So, you have only 2 days in Bangkok. It’s not a lot but I assure you, if you follow this itinerary, you’ll be able to visit all the important attractions of Bangkok.
- Visit Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, Wat Pho
- Take the ferry across to Wat Arun.
- Try the traditional Thai dress – Chut Thai
- Cruise the Chao Phraya river
- Shop at Icon Siam
- Relax with a drink at the rooftop Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel
Day 1 Of Bangkok Itinerary
First Stop – Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, Wat Pho
Bangkok has over a hundred temples. However, after you’ve seen a few, you’ll start to feel that they are all the same. Among the hundreds of Bangkok Temples, the ones that stand out and are distinct from the other temples are the Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. Conveniently for a tourist, these three temples are close to each other and can be visited in quick succession.
Beware of Scammers near the Grand Palace
The area around Grand Palace is scam-central in Bangkok. Many tuk-tuk drivers and “friendly” locals lurk around the Grand Palace and nearby tourist attractions to scam tourists and steal their money. Beware, if a tuk-tuk driver approaches you and tells you that the Grand Palace is closed for prayers or some other reason. This “helpful” tuk-tuk driver will then offer to take you to another temple which is far better. Once you are on the way to the so-called temple, he’ll stop at a jewelry shop or travel agency, which will pay him a commission for bringing a customer.
I fell prey to a similar Bangkok scam called the Lucky Buddha scam. I didn’t lose a lot of money but I quickly learned not to trust any friendly strangers in Bangkok. Read what happened to me in the linked article to avoid falling for these scams. To be safe, just ignore people who give unsolicited advice and do your own research.
When you visit the temple of the Emerald Buddha or any other temple in Thailand, you have to be dress according to temple dress code to be admitted inside the temple. The temple dress etiquette requires all visitors to have their legs (above the knees) and shoulders covered.
I prefer wearing shorts in Bangkok because of the heat. However, for such occasions, I carry a thin wraparound skirt in my bag, which I whip out and wear over my shorts when I visit temples. If you forget to carry a wraparound skirt with you, don’t worry, there are shops that rent out wraparound skirts and pants near the temple for 100 Baht. You can find these shops just across the road from the Grand Palace.
Start the day 1 of your itinerary by visiting Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the Grand Palace.
Opening hours: 0.8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Plan to visit as early in the morning as possible as the place gets crowded later in the day.
The Grand Palace complex, which was constructed as the main residence of the royal family in 1782, has around 36 buildings and structures within the complex. Don’t be intimidated by the sheer number of buildings and structures I’ve mentioned here. Most of them are close to each other, so you will not spend as much time as you anticipate.
The most notable of the 36 buildings are the royal residence, Wat Phra Kaew – the temple of the Emerald Buddha, Phra Siratana Chedi – a golden stupa containing the relics of Lord Buddha and a miniature model of Angor Wat temple.
The next stop after Grand Palace is Wat Pho where you’ll find the statue of the reclining Buddha. The temple is very narrow and you can’t linger inside the temple for too long as there’s always a line of people eager to get into the temple and click a photo.
So, snap a few quick photos and move on. On the other side of the statue, you’ll notice 108 bronze bowls lined up against the wall. The custom is to drop a coin into each of these bowls while praying. It’s believed that if you do so, your prayers and wishes will be answered. If you want to partake in this custom, you can purchase the golden coins from a counter inside the temple.
There are other temples and structures inside Wat Pho that are also worth a look. I particularly like the line of Golden Buddha statues inside one of the temples.
After Wat Pho, the next stop is Wat Arun. To get to Wat Arun, you have to take a ferry across the Chao Phraya river. The ferry terminal is located right across from Wat Pho. The entrance is not clearly visible as it’s located inside the Tha Tian Market. See the map below for directions to the ferry terminal.
The Tha Tian Market is a good place to shop for clothes and other souveniers. The items here are much cheaper than what you find in other touristy locations such as Khao San road. You can also grab a bite to eat as there are many food vendors here.
At Wat Arun, the main attraction is the giant spire. The spire is beautiful with carvings and decorations through out. The decorations are made of glass and ceramics and have been painted in yellow, green, blue and red which contrasts well with the white background of the spire.
There are stairs to get to the top of the spire. However, only a few levels are open to public. Once you ascend the stairs, walk on the narrow balcony that wraps around the spire.
Try the traditional Thai dress – Chut Thai
Once you complete your tour of Wat Arun, check out stalls outside the temple. You can buy souvenirs and get something to eat and drink.
The most interesting stall I found in this small market, was the one renting out traditional Thai clothes. The traditional Thai dress for women is known as Chut Thai. For 100 Baht, you can try on the Chut Thai along with the jewelry and headress that come along with it.
Cruise the Chao Phraya river
After Wat Arun, take a cruise down the Chao Phraya river to the Icon Siam shopping mall. There are different types of boats on the Chao Phraya river. How do you know which one to take? Don’t worry, I have written a detailed guide to Chao Phraya river express boats.
If you don’t have the patience to read the entire guide, I can safely say board the boat with an orange flag headed towards Sathorn Pier and get down at Icon Siam.
Icon Siam is one of my favorite malls in the world. What distinguishes this mall from the other run of the mill malls all over the world is that it has an entire section dedicated to showcasing Thai culture and tradition.
This Thai section is in the ground floor. Inside, you’ll find a representation of the Thai floating market, street food stalls, quaint wooden shops that make you feel that you have entered a small rural village in Thailand. The music, the aroma of Thai food, and the ambience is just perfect!
After you’ve had your fill of Thai food and the rural village, get on the escalator and enter a world of luxury. You can shop till you drop in this mall and there are all kinds of things to choose from local brands to high-end brands.
You can also have dinner at one of the wonderful river facing restaurants on the ground floor or go to the top-floor where there are plenty of restaurants as well.
Sky Bar at Lebua Hotel
After dinner, I’m sure you’ll be on a lookout for a bar to relax. If you have seen the movie Hangover, then you’ll remember that the Sky Bar was featured in this movie. There’s even a special cocktail named after the movie. This rooftop bar gives you stunning views of the city and it’s not far from Icon Siam. Take the free shuttle from Icon Siam across the Chao Phraya river. It’s a short 10 min walk from the Sathon Pier as shown in the map below.
Day 2 Bangkok Itinerary
If your 2-day Bangkok vacation is during a weekend, then I would suggest you visit the Chatuchak weekend market, else skip this part and go shopping at Terminal 21 instead.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
As the name suggests the Chatuchak weekend market is open only on weekends from 9:00 to 18:00 on Saturdays and Sundays and Friday evenings from 18:00 to 24:00.
This sprawling market is packed with small stalls selling everything from souvenirs, bath products, inexpensive jewelry, clothes, shoes, leather products, and knick-knacks. You can also munch on street food favorites like Thai roti, coconut ice cream, tender coconut, juicy mango slices when you take a break from shopping.
The one drawback of visiting this market is that it’s very crowded. If it’s a warm and humid day, you’ll tire out easily inside the market where there’s no ventilation. To solve this problem, some of the shop owners have air conditioners installed. Needless to say, I spent more time at these stores.
Terminal 21 and Sukhumvit area
If you are not in Bangkok on a weekend, then instead of the Chatuchak weekend market, you can explore another shopping centre – Terminal 21 and the surrounding Sukhumvit area.
Terminal 21 is not just a shopping mall but also a tourist attraction because of its themed approach to each floor. What I mean by this is that each floor is Terminal 21 has a theme that showcases a country. For example, you’ll find the pillars and fountains of Rome on one floor, the high streets of London complete with a model of a double-decker bus on another, the Geishas and Sumo Wrestlers of Tokyo, the Eiffel tower of Paris, the illuminated streets of Istanbul and a model of the Golden Gate bridge on the topmost floor.
There are many shops selling local and international brands as well. If you found Icon Siam too expensive, this mall may suit your needs better.
After shopping at Terminal 21, get out and explore the surrounding Sukhumvit area. The area is a busy commercial area with many shops and restaurants.
Take a Tuk Tuk ride
Your visit to Bangkok won’t be complete if you don’t take the infamous tuk-tuk ride. Riding a tuk-tuk may be a new experience to people who don’t have these three wheeler rides in their country. However, these tuk-tuk drivers are notorious of taking advantage of tourists.
You can avoid the scams and enjoy your tuk-tuk experience if you take the following precautions.
- Know in advance how much it approximately costs to get to your destination. You can do this by downloading the Grab app on your phone. The Grab app is similar to the Uber app with a post-paid model. This app will show you how much it’ll cost to your destination. You can use this amount to haggle with your tuk-tuk driver.
- In most cases, a tuk-tuk driver will ask for double what it costs to get to your destination. As a rule of thumb, you offer less than half the amount the tuk-tuk driver suggested and go up from there.
- Try two of more tuk-tuk drivers before settling.
- Have the exact change with you if you can. I haven’t met a driver who hasn’t given me my change back but it’s better to be cautious.
- Always pay after you have reached the destination. Don’t pay in advance.
- If all else fails, order a Grab taxi which is a safer option.
Now that you know how to bargain with a tuk-tuk driver, take a tuk-tuk ride to the Golden Mount or Wat Saket temple from Sukhumvit to your next destination – the Golden Mount Temple.
Wat Saket or the Golden Mount Temple
Wat Saket is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. It’s located on the edge of the Rattanakosin area or old town. If you wish to see Wat Saket, be ready for some physical exertion as the temple is perched on the top of a 80 meter high mountain. You have to climb 300 steps to get to the top. There are plenty of viewing points and rest stops along the way and once you reach the top you’ll see a 360 degree view of Bangkok. If you are there at sunset, you’ll get to see some amazing views.
Try the Street food at China Town
After your climb to the Golden Mount Temple, I’m sure you’ll be ravenous. Fortunately, the Yaowarat street and the neighbouring Charoen Krung Road, in China Town, famous for its street food is just ten minutes away by walk. This street is a heaven for foodies all of the world. People flock to this street especially at night as the entire street is converted into a food market. So hang around, relax and have some great Thai and Chinese dishes. If you need directions from the Golden Mount temple to the Yaowarat road, see the map below.
Get a Foot Massage at a street-side Massage place
After all the running around you’ve done and especially after climbing those 300 steps to the Golden Mount temple, I’m sure a foot massage is exactly what you crave. However, some may feel uncomforatble going to the Thai massage parlours as some of them are a bit shady. Well, there’s a solution for this. Try a street-side massage parlour. These street-side massage parlours have rows of massage chairs set up right outside their shop. You’ll find these street-side foot massage places at your next destination, Khao San road.
Party at Khao San road or visit the quieter Rambuttri Village
Khao San road has a reputation as a party street and that’s exactly what you’ll get here. The party on this street is in full swing even beyond midnight. If you visit the street before nihgtfall, you can enjoy the quieter aspect of the street. You can shop, eat at the street side stalls and get a foot massage as I suggested.
As the evening progresses, be prepared for noise levels to increase. If you like to party hard you’ll love this place. Music blares from the bars while people drink Alchohol served in tiny buckets. There are some dangerous items like laughing gas balloons being sold on these streets as well. I would strongly advise you to steer clear of the laughing gas as it’s injurious to health if it’s not administered under medical supervision.
If you don’t like the party atmosphere, you can visit the quieter Rambuttri village. It’s just opposite the Khao San road and and it’s a more pleasant option to Khao San road. You’ll find plenty of restaurants, street food stalls and shops in Rambuttri village minus all the noise.
Whether you end your trip with a bang or with a quiet night out, I hope you’ve enjoyed every bit of the trip. If you’ve followed this itinerary or found it useful in planning your own, don’t forget to share on social media and pin it on Pinterest.
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