24 hours isn't long to spend in the City of Angels, and knowing what to do with one day in Bangkok is very challenging if you aren't familiar with getting around the city.
If you have limited time in Bangkok you need to be careful how you spend those hours, because traveling to one sight and getting stuck in traffic on the way there and back can pretty much exhaust the day (pardon the pun).
Before you know it, the sun is going down and you feel like you haven't done much at all.
Tours are good in some respects, particularly for solo travelers, but for others it's preferable to see the city at your own pace.
This week I was asked to show two friends around Bangkok who'd never visited before, so I thought I'd share my itinerary so that others visiting the capital with only a day to spare can do the following:
- See some heritage, do some shopping and enjoy some relaxation.
- See different aspects/areas of the city.
- Enjoy the day without feeling too rushed, hot and bothered.
Bangkok in a Day: An Itinerary for Visitors to the Big Mango
We took the MRT to Hualampong Station, and from there we took a tuk-tuk to the Grand Palace.
We could have got the boat there but I wanted them to experience a reasonably long tuk-tuk drive. Besides, we'd be getting a boat later in the day.
We arrived at the Grand Place and did a full tour, which took 1.5 hours.
The entrance fee was 350 Baht.
Remember you need trousers/long pants and a t-shirt (shoulders covered). If you don't have these items, you will need to queue to hire clothes.
Make sure you ignore the palace scam, too. Although to the palace's credit there are now loud speakers to help tourists avoid the touts.
Basically, someone will approach you and tell you the Palace is closed today, but that they can take you to another temple. The other temple/shrine is real, but this is a decoy designed to get you in a Tuk Tuk to visit some gem shops and possibly tailors on the way. Just ignore such people and proceed to the entrance.
We walked left out of the main entrance of the palace, followed the wall round and along the riverfront to Wat Pho, the reclining Buddha.
It cost 100 Baht for the entrance fee and was one hundred percent worth seeing.
We ate lunch opposite Wat Pho in a restaurant with outdoor seating.
Food and prices are reasonable (Pad Thai = 80 Baht). There's a selection of coffees and shakes too.
I can't recall the name of the restaurant, but if you come out the way you went in, turn left, walk straight to the corner, turn left and walk 20 yards and cross the road, you won't miss it.
After lunch we walked round to the riverfront – past the seafood market – and took a pleasant boat journey down the Chopraya River to China Town (60 Baht).
We took a one-hour walk around. We took some pictures, I bought some tea and we got back onto the boat.
If you go on a weekend, be sure to check out Klong Thom market.
Side note: Before you board the boat you can buy gifts in the market; everything from mini Buddha statues to Thailand branded merchandise.
We took the boat to Sathorn to pick up the BTS. We'd actually paid to Sathorn initially, so they said we didn't have to pay again.
Side note: Make sure you stand up on the boat and take in the old architecture along the riverfront. The old wooden houses and pagoda-topped dwellings will give you a sense of what the city was like many years ago.
Arrived at Sathorn and took the BTS to National Stadium (30 Baht).
The Bangkok Art and Culture Center is conveniently opposite MBK, and in my personal opinion one of best hidden gems of the city.
We went inside and walked around a wonderful history of Bangkok exhibition. We then had an “organic coffee” in a quaint coffee shop on the ground floor.
Entrance is FREE.
No tourist's visit is complete without a visit to MBK – opposite the Bangkok Art and Culture Center – for some shopping.
My friends bought some t-shirts, we also had a sneaky Svensons while we were there.
To our pleasant surprise, there was a fun fair of sorts outside MBK. It was a warm up for Loy Krathong.
We shot some corks out of guns, threw some tennis balls at cans and had a few laughs with the locals. We got free sweets for our participation :).
We boarded the BTS back to Asok and went to Terminal 21 for some more shopping.
Of course, we couldn't resist a Starbucks to perk us up again.
The toilets in T21 are well worth a go, too. They have automatic bottom sprays. I felt like going in twice just for kicks!
We decided to eat some “farang food” at the outdoor Sunrise Tacos just a short walk from Asok station. The food is really good and we lounged on the sofas with cocktails and a meal until 9pm.
The day was almost done, but there was still time to squeeze something else in. So we jumped into a Taxi and went to Lebua State Tower to take in awesome views of the city over a few drinks.
Do this, it really is a great way to end an evening.
And we're done! One great day in Bangkok.
A little bit of everything. Culture, relaxation, good food, different vibes…what more could you do in a day?
I guess you could squeeze in a disco, too, but my friends had to be up at 7am to catch a flight to Phuket.
6 Quick-Fire Day-Trip Tips
- Bangkok gets very humid and sticky, even in the cooler season. Wear comfortable, loose clothes. (Read my what to wear guide here).
- Wear comfortable, lightweight trainers/sneakers. Flip flops are not practical and you don't want to break a toe on a dodgy paving slab.
- Wear rucksacks, handbags and camera bags to the front of your body. This is a major city and pickpockets do operate at times.
- Carry a bottle of water. You will need it.
- Don't travel with wads of cash you don't need. Take enough to cover your trip and an ATM card/credit card if need be.
- If you go on a boat down the river, don't lean over the side so that water splashes up near your face. It's far fro clean. A splash of water in your mouth or eye may cause illness.
What did you do in one day in Bangkok? Let me know in the comments section below.