathways, it offers a nice place for a relaxed walk and lazy time. If you come in the afternoon at around 5 o’clock, you can watch or join the aerobics that takes place here. Then, at 6 o’clock, you will hear a song played over the speakers and everyone just stops in their tracks. Just do the same as this is the song played in tribute to his majesty the king.

wooden boats in Bangkok's Lumphini Park

Later in the afternoon, you can go and taste the best Pad Thai in Bangkok. Visit Thip Samai. Aside from serving the best Pad Thai in all of Bangkok, it also has the best freshly squeezed orange juice.

Bangkok's most delicious Pad Thai

There are so many sights waiting to be discovered in Bangkok, considering that its development is catered to tourists. But we guarantee that this 3-day itinerary shows you what you need to see in the city. Feel free to tweak it—add or replace spots depending on what you want.

All in all, Bangkok really shines all year through!

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