Bangkok

(Last updated on 26 August 2022)

Known as “City of Angels“, Bangkok is a vibrant city filled with countless number of temples, historic sites, delicious street food, and modern skylines. A network of rivers is connected to the long Chao Phraya river where the “wats”, shopping malls, and luxury hotels are situated.

Getting There

Bangkok has two international airports. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (Airport Code: BKK) is a much new and modern airport located on the eastern side of Bangkok city. Don Mueang Airport (Airport Code: DMK) is an older airport situated in the upper north of the city and is catered mostly to budget airlines such as Air Asia and Scoot Airline.

You can take the Airport Rail Line from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city center or SRT Red Line at Don Mueang railway station to Bang Sue Grand Station. The trains are pretty frequent and the fare is affordable.

Getting Around

By Train

There is plenty of public transportation around the city. BTS [i] and MRT [ii] are the most convenient to get around Bangkok and you can avoid the chaotic traffic during morning and evening rush hours.

By Walking

If you are going to visit the beautiful temples, it is best to go on foot. Most of the temples are within walking distance which takes almost 10-15 minutes to walk (Travel tips: You might want to bring an umbrella if you are afraid of the hot and humid weather).

By Boat

Want to learn how the locals commute to work by boat? You can just do that by hopping on Khlong express boat [iv]. You can take this express boat to and from Siam Square and its surrounding during rush hour. The two connected lines go west-east along Saen Seap Canal and Pratunam near Central World is the interchange station. Their service runs from 5.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. on weekends. Tickets can be bought on board and they only accept small changes.

If you going to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, the quickest way is to take BTS Silom Line to Saphan Taksin Station and transfer to Chao Phraya Express [iii]. Get on the Orange Flag ferry at Sathon ferry terminal to Wat Arun Ratchawaram Pier to visit Wat Arun or the next stop at Tha Tien Pier to visit the Grand Palace.

By Car and Private Motorcycle

If you prefer something more comfortable, you can opt for Grab car, an e-hailing ride which is available around the city. The fare is much cheaper compared to taxis (Remember to download  the Grab app to your phone beforehand).

Alternatively, you can take a motorcycle taxi, which can be found easily around the city. It can be the fastest and cheapest transport, but do keep in mind that it can be dangerous riding on one of those. Some drivers do and don’t provide safety helmets for their passengers. You might want to just take a ride for a short distance only and avoid rainy days.

The Best Activities for 4 days in Bangkok

This city is packed with things to do and places to explore. There are hundreds of Buddhist temples, markets, street food, and shopping centers in Bangkok. Regardless of the length of stay in Bangkok, here are the top things to do things you should add into your bucket list.

Visit Wat Arun

Known as The Temple of Dawn, Wat Arun dates back to the Ayutthaya period and was enlarged by King Rama II and King Rama III. The temple was later renovated under the rule of King Rama IV. It has a 79-meter tall, massive central pagoda, “Phra Prang” and is surrounded by four smaller ones at each corner.

Due to its name, the best time to take photos with absolutely spectacular scenery is when the sun set behind the temple with the backdrop of the red sky. Unfortunately, the weather was very cloudy during my visit, but yet glad I made it here.

Getting there: Take the BTS Silom Line to Saphan Taksin Station and transfer to Chao Phraya Orange Line boat at Central Pier to Wat Arun Pier. You can also take the ferry from Tha Tian Pier near the Grand Palace, just hop on the boat from its pier to get across to this temple.

Opening hours: Daily from 8 am to 6 pm

Entrance fee: Foreigners- 100 Baht

Wander around Khao San Road

Khao San Road is one of the most popular spots for backpackers who love to hang out, There are plenty of hostels and inns for them to live and the prices are simply affordable.

You can hunt for local street food and enjoy a great shopping experience that sells cheap jeans, shoes and accessories. You can have pad thai and spring rolls for just 90 baht! That’s how cheap you can get right here.

Explore the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo

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Phra Siratana Chedi, Phra Mondop and Phra Ubosoth

Start the day to explore the magnificent Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha). The place is extremely crowded with tourists and the security is very tight here. Visitors need to pass through metal detectors and security check before entering the palace.

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha lies right in front of the entrance. Standing at the gate of the gallery is one pair out of six demon guardians who guard the Emerald Buddha from all evil spirits.

The complex consists of the royal residence and throne halls, as well as a number of government officers. It serves as the King’s residence and the administrative offices.

While on my way walking to the Grand Palace, I saw many Thai people still come here to mourn, wearing clothes in black, and paid their last respect to their late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The country has a year-long mourning period since the late King passed away on 13 October 2016.

While planning to go to Sanam Luang, I was curious that the surrounding was fenced up and closed. One of the friendly Thai Tourist Police explained to me that the public square will be used as the cremation ground and will only be open to the public after the cremation ceremonies.

Travel tips: Get there as early as possible and buy the entry ticket in advance. The queue to the Grand Palace is massive and buying the ticket beforehand will save you the hassle (Click here to buy your ticket).

Getting there: Take MRT Blue Line to Sanam Chai Station and you can either walk or take Grab car to the Grand Palace

Opening hours: Daily from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm

Entrance fee: Local- free and Foreigners- 500 Baht. The ticket includes entry to the Grand Palace, the Temple of Emerald Buddha, and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles)

Visit Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles

This textile museum is located right next to the entrance of the Grand Palace. It keeps H.M. Queen Sirikit’s personal collection of dresses designed and tailored from Thai textiles by local and international designers.

The exhibitions tell the story of how H.M. Queen Sikirit has helped turn Thai silk from a local handicraft into a symbol of the country through her Support Foundation founded in 1976.

Travel tips: Do visit the Grand Palace first before Queen Sirikit Museum because the museum opens and closes later. Photography is not allowed inside the museum.

Opening hours: Daily from 9 am to 4.30 pm

Entrance fee: Local- free and Foreigners- Adults: 150 Baht/ Seniors (over 65): 80 Baht/ Students: 50 Baht and Children: free. Entry is free if you buy the ticket to the Grand Palace and need to use it on the same day

Visit Wat Traimitr

Wat Traimitr or Temple of the Golden Buddha displays the extraordinary 700-year-old seated golden Buddha image. This figure composed five and a half tonnes entirely made of gold. The temple is located at the end of Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road.

Opening hours: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

Entrance fee: 100 Baht to visit the museum and 40 Baht to view the Buddha image

Admire Wat Benchamabophit

Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple) was built during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (1868- 1910) with some European influences seen in its stained glass windows and the use of Carrara marble. Dozens of bronze Buddha images are displayed inside the temple.

Opening hours: Daily 8 am to 6 pm

Entrance fee: 20 Baht

Be amazed by the grand Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall

Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall is a stunning Italian Renaissance architectural style building built under the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and completed in 1915.

The ceiling of the dome features exquisite fresco paintings depicting the history of the Chakri Dynasty during the reign of King Rama I to King Rama VI of the Royal House of Chakri. This hall is mainly used to hold important royal and state ceremonies and the museum now housed royal handicrafts

Travel tips: The security in the museum is very strict. . Cameras and mobile phones are not allowed inside and will be kept in lock boxes. Photography is prohibited inside.

Opening hours: Daily from 9.30 am to 4 pm

Entrance fee: 150 Baht

Visit Wat Ratchanatdaram

Wat Ratchanatdaram (Loha Prasat) was built during the reign of King Rama III for his granddaughter Princess Somanass Waddhanawathy in 1846.

Its name translates as ‘iron monastery’ and was built under the inspiration of a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. This 36-meters high structure is the only one of its kind remaining in the world, which consists of 24 golden spires at the bottom, 12 spires in the middle, and 1 spire at the top.

Opening hours: Daily from 8 am to 5 pm

Entrance fee: Locals- 10 Baht and Foreigners- 20 Baht

Watch the sunset at Wat Saket

Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) dates back to the Ayutthaya period. You can climb 318 steps up to the top of the temple to watch the sunset that overlooks the entire city of Bangkok.

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Panorama view of Bangkok

A relic of the Lord Buddha was brought from Sri Lanka and enshrined in the chedi. A 58-meters high stupa is placed on top of a golden cupola.

Spending the next two hours until evening to enjoy the best view Bangkok has to offer. I can see the entire city from above, including the Giant Swing, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and MahaNakhon Tower. Waiting here for the sunset and able to see the palace and its surroundings lighted up by night is truly marvelous.

Passing by the enormous Giant Swing

Just a 15-minute walk from Wat Saket is the 200-year-old Giant Swing, once used in Brahmanic ceremonies to honor the highest God Shiva. It was also used in a contest to seek the brave man who could swing the highest to seize a money bag from this 25-meter high pole. However, this contest was discontinued many years back due to many accidents and deaths occurred.

Have a night-out at Train Night Market Ratchada

The famed Train Night Market Ratchada is unlikely any night markets in Bangkok. It has a roll of street stalls and another for food stalls as well as pubs and restaurants.

There is a pub where many big motorcycle gang love to hang out.  This market has plenty of accessories shops, but they sell similar things with other stalls around such as electronic gadgets, clothing and toys, but not many souvenir and gift shops here.

Experience the morning rush riding a motorboat taxi

Hop on the khlong, a motorboat taxi where the locals used to commute in their daily life in Bangkok. It is the cheapest mode of transport and the ride costs only10 Baht. The boat passes through the residential area along the narrow river from Asoke to Patchaburi and another route from Patchaburi to Pratunam.

Travel tips: Do bring some small changes to buy the ticket directly from the staff on board the boat (See above ‘Getting Around’ for more details).

 Roam through Chatuchak Weekend Market

The famous Chatuchak Weekend Market. is home to 15,000 stalls, where you can find mostly anything from clothing, souvenirs, gifts, homemade handicrafts, food, beverages, desserts, and local treats.

I have tasted some of their delicious snacks and dessert and also bought some dried fruits, sweets, cute souvenirs, and a singlet with ‘Chang’ beer logo on it. This market is so huge that probably needs half-day to explore them all.

Getting there: Take the BTS Blue Line to Chatuchak Park Station or SRT Red Line to Bang Sue Station

Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 12 am

Travel Tips

  • Keep the Grand Palace’s entry ticket after finish your visit. The ticket gives you access to Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile, Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall, Vimanmek Mansion and Royal Elephant National Museum for free. The ticket is valid for 5 days. So, you might want to consider visiting the palace first and show the entry ticket upon entering other places.
  • It is important to wear proper attire when entering the temples. No slippers, singlets, shorts, and torn clothing are a BIG NO-NO!
  • It is best to ask taxi drivers to drop you off a the nearest BTS or MRT and go to your final destination from the stations. Many drivers will not or refuse to pick passengers into the city area because they want to avoid heavy traffic.

Going Elsewhere in Thailand?

If you are planning for a long adventure in Thailand, you can check out some of my other posts:

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