Bangkok is a most affordable destination from India, it is cheaper than some of the Indian destinations. My first trip to Bangkok was way back in 2004 and I still have some memories from that trip. There are a lot of things to do in Bangkok but due to time restraint, I could not do much.
Recently I have been to Bangkok again because I was traveling to Cambodia via Thailand. I got 3 days in Bangkok and I decided to make full use of my time in the city. There is so much written about Bangkok, some people say they love it and some say they hate it. I feel Bangkok has a different character and there is something for everyone. Though it is full of tourists from all over the world there is local feel.
Despite everything, I like Bangkok and many things about this city. I think the best way to explore Bangkok is to go local and not feel like a tourist, go to local markets, eat at small joints, use BTS sky train.
I have used airport rail link, BTS sky train, water taxis & boats, Tuk-tuk, Taxis and app-based cab services like Grab and Uber to get around the city. Here are my experience and Bangkok.
The first thing I did after immigration that I withdrew some Thai bhats from ATM and bought a SIM card from “true” mobile’s counter at the airport. They gave free wifi data with a sim card.
I went down to Airport Rail link, it operates between 06.00 until midnight. I took an airport rail link to my hostel in the city. My travel organizers (Unfortunately I booked a tour) from India planned the sightseeing tour in a haphazard manner and we wasted a lot of time due to this mismanagement. After personally visiting, I came up with below itinerary for 3 days. It saves on time and even if you have 3 days, you can explore most of the places in a relaxed manner.
I recommend following things to do in Bangkok in 3 days, as per below day wise itinerary –
Day 1 (Temple Hopping)
It is a magnificent palace made in 1782 and was the home of Thai King for 150 years. The palace complex is surrounded by 1,900 meters long walls for safety purpose. The most noted structure in this compound is Royal Palace, Royal residence, the Temple of Emerald Buddha and throne hall. The palace is beautifully made in vibrant colors and there are numerous buildings, halls, set around gardens, and courtyards. Its asymmetry and extensive in style due to its organic development and building being over the years by reigning kings in 200 years. It was the Royal court and the administrative seat of Thai government until 1925.
These days palace is used for Royal rituals, official functions, and state banquets. A visit to Grand Palace is a must in things to do in Bangkok.
The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha are most sacred sites in Bangkok and a strict dress code applies. One must be properly dressed before entering the palace compound. If one shows up improperly dressed up then they are allowed inside. There are shops outside and you can buy the items to cover yourself or can rent at the main gate by depositing token amount.
Men must wear pants. Shirts with sleeves (no sleeveless or tank tops)
Women also dress modestly, no bare shoulders or shorts skirts. The skirt or pant or dresses should cover calf.
No see-through clothes.
If wearing sandals or flip-flops than must wear socks to cover the toes.
Opening Hours: The Royal Palace compound remains open daily from 08:30 – 15:30
Entry ticket: 500 Bhats
Entry for the public is through Gate of Wonderful Victory.
Tip: It gets crowded and hot during the day. Reach at the gate early before it opens to avoid the crowd. Sometimes they allow the entry before the opening time.
Wat Phra Kaew
It is popularly known as Temple of the Emerald Buddha and regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in whole Thailand. It is located inside the Grand Palace compound, it enshrines a Buddha image in meditating position meticulously carved from a single block of jade. It has all the features of a temple except for living quarters for monks.
The Great Chakri Palace
Though it is no longer the royal residence (the present king lives at the Chitralada Residence), I have seen it from outside.
It is a landmark temple across the Grand Palace. This temple is known for its 46-meter giant reclining Buddha statue. The temple complex houses more than one thousand images of Buddha, which is maximum in any Thai temple. The temple grounds contain 91 small stupas, four great stupas, two belfries, a central shrine and many other pavilions as well as gardens.
A school for traditional massage and medicine was established at the temple compound in 1955, it now offers four courses in Thai medicine & pharmacy, Thai medical practice, Thai midwifery, and Thai massage.
Dress Code: Same as for Royal Palace
Opening hours: 08:00 – 18:30
Entry Ticket: 100 Baht
Tips: Take off shoes and put them on the shelf before entering religious buildings.
Women are also prohibited from areas where monks perform their rites.
Women should not have a physical contact with monks and keep distance.
Thai massage is done in the massage school.
Jetty and Market Near Wat Pho
There is jetty and market across Wat Pho. This is one of the most popular places to have food while enjoying the river view. There is a jetty here and we took a sharing boat to cross the river Chao Phraya Pier to reach Wat Arun. The shared boat ride ticket from point to point cost 5 Bhats.
It is also known as Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or temple of dawn and it’s a Buddhist temple. It is on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The design of this temple is very different to the other temples of Bangkok. It’s partly made up of colorfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water. It has an imposing spire of over 70 meters decorated with tiny pieces of colored glass and Chinese porcelain placed delicately into intricate patterns. One can climb it but the steps are very steep but there is a railing for support. For me getting down was more tricky. From the highest point, I saw the winding Chao Phraya River and the Grand Palace on opposite side of the river.
It is known as the temple of dawn but it is absolutely stunning at sunset when they lit it up at night.
Dress Code: Same as for Royal Palace
Opening hours: 08:30 – 17:30
Entry Ticket: 50 Baht
Tips: There are some stalls selling souvenirs and snacks. Some stalls rent traditional Thai costumes and people dress up in these to get a photo clicked in front of the temple.
Steps are narrow and steep, climb carefully.
There are toilets in the compound.
We went there at night for dinner. There are some attractions in Chinatown but according to me it is best explored at night. After sunset, 1 km strip of the road comes alive with vibrant street food stalls. There were many stalls with sitting arrangements, selling all kind of different foods and drinks. Best is to walk around and see the options before deciding what to eat as there are so many interesting things.
Day 2 (Cultural tour)
It is known as Pak Khlong Talat in the local language. This market is primarily known as flower market but there are shops selling fruits and vegetable. It remains open 24 hours but busiest at the dawn when farmers arrive in boats and trucks from nearby places. It is very popular among tourists.
Talin Chan Floating Market is a closet and most popular market among tourists as well as locals.
There are shops at the bank of river selling cheap clothing, accessories, toys and decorative items. It is better to visit this market than other popular floating markets. Eating by the river is a fun experience and one must try. There are longtail boats cooking and selling freshly cooked food. Eat a seafood meal sitting on the floor with locals or there are stalls where you can sit on plastic chairs and table.
Opening Hours: 8.00 to 17.00
Boat ride cost: 100-150 Bhats
Tips: A Half day is enough to visit this market without booking a tour.
Eat freshly prepared food near the river.
It is closest to Bangkok and taxi is the easiest way to get there.
Or take BTS till the last station ‘Wongwian Yai’ and from there taxi will cost 160-170 Bhats.
* Another popular market is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, it is little far from the city and a day tour is recommended for it. Take a tour, these tours cover a couple of other places on the way.
After visiting two local markets, it is time to spend some me time doing nothing and just relaxing. Lumphini Park is the best place to spend some me time. It is very popular among locals also, it offers open space, trees, and playgrounds in the middle of the city. There are an artificial lake and boating facility is available for payment.
Chao Phraya River Cruise
Take a tour on the river and you will see the beautiful city of Bangkok on both sides. It can be used to visit Wat Arun, Grand Palace, Wat Pho and other important moments.
Tickets: The boat tickets cost between 5 to 20 Bhat for point to point.
Opening Hours: 06:00 – 19:30
Tips: Take a boat with no flag, known as a local line. It stops at every pier.
There are tourist boats also, ask at the counter for details.
Evening cruises with dinner are also available to spend some god time. These cost between 1,100 to 1,500 Bhats per person with dinner. These offer a good view of monuments with illuminations as you sail in the river.
Day 3 (Shopping Spree)
It opens early around 4.00 AM and if you want to buy fashion garments then this is the place for you. When I reached there at 6.00 AM, it was full of shoppers.
Tips: Go early morning for cheap fashion clothes.
If you are bigger than regular Thai women, you will get limited clothing option.
If you buy more i.e. 3 or 6, then you can bargain and get a good price.
There are practically no changing rooms so, trying the garments before buying is not possible.
Carry cash because most of the shops don’t accept cards.
It is a very popular market cum mall. There were tons of shops selling practically everything from clothes, shoes, decorative items, customized key chains, customized T-shirts, decorative items, gold and many other things.
It is a multistory market and there were many international food chains in the complex. Go to a spa for massage or beauty treatment, there were many in the area.
I personally did not like this market because most of the stuff there is easily available in Delhi or Mumbai’s fashion markets at similar prices.
It is a one km stretch and very popular among backpackers for nightlife. There were some clubs and bars playing live music. After the sunset, many mobile bars set shops on the roadside selling cheap drinks.
It’s one of the most famous red-light districts. It’s two parallel side streets between Silom and Surawongse Roads, there are dozens of neon-lit strip bars offering ping pong shows and pole-dancing.
Other places to visit –
* Chatuchak Market – If you are in Bangkok over the weekend then keep at least half a day for Chatuchak Market. It is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 09:00 – 18:00, and on Fridays from18:00 – 24:00. There are approx 8,000 stalls in 35 acres and selling almost everything at a good price.
Brush up your bargaining skills and negotiate hard. Beware of pickpockets.
This was my itinerary day wise to explore Bangkok in a systematic way without wasting time.