If you’ve ever visited Bangkok before you’ll know that making an itinerary is a daunting task. From food markets to temples and street tours to rooftop bars – there’s so much to do! How do you settle on a few things for your must-see list? I set out to see it all, in just one day.
I asked fellow bloggers on Instagram for local travel tips and received a flurry of enthusiast replies. Along with these recommendations, some browsing of blogs and a read through my Marco Polo Guide I felt confident my 24 hours in the city would be amazing. Here are my highlights…
Explore the floating markets
Nothing compares to getting lost in a busy Bangkok morning market! You’ll see fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and all kinds of Thai delicacies.
Bangkok’s two most famous floating markets are nearly 100kms from the city center so you’ll need to get up early to explore these. The Taling Chan market is lesser known and nearby so it’s more convenient if you’re on a tight time schedule. You can explore this market is about an hour – a perfect start to the day.
The stalls sell small snacks grilled on their boats so you can eat breakfast as you explore. A short ride up and down the canals in a picturesque long tail boat is only 100 baht per person and a really magical experience.
Visit Wat Arun
Wat Arun is one of the most famous, and in my opinion, most beautiful temples in Bangkok. Unfortunately there’s scaffolding on the main tower as it’s under reconstruction so you can’t currently get the best view from the tower.
It’s still worth a visit as the grounds are a lovely place to unwind and watch the long tail boats drift up and down the river. Entrance is just 50 baht or you can see the temple from a unique perspective in my next recommendation…
Dine out with a view
The Deck on the Chao Praya River is the perfect place to enjoy some Thai food with a view. Lunch is served outside on a wooden deck overlooking the magnificent Wat Arun on the opposite riverbank. I read about this spot in my Marco Polo Guide and it’s a real hidden gem. Stop here for lunch before continuing your sightseeing in the afternoon. Oh and be sure to order the king river prawns fried in garlic, they’re delicious!
Visit Royal Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha
The Royal Grand Palace is the place to visit during a trip to Thailand. It’s a fairytale building and you’ll instantly recognise the scenery from tour guides and postcards of Asia.
In the palace you will also find the temple of the Emerald Buddha which is called Wat Phra Kaew. It’s open from 9am and worth visiting early to beat the crowds. A ticket for both The Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha Temple is 500 baht.
Remember that The Royal Grand Palace has a very strict dress code so be sure to cover up and bring a sarong for your legs and shoulders.
Experience old Bangkok
If you want to explore the neighbourhoods of Bangkok then what better way than a walking tour? Marco Polo have a great a great City Walks section that will guide you through the old colonial quarter, Chinatown and take you to the temples in the heart of the Old City. The street atlas and metro map saved me getting lost quite a few times!
Lots of Bangkok is busy, bustling and modern but you can experience what the city was like 50 years ago by taking a stroll through Soi Sukha. You can explore weathered wooden houses, traditional shops and authentic arts and crafts.
Eat sweet treats at Shugga
Rose gold lighting, pastel interiors and pink desserts – Shugga really is heaven for an Instagram addict like me. The dessert business is becoming something of an art-form in Asia so expect intricately designed cakes and sweet treats that look too good to eat!
Be sure to leave room for dessert and visit this modern spot before heading to the Bang Rak District for cocktails.
Sip rooftop cocktails
You can find one of the most stunning rooftop bars in Bangkok. At the top of the State Tower you’ll find the luxurious Lebua cocktail bar. It’s a little pricey but you’re paying for the view so if you want some beautiful photo opportunities it’s worth the price tag. Be sure to arrive in time to watch the sun set over the city.
Be a tourist and walk on Khao San Road
If you don’t feel like spending an evening in a sophisticated spot ditch the rooftop cocktails and head to Khao San road. It’s loud, colourful and world famous for being one of the busiest roads in Asia. The cheap food and drink make it a backpacker’s paradise so expect to find lots of tourists here partying well into the night.
Where to stay?
We found a boutique bed and breakfast close to the Thewet Boat Pier which looked too charming to miss. Our stay at Phranakorn Nornlen was like something out of a Wes Anderson film with pink walls, painted crate tables and vintage bicycle parts dotted around the place. If you’re after an authentic Thai experience, this is where you’ll find it.
For breakfast we had fried pancakes called Roti. Lots of street vendors make them with condensed milk or fried banana and I became a little addicted during my trip to Thailand so I loved having them for breakfast here.
Travelling to Thailand soon? Be sure to pack a Marco Polo Thailand Guide. With travel tips, detailed maps and recommended itineraries it’s the perfect travel companion and I used mine every day for finding these hidden spots.
Have you been to Bangkok? What was the highlight of your trip?