No matter if it’s your first visit or your fifth visit Bangkok this is one of those cities the minute you have landed you get that feeling that you want to explore. Bangkok boasts all type of activities from historic temples, larger then life Buddha’s, endless markets and quirky streets where you can eat, sleep and party the day away. There’s no wonder why Bangkok is voted the best city in the world every year.
Did you know Bangkok is the English name for the city but in Thai the full name is:
“Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.”
What a mouth full! In case you were wondering what that means, it loosely translates to ‘The City of Angels.’ In 2013, the Guinness Book of World Records even gave this city the world record for the longest name of a place.
Traveling Thailand on a budget? Check out these 7 tips for budget travel in Thailand.
Enough about that, let’s talk about your trip to Bangkok. Three days is a sufficient amount of time to get a good grasp of the main sites in the city, try some street food and adjust to being in Thailand before you head off further afield. This post will give you an overview of the sites we feel you shouldn’t miss and some tips on how to negotiate the city.
Don’t forget your guidebook! We recommend Lonely Planet Thailand for your trip to Bangkok.
Day One in Bangkok
The Grand Palace & Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Every visitor must see the Grand Palace. It will be an eye opening experience. You will be amazed by the various architectural construction and the colors as you roamed around the property.
This property is split off into four large sections of buildings; one of the most sacred is the Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Placed inside this Royal Temple is the most sacred Buddha image in all of Thailand. There are daily tours throughout the palace. I would plan to visit the Grand Palace in the early morning to avoid crowds.
Openings hours: 8:30 am – 14:30
Ticket Cost: 500 Baht
Dress Code: Visitors are required to dress appropriately. The following cloth items are not allowed as outer garments for both men and woman. They turn away people daily so don’t think you can show up and be admitted if you are wearing any of these items. This is a sacred site.
- Shorts, mini-skirts, short skirts, tight fitting trousers, and tights
- See-through shirts and blouses, as well as culottes or quarter length trousers
- Sleeveless shirts or vests
- Sandals (without ankle or heel straps)
- Rolled-up-sleeved shirts
- Sweatshirts and sweatpants, wind-cheaters, pajamas and fisherman trousers
Don’t want to tour The Grand Palace & Royal Temple by yourself? Why not get a guide and join a great tour? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include The Grand Palace & Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Viator – Grand Palace and Main Temple Tour. Walk Bangkok’s Grand Palace and main temples on a guided tour of the city’s history and heritage. You’ll explore Thailand’s unique architectural styles and traditions on this 4-hour tour, while taking in the the elegant proportions of the royal ceremonial palace, and the rich heritage of Bangkok’s most important temples. Walk beside monks as you light a candle beside the huge Golden Buddha at Wat Trai Mit, and listen to prayer bells as you circle the stupas at the magnificent Wat Pho.
Viator – Bangkok’s Grand Palace Complex and Wat Phra Kaew Tour. This Bangkok’s Grand Palace Complex and Wat Phra Kaew Tour showcases the best of travelers’ ‘must see’ list for the capital city. Taken in the morning or afternoon, this one-of-a-kind experience allows time to explore the best-known landmarks with an expert local guide. Highlights include the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, located in the Grand Palace Complex.
Viator – Private Tour: 4-Hour Grand Royal Palace Tour from Bangkok. Walk in the footsteps of royalty on a private, half-day tour of Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Duck beneath the elaborately stepped roofs of the throne hall and wind around a gleaming, gold chedi that holds relics of the Buddha. Glimpse the sacred Emerald Buddha, which was carved centuries ago from a single piece of jade, and only a reigning king may touch. Experience the serenity of the manicured Siwalai garden, and explore the pinnacle of classic Thai art, architecture and craftsmanship.
Situated right next to the Grand Palace is Wat Pho. This property is among Bangkok’s biggest sights and is a must visit in Bangkok. Housing the cities larges Reclining Buddha, and the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. The large gold Reclining Buddha is almost too large for it’s building.
You enter at its towering head and work your way around counter clockwise. The right arm acts like the large Buddha is laying on its side. I always stand at its feet in amazement of the detail this statue has. The sole of the statue’s feet is detailed with 108 sacred scenes of Buddhist enlightenment in Chinese and Indian styles with mother-of-pearl inlay.
As you make your way around the reclining Buddha, you will hear a pinging noise echoing throughout the temple. This is the visitors dropping coins into the golden buckets around the perimeter of the temple for good luck. Be sure you toss in a couple, just for goo measure.
As you head out from the Reclining Buddha you may want to grab a Thai massage from the famous massage school Th Chetuphon that is hidden on the property.
Ticket Cost: 100 Baht
Opening Hours: 8:30 – 6:30 and gets busy later in the day.
Don’t want to tour the Reclining Buddha by yourself? Why not get a guide and join a great tour? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include Reclining Buddha.
Viator – Private Tour: Bangkok Temples Including Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. Thailand is driven by Buddhist faith and some 26,000 wats dot the landscapes of this southeast Asian nation. Take a private tour of Bangkok temples, including the relining Buddha at Wat Pho and marvel at the religion that permeates the culture and traditions of this city.
Viator – Private Tour: Bangkok Temples Including Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. Experience the beauty of Thai culture on this half-day Bangkok temples tour that showcases some of the city’s most impressive landmarks. See a massive solid gold Buddah at Wat Tramit and marvel at delicate marble carvings at Wat Benchamabophit. Then follow your guide to the birthplace of traditional healing, Wat Pho, and learn about some of the age-old practices still used today.
Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn
Across the river from the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew is the Wat Arun Temple. It’s worth the short boat trip to explore the large garden grounds. This large temple has intricate patterns made out of colorful glass.The temple is modeled the same as the Angkor temples you can visit in Cambodia.
If you’re up for some exercise you can climb the stairs to reach the top level of the temple. This will give you a great view of Bangkok and the Chao Praya river. This is one of the best temples to see at night at it is lit up. It is best viewed from the opposite bank as it’s closed to the public at night. Do not forget to feed the large cat fish that swim on the riverbanks.
Ticket price: 100 Baht
Opening hours: Every day 8:30 – 17:30
Don’t want to tour Wat Arun Temple by yourself? Why not get a guide and join a great tour? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include Wat Arun Temple.
Viator – Half-Day Bangkok Klongs and Wat Arun City Tour. Step aboard a riverboat and travel from Bangkok’s narrow klongs to the iconic Wat Arun. Join a local guide for a half-day tour of a city that was called the “Venice of the East,” and get a glimpse of life along Bangkok’s remaining canals. Explore quiet waterways that cut through thriving neighborhoods and quiet communities, then set out across the broad Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun — the Temple of Dawn — whose majestic central pagoda is among Thailand’s most elegant landmarks.
Viator – Private Tour: Bangkok including Wat Arun by Longtail Boat. Board a brightly colored longtail boat for a half-day private tour of Bangkok. Steer across the Chao Phraya River to the iconic Wat Arun, and walk in the footsteps of Siamese royalty as you explore the elegant Grand Palace, whose elaborate stepped roofs are the pinnacle of Thai architecture. Discover the dazzling Coronation Hall, get a glimpse of ancient court life at the Reception Palace, and enter the remarkable Emerald Buddha Temple, home to a solid jade Buddha that only a reigning king may touch.
This is the Temple of the Golden Buddha and is located in Chinatown. Wat Traimit the largest, solid gold seated Buddha in the World measuring nearly five meters high and weighing five and a half tons.
It was caste sometime in the 13th century and is in excellent golden condition. At some point this statue was covered in plaster and lacquer to hide it from thieves and looters. This Buddha statue even fell from a crane when it was getting moved to its new location. Check out the third floor museum that covers the history of the Golden Buddha.
Cost: 40 Baht
Opening Hours: 9:00 -17:00
Location: Traimit Road at the very beginning of Chinatown.
Don’t want to tour Wat Traimit by yourself? Why not get a guide and join a great tour? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include Wat Traimit.
Viator – Half-Day Chinatown Walking Tour in Bangkok. See a different side to Bangkok on this 4-hour walking tour of the city’s vibrant Chinatown. Learn the rich history of Thailand’s Chinese immigrants as you stroll the lively streets, peek into traditional shops and marvel over architectural wonders like Wat Traimit and Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. Along the way, sample an array of Thai-Chinese delicacies including hot congee, moon cakes and roasted chestnuts.
Viator – Half-Day Bangkok Highlights by Tuk-Tuk. Hop aboard a traditional tuk-tuk and travel around Bangkok like a local on this 3.5-hour tour. Grab your camera and set off to explore Ratanakosin Island, the historic heart of Bangkok. Along the way, admire three of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples, Wat Traimit, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. Get a taste of local life in Sam Preang and sample a delicious array of street food (included).
Condoms & Cabbages Restaurant
For a unique dining experience, head over to the restaurant Condom & Cabbages where the theme of the restaurant is to promote safe sex. They even give you condoms as a takeaway instead of mints. The food is decent and the atmosphere hilarious. It is a great way to finish off your first day in Bangkok. Read about our experience at Cabbages & Condoms during our honeymoon.
Bangkok is filled with great restaurants and to die for food stalls along the street. Do you like tring local food while traveling? Do you love food? Why not get a guide and join a food great tour in Bangkok? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best food tours offered in Bangkok, Thailand.
Viator – Foodie Experience of Historic Bangkok, Thailand. Savor the flavors and aromas of authentic Thai cuisine on a half-day culinary walking tour of Bangkok’s Bang Rak neighborhood. Join a small group of foodies and eat your way through the historic district, which is a renowned destination for Bangkok’s culinary connoisseurs. Meet chefs and artisans and explore the diversity of Thailand’s regional, ethnic and “royal” cuisines as you sample roast duck, handmade curries and distinctive Isan salads, along with fresh fruit, holistic herbal infusions and the best of traditional Thai desserts.
Viator – Evening Bangkok Food and Tuk Tuk Adventure. Bangkok is one of the best places to sample Thailand’s varied street food, but it can be intimidating for first-time visitors to take to the streets alone. This 4-hour evening tour by tuk tuk ensures a fun and safe experience, as your guide takes you to the best local vendors, explains each dish, and introduces you to local delicacies such as pork satay, sesame dumplings, and ginger soup.
Viator – Bangkok by Night: Temples, Markets and Food by Tuk-Tuk. This 4-hour cultural night tour by tuk-tuk provides a great introduction to Bangkok for first-time visitors, but it also showcases a side of the city that most repeat visitors haven’t seen. You get to bypass heavily trafficked areas and take off-the-beaten-track routes toward illuminated temples such as Wat Pho and a bustling, 24-hour flower market. Enjoy dinner, followed by dessert at a secret, mystery stop. This small-group tour is limited to 12 people.
Viator – Apsara Dinner Cruise by Banyan Tree. Dine with a breathtaking view on this Bangkok dinner cruise aboard the traditional Thai vessel ‘Apsara.’ You’ll navigate past the gleaming Temple of Dawn during the 2-hour tour, and glimpse the swooping skyline of the royal Grand Palace. The Chao Phraya is the heart of this vibrant city, speckled with traditional fishing boats and soaring yachts, but your leisurely, four-course meal will prove as memorable as the romantic setting. You’ll sample the rich curries, elegant soups and superb desserts, that are the best of Thailand’s legendary cuisine.
Day Two in Bangkok
Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House was home to a self made, American entrepreneur named James H.W. Thompson. Thompson developed the Thai Silk industry from the ground up and one day magically disappeared while on a walk near his guesthouse in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia.
At the time of his disappearance he was one of the most famous Americans living in Asia. This house is the same as it was when Jim lived there. Each room has antiquities, porcelain and fabrics. This is the place to buy high quality silk, but you will be paying for it.
Opening hours: Every day 9:00 – 17:00
Ticket price: Adult 150 Baht; Students (under 22 years old) 100 baht
Location: It can be hard to find. The Jim Thompson House is located on Soi Kasemsan (2) Song, opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Rd.
Don’t want to tour The Jim Thompson House by yourself? Why not get a guide and join a great tour? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include The Jim Thompson House.
Viator – Half-Day Jim Thompson House Tour. American entrepreneur Jim Thompson worked to bring Thai silk to the world, then filled his historic Bangkok home with a peerless collection of antiques, pottery, silk, and curiosities. Hear the story of his life and mysterious death on a guided, 3-hour tour of the Jim Thompson house, with round-trip transport from downtown Bangkok hotels and entrance fees included.
Vimanmek Mansion in Bangkok
The Vimanmek Royal Mansion is the worlds largest building made entirely of golden teak. Take a stroll though this fully furnished mansion that has antique furniture, glass where, porcelain, old photographs and memorabilia dating back to mid 1800’s.
Many rooms will give you the feeling of stepping back in time and be prepared to see animal skins from around the World hanging on the walls and on the floor. Walking down the halls of the mansion includes a serenade of squeaky floors that you can imagine the king walking down on a summer day.
Price Range: 100 Baht entitles you to enter every building and gallery. Note that you will need to show your ticket to the attendant at the entrance of every building. Also note that there is a dress code enforcing no shorts or sleeveless shirts and skirts must be at least knee-length or you won’t be allowed in.
Opening Hours: 08:30 until 16:30 (Tuesday – Saturday, last ticket at 15:30)
Location: Rajavithee Road. Close to Dusit Zoo and the Dusit Palace complex.
Don’t want to tour The Vimanmek Royal Mansion by yourself? Why not get a guide and join a great tour? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include The Vimanmek Royal Mansion.
Viator – Private: Half Day Tour of Vimanmek Museum in Bangkok. Explore Bangkok’s stunning Vimanmek Mansion Museum on a half-day private tour with a local guide. Walk through the rambling complex’s 81 rooms, which blend neoclassical European architecture with traditional Thai design. The golden teakwood mansion is the world’s largest, was built entirely without nails, and contains generations of royal treasures: ancient cloth, Kings’ carriages and rural handicrafts line the grand staircase and octagonal chambers. Discover the serenity and grandeur of a Siamese palace that was once the home of King Rama V’s prodigious extended family.
Viator – Full-Day Bangkok Palaces and Mansions Tour. Check three of Bangkok’s architectural must-sees off your list in one day on this full-day tour. Take a tour of the gold-coated palaces, halls, and temples of the Grand Palace, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Then, enjoy guided tours of the Vimanmek Palace, the world’s largest teakwood building, and the palm-swathed Jim Thompson House. Your tour includes entrance fees, lunch, and air-conditioned transport with hotel transfers.
Khao San Road
This street is a must visit for any traveler to Bangkok. Yes it’s that backpacker road that you’ll read about in all the guide books and it may even have a bit of a negative reputation. However, it is worth checking out solely from a tourist perspective. Stroll among all the different shopping stalls that sell everything from the ever poplar elephant pants, T-shirts, crazy party hats, fake driver license, fake collage diplomas, leather handbags and more.
If you’re looking for it, it’s going to be found here on Khao San Road. For food you can have a great snack or dinner from a street stall serving pad thai, fried rice and even schawarma. More importantly, don’t forget to try the fresh squeezed juices and fruit shakes. As it gets darker, grab a chair at one of the many street restaurants and enjoy an ice cold Chang Beer and just people watch.
Great hotels on Khao San Road
Some travelers like to stay on Khao San Road. There is lots of great hotels and hostels in the area. Some offer great prices if you just walk up however, we have spent hours before searching for a hotel on Khao San Road. They do book up quick and if you are looking for anything halfway decent you should book in advance. Below are the top recommended hotels on Khao San Road in Bangkok, Thailand.
- Rikka Inn **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
- Khaosan Palace Hotel **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor ** We have stayed here for a killer price and it has a great pool!**
- Khaosan Park Resort **** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
Day Three in Bangkok
Head out of the big city by taking a day trip to one of these amazing sites. These are the three most popular options for day trips out of Bangkok.
The ancient Siamese capital is a must-see for anyone who loves historic sites. In the 1700’s, this city had a population of over one million. Though the city has not been the capital for over 250 years, it still maintains several functioning temples. One of the most popular sites is Wat Phra Mahathat where a sandstone Buddha head is entwined with the roots of a Bodhi tree.
You should take a tour to see Ayutthaya. Why not get a guide and join a great tour? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include Ayutthaya.
Viator – Exploring Historic Ayutthaya by Bike. Pedal through Thailand’s past on a full-day bicycle tour that explores the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Join a guide for a gentle, 15.5-mile (25-kilometer) ride to spectacular ruins, historic sites and the Siamese Kings’ grandiose summer palace, a rambling expanse of elaborate architecture and manicured gardens. Explore quiet roads that flank the Chao Phraya River, pause for lunch at a tranquil riverside restaurant and explore the rural farms and villages that surround the ruined capital of old Siam.
Viator – Ancient and Hidden Ayutthaya By Bike. No trip to Bangkok is fully complete without seeing the ancient capital Ayutthaya.This full-day tour is a great way to experience the old city, our guides will update you on its history and take you round the ruins. We get around by bike, taste the local cuisine and get there by local train which is the best way to get up close to local life.
Viator – Ayutthaya’s Kingdom of Might and Magic Day Trip. Experience Siam’s ancient grandeur on a full-day guided tour of Ayutthaya’s Kingdom of Might and Magic. Step into a hushed temple to visit the world’s largest seated Buddha state, then travel to the ruined capital city of old Siam. Glimpse the iconic banyan tree that envelops a stone Buddha’s head, and learn of the 18th century conflict that ultimately destroyed Ayutthaya. Eat a traditional Thai lunch at a riverside table, then explore the extraordinary grounds of the Siamese Summer Palace, a hot-season retreat for the royal dynasty.
Damnoen Saduak is the most popular tourist floating market and the most accessible from Bangkok. Hop into a wooden boat and float your way from stall to stall while you sample local foods, buy local handicrafts and just take in the scene around you.
Why not get a guide and join a great tour of Damnoen Saduak floating market? Viator offers great tours around the world and in Bangkok, Thailand. We use them all of the time for day trips and tours. They only use the best local tour operators to give you a truly local experience. Below are some of the best tours that include Damnoen Saduak (The Floating Market.)
Viator – Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak Cruise Day Trip from Bangkok. Go beyond Bangkok city limits and gain a deeper understanding of life beyond the capital as you explore the floating markets of Damnoen Saduak. Travel by long-tailed speedboat as a guide unpacks the secrets of these 19th-century canals built by King Rama IV. Over the course this 6-hour day trip, you’ll cruise past vendors selling freshly picked produce, handmade sweets and interesting souvenirs.
Viator – Damnern Saduak Floating Market, Grand Palace and Wat Phra KeoTour from Bangkok. Experience vibrant Damnern Saduak floating market on this day-long private tour of Bangkok’s most memorable sights. Pass through dramatic rice paddies and salt fields, and meet traditional artisans on your way to the market, where vendors in wooden boats sell the fruits and vegetables they’ve brought from the countryside. After dining in this atmospheric setting, immerse yourself in Bangkok’s vivid history. Step aboard a river boat into the heart of the city, then explore the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, considered the most sacred in Thailand.
One of the most popular day trips for visitors to Bangkok, this village is best known for its WWII memorials. This city was occupied by the Japanese and was the location for one of their POW camps. The famous bridge over the river Kwai is also located here, a highlight feature in the story and movie that came out of this camp.
Viator offers a great tour for exploring Kanchanaburi. Full-Day Kayaking and Cycling Trip from Kanchanaburi Including Death Railway. Combine nature, culture, and history on a full-day, small-group tour of Kanchanaburi that includes a kayak trip down the River Kwai, a countryside bike tour, and lunch in a riverside restaurant. Learn about Thailand’s World War II history in the Chung Kai war cemetery, which contains graves from Allied prisoners who built the ‘Death Railway.’
If You are in Bangkok on the Weekend…
** Chatuchak Weekend Market. Make time to get lost in one of the largest markets in the world. Stroll up and down the small crowded aisles filled with anything you could ever hope to buy. Everything is marked well and there’s maps placed throughout the market site. Prices are good here so don’t feel like you need to haggle much.
Tips for Visiting Bangkok
Hire a local operator to have an authentic experience. I can’t stress enough the difference it will make for your visit if you decide to hire a local tour guide to show you the sites of Bangkok. They have firsthand knowledge of the city and besides showing you all the iconic sites, they can get you off the beaten path, down the back alleys and into the real vibe of the city.
Beware of Scams. In the popular tourist areas be wary of anyone who approaches you randomly. They will speak perfect English and they will probably tell you that the sights are closed. Do not listen to anyone, they are often people who want to steer you to a gem or tailor shop where they get a commission. Even guards of the temples and other official looking people may sometimes try to convince you to go to one of these shops.
Don’t forget your guidebook! We recommend Lonely Planet Thailand for your trip to Bangkok.
Use public transportation. The transport options are wide and plentiful. You have your choice of cabs, tuk tuks, buses, trains, riverboats and ferries.
Don’t leave home without travel insurance. You never know what you may encounter in your travels, so it’s important that you are covered for the unexpected. We never leave home without a World Nomads Travel Insurance policy in our pockets.
Looking for some hotel suggestions?
The Ad Lib Bangkok Hotel is a beautiful place to recover from jet lag after you arrive in Bangkok. It’s located in the popular Sukhumvit area and offers luxury amenities to meet your every comfort. Additionally, check out the S Ratchada Leisure Hotel for a clean, modern stay during your time in Bangkok. The hotel offers a beautiful pool and spacious rooms.
Other Top Hotels we Recommend in Bangkok, Thailand.
- The Siam ***** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
- Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok ***** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
- Ariyasomvilla ***** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
- Adelphi Forty-Nine ***** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
- Phranakorn-Nornlen Hotel ***** Excellent Traveler Rating by TripAdvisor
More on Thailand:
- 3 Days in Bangkok: Things You Should Not Miss
- Where to Stay in Bangkok: A Guide to the Districts
- Getting A Bamboo Tattoo in Thailand
- 27 Thailand Photos That Will Amaze
- RTW Travel Recap: 3 Weeks in Thailand
- Complete Guide to the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand
- Free Things to do in Phuket, Thailand
- Self Guided Kayak Adventure Tour of the Phi Phi Islands in Thailand