Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, has lately been coined as the most visited city in the world in 2017 by the Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index and was named “World’s Best City” for four consecutive years by Travel + Leisure magazine. It had 20.2 million international visitors surpassing London, UK with 20 million, Paris, France with 16.1 million, Dubai, UAE with 16 million, Tokyo, Japan with 12.5 million, and so on.
Bangkok is an enormous city known for its cultural landmarks and vibrant street life. It is home to the opulent Grand Palace and the Buddhist temples such as Wat Arun and Wat Pho wherein it exhibits the grandiose reclining Buddha.
So why exactly was it named as the best? Read along as I reminisce my 3-day journey in this country in Southeast Asia.
Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple famously known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is a must-do for any first-time visitor in Bangkok. It’s one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famed for its giant reclining Buddha that is covered in gold leaf. It measures 15 meters tall, 46 meters long, and the Buddha’s feet are 5 meters long.
Tip: Since it is a sacred place, you need to take off your shoes and wear appropriate clothing once you get into the reclining Buddha; but if you wear shorts or of the same kind, they will give you a robe to wear while you loop around.
Opening Hours: Daily 08:00 – 17:00 (Massage available until 18:00)
Location: Maharat Road. Close to the Chao Phraya river (about a half mile south of the Grand Palace), Old City (Rattanakosin)
Price Range: The entrance fee is 100 baht
Wat Arun, or famously called as “The Temple of the Dawn, is partly made up of colorfully decorated spires and stands majestically over the water. Wat Arun is almost directly opposite to Wat Pho, so it is very easy to get to. From Sapphan Taksin boat pier you can take a river boat that stops at pier 8. From here a small shuttle boat takes you from one side of the river to the other for only 3 baht.
Tip: Although it is called as Temple of the Dawn, it is best to visit here at sunset, particularly when lit up at night.
Opening Hours: 08:00 -17:30
Location: Located on the west side of Chao Praya River (opposite Tha Thien Pier)
Price Range: 50 Baht
Undoubtedly the city’s most famous landmark is the Grand Palace, wherein it became the home of the Thai King for 150 years. Built in 1782 – the Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed.
*Copyright Travel Mania/Shutterstock
Tip: Be watchful of people who claim that the Palace is closed because they will only bring you to other “shops” or “temples” which they have commissions whenever they bring tourists in. We were not able to visit this temple since the day we went was the cremation of their King and it was honestly closed. We wanted to see for ourselves if it was really not open for public that day, and yes it was not.
Opening Hours: Daily 08:30 – 15:30
Location: Na Phra Lan Road, Old City (Rattanakosin)
Price Range: Tickets sold from 8:30 – 15:30 and cost 500 baht! One ticket includes entry to Vimanmek Palace and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.
This weekend market is the largest market in Thailand with over 8,000 market stalls with a 35-acre area where you can literally “shop till you drop”. Here, since the market is too huge, they categorize it into 11 sections:
- Clothing & Accessories (sections 2-6, 10-26)
- Handicrafts (sections 8-11)
- Ceramics (sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25)
- Furniture and Home Decoration (sections 1,3,4,7,8)
- Food and Beverage (sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26, 27)
- Plants and Gardening tools (sections 3, 4)
- Art and Gallery (section 7)
- Pets and Pet Accessories (sections 8, 9, 11, 13)
- Books (sections 1, 27)
- Antiques and Collectibles (sections 1, 26)
- Miscellaneous and Used Clothing (sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26)
Tip: Beware of pickpockets and watch your belongings. Also, plan to go in the morning, as it can get very hot and crowded in the afternoon. You can also get free maps from one of the information kiosks.
The weekend market is open on Saturdays and Sundays, 09:00 – 18:00, and Fridays 18:00 – 24:00.
Plant sections are also open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 07:00 – 18:00.
I have been warned that the best night markets in Bangkok offer a carnival-like atmosphere with a huge array of goods to browse, snacks, bars and live music to keep everyone in good spirits. And they surely did ignite our version of night life! We went to The New Rot Fai Train Night Market twice in a row. Yes twice, because we just didn’t enjoy it, we loved it!
Boat Trip Along Chao Phraya River
You can get a boat ride from Sapphan Taksin boat pier in the Chao Phraya river that stops at pier 8 going to Wat Arun. This river is the major river in Thailand that flows through Bangkok and then into the Gulf of Thailand.
Tip: If you don’t want to take the train, taxi, or even tuk tuk, you can always take a boat ride going to any part of Bangkok since this mode of transportation knows no traffic and we all know that traffic is worst in Bangkok.
Ride a Tuk Tuk
An auto rickshaw called tuk tuk is a three-wheeler vehicle famous in Thailand. Never leave the country without trying one. Although it feels like riding a tricycle in the Philippines, it always feels good to just drive along the highway with an open air vehicle just by yourself.
Tip: Never hail without asking the price first or else they will charge you a hefty amount for a very short distance. We tried one cab, paid for 20 Baht, and I think it’s quite the right amount for a 5-minute ride of the tuk tuk.
Truelove at Neverland
Ever heard of a Husky cafe? Well yes, they have it here. If you want to explore Bangkok on a different perspective without all the temples and shrines, head on to this haven of dogs. You will definitely spend quality time even if you’re not an animal lover. Trust me – I hate dogs.
Tip: Never dare to come if you have asthma or are allergic to animals; these Siberian Huskies would definitely bask you with their hugs.
Address: 153 Soi Ari Samphan 2, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Open: Daily from 12:30 to 2 pm, and 3:30 to 5pm.
Fee: 350 Baht entrance including a drink and a choice of cake.
Wat Saket, or Temple of The Golden Mount, is an ancient temple dating back to the Ayutthaya Period. Some other interesting things in this Bangkok temple are the many Buddha images, the temple hall, the pagoda, the scripture hall, and the Sri Maha Bodhi tree.
Tip: Never leave without ringing the bells and banging the gong after saying a little prayer.
Open: Daily, 7:30am – 7pm
Address: Khwaeng Ban Bat, Khet Pom Prap Sattru Phai, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10100, Thailand
Fee: 20 Baht
The floating market boats are piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat. The best floating market that I have ever read about is the Damnoen Saduak market. Unfortunately, I got sick during my trip and decided to cancel the experience since I needed to wake up early due to the distant location of the market.
Copyright Christian Mueller/shutterstock
Tip: Never believe anyone from the streets whenever they tell you they will bring you to the floating market. Some people will trick you and when you’ll reach the market and already paid for your fare, you realize it’s already closed.
Address: Damnoen Saduak, Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi 70130, Thailand
Open: Daily, 9am – 2pm, Saturday and Sunday until 5pm
Bangkok Spas and Thai Massage offers the perfect antidote after a long day of shopping and sightseeing. You can definitely find them anywhere here. We had our massage at a local spa nearby the Mahanakhon after visiting the building.
Tip: Make sure the massage is the last activity of your day since the relaxing experience will surely put you to sleep.
Shopping Mall Food Courts
The first thing you need to do is pick up a value card or vouchers from the cash desk since payment is not usually accepted at the stalls – then pursue the cooking islands or stalls looking for something that looks especially tasty or interesting.
Tip: Try their unique flavored drinks here! They have rose, lemongrass, hibiscus, etc. Your taste buds will thank you after.
The latest eco-tourism attraction recently opened in Bangkok is the 4.74 acre “The Metro – Forest Project”. Dubbed as a “forest in the city”, this project has the aim to help visitors of all ages recognise the importance of urban forests and inspire them to plant trees in their homes.
Address: Prawet, Bangkok 10250, Thailand
Open: Daily except Mondays, 9am-4pm
Fee: Admission is free.
Tip: Respect the forest in the city by not littering everywhere. There are garbage bins allocated in designated places, but if you haven’t found one, keep it to yourself and preserve this little masterpiece.
Eat Street Food
When we say Thailand, we always correlate it with food. Why? Because they just have it everywhere and with just about anything! I always wanted to eat authentic Pad Thai and Mango Sticky Rice, so the moment I arrived, I kept ordering it over and over again.
Tip: Be extra careful when eating street food, you might be prone to gastric problems if you’re not used to eating them. Bring Loperamide always, it helps!
So there you have it, my top things to do in Bangkok for 3-5 days. I only had it for 3 days though, but I enjoyed it a lot! I will definitely come back, this time, maybe I’ll take the sleep train to Chiang Mai. Come, travel with me. 😉
Until then! ลาก่อน (goodbye)!
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