- Recommended Length of Stay: 2-4 days
- Suggested Budget: $50-$75 per person per day (dependent on modest accommodations and desired nightlife)
- Getting Around: Public transportation is very easy to navigate
Bangkok can be extremely overwhelming at first. The city is not in laid out in a grid, but instead is full of dead-ends and walled-off streets. The traffic is INSANE and we could feel the pollution as soon as we started walking through the city. However, there is a certain charm about this crazy, busy city and a few absolute must-sees. Here is a list of some of the top sites in Bangkok that can be easily seen in a weekend or a 2-4 day trip.
1. Take the Tourist River Boat
The Chao Phraya Express Boat is a great first attraction to do in Bangkok to get an overview to the city and it’s attractions. Many of Bangkok’s tourist attractions are right off the Chao Phraya River that runs through the city including China Town, Pak Klong Talad (Bangkok flower market), Thonbury (old capital city), Wat Pho, Wat Arun and The Grand Palace. This is a fantastic way to learn a little about Thailand’s history and economy as well as the importance of tourism to the country.
Taking the riverboat is extremely easy and very affordable. The boat starts at the Saphan Taskin Station and runs all the way to the Phra Arthit Pier. Single tickets are a flat rate of only 40 Thai baht, (roughly $1.20 USD) for any stop along the route. Check here for a route map, schedule and fares – Bangkok Tourist River Boat
2. Grand Palace & Wat Prakaew
If you only have time for one temple, let it be this one. The grounds are huge with over 35 buildings on site and the architecture is so impressive and detailed. The Grand Palace was built in 1782 and has since been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand). While the King and his court no longer reside at the palace, there are still royal ceremonies held here on occasion.
In the largest temple on site, Wat Prakaew, is the renowned Emerald Buddha. Despite the name, the Emerald Buddha is not made of emerald, but of jade. Those who found and crafted him initially thought the stone was emerald, and so the myth has stayed with the name. You must remove your shoes before entering The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, but this is a must see as Thais and other Buddhists from around the world bow and pay respects to the Lord Buddha and His Teachings.
Make sure to make it to Hor Phra Naga, which is situated to the left of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha where some very impressive murals have been painted. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see one of the painters in action!
3. Get Lost in Bangkok’s many, many markets
– China Town (Yaowarat), Chatachak Market (Weekend market), Night Markets
Bangkok is famous for it’s many markets and this can be a great way to occupy your time. Most of the markets around the city have their own designated days and times that they are open and some can stretch for kilometers.
Shirts and pants adorning elephants are extremely popular with the tourists and you will see them everywhere. Most of the goods at the markets are the same and once you have been through one of them the shopping aspect takes a back seat to the experience. Feel free to haggle for just about anything but only begin this process if you intend to buy.
There are multiple night markets that begin around 6 pm and are open well into the morning. One of the most notable night markets is Patpong, which is known for its souvenirs, knock-off designer accessories, and of course adult entertainment behind red curtains. Leave the children at home for this market.
4. Lumphini Park
Lumphini Park is located in the heart of Bangkok and offers a nice oasis in the large concrete city. Because of the high temperatures of Thailand, the park is most popular between the hours of 6:00-8:00 am and 5:00-7:00 pm.
Lumphini Park recalls images of a much smaller version of Central Park. During peak hours you can find free aerobics classes, yoga classes, paddleboat rentals and outdoor workout equipment. If you like, you can either join the masses for a morning run or grab a cold drink for an evening stroll.
5. Kho San Road
Kho San Road is touted as the backpacker hub of Bangkok. Here you can find the bustle of street food stalls, souvenir stands, street hustlers and of course patio bars to sit and watch all of the action. Kho San Road is surrounded by hostels and is a great place to come share stories and have a beer with fellow travelers.
However, do not come here expecting to relax. The noise and constant movement of the street is a great party atmosphere but does not lend much to relaxing with a beer.
6. Buddhist Temples
– Wat Prakaew (See Grand Palace), Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn), Wat Pho
According to the Office of National Buddhism, there are over 40,000 temples in Thailand and Bangkok is no exception. The most popular temple, Wat Prakaew, was mentioned earlier as part of the Grand Palace and is included in the admission.
Possibly the second most famous temple is Wat Arun which is located on the west side of the river and can easily be reached by a 3 baht ferry. Wat Arun is architecturally different from other temples in Bangkok and is recognizable by large spires surrounding the temple. Entry to the temple is 100 baht or around $3.
Wat Pho is located along the river and is a short walk from the Grand Palace and admission is only 100 baht or about $3. Wat Pho is famous for the reclining Buddha, which measures over 45 meters long.
Most temples are open from around 8:00 am – 4:30 pm. You can find a more comprehensive list of temples here.
Bonus: Western Time Out
7. Shop ‘til you Drop @ Siam Center
If you’re looking for a little break from the hustle and bustle, along with a little air conditioning, head to the Siam Center. The Siam Center is a modern shopping mall complete with high-end retail stores and a full food court.
What are your favorite Bangkok sites? Do you have any questions about traveling there?
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