As one of the most vibrant capitals in Southeast Asia, Bangkok has an energy level and personality that few other cities can rival. It straddles old and new, east and west, with so many layers of traditional culture and history behind it. While Bangkok may not represent everything that Thailand has to offer, it makes for a great start.
If you only have two days in the city, here are our suggestions for things to see and do:
The First 24 Hours
Visit: Floating Market
With only two days in Bangkok, there’s no point going out of your way to visit the famous floating markets outside of the city. But if you are keen, there’s one in the city that’s worth visiting – Taling Chan floating market is accessible by BTS and taxi and it’s small but not overly crowded. Tuck into some fresh, local breakfast before hopping on a ‘klong’ to explore the neighboring canals. Be sure to rise early though, as the market usually opens around 7am.
Visit: Grand Palace
Bangkok’s Grand Palace is a sprawling and over-the-top display of lavish golden stupas, shimmering shrines, pavilions and massive halls. Constructed in 1782, Thai kings lived here for over 150 years. Although it’s no longer the residence of the king, it’s opened to the public for visit. Be sure to cover up your knees and shoulders when visiting.
Eat: Sukumvhit Soi 38
Lauded as one of the best places to eat street food in Bangkok, Soi 38 in Sukumvhit is lined with basic, fuss-free food stalls that serve up delicious and cheap local food. It’s just a few steps from the Thong Lor BTS station and you can choose from pad thai and oyster omelet to refreshing shaved ice.
Visit: Wat Arun
Also known as the Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun is an iconic landmark in Bangkok spotting beautiful spires and stupas decked out in orante porcelain. Standing by the Chao Phraya River front, the temple is best seen from the river. By night, the lights give it a golden glow.
Party: Khao San Road
Visiting Bangkok without a trip to Khao San is akeen to visiting Paris with seeing the Eiffel Tower. Loud, brash, and boisterous, the infamous Khao San Road draws tourists from every corner of the world with its rows of pubs, cocktail bars, and market stalls.
The Next 24 Hours
Visit: Wat Pho
Home to the world’s most famous reclining Buddha statue, Wat Pho is definitely one temple you should visit (if you had to pick from the thousands of temples in Bangkok). Spend the morning wandering through its hall admiring the murals and inscriptions as well as the landscaped garden lined with stupas and sculptures.
Visit: Chatukchak Weekend Market
Crammed with over 8,000 stalls selling everything from trendy fashion items to traditional Thai artwork, the Chatukchak Weekend Market is a jaw-breaking market worth visiting for the sheer size of it. As its name implies, it only opens from Friday to Sunday, although some floral shops open on Wednesday and Thursday too.
Eat: Soul Food Mahanakorn
After feasting on street foods the previous day, perhaps it’s time to take it up a notch with some higher end restaurant cuisine. Run by an American food writer, Soul Food has garnered a loyal following with its fresh ingredients and healthy, locally sourced foods. Some of the specialties here include Chiang Mai sausages, hang lay curry, and khao mok gai (chicken biryani).
Drink: Sky Bar
Put on your cocktail dress and head to the swanky Sky Bar, the world’s highest open air bar. Located on the 63rd floor of The Dome at Lebua, this hotspot also appeared in the blockbuster, The Hangover 2. Feast on glittery views of Bangkok by night and rub shoulders with the rich and famous.