Before I visited Bangkok, I’ve always heard that there’s not much to do in this city. Most people who visited Thailand tend to spend most of their time on the islands and maybe reserve a day or two for Bangkok. I came to this city also with such a skeptical mind, but I decided to stay here for four days to adjust for my jet lag since it’s my first backpacking stop. After four days of visit, I can tell you that I’m truly blown away. Bangkok actually has a lot to offer and four days were barely enough. Look no further if you’re looking for what to do in Bangkok. Below is summary of my itinery for the last several days and also some quick tips from my experience.
I visited the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha temple) in the morning. These two places are very close to each other so I would recommend start with the Grand Palace and then walk to Wat Pho. For the afternoon, I spent most of the time resting and then visited Khao San Rd at night. If you have enough energy on the first day, you could consider checking out the Thai National Museum in the afternoon to learn about the Thai arts and culture.
Quick tips –
1. To visit the Grand Palace, both ladies and gentlemen have to cover the entire legs and shoulders so that means no tank top and no shorts. Also, no tights or yoga pants for the ladies either. There’re a lot of places nearby that sell sarongs and pants for covering up, but they might not have as much variety compared to other markets.
2. Try to arrive at the Grand Palace early in the morning since a lot of tourists come here and they come in groups. The Grand Palace opens at 8:30 so I suggest getting there as soon as it opens. Otherwise, a bunch of random people will show up on your pictures.
I hired a tuk tuk driver to take me around the city to see different temples from 9am to 2pm for 700 bahts. The tuk tuk drivers are very knowledgeable about the city and usually have a map with them to show you which temples they recommend taking you. Trust their knowledge and let them take you around for a little bit of adventure. The temples I’ve visited were Wat Indrawiharn (Giant Buddha), Wat Saket (The Golden Mount), Wat Benja (The Marble Temple), Wat Traimit (Golden Buddha), and Wat Arun. My favorites were definitely Wat Arun and Wat Benja. The details and the decorations are marvelous!
Quick tips –
1. In Thailand, almost everything is negotiable so it is expected to negotiate with the tuk tuk drivers. However, please be nice and friendly. I’ve always found that smiling and joking around can get you a much better deal!
2. When you visit Wat Arun, you can take a boat to see it if you start from the pier (Phra Arthit) near Khao San Rd. I recommend taking the express boat with an orange flag if you’re only using the boat for round trip only. This will only cost 30 bahts in total (15 each way). And you can get off right in front of Wat Arun close at the Tha Tien stop. There’s also a tourist hop on and hop off boat that costs 40 bahts. It’s worth it if you want to take it multiple times, otherwise, just do the express boat.
For Day 3 and Day 4, I signed up for a couple of trips with a travel agency called Mama Tour on Khao San Rd. For the morning, I visited the floating market at a nearby village. This was absolutlely one of my favorite experience. There are so many boats in the canal and somehow they all magically fit through all the traffic. The tour starts with a 30 minute boat tour around the floating market, then it gives you about an hour of time to check the market on land, and ends a speed boat tour into the village to see the houses nearby.
Quick tips – When you sign up for the floating market tour, make sure you ask if the paddle boat is included. Otherwise, you would have to pay another 150 bahts at the market to get on one. The half day floating market tour cost me 350 bahts. Again, you can negotiate to get to a reasonable price.
I returned to the my hostel around 2pm in the afternoon. After a quick nap, I took a taxi to visit one of the biggest malls in Bangkok called Central World. There’s a bus to get there from Khao San Rd but taking a bus seemed too challenging (read my previous post to find out why), so I decided to take a taxi. You can negotiate with the taxi driver to decide on a price before you get on the taxi. For a longer length trip, it is highly recommended to negotiate a price rather than using the meter. It cost me about 150 bahts to go to Central World from Khao San Rd. I like this mall because there’s a pretty big street food area with about 50 vendors right in front of the mall. The prices are not negotiable here, but the street food here are actually slightly cheaper than Khao San Rd! Also, inside of the mall there’s a dessert place called “After You” that is very popular in Thailand among the locals. They are known for their French toasts made in a variety of ways.
I did a full day tour with Mama Tour to visit a nearby city called Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Therefore, there are a lot of remaining temples and ruins from the old city. Ayutthaya also has about 50 UNESCO heritage sites so it is definitely worth the visit. The tour company takes you around to see about 6 temples and also provides lunch. These temples are all ruins so they are very different than the new temples that are built in Bangkok.
Quick tips – Make sure you verify they date the tour company writes on your ticket! I didn’t check it and then realized the agent wrote the wrong date when no one came to pick me up. I called the tour company and then realized I had the wrong date on the receipt. Luckily, the tour company was very nice and was able to find me an extra seat. So I want to shout out a big thank you here to Mama Tour for being flexible! This tour cost me about 650 bahts.
Both the floating market tour and the Autthaya tour are highly recommended. I would suggest visit both places with a tour company since they are about an hour to two hours away from Khao San Rd. It would be challenging to navigate on your own to visit these places. Plus, the tour company also offers a guide who explains the history of these ruins to you! I found the value of these tours worth the money.
If you have more than 4 days in Bangkok, I would also recommend visiting the Jim Thompson house, MBK mall, and the Terminal 21 mall. You can also consider watching a water puppet show and a Muay Thai boxing match at Rajadamnern Stadium at night. I’ve found these places from my research, but unfortunately I don’t have enough time to see them.
Lastly, as I’m writing at the moment I’m thinking about finishing Day 4 with a Thai massage! Thailand is known for their cheap massages. I couldn’t think of a better way to end my time in Bangkok!