There are few places that have quite the reputation that Bangkok does. Undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Thailand, the nation’s capital is able to appeal to all types of travelers, from fun-loving backpackers to those looking to soak up the Thai culture. Whether you’re new to travelling Southeast Asia or not, Bangkok is one destination you don’t want to miss.
To really get a sense of the city and have enough time for the best things to do in Bangkok, you’re going to want to allow at least three days in the city. Even with that much time you’re going to need a detailed Bangkok itinerary like this one to show you how to make the most of your time there.
Best Time to Visit Bangkok
The time of year you plan your visit for is often one of the most important things you need to consider when planning a trip to Bangkok. For destinations like Bangkok, weather and high season can have a big impact on planning your visit and your enjoyment while you’re there. The best time to visit Bangkok will not only depend on how you feel about coming during high season, but also what kind of weather you find most comfortable.
Bangkok has three distinct seasons, a “cool” season, a wet season, and a hot season. While never all that cool, it is in the “cool” season, from November to February, when Bangkok experiences its high tourist season. The trade-off here is that while the weather is a little bit cooler, attractions are busier and prices for accommodation are at their highest. Visiting early on in the season, like November and early December is preferable as the crowds tend to come later.
Another option is to come to Bangkok from July to October, the city’s rainy season. Being low season, you can expect better prices on hotels and since the rain comes and goes, it is possible to have some nice days in the mix.
Now, while the hot season from March to June has unappealing weather, there is one reason you may still want to consider visiting then. Songrkan, Thailand’s water festival which marks the new year, is held annually on April 13. If you want to experience this incredible festival then you’ll have to deal with coming to Bangkok at its hottest.
How to Get Around Bangkok
As one of the largest cities in all of Southeast Asia, you won’t be walking to most of your destinations throughout Bangkok. The city is sprawling, with attractions and accommodation spread out right across it, and the huge Chao Phraya River carves its way through the middle. With 72 hours in Bangkok you’re going to spend a lot of time moving around the city, so it pays to know the best ways to get around.
Just as visiting Bangkok can feel a bit overwhelming at first, so too are your options for getting around the city. Let’s start with taxis, motorbike taxis, Grab, and tuk-tuks. Each of these are convenient and generally affordable options for getting from point A to point B, with obvious pros and cons. Tuk-tuks can be fun the first time around but are generally slower, and better for shorter distances. A price should be set with the driver before getting into the tuk-tuk. When taking a taxi, make sure the driver turns on the meter, while you’ll want to check the price of a motorbike taxi before heading off. Alternatively, download the Grab smartphone app, Southeast Asia’s equivalent to Uber. Prices for metered taxis and Grab cars are pretty much the same.
Bangkok has an impressive public transport network, made up of the BTS Skytrain, MRT metro, buses, and boats. The two train networks are the easiest to navigate but their usefulness depends on what part of the city you’re in. Bangkok’s bus network on the other hand covers everywhere in the city and is especially cheap, with tickets bought onboard from a conductor who comes around. Finally, there are boats which run up and down the river, with blue-flagged boats offering more expensive express routes compared to the regular boats with orange flags. Google Maps lists pretty much all public transport options available, so make sure to download it if you don’t already have it on your phone.
Bangkok is home to two airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Muang Airport (DMK). To reach the city center from Suvarnabhumi Airport, it’s best to take the Airport Rail Link in to Phaya Thai where you can then connect to the BTS network, or take a boat from Sapan Hua Chang Pier. If you’re coming from Don Muang Airport, take the A1 bus to the Mo Chit BTS station.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Usually, the biggest question that arises when planning your visit is where to stay in Bangkok to make the most of your trip. It can be daunting trying to understand where to stay in a city the size of Bangkok, especially when you’re overwhelmed with options. We’ll try to make that a little easier by highlighting some districts to look at and giving our recommendations for where to stay.
Unlike many cities, Bangkok has quite well distributed network of accommodation. That means you’ll find places to stay in many of the different districts of the city. While the best places to stay in Bangkok are generally in central areas like Phra Nakhon so that you are walking distance to attractions, there are plenty of exceptions. Districts like Samphanthawong, Bang Rak, Pathum Wan, and Ratchathewi each have their bonuses as well, with good public transport being one of them.
Finding luxury accommodation in Bangkok isn’t hard thanks to places like the Amari Watergate Bangkok. This five-star hotel boasts refined elegance in spacious rooms, as well as access to a fitness center, spa, and the nearby Central World Plaza. For more five-star recommendations take a look at our guide to the best luxury hotels in Bangkok.
Balancing comfort and affordability, The Printing House Poshtel is great for those looking for a mid-range place to stay in the city. Walking distance from many of the city’s attractions and featuring a bar and lounge, this is a great alternative to regular hostels.
For backpackers looking for somewhere clean, cheap, and friendly, BED STATION Hostel is one of the best Bangkok hostels. This hostel in Ratchathewi offers guests dorms and private rooms with air-conditioning, WiFi, and breakfast, plus a great common area.
For more accommodation options in Bangkok check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 3-Day Bangkok Itinerary
Three days is the least amount of time you’d want to properly experience the best places to visit in Bangkok. There are simply so many things to do in this city that any less time would feel rushed. Whether you want to see palaces and temples, experience local markets, or a good mix of everything, 3 days in Bangkok will give you ample time to see the city’s many faces.
During your time in the city, you’ll have a chance to explore all the most important areas of Bangkok. Starting out with the central district of Phra Nakhon you’ll see many of the city’s biggest sights before moving to Bangkok’s fascinating riverfront. Afterwards, you’ll venture to some other districts of the city, including Samphanthawong, Lumpini, and Chatuchak. There’s even time for you to travel beyond Bangkok and enjoy one of the many day trips possible from the city.
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So have a read through this Bangkok travel itinerary and you’ll understand exactly how you can comfortably spend 3 days seeing the best of Bangkok.
Day 1 in Bangkok
Your first day in Bangkok will be focused on the central district of Phra Nakhon and other sights along the scenic Chao Phraya River. That way, you’ll get to see some of the city’s biggest highlights right away.
Wat Pho: Temple of the Reclining Buddha
You’ll be seeing your fair share of temples while in Bangkok, so we’ll start with one of the most impressive, Wat Pho. This large temple complex has not only plenty of history to it, but also some major attractions that make it particularly special.
By far its most famous element is the huge statue of the Reclining Buddha. Decorated in gold leaf, this gigantic statue is housed inside its own temple, despite being 46 meters long. Even with its size, there are plenty of details to appreciate at this stunning sight, including the 108 small bronze balls that are used for offerings to give patrons good luck.
Beyond the Reclining Buddha, there are many other sights worthy of your time at this expansive complex. Many people quite like the throng of stupas here that are decorated with colorful floral tiles. The level of detail on just one on its own is simply incredible.
Across the road from Wat Pho you’ll find the enormous Grand Palace. Home to Thailand’s King and Royal Court, this is the most important site in all of Bangkok. Despite what some opportunistic tuk-tuk drivers might try to tell you, the palace is rarely closed so don’t take their word for it. Like other revered places, the palace has a strict dress code which means knees and shoulders should be covered.
Touring through the palace, you’ll have the opportunity to go through several courtyards, from the Outer Court near the entrance to the Central and Inner Courts. Each court served its own purpose, whether for government functions or to house the King and his family. Along the way you’ll be able to visit two throne halls and see the magnificent details of their interiors. Even just the gardens between the elegant Thai buildings make for splendid scenery.
Wat Phra Kaew: Temple of the Emerald Buddha
While you’re at the Grand Palace, one landmark that deserves special attention is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This Royal chapel lies just off to your left when you enter the palace grounds, and is one of the most respected Buddhist places of worship in Thailand. Known in Thai as Wat Phra Kaew, the temple’s name stems from the prized statue of Buddha carved from jade which it protects. But it’s really the exquisite facade of this temple that will make you realize why this is a place in Bangkok not to be missed.
Recommendation: If you are at all interested in the culture and history of Thailand, we highly recommend you book a temple tour with a local guide. This guided temple tour for example, comes highly recommended and you get to visit all of the most important temples in Bangkok, namely the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha Temple, Wat Pho and Wat Arun.
Chao Phraya River
Just a short walk from the palace you’ll arrive at the waterfront of the Chao Phraya river. This major river carves its way through Bangkok and defines the city like no other landmark. While standing along the riverfront will provide some nice views, you really need to get out on the water to appreciate it. You don’t need to do anything special, just hopping aboard a local boat to cross the river or head up and down it will show you the city from a fresh perspective.
However, if you do want to do something special, book a dinner cruise for later today and experience the beauty of the city’s monuments illuminated at night.
There aren’t too many famous tourist landmarks in Bangkok on the far side of the river, but Wat Arun is definitely one. Yes, yet another temple, but the last of the day and a great one to end on. Sitting right against the river, Wat Arun and its towering central spire is an iconic sight of Bangkok. Thanks to its intricate design the temple is beautiful both during the day and when illuminated at night, but you’ll want to visit during the day to see the porcelain and glass that gives the temple its wondrous look.
Visiting Bangkok on your holidays isn’t only about busily sightseeing around the city; you need some relaxation too. Luckily, there are countless massage parlors throughout Bangkok which offer massages for way less than you’d ever pay back home. While Thai massages are the local specialty, they can be incredibly vigorous and potentially painful. If that seems a bit rough for you, it’s possible to get many other types of massage, from foot or neck to oil massages.
Khao San Road
No street in Bangkok is more famous (or infamous) than Khao San Road. Situated to the north of the Grand Palace, this street is the beating heart of backpacker life in Bangkok. All along Khao San Road and many of its side streets, you’ll find everything you can imagine, from bars, clubs, and restaurants to tour offices, souvenir stalls, and more. Whether it’s the kind of place you want to spend your evening or not, it’s definitely somewhere you need to experience before you leave.
Day 2 in Bangkok
Now that you’ve seen some of the more central sights of Bangkok, it’s time to see other parts of the city as well. You’ll find there’s still plenty more of Bangkok waiting for you to explore.
Bangkok National Museum
You won’t be spending much of your time in Bangkok at museums, but one that’s worth adding to your itinerary is the Bangkok National Museum. Housed inside the Wang Na Palace, this museum has a massive collection of artwork and artifacts from throughout Thai history. If you’d like to learn more about the history of the country, this is the place to do it. The museum’s exhibits are broken up into distinct periods, the prehistory period, the Sukhothai period, the Ayutthaya period, and the modern kingdom of Thailand. On display you’ll find everything from treasures and weapons to entire buildings like pavilions and even a teak house.
Centered on a low hill, east of the central district, Wat Saket is easily spotted by its towering golden structure called a chedi. Following a spiraling staircase, visitors climb up around this
58-meter-high temple, understandably known as the Golden Mount. While at first you’ll be surrounded at the bottom by trees and vines in what was once a cemetery, by the top you’re treated to some fantastic views of Bangkok’s cityscape. Lining the paths here are bells which worshippers ring for good luck, further adding to the atmosphere of this tranquil temple.
To get a sense of just how busy and chaotic Bangkok can be, head to the city’s Chinatown. Located southeast of Phra Nakhon, Chinatown is buzzing with activity, as traffic pours past market stalls, temples, and small curbside restaurants. With so much street food, Chinatown is a great place to stop for lunch or even dinner. It’s also quite interesting to see the special blend of Thai and Chinese cultures here, which can be observed at the local Chinese temples.
Wat Traimit: Temple of Golden Buddha
One last temple! After walking through Chinatown you’ll soon see the spire of the Wat Traimit temple. Much like other Thai temples, this one is better known for the statue it houses, which in this case is an oversized golden Buddha. Standing 3 meters tall, it’s hard to imagine that this huge statue was once lost to the world. During times of war, statues like this one were covered in plaster to hide them from invaders. It wasn’t until 1955 that this particular 13th century Buddha was rediscovered!
Heading further away from the city center you’ll find one of Bangkok’s rare sanctuaries, Lumpini Park. An expansive park named after the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal, it’s a popular outdoor and recreational space for Bangkok locals. Here you can escape the chaos of the city, take a stroll by its pretty lake, or simply people watch. After visiting so many tourist attractions, it is nice to get a sense of local life for a bit.
Jim Thompson House Museum
On a visit to the Jim Thompson House Museum you’ll find a stunning traditional Thai house surrounded by exceptional gardens. Built by American Jim Thompson, this compound is home to six teak houses which were relocated from Ayutthaya. The houses are not the only things that have been preserved at this museum with the interiors showcasing Southeast Asian artwork and wall hangings. It’s rare to get a glimpse into what traditional Thailand looks like in a modern city, but that’s exactly what this small museum provides.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
While there are quite a few market stalls around places like Khao San Road, they pale in comparison to the massive number of stalls at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Home to over 8,000 stalls, this colossal market is a labyrinth of stalls which sell everything under the sun. Clothes, books, art, antiques, etc., you’ll find it here. So big is this market that it has numbered lanes, in the same way that many of Bangkok’s neighborhoods do. If you need to brush up on your haggling skills, this is definitely a good place for it. You can also get food here, so if you’re keen to try more of Bangkok’s street food, you’re in luck.
Keep in mind that this night market is only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you are visiting Bangkok during the week, you can either head back to the night market in Chinatown or visit one of the many other night markets in Bangkok.
Day 3 in Bangkok
After two days of sightseeing around Bangkok, you’ve had the opportunity to see many different sides of the city. But what about the rest of Thailand? Sure, you won’t be able to visit places like Phuket and Chiang Mai in a single day, but there are some great day trips from Bangkok, which will show you other amazing spots in Thailand. To help you with your planning, here are a few to get you started.
Bangkok may be the current capital of Thailand, but that honor once belonged to the city of Ayutthaya. For hundreds of years Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and what remains of the city makes for a great day trip today. Most of what is left are temples, but they’re quite remarkable to see in person.
Of the sights in Ayutthaya, probably the most famous is the temple complex of Wat Mahathat. While there are the remains of many stupas, statues, and structures here at this former monastery, the temple is best known for its Head of Buddha. With tree roots growing around the face of a Buddha statue, it is often the sight that many tourists associate with this ancient city.
But Wat Mahathat isn’t the only temple in the area, with each one around Ayutthaya having their unique point of interest. Visit Wat Lokayasutharam and you’ll find a 37 meter-long reclining Buddha statue which is quite an impressive sight. Over at Wat Phukhao Thong you’ll see a gleaming white chedi, from which you’ll get some nice views once you climb its many stairs. You may also may make a stop at the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, a beautiful palace associated with the current royal family.
You can book a day tour to Ayutthaya here.
2. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Visiting markets in Southeast Asia is always one of the most popular activities for visitors, and floating markets are nearly as common as those on land. In Thailand, the Damnoen Saduak floating market is the most popular because of its size and liveliness, but also because it’s possible to visit only for the day from Bangkok.
Before reaching the market itself, enjoy a ride in a longtail boat through the slender canals of Ratchaburi Province. Here you’ll see what life is like for locals living on the canals, before bursting out into the bustle of the floating market. Once in the market, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of boats with vendors and a sudden explosion of colors and noise.
Vendors here, both in their boats and on the dock, sell everything imaginable. Not only do they sell fresh produce like fruits and vegetables and souvenirs at the market, but you can also purchase meals from them. Everything from noodle soup and pad thai to pancakes can be bought here, freshly made for you. Even if you’re not hungry, just sit back and take in everything going on around you and perhaps try to capture that perfect photo.
People may not know the name of the province of Kanchanaburi, but they’ve likely heard of some of its notable landmarks. Home to the Bridge on the River Kwai and the “Death Railway”, this corner of Thailand is linked with a dark chapter of World War II. Many western tourists choose to visit here to learn more about the history of Kanchanaburi and see these infamous landmarks.
During World War II, Japanese occupying forces used Allied prisoners of war and local people as slave labor to build the Burma Railway to help their war efforts in Burma. In the process, it’s said that more than 12,000 Allied POWs and 90,000 civilians died during the construction. Hence the nickname the “Death Railway”. The most well-known part of the railways is the Bridge on the River Kwai as it is the focus of a famous 1950s war film.
Visit Kanchanaburi today and you can actually take a train trip along this infamous railway line. Whether by train or on foot, you can also cross the infamous bridge and see it up close. Afterwards, make a trip to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery to see the graves of thousands of Allied soldiers. If you’d like to learn more about the railway’s construction, head to the JEATH War Museum for its informative exhibits on what it was like for those forced to built.
You can book a day tour to Kanchanaburi here.
You should have no doubt that you can experience an awful lot of culture, sights, and fun while discovering Bangkok in 3 days. The city has a reputation for it, after all.