Bangkok has a rich culture and history and many breathtaking places to visit and explore, which can make it difficult to cover in a mere 3 days. This 3-Day Bangkok itinerary, however, includes almost all of the sites and activities you wouldn’t want to miss out on as a first-time visitor to the city. From temples and a palace to restaurants and markets, I made sure to provide you with the most interesting stops for a short trip to the vibrant, exciting and intense capital of Thailand so that you can make the most of your time here. So, whether you have a layover or a few days to spend in Bangkok, do print out a copy of this itinerary (or download a version to your phone) to be able to refer back to it when you need.
Note: If you only have one day to spend in Bangkok, I would recommend you focus on the first day of this itinerary. You can easily do any day though or mix-and-match the activities on each day to suit your interests and needs. Also, if you're tired of the heat and crowds in Bangkok, why not consider a day trip to the temples in Ayutthaya or head up North for a few nights in Khao Kho, Thailand?
Using the map of Bangkok, you can explore all the days and stops.
The first day is focused on exploring Bangkok's historical sites - the main palace (the Grand Palace) and temples, and stopping for lunch at The Sixth - a popular Thai Restaurant and Bar in the city. While the temples and Palace are more often than not jam-packed with crowds and tourists, it is for good reason as these sites are iconic landmarks in both Bangkok and Thailand more generally. Nonetheless, it doesn't matter if you have a week or just a day to explore the city, these historical stops should come first on your personal 'Top Sites to See in Bangkok' list.
The sites below are also within close proximity of each other, so you'll be able to walk from one place to the next with ease. They are also located near the Chao Phraya River, so do take some time to explore this area by taking a leisurely stroll along the water.
Finally, I would recommend you start your first day early as the walls of the Palace like to retain heat, and in the middle of summer, it can become quite hot and unpleasant inside! Most of the sites also close rather early, so best to get a head start!
Special Note: Make sure to dress appropriately when visiting sacred sites in Thailand, such as the temples and Palace. This usually involves covering your thighs (below the knees) and shoulders. I would recommend buying a cheap sarong from a market stall somewhere in the city before you set off on your first day as you can easily wrap it around you when needed and fold it up small to fit in your bag. You can also use it as a blanket when visiting the beach!
The Grand Palace, which is located in the centre of Bangkok, is the perfect place to start your venture into the history of the city as many of the buildings located inside it are great examples of traditional Thai architecture. They are often beautifully detailed and decorated in bright, bold colours, such as with gold finishings. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is also situated in its well-known grounds.
The Palace used to be the official residence of the Kings of Siam, but is now used for official events. Interestingly, only the King can touch the Emerald Buddha, so do keep your hands to yourself! If you are here early in the morning, do spend a couple of hours exploring the Palace as it should be less crowded at this time of day and is a great time to take it all in.
Now that you have bid farewell to the Emerald Buddha, it's time to pay your regards to the Reclining Buddha, which is approximately a 10-minute walk away from the Grand Palace. The Wat Pho is also the perfect place for a retreat after your busy morning at the Grand Palace. Even though the main attraction for you will most likely be the Buddha itself, be sure to check out the beautiful nearby courtyard too. An hour should be enough here.
Considering the long hours of exploring you had in the morning, you’ll probably be ready to eat anything in sight by noon. So, I suggest you halt your exploration for a while and head over to The Sixth to savour your taste buds on Thai delicacies. The Sixth not only has amazing food, but it is also located just a few minutes walk away from the Wat Pho.
Thailand, and Bangkok in particular, is known worldwide for its street food, so make sure to spend some time exploring the local food carts as well.
Wat Arun Temple (The Temple of the Dawn), with its riverview location and the highest prang in all of Thailand (70 m to be exact!), is one of the most popular and photographed landmarks in the city. It can often be spotted in cityscape photos of Bangkok. It got its name 'The Temple of the Dawn' from the Indian God Aruna, who was the God of Dawn.
Not only does it look great in photos, but you can also get knee-deep in history here as this structure was built before Bangkok itself. Don't forget to check out the Ordination Hall near the Prang too and try to catch the sunset here as well as the sun casts a beautiful light on the tall spiral. You can easily spend a few hours here roaming around the beautiful grounds, so take your time exploring the area.
You can't come to Bangkok and not set aside a day or an afternoon for some shopping and market exploration! While there are many markets and shopping centres one can visit in Bangkok, I would recommend you stop by two of the most famous ones - Chatuchak Market and Asiatique. I would also suggest that you skip booking a tour to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market as reviews are often mixed (i.e. overrated) and the overall feeling is that it is overpriced for what it actually is.
Why not also break up your shopping day with a Thai massage and some tea? Your feet are bound to get tired at some point during the day, so head on over to the Bangkok Oasis Spa for a well-deserved massage break.
Chatuchak Market, or Jatujak (JJ) Market, is not only the largest market in Thailand, but also one of the largest outdoor weekend markets in the world! It is very popular among both the locals and tourists and has over 10,000 stalls and vendors that consist of food, plants, antiques, clothes, cosmetics and more! It is unfortunately only open on the weekends, so do try to plan your visit to Bangkok to fall on a Saturday or Sunday so that you can experience this amazing place!
After you have spent the morning and early afternoon walking around the market stalls at Chatuchak Market, it is time for you to get into relaxation mode Thai-style. So head over to the well-rated Bangkok Oasis Spa for an afternoon tea and a relaxing massage that will leave you feeling rejuvenated from within. They offer several different exciting packages, so do take a look at their website and book ahead.
ASIATIQUE is an open-air mall located in old docks in Bangkok. It not only functions as a shopping centre, but also offers dining options, activities and more. So after you are done with your massage, head over to Asiatique to be entertained. There are over 1,500 boutiques you can peek into and 50+ restaurants to choose from. Performances also occur nightly, so do have a look into what shows are happening once you are there.
Now that you have visited important landmarks and seen some interesting sites in Bangkok, it is time to set foot in the less touristy areas of the city. These places are not that unheard of, but you won’t be surrounded by relentless crowds pushing you around at these locations. This day starts off with visiting the Bobae Market and ends at the Democracy Monument, which is quite an important landmark historically and a must-see for history buffs.
The Bobae Market is great for buying gifts or just getting items that you would rather buy in bulk. The prices deflate as your order increases in quantity, but otherwise, the prices of most items are the same as any other market. So, I’d only recommend you go here if you are looking to buy the same item many times.
Now that you have already spent two days in Bangkok, you should be aware that there are many things in abundance here, such as temples. And once you have already seen the biggest temples, it is hard to make a decision on which ones you want to see next. To me, the Loha Prasat seems like a great option especially since it is very educational and offers great views.
Loha Prasat, also known as Wat Ratchanatdaram, stands for iron castle or monastery. It is a Buddhist Temple and was finished being built in 1846. It consists of 5 towers and 37 golden spires, all of which represent 37 virtues that are needed to reach enlightenment.
Krua Apsorn is another Thai restaurant that is popular with both the locals and tourists. You can have breakfast here, but I would recommend you head here for lunch or dinner so that you can try out a dish from the main courses they offer. Bonus, they are vegetarian and vegan-friendly!
The Democracy Monument was commissioned in 1939 to commemorate the 1932 Revolution. It is situated in the middle of a traffic circle and is quite rich in meaning for the native people of Thailand, so I would recommend paying it a visit as you will already be nearby it after you finish eating at Krua Apsorn.
This article was first published on Jul 26, 2019 16:38 UTC.
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