Bangkok or Krung Thep, “City of Angels,” is like our home away from home. We love this vibrant and urban big city with all its life, delicious street food, green and lush parks, a network of rivers, fantastic shopping, some of the biggest markets in the world, and of course, its friendly people.
We have visited Bangkok many times, often staying for months before reluctantly leaving. Every time we come back, we fall deeper and deeper in love with this fantastic city!
Beneath the dust and chaos, Bangkok is filled with exciting things to do and wondrous places to see. From street-side restaurants with plastic chairs and roadside amulet stalls to excellent restaurants and the world’s hippest rooftop bars.
Explore the city’s many ancient temples, take a tuk-tuk tour through the Bangkok night, experience Muay Thai boxing at the gigantic Lumpini Stadium, go shopping, or visit one of Bangkok’s many fantastic markets, just for starters.
Bangkok has it all, and there is never a dull moment when you hit the streets of this city.
Latest Updates: Our latest visit to Bangkok was a five-week stay in mid-2022. This Bangkok itinerary has been completely updated and reorganized with the most current travel information. The last few years have been tough on Bangkok tourism, and some well-loved sights have sadly had to close down. In this latest edition, we have included new night markets, restaurants, and museums. We have also designed a brand new walking tour of Chinatown and updated practical travel information like opening hours etc.
The Ultimate 3-Day Bangkok Itinerary
Here is our ultimate 3-day itinerary with our highlights of what to do in Bangkok. It combines the typical must-sees tourist sights of Bangkok with some corky and off-the-beaten-track places and sights you will not find in the tourist guides.
We intentionally made this Bangkok itinerary packed with activities and sights so that you’ll have a lot of options to choose from.
Day one is a bit hectic since it’s the “best of Bangkok itinerary.” So if you have less than three days to spend in Bangkok, our day one itinerary is a great place to start.
In addition, some sights/activities have a star next to them. These are Bangkok’s most famous landmarks, and if you prefer exploring fewer attractions at a slower pace, these are the essentials.
We hope this Bangkok itinerary will give you some ideas and inspiration for your trip. Have a great time in Bangkok!
By the way, if you’re undecided on where to stay in Bangkok, see our guide to the best areas to stay in Bangkok.
Bangkok 3-day Itinerary: Day 1 – Ancient Bangkok (purple), Day 2 – Markets and Chinatown (pink), Day 3 – Jim Thompson House, Shopping, Parks (green)
Table of Contents:
Day 1 – Essential Bangkok
Chao Phraya River, Temples, Historical Sites & Khao San
This first day is filled with the highlights of Bangkok. If you only have one day in Bangkok, then Day 1 will take you to Bangkok’s famous temples and the most historical and popular sights.
Day 1 – Bangkok Itinerary: 1. Chao Phraya River Ferry, 2. Grand Palace & The Emerald Buddha Temple, 3. National Museum OR Museum of Siam, 4. Wat Pho/ Reclining Buddha, 5. Wat Arun Temple/ Temple of Dawn, 6. Canal Boat Trip, 7. Golden Mount Temple, 8. Khao San Road
1. Chao Phraya River
After breakfast (at your hotel or a street stall), take the sky train to Saphan Taksin BTS Station. Then, jump on a northbound ferry from the Central Pier (also known as Sathorn Pier). The pier is just a two-minute walk from the Saphan Taksin BTS Station, with signs pointing the way.
You can choose between the public ferry with an orange flag or the more expensive tourist ferry with a blue flag. To fully experience the “real” Bangkok, we recommend taking the public ferry (orange flag). The rivers and canals are the heart of Bangkok, and its cross-river ferries are still the main transportation for the locals.
The area along the main river of Bangkok (Ko Ratanakosin) used to be the ancient royal district, and here you’ll find Bangkok’s most famous attractions.
Here is also many of Bangkok’s finest hotels with beautiful views overlooking the river. Read our Bangkok hotel and area guide for our recommended hotels in the Riverside area.
2. The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The former home of the monarch, the Grand Palace, is located on the grounds of one of Bangkok’s architectural wonders – The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The grounds contain more than 100 buildings, all beautifully decorated with gold and diamonds in different colors in the traditional-Bangkok style.
King Rama I, built the Grand Palace in 1782 when he decided to move the capital from Thonburi on the other side of the river to present-day Bangkok.
The king of Thailand no longer lives in the grand palace, but it is used for important ceremonial occasions. The palace itself is quite beautiful with ornately carved rooftops, statues, and impressive size, but you can’t enter most of the buildings, so the real star is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Temple of The Emerald Buddha
The Temple of Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is Thailand’s most important Buddhist temple. Buddhists come here from all over Asia to pay their respects.
The temple grounds are Bangkok’s most prominent attraction, and the moment you step past the large imposing Yaksha giants guarding the entrance, you’ll see why.
With enormous gilded spires, several shrines, statues of Buddhist and Hindu mythic creatures like Hanuman (monkey deities) and Kinaree (half swan-half women), a model of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, and 178 panels of murals depicting the story of the Ramayana, there is plenty to take in.
The main attraction sits in a beautiful ordination hall – The Emerald Buddha, a 66 cm tall figurine beautifully carved in green Jade, clothed in gold fabric. It depicts the meditation Buddha seated in a yogic posture and was discovered in the northern part of Thailand in 1434.
When you see the Emerald Buddha, pay attention to what it is wearing. It can be one of three different costumes depending on what season it is, summer, winter, or rainy season. Three times a year, a ceremony is held at the temple where his majesty, the king personally changes the costume.
You can explore the Grand Palace on your own, but if you’d like to learn more about the palace’s sights, you have a couple of options. You can rent an audio guide with headphones for 200 Baht = US$ 6 or hire a personal guide at the ticket kiosk.
Before entering the main chapel, remember to remove your shoes. Also, when sitting in front of a Buddha image, tuck your feet behind you. Pointing your feet towards the Buddha is considered offensive.
There is a booth near the entrance where you can borrow clothes. However, you must leave your passport or credit card as security, so it’s better to come properly dressed.
Beware of scams!
Whatever you do, be wary of anyone who approaches you in this area, speaks perfect English, and tells you that the palace is closed today. Although there are many variations to this scam, they may say to you that there is another temple you can visit instead, like “The Lucky Buddha Temple.”
There is no such temple (all Buddhist temples are considered lucky), and they are trying to steer you to a gem or tailor shop where they will get a commission. They may tell you about a special government promotion or similar, only available today.
3. Visit Bangkok’s Famous Museums
If you’d like to escape the sun and heat for a little while during the hottest part of the day, then this area is also home to some of the city’s best museums. Our favorites are the National Museum and the Museum of Siam.
Visiting both in a single day is probably a bit too much. I’d recommend picking one of them depending on your interests. I’ve marked this stop optional since not everyone loves museums, but if you’re a bit of a museum buff, then these museums are well worth a visit.
Southeast Asia’s largest national history museum – National Museum Bangkok or Phranakorn, is housed in a building complex from 1782. It is home to a vast collection of historical antiquities and art from Thailand’s past, as well as other Asian countries.
The collection also includes some awe-inspiring items from past kings, including large intricately carved gilded chariots. The museum has undergone extensive renovations in recent years. The work is almost complete, and most of the exhibition halls have reopened.
There are several buildings to explore (all of which are thankfully air-conditioned). There is an excellent free guided tour twice a week (Wednesdays & Thursdays at 09:30 am).
Museum of Siam
The Museum of Siam is surprisingly entertaining, and well suited for families with kids. Interactive media is used extensively to tell the story of the kingdom of Siam and the Thai people. The exhibits show Thai culture and history, how it has changed over time, and give some fun insights into the elusive concept of “Thainess.”
Exhibitions have descriptions in both Thai and English. This is also a fun museum for kids, with activities to keep them interested, like a room full of Thai Toys and many hands-on displays. You can borrow a free English audio guide from reception.
4. Wat Pho Temple – Reclining Buddha
From the Grand Palace area, walk (about 10 minutes) or take the ferry one stop to No. 8 Tha Tien Pier. Grab something to eat and drink at one of the many food stalls along the street on your way to Wat Pho.
Wat Pho temple can trace its roots back to the 16th century. It is sometimes referred to as Thailand’s first public “University” due to the 1360 marble inscriptions found around the temple grounds. By reading these inscriptions, people could learn about history, medicine, and liberal sciences.
Wat Pho’s famous reclining Buddha statue is magnificent, covered in gold leaf and with mother-of-pearl ornaments inlaid on his feet. It is remarkably 46 m long and 15 m high (!) and illustrates Buddha entering nirvana (Buddha’s death).
Inside the statue’s hall, you’ll see 108 bronze bowls that symbolize the auspicious characters of Buddha. You can buy packs of 108 coins at the entrance and drop one coin in each bowl for good luck.
Wat Pho contains four chapels with no less than 394 (!!) gilded Buddha images and a long line of golden Buddhas from all over Thailand sitting in the lotus position.
Even though your primary mission at Wat Pho is to see the reclining Budhha, don’t forget to go for a walk in the courtyard as well. The giant Chinese statues there were once used as ballast on ships.
The temple has no less than 91 stupas, many of which are beautifully decorated with ceramic pottery flowers and colorful tiles. The stupas containes the aches of previous Thai kings.
Wat Pho is also well known as Thailand’s center for the teaching of traditional Thai medicine and Thai massage. People from all over the world come to Wat Pho to study and learn to become Thai massage practitioners.
After a walk around the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, nothing beats a relaxing head or foot massage. This is a safe and authentic place to get a Thai massage. However, if you want to do this, you should book a spot when entering Wat Pho, as there can be a waiting list.
5. Lunch at The Sixth
By now you might be feeling a little hungry, and it is time to sit down for some Thai food lunch to get your energy back. There are several restaurants in this area to choose from, but our favorite restaurant is The Sixth, only a short walk from Wat Pho (a 2-min walk).
The Sixth is a small place with only five tables, run by a young welcoming Thai couple who speaks excellent English. They serve mouth-watering authentic Thai food. The food and drinks are also reasonably priced. Do try the Thai Ice Tea, it is the best!
6. Wat Arun Temple – Temple Of The Dawn
It is time to cross the river to the spectacular Wat Arun (also known as Wat Chaeng), so jump on a cross-river ferry from No. 8 Tha Tien to Wat Arun pier (crossing is only 3 Baht = US$ 0,09).
On your way to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, you passed this temple with the ferry. So you already know that it is a spectacular sight from afar. Wat Arun is our favorite temple in Bangkok.
It is an equally impressive sight close-up and even more impressive after dark when it is lit up and looks like something out of a fairytale. But, unfortunately, it closes before nightfall.
In the middle of the temple, you find its most prominent feature, an 82 m high, beautifully decorated Khmer-style tower. You can walk up the steep stairs and admire the view of Bangkok and its rivers and canals.
7. Explore Bangkok’s Canals on A Longtail Boat
The Klongs are the narrow canals that criss-cross the Thonburi area, the old part of Bangkok. Once upon a time, Bangkok was almost like Venice, Italy, with many canals and no roads.
A boat tour along the remaining canals is a great way to gain an insight into Bangkok’s past and the more traditional way of life that still exists here. Many of the houses along these canals still do not have road access, and the canals remain an essential way of transportation in parts of the city.
You will also glide by several temples, including the impressive tall seated buddha statue at Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen. The golden Buddha statue is Bangkok’s tallest with its 64 m, completed in 2021.
8. See The Sunset From Golden Mount Temple
After all this exploring, it is time to get up in the air to take in the sunset and see the Bangkok skyline. Take a taxi or use the Grab App (a 10 min drive) to Golden Mount, also called Wat Saket.
The Golden Mount is a beautiful temple located on top of a small hill. The walk up the 344 steps takes about 25 min, but the reward when you reach the top is well worth it as you get an awesome view of Bangkok.
Sit down on a bench at the top and admire the sunset over the skyline of Bangkok.
Read More: Our Complete Guide To Wat Saket – The Temple In The Sky
9. Dinner at Jay Fai – Michelin Star Street Food
After Wat Saket, you’re only about a ten-minute walk away from Bangkok’s most famous street food restaurant – Jay Fai.
Supinya “Jay Fai” Junsuta has always been well known in Bangkok for her crab omelet but she became world famous when she received a star in the Michelin guide in 2018. Since then she has been featured on Netflix’s documentary series Street Food Asia, and in lots of other media.
Jai Fay is now in her late seventies and still cooks every dish herself in her restaurant wearing her trademark eye protection goggles. While the standout is the Crab omelet the menu also includes many other tasty treats like tom yum soup or the stir-fried crab yellow curry which all pair well with the crab omelet.
Jay Fai’s fame has made it kind of tricky to get a table, and the queue can be quite long. Sometimes she accepts reservations and sometimes not. See her Instagram page for the latest information.
Right next door to Jay Fai you’ll find Thip Samai Restaurant, whose claim to fame is serving one of Bangkok’s best Pad Thais (stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, chicken, bean sprouts, and eggs). The restaurant has been modernized and has, in our opinion, lost a bit of its charm. But the Pad Thai is still good and the fresh orange juice is amazing.
So if the queue outside Jay Fai looks too long, the neighboring Thip Samai is a good alternative.
READ MORE: For more options on where to eat Thai food in Bangkok, see our Bangkok food guide.
10. Kao San Road
Now it’s finally time to wind down with something cold in your glass or go partying with backpackers, hippies, and hipsters. That is if you still have some energy left. 🙂
Take a taxi, tuk-tuk, or use the Grab App and head over to the famous Kao San Road (Thanon Khao San). If you skipped our previous non-starred itinerary stops, and are coming straight from Wat Arun then another option is to take the river ferry to no. 13 Phra Arthit Pier. It is right before the Rama VIII bridge. From there it takes about five minutes to walk from the pier to Kao San Road.
Kao San Road is a crazy street packed with partying people, and street stalls selling food, drinks, clothes and souvenirs.
In Kao San Road you can stroll around among the many shopping stalls selling everything from strange Thai snacks like barbecued insects, hand-painted t-shirts, beautiful lanterns, crazy party hats, and fake lonely planet books to leather handbags.
Grab an ice-cold Chang beer and relax in a chair at one of the many street-side restaurants and bars while you watch the street life go by. Or party hard late into the night if you still have some energy left……. 🙂
Day 2: Exploring Bangkok’s MarkeT’s AND HISTORiC Chinatown
Chatuchak Market, Chinatown, Street Food & Nightlife
It may seem like Bangkok’s most important attractions are all temples, and there is some truth to that. But now that day one is complete we’ll discover what else Bangkok has to offer.
We’ll start with the classic Chatuchak Weekend Market. If you’re in Bangkok on a weekend you will definitely not want to miss the world’s largest outdoor market. Then we’ll explore Bangkok’s roots in the city’s liveliest neighborhood – Chinatown.
Chinatown is famous for its street food, but there is plenty more to see and do. For those who still have the energy, we’ll end the day exploring the nightlife along Bangkok’s famous Sukhumvit Road.
Day 2 – Bangkok Itinerary: 1. Chatuchak Weekend Market, 2. Chinatown, 3. Talad Noi Neighborhood, 4. Central Chinatown (Wat Traimit Temple, Sampeng Market, Yaowarat Street Food), 5. Nightlife in Sukhumvit, 6. Cinema
1. Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you are staying in Bangkok during a weekend, Chatuchak Weekend Market is a real MUST! Chatuchak Weekend Market is the mother of all markets! Take the Skytrain to Mo Chit BTS Station, or the underground to Chatuchak MRT station.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the biggest open-air market in the world. It consists of about 15 000 stalls covering more than one km, and it has been in Bangkok for decades. Here you will find just about anything you can imagine, both useful and not-so-useful stuff. You can easily do all your souvenir- and gift shopping here.
It’s also a great place to sample some authentic Thai-style street food with lots of small stalls selling just about every dish under the sun.
The rest of the day is all about exploring Bangkok’s most exciting area, Chinatown!
During the day Chinatown is a maze of tiny alleyways, centuries-old temples and shrines, exotic markets, shophouses, and coffee shops. Go for a walk through these narrow streets and beautiful buildings, shop for Chinese green tea and other souvenirs, and just watch the life on the streets.
Chinatown has managed to hold onto a lot of its unique architecture and culture but that does not mean it’s not changing. Old shophouses are being restored and transformed into cozy coffee shops, boutique hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs. And with two brand new MRT stations, Chinatown is quickly becoming a much more popular base for exploring the city.
3. Discover Talad Noi – Bangkok’s Best Kept Secret
Chinatown’s Talad Noi neighborhood isn’t typically found on a lot of Bangkok itineraries, but it really should be at is a great area! We’ve included it as an option for those who appreciate getting a little off the beaten path. Feel free to skip ahead to central Chinatown’s highlights if you spent the morning at Chatuchak market and are running short on time.
Talad Noi is a fascinating area to explore and a walk along the Chao Praya river will take you through one of Bangkok’s most unique neighborhoods.
After the fall of the old capital Ayutthaya in 1767, Chinese and Portuguese settlements were relocated to this area along the river. The area’s diverse history and religious roots can still be seen here today in its mix of Buddhist temples and Christian churches.
Along the way, you’ll stumble across Buddhist temples, old shophouses, small shrines, ancient holy threes, churches, colorful street art, and a lively local community. And last but not least, some of Bangkok’s absolute coolest coffee shops!
This is a great place to experience historical Bangkok and see how it’s evolving with modern times. The best thing you can do here is to leave the guidebook, grab your camera or phone, go exploring, and get a little lost. 🙂
DIY Talad Noi Neighborhood Walking Tour (A – J)
- A. Sieng Gong
More than 70 years ago, Sieng Gong became Bangkok’s main center for auto parts. This area still has piles of auto parts as far as the eye can see.
- B. NAM 1608 Restaurant
A great place to stop for lunch with tasty Thai food, and a fantastic view overlooking the Chao Praya River. One of our favorite Bangkok restaurants.
- C. Photohostel & PhotoCafe
Dutch photographer Kars Tuinder recently opened a cool coffee shop and hostel in this 200-year-old Taiyuan house. There is a photo gallery displaying some stunning photography and cakes and drinks in the coffee shop. Kars also runs photo tours of the area.
- D. Hong Sieng Kong Cafe & Museum
Hong Sieng Kong is part museum, part coffee shop set among a collection of beautifully preserved Chinese mansions with antique furniture, wooden staircases, statues, and trees seemingly fused with the brick walls. There is a large garden where you can sit and enjoy the river view. They serve delicious cakes and light meals or try their signature drink, the Iced Chocolate Frappe. There is an entrance fee of 200 THB = US$ 5,5, but entry is free for coffee shop customers.
Right around the corner from Hong Sieng Kong, you will find the following two “attractions”:
- The Little Rusty Fiat 500 at Soi Wanit 2
The exact story of how this little old car became abandoned isn’t known, but Instagram has made it world-famous.
- Bodhi Tree & Shrine
The large holy tree and the small shrine are almost as Instagram famous as the old Fiat.
- E. So Heng Tai Mansion
The 200-year-old Hokkien-Teochew-style Chinese mansion is open to the public and one of the must-sees of Talad Noi. The house is still in its original state, while the swimming pool is a more recent addition that a local scuba diving club uses. The entrance fee is a mandatory drink from the lady selling juice and tea.
- F. Rong Kuak Shrine
A small peaceful shrine that is over a hundred years old. It’s not the most exciting shrine but worth a quick stop.
- G. Mother Roaster
Set in an old shophouse once used to store car parts, with a hidden entrance, this is one of the coolest coffee shops ever! Examine the street art facade to find the door and make your way to the second floor. And the coffee is excellent as well.
- H. Street Art along Trok San Chao Rong Kueak
This little alley is street art heaven. Also, don’t miss the small photo gallery at the far end showing off some of the best Chinatown photography.
- I. Patina
A relaxed cafe set in a more than 100-year-old Chinese mansion. There are plans to turn a part of the building into a hostel.
- J. Holy Rosary Church
Also known as Kalawar Church, this Roman Catholic church was built between 1891–97. The interior is beautiful with some exquisite stained glass windows depicting stories from the new and Old Testaments.
4. Central Chinatown – Temples, Markets & Street Food
Time to head onto the famous and vibrant central Chinatown.
The center of Chinatown is often called Yaowarat after the main road Thanon Yaowarat which runs through this area. It is one of the oldest parts of Bangkok, with roots back to 1782 when the Chinese set up the first settlement here.
Here you will find action at all hours and surprises at every turn. Some of Chinatown highlights include:
Wat Traimit Temple
Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, is most famous for its 5.5-ton and nearly five-meter tall buddha statue made of solid gold. Yes, actual gold!
The statue was originally covered with plaster; nobody knew of its value for centuries. Then during a move in the 1950s, movers accidentally dropped it, the plaster cracked, and the fall revealed the statue’s gold core.
The temple is also quite beautiful, three stories high and with gold-colored roofs and ornate carvings. A small museum tells the story of Wat Traimit and the Buddha statue.
Sampeng Lane Market
Sampeng Lane (Soi Wanit 1) market is a narrow street filled with everything imaginable trinkets, food, spice, toy, and appliance under the sun. The market has been here forever, since the late 1700s when it was moved here to make room for the Grand Palace. Wandering through here is great fun but can also feel a little overwhelming.
Sampeng Lane is about 1 km long, and the smells from a thousand spices, dried food, and herbs greet you at every turn. Just go with the flow, and you will sooner or later come out at the other end.
Street Food at Yaowarat Road
When the sun sets, Chinatown’s Yaowarat road becomes the biggest street food center in Bangkok, serving up the most delicious and authentic Thai street food. Here you can find some Chinese-inspired dishes that are not available anywhere else in Thailand.
It’s all about following your nose and going with the most delicious smells. But there are, of course, some classic eateries that you may want to check out. So here are a few of our recommendations to get you started:
- T&K Seafood – The legendary T&K Seafood has long been Chinatown’s most famous seafood restaurant. Look for the green-colored balcony at the corner of Phadung Doa Road and Yaowarat Road and you have come to the right place.
- Guay Jub Ouan Pochana – has been selling rolled rice noodle soup for over 50 years, and it is delicious. They are currently selling from the old Rama Cinema, which still has the old movie posters hanging from the walls. So cool!
- Khao Gaeng Jake Puey – expect to eat while balancing your plate of curry on your lap at this popular Thai curry stall. With plastic chairs and no tables, it’s as basic as it gets, but the curries are incredible.
The famous and lovely Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat) is also located in this area of Bangkok and is the biggest wholesale flower market in town. You will also find delicious fresh fruits and vegetables here.
5. Explore Sukhumvit’s Nightlife
Sukhumvit is party central in Bangkok, home to more clubs, nightclubs, and restaurants than you can count. This area is extremely popular with ex-pats and visitors.
If you still have more energy after Chinatown and want to experience a Bangkok night out, then, Sukhumvit road has plenty of options.
The party often continues out on the streets with camper van VWs converted into mobile bars blasting out the music.
Some popular places for nightlife along Sukhumvit road are:
- Thong Lor – Bangkok’s hippest neighborhood has no shortage of restaurants, bars, and clubs. Some personal favorites include the Octave Rooftop Bar & Lounge, WTF Gallery and Café, 72 Courtyard with the Beam nightclub, chill terrace, and an excellent selection of wines.
- Soi 11 – is a fun side street to Sukhumvit Road perfect for bar hopping. There are bars and clubs everywhere, so pop into whatever place piques your interest.
- Soi Cowboy / Nana Plaza – These are adult entertainment districts with go-go bars and lively entertainment.
If you are a bit worn out after all this sightseeing and want to wind down and enjoy some modern entertainment instead of partying, head to the cinema. Bangkok has some of the best cinemas in the world, showing both Asian and Hollywood movies in English with Thai subtitles.
The 5th floor of the Paragon shopping mall (Siam square) is the best cinema complex in Bangkok, with both 4D, 3D, and IMAX (they have 15 large-sized theaters). You can check the monitors at the entrances to Paragon mall for an overview of what’s playing.
Alternatively, if you find yourself near the river, then Icon Siam, Bangkok’s newest mega-mall, is located just across the river from Asiatique. Icon Siam also has a fantastic cinema complex, including IMAX and 4D Cinema theatres.
Sink into the comfortable cinema chair, relax with some popcorn (and/or beer), and enjoy the latest Hollywood movies in 4D or IMAX. Don’t forget to stand during the tribute video to his majesty the king, shown before every movie!
DAY 3 – The Best Of The Rest
Jim Thompson House, Modern Bangkok, Parks, Night Market & Skybar
Day 3 – Bangkok Itinerary: 1. Jim Thompson House Museum, 2. Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, 3. Shopping in Siam area, 4. Lunch at a food court, 5. Lumphini Park OR Benjakitti Park, 6. Jodd Fairs Night Market, 7. Rooftop Bar/ Moon Bar
1. Jim Thompson House
The Jim Thompson House Museum is the former home of Jim Thompson, the man credited with making Thai silk popular around the world.
His former home, a beautifully preserved traditional Thai house, is close to Siam Square, just a short walk away from the shopping malls.
The story of Jim Thompson is fascinating and quite a mystery too! Jim Thompson, born in America, is the man who made Thai silk famous worldwide. Then one day, he just disappeared under mysterious circumstances. His lovely house and garden are now a museum and well worth visiting!
The entrance fee includes a guided tour of the garden and house and a demonstration of how Thai silk is made.
There is also a large Jim Thompson shop selling beautiful silk clothes and souvenirs. And if you get hungry, the restaurant/ cafe serves up some excellent Thai food with a view of the green and lush garden.
Today you can find Jim Thompson silk shops selling beautiful silk products and clothes all over Thailand.
2. Bangkok Art & Culture Centre
You will pass The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre on the way from Jim Thompson House to Siam Square. The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre is only a 5-min walk from Jim Thompson House Museum.
The large circular building houses an extensive contemporary art collection showcasing local and international artists.
The building is half the fun, with its spiraling staircase gradually bringing you to the dizzying top. Exhibitions are changed relatively frequently, so check their webpage to see what is on.
3. Siam – The Heart of Modern Bangkok
The Siam area is Bangkok’s main shopping and entertainment district. Siam is a shopping bonanza, and we love it!
But the malls are more than just great places to shop; they are social hubs where the locals hang out in air-conditioned comfort away from the heat. Families come here to window shop, socialize and enjoy a meal and a snack at one of the many food courts and restaurants.
You can spend hours and hours exploring the five big shopping centers that are located next to each other in the Siam area:
- Central World
A posh and modern mall with all the western brands, from the most expensive (Gucci, Prada) to more affordable brands (Zara, H&M), has an ice skating rink on the ground floor and a great supermarket. In 2020 Apple opened its flagship Apple store here.
- Siam Paragon
A great mall with lots of western brands, an excellent sports shop, and South East Asia’s largest Aquarium, Sea Life Ocean World. My favorite shop is the Exotic Thai store (specializing in Thai design and crafts) on the 4th floor – perfect for gifts and souvenirs. Excellent supermarket and the best cinema complex in Bangkok.
- Siam Center
A hip and cool mall especially popular among teenagers. Has a big Sephora store with all kinds of make-up brands.
- Siam Discovery
A cool modern mall with top brands, designer stuff, and lots of cool Japanese brands and designs like manga figures and movie-related stuff like Marve. Has Bangkok’s only Madame Tussauds on the 6th floor.
- MBK shopping mall
The oldest mall in Bangkok is especially popular with Bangkok’s teenagers. Head here for cheap clothes, handbags, and electronics, as well as reasonably priced food at its food court.
READ MORE about the best shopping in Bangkok in our shopping in Bangkok guide!
4. Lunch At A Food Court
Oh boy, do you get tired and hungry from all this shopping! So now it’s time to sit down and have a lunch break.
Most of Bangkok’s big and posh shopping centers have a food court, where dozens of food stalls serve delicious Thai food and international dishes. These food courts are very popular and serve authentic Thai food in a clean, air-conditioned environment. The food is affordable and tasty; the only challenge is choosing what to try.
The vendors do not accept direct payment so before heading in among the stalls, pick up a voucher at the cash desk. You can redeem any unused value at the cash desk when you leave. Menus are available in both Thai and English.
Take your time and walk around the different stalls and try to sample a few different things rather than fill up at the first stall.
Some of our favorite Bangkok food courts are:
- Food Republic at Siam Center 2nd floor
This modern food court combines style and comfort with excellent food. Slightly more expensive than some food courts, but the restaurant-like ambiance and large portions make it a great choice.
- Siam Paragon
The ground floor of the gigantic Siam Paragon shopping mall is one huge food exploration center. The food court has a staggering amount of dishes from every corner of the world. It’s loud and busy but great fun.
- MBK shopping mall (5th & 6th floor)
The grandmother of all Bangkok malls has no less than two food courts. Fifth Food Avenue on the fifth floor is a little more upscale and quieter than the cheaper and much busier MBK Food Center on the sixth floor. Have a look at both and marvel at the selection of food, pastries, and desserts available.
- Central Embassy
The EatThai food court occupying the ground floor of the luxurious Central Embassy mall has a unique concept, serving food from every corner of Thailand. Walk among the many stalls and try delicious Thai food and desserts from the north to the south. EatThai is a high-end food court with slightly higher prices but a pleasant, quiet dining atmosphere.
5. Take A Walk In Bangkok’s Green Parks
Bangkok has some beautiful green parks perfect for a relaxing afternoon stroll. However, two parks stand out, the classic Lumphini Park and the newly expanded Benjakitti Park. Both are centrally located and are easily accessible by Skytrain and MRT.
Lumphini Park is Bangkok’s most famous park and also the city’s first public park. It was once King Rama VI’s private garden until he donated the land as a gift to the people in 1925. Both Bangkok citizens and visitors love it.
The park is beautifully maintained and perfect for a stroll, relaxing on the grass, or one of its benches. There is a large lake in the center of the park where you can watch the locals paddle around on swan-shaped boats or rent a boat and have a go yourself.
If you feel like some exercise, there are exercise machines scattered around the park for free use, and the park is a popular place to go for an afternoon run.
And if you visit it in the afternoon, around 17-18 o’clock, you can participate in the aerobics taking place in the park. Great fun!
By the way, if you are in a public park at 6 pm (18), you will hear a song being played over the speaker that freezes everyone in their tracks. Don’t freak out. It is a song played every day at 6 pm in tribute to his majesty, the king. Just do as the locals, stand still until the song finishes.
READ MORE: Lumphini Park – Bangkok’s Green Oasis
Lumphini has always been considered Bangkok’s largest park. Still, with the new expansions of Benjakitti Park, it is now the city’s largest park by some margin.
The new Benjakitti Forrest Park expansion opened in 2022 and is a spectacular addition to the existing park with elevated walkways, an area for rare and unusual plants, several bicycle paths, and an outdoor amphitheater.
The Benjakitti Forrest Park expansion has transformed what was once a slightly dull park into a beautifully landscaped green forest. The elevated walkways have fantastic views of the park and Bangkok’s skyline, and it is a great place to watch the sunset.
Other highlights include the large pond at the center of the old park, and if you’re lucky, you might spot one of the monitor lizards that live there.
6. Jodd Fairs Night Market
No visit to Bangkok is complete without an evening at a night market. Bangkok has several excellent night markets, which make for a fun evening out with a mix of shopping, food, and entertainment.
In the last couple of years, quite a few of Bangkok’s night markets have had to close down, but thankfully some have reopened in different locations and under different names. The new Jodd Fairs market is the successor to the famous Ratchada Talat Rot Fai Train Market, which is now sadly closed.
Thankfully Jodd Fairs Market is a fantastic replacement and is also fairly centrally located and easily accessible by public transportation. In addition, this market has a retro vibe that is apparent from the moment you step inside and see the vintage American cars on display.
The many stalls sell all kinds of stuff, from typical market nick nacks like t-shirts, amulets, and mobile phone covers to vintage retro clothes and kitschy antiques.
However, for us, the highlight of the Jodd Fairs market is the food! There is a huge range of food stalls selling mount watering dishes and treats and several cool food trucks and mobile VW-van-based bars and pubs. It is more than just a market; it is a hip and relaxed place to hang out and meet people. Great fun and a must-visit even if you are not a big shopper.
Quick Tip: If you have the time, another excellent night market is the original train market, Srinakarin Train Market. It’s a vast market with a lot more shops than Jodd Fair. Here you can find all kinds of fabulous antiques and retro shops specializing in vinyl, old cameras, and collectibles. Unfortunately, it is quite far from the city center so you’ll need a taxi/grab. See our market guide for more on Srinakarin Train Market.
READ MORE: For more about the city’s many markets, see our guide to the 13 best markets in Bangkok.
7. Drinks At A Rooftop Bar
Let the wind blow through your hair while you admire the magnificent view of Bangkok’s skyline. It’s the perfect ending to a visit to Bangkok, and it will surely make you love this city and long to return.
There is also a restaurant on the rooftop of Banyan Tree – Vertigo. We celebrated Maria’s mom’s birthday there, and the steak was excellent.
There are several rooftop bars in Bangkok. We also like the rooftop bar at the Muse Hotel and the Skybar Sirocco on the 63rd floor of the Dome at State Tower, made famous by the movie Hangover 2.
If You Have More Days – Day Trips From Bangkok
If you have more than three days in Bangkok, there are plenty of exciting places around the city that you can visit on a day trip.
Ayuthaya Ancient City – A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The ancient city of Ayutthaya is beautiful and well worth a visit, a 1-hour drive from central Bangkok. The old capital city Aythaya of Thailand (then called Siam), was once the world’s richest and most cosmopolitan city. It was a bustling kingdom city from 1351 until the Burmese brutally invaded Siam in 1767.
Today, you find about a dozen or so ruins of beautiful stone-carved temples, stupas, and buildings in Ayutthaya. It is the perfect place to get a glimpse into the glorious past and rich merchant history of Thailand. The two biggest temple complexes are Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Wat Mahathat Temple is, however, Ayutthaya’s most photographed and Instagram-famous. Here you find the famous sandstone Buddha head tangled within the roots of a bodhi tree.
The Historic City of Ayutthaya was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Ayuthaya is also famous for its many fantastic markets. We particularly love the Ayutthaya Night Market. It is a weekend walking street market with boat rides, musicians, and sword battle shows, in addition to all sorts of delicious street food of course. The market is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 16:30/ 4:30 pm until 22:00/ 10 pm.
There are several Ayutthaya tours to choose from, here are our favorites:
- From Bangkok: Ayutthaya & Ayothaya Floating Market Day Trip
This full-day Ayutthaya tour (8 hours), takes you from Bangkok to Ayuthaya. Here you will see the old Grand Palace – Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, Ayothaya Floating Market (where you will have lunch and go on a boat trip on the canal), as well as the two most popular temples Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and Wat Maha That (with the Buddha stone head inside the Bodhi tree).
Click here for info and prices on the Ayutthaya & Ayothaya Floating Market Tour (Get Your Guide)
- From Bangkok: Ayutthaya Temples Small-Group Tour with Lunch
A full-day Ayutthaya tour (6 – 9,5 hours), where you get to visit four of Ayutthaya’s most famous temples and ruins. This tour includes a delicious Thai food lunch at a local restaurant.
Click here for info and prices on the Ayutthaya Temples Tour (Get Your Guide)
- From Bangkok: Ayutthaya Private Full-Day UNESCO Trip
You can also go on a private full-day tour to Ayutthaya (no other tourists) to get the ultimate experience. A licensed English-speaking guide will pick you up at your Bangkok hotel, and he/ she will take you to all the main temples and ruines of Ayutthaya. To fully learn about the history of the Siam kingdom, you will also visit the National Museum of Ayutthaya.
Click here for info and prices on the private Ayutthaya Unesco Tour (Get Your Guide)
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Bangkok’s most famous floating market is Damnoen Saduak. The market is located in Ratchaburi Province, about a 1,5-hour drive from central Bangkok. It is one of Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions, both among Thais and foreign tourists, so it can be quite packed, especially on weekends.
The Damnoen Saduak Canal was constructed between 1866 and 1868 by order of King Rama IV to connect the two big rivers Mae Klong and Tha Chin for trading. The 32 km (20 mi) long canal soon became a bustling floating market, called Lad Plee Market. The market, which was just next to a Buddhist temple, was active until 1967 when it closed down as transportation of goods and people on roads took over for canal transportation.
A few years later, however, in 1971, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) reopened the Lad Pee Market as a tourist attraction. Today’s Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is on the Ton Canal and was opened in 1981 by private entrepreneurs.
The floating market consists of wooden boats anchored up along a maze of narrow canals. Here you can buy everything from fruits, vegetables, souvenirs, food, drinks, and snacks.
Fun fact: This floating market has been featured in several movies. You can see it in a canal chase scene in the James Bond movie “The Man with the Golden Gun” (from 1974) with Roger Moore. And the movie “Bangkok Dangerous” (from 2008) with Nicolas Cage.
The Damnoen Floating Market is a morning market, open every day 07:00 am – 12 am.
You can choose from a lot of tours to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, here are our favorites:
- From Bangkok: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
This half-day tour (6 hours) takes you from central Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. An authorized English-speaking guide will explain everything you need to know about the market and guide you through what to buy and what food to try. On your way to the market, you will make a quick stop at a traditional Thai house, where you can see locals making brown coconut sugar at a coconut plantation.
Click here for info and prices on the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Bangkok: Damnoen Saduak Market and Maeklong Railway Market
This 6-hour tour combines a visit to two of Bangkok’s most iconic markets: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and the famous Maeklong Railway Market where actual trains run between the stalls. You can choose this tour as either a shared group tour or a private guided experience. An authorized English-speaking guide will guide you through the two markets.
Click here for info and prices on the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market + Maeklong Railway Market
Ancient Siam & Erawan Museum
A day trip to Ancient Siam (sometimes referred to as Ancient City, Mueang Boran) is another of our favorites. Ancient Siam is the world’s largest open-air museum and park, with hundreds of temples and buildings from every corner of Thailand. If you are into photography, it is a must-visit. We spent a whole day at Ancient Siam, where we rented bicycles and cycled around the big park and museum.
Close to Ancient Siam, is the Erawan Museum with its gigantic three-headed elephant. The elephant is made of bronze, weighing 250 tons, 29 meters high, and 39 meters long. It stands on a huge 15-meter high pedestal where you find the two lower floors of the museum. The museum’s top floor is inside the big elephant belly.
The museum is modeled after the Hindu representation of the universe. Here you get to see an impressive collection of antiquities and ancient religious objects. Erawan Museum and Ancient Siam are both constructed by Lek Viriyaphan (1914-2000), a Bangkok-born eccentric Thai businessman and millionaire with a huge interest in Thai culture and history.
It takes about 30 min to drive from central Bangkok to Erawan Museum, and 45 min to drive from central Bangkok to Ancient Siam. You can either take a taxi or use Grab. Or you can pre-book a private transfer:
- Bangkok: Private Transfer to Ancient City & Erawan Museum
This private transfer takes you from your hotel in Bangkok to Erawan Museum and Ancient City (a full day, 8 hours), and back to your hotel in the afternoon. Included are also tickets to both museums. You select the departure time (between 08:30 and 11:00 am).
Click here for info and prices on the Ancient City + Erawan Museum Private Transfer
- Ancient City Muang Boran Ticket with Private Transfer Option
This private transfer takes you directly to Ancient City and includes the entrance ticket and transport from and back to your hotel in Bangkok. You select the departure time (between 09:00 am and 17:00/ 5 pm).
Click here for info and prices on the Ancient City Ticket + Private Transfer
Our three-day itinerary is packed with what we consider the “heart” of Bangkok. Three days is in our opinion not enough time to spend in this magnificent city. A week is more what we recommend, then you have time to really enjoy yourself and your time in Bangkok and also have some time to relax.
There is so much to do and see in this fantastic city. If you like markets, read our guide to Bangkok’s great markets.
Or enjoy a romantic evening dinner cruise on the beautiful Chao Praya river while the sun casts its last golden rays on the ancient temples.
The options and variety of things to do in Bangkok are almost endless! I hope you enjoy this city as much as we do!
Where To Stay In Bangkok
Bangkok offers a wide selection of accommodation for all budgets, and you will have plenty of choices when it comes to finding the right place to stay.
Bangkok is pretty affordable when it comes to accommodation, so you can get some really good deals and even find five stars hotels very cheap compared to other places in the world. However, accommodation prices do vary greatly with the season.
Below are some of our favorite hotels in Bangkok. We have stayed at all of the hotels below.
If you’d like to stay along the river without breaking the bank, the Avani Riverside hotel is a great alternative to the usual riverside luxury hotels. Rooms are super comfortable with fantastic views overlooking the Chao Phraya River and the fantastic rooftop infinity pool is probably our favorite in Bangkok.
Click here for latest prices
Hotel Muse is a cool and unique boutique hotel, perfectly located in the center of Bangkok within easy walking distance of Chit Lom Skytrain station. The rooms are elegant with a classic Thai inspired decor, comfortable beds and gorgeous bathrooms with a deep bathtub.. There is a rooftop bar, a pool and a fitness center. We spent Christmas here a few years ago, and was very happy with our choice of hotel.
Click here for latest prices
If you’re looking for a mid-range option close to Bangkok’s famous Khao San area, then the Casa Nithra comes highly recommended. The rooftop swimming pool is lovely, the rooms comfortable and the breakfast has plenty of options. It’s located in a quiet area, yet Khao San is just an easy walk away.
Click here for latest prices
Hotel Icon is a small hotel centrally located on Sukhumvit road. The rooms are fresh and modern, big and comfortable with all the usual comforts such as flat-screen tv, aircon, and free Wi-Fi. The rooftop swimming pool is great!
Click here for latest prices
⇒ For more accommodation options and tips on which areas of Bangkok that suit you best, read our complete guide to where to stay in Bangkok.
What To Bring To Bangkok
Bangkok is hot all year round and gets very humid during the rainy season from June to October. Below are some of the essentials you need before heading to Bangkok, along with some links to Amazon.com for more information.
- Travel Insurance - Bangkok has some excellent international hospitals, but they aren't cheap. In fact, Thailand is among the worlds most expensive places to be hospitalized. With travel insurance costing just a few dollars a day and potentially saving you thousands of dollars if something happens, you really can't afford to go without. We've used World Nomads in the past, and they offer an excellent service for backpackers, vacationers and short-term travelers alike. Read why we never travel without insurance.
- Map - A good map of Bangkok is a must. Our favorite map is The Groovy Map to Bangkok. The map is accurate, durable, and also contains Skytrain & MRT maps, plus it has a lot of great tips about what to see and do in Bangkok by people that have lived there and know the city. It's really like a mini travel guide in map form.
- Filtered Water Bottle - The tap water in Bangkok is not safe to drink. To help save the environment and reduce the serious problem of plastic bottle waste, consider bringing a filtered water bottle such as the Lifestraw Filtered Water Bottle.
- Noice canceling headphones - While not strictly necessary, I'm not getting on a 10+ hour flight again without my noise canceling headphones!
- Sunscreen - Sunscreen lotion often contain whitening in Thailand, so bring some from home.
- Walking sandals - A good pair of walking shoes are an absolute must. We have been using our Teva sandals for years.
- Clothes for temples - For entry into religious temples and the Kings Palace you need to wear long trousers and a top/ t-shirt that covers your shoulders. We recommend getting something light and breathable that packs down small.
- Power adapter - Make sure you can use your electronic devices in Thailand by bringing a travel power adapter. Our favorite is the FosPower Fuse. It is small, light and sturdy and can also charge USB devices.
- Sunglasses - Bring a good pair of sunglasses.
- Walk around day pack - A small walk around day pack is highly recommended. We travel with Osprey travel backpacks; that comes with a useful detachable daypack. For stand-alone daypacks, we like the Pacsafe Venturesafe with its anti-theft design.
- Camera - Don't forget a camera to document your adventures in Bangkok! Check out our article on what camera gear to bring traveling for our recommendations 🙂
We used the Lonely Planet`s Thailand travel guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below which will take you to Amazon.com (affiliate links):
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Have you been to Bangkok? Do you agree with our three-day Bangkok itinerary? What would you recommend for a first-time visitor to Bangkok? Please leave a comment below. If you liked this and found it helpful, please share it on social media. Thanks! 🙂