The famous Reclining Buddha at the must-see Wat Pho temple
One Day in Bangkok
If you only have one day in Bangkok, see the most iconic attractions, sample some of the food and experience a little of the nightlife.
Start early in the morning and head to the Old City. Your first stop should be the Grand Palace, where you can spend anywhere between one to two hours. Then walk just a few feet to Wat Pho, home to the famous Reclining Buddha. From there, head to the Tha Tien pier and cross the river to another landmark temple, the Wat Arun. After climbing its towers and taking a few photos, wait for another boat, this time to go down the river, to the Sathorn pier. There you can either connect to the BTS Skytrain (Saphan Taksin station) and lunch at one of the malls in Siam (exiting at the station of the same name), or wait for the free shuttle boat to ICONSIAM. It departs every 10 minutes, and, once there, you have several places to eat, shop, and take selfies with the city as backdrop.
After lunch, visit the Jim Thompson House. If you’re in Siam, you may actually walk there; if you decided to head to ICONSIAM, go back to the Sathorn pier for the BTS Skytrain and exit at the National Stadium station.
Your visit should last about one hour, and from there you should head back to the BTS Skytrain, at the National Stadium station. Go all the way to the Sala Daeng station, where you should connect to the Si Lom station of MRT metro, and exit at the Hua Lamphong station, which is just a short walk from the Temple of the Golden Buddha.
After marveling at the statue made of solid gold, head up Yaowarat Road, which is Chinatown’s main road, and browse the many markets and sample some of the street food.
End your day at the top of the city, at the observation deck of the King Power Mahanakhon Tower, with its famous Skywalk. From Chinatown, you may walk back to the Hua Lamphong station of the MRT metro, or, if you walked up Yaowarat Road, you may now be closer to Wat Mangkon station. Exit at Si Lom station, from where you can walk down Silom Road and then turn to the King Power Mahanakhon Tower.
After dinner, head up one of the rooftop bars, or, if you’re curious, see what the notorious nights of Patpong or Soi Cowboy are all about.
Art gallery at the Chatuchak Market, which is the city's most popular attraction on weekends.
2 Days in Bangkok
Day 1: Start your day early, in the Old City. Your first stop should be Wat Pho, followed by the Grand Palace and the National Museum up the road. These three major attractions should take about four hours to visit, so it may now be lunch time. Walk 10 to 15 minutes from the National Museum to Khao San Road, Bangkok’s most famous street. You’ll find several places to eat and drink, and if you like the lively and cosmopolitan vibe of the place, return at night, when it’s essentially one big party.
Now refreshed and reenergized, walk back in the direction of the National Museum, and visit Wat Mahatat nearby. It’s one of the city’s most peaceful temples (with very few tourists), and across the street is a fascinating amulet market.
Continue walking past the Grand Palace, and, at the Tha Tien pier, hop on a boat that crosses the river to Wat Arun. This is one of Bangkok’s most iconic sights, and you can spend about one hour on your visit.
Then hop on another boat and go all the way to the Sathorn pier, which connects to the Saphan Taksin station of the BTS Skytrain. Exit the train at the National Stadium station, and walk to the Jim Thompson House. After touring the house and gardens, take the BTS Skytrain once again, this time to Chong Nonsi station. Right outside is the King Power MahaNakhon Tower, with its breathtaking observation deck. It’s the perfect spot for a sunset view of the city.
Back on the BTS Skytrain, go for just two stops to Saphan Taksin, where you once again take a boat from Sathorn pier. This time it’s a free shuttle -- the boat of ICONSIAM that departs every ten minutes. This shopping and entertainment complex is an attractive place for dinner, after taking a few photos of the Bangkok skyline and watching the dancing fountains show.
Before your much-needed rest in bed, relax with a drink at one of the city’s rooftop bars.
Day 2: If it’s a Saturday or Sunday, head to the Chatuchak Market, but if it’s a weekday, join a tour and head to the famous Damnoen Saduak floating market outside the city. Just remember that for both attractions you’ll have to wake up early. Alternatively, start your day in Chinatown. To get there, take the MRT subway to Hua Lamphong station, and visit Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, nearby. After the jaw-dropping sight of the huge Buddha made of solid gold, go up the neighborhood’s main street, Yaowarat Road. It’s parallel to Sampeng Lane, which is home to one of the city’s biggest markets. Spend some time browsing, then walk up a few blocks to the atmospheric Wat Mangkon Kamalawat temple. It’s worth a short visit, and from there you may either try Chinatown’s famous street food, or take the MRT subway (the station has the name of the temple) to Siam (that’s where you have several shopping malls with an outstanding variety of quality restaurants, while also allowing you to escape the afternoon heat outside). Exit the MRT at Si Lom station, where you connect to the Sala Daeng station of the BTS Skytrain to Siam. After lunch, take the covered elevated walkway beneath the Skytrain tracks that links the different malls, and stop at the Erawan Shrine, one of the city’s most sacred sites.
If you went to the Chatuchak Market or the Damnoen Saduak floating market in the morning, head to Chinatown in the afternoon, following the itinerary above, and end with dinner in Siam, following the same instructions. If you followed that Chinatown and Siam itinerary in the morning, you may want to visit a trio of neighboring temples after lunch.
It’s better to take a taxi, as the nearest MRT station is about a 15-20-minute walk away. If you don’t mind the walk, just go back on the BTS Skytrain from the Erawan Shrine (walk to Siam station), exiting at Sala Daeng, to connect to the Si Lom station of the MRT subway. Your stop is Wat Mangkon, from where you walk to Worachak Road, and from there to Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount. It’s one of Bangkok’s most distinctive temples, and just steps from Wat Ratchanatdaram, with its splendid architecture. The third temple nearby (just a 5- to 10-minute walk away) is Wat Suthat, with the landmark Giant Swing outside.
You now deserve a break, so take a taxi to a rooftop bar for a sunset drink, or back to your hotel (if you stayed at a hotel with pool, why not go for a swim before dinner?). Your alternative to the taxi is walking for about 15 to 20 minutes from Wat Suthat to the Tha Chang pier and taking the boat to your destination or to connect to the BTS Skytrain at Sathorn pier. You may also want to take this opportunity to go on a river cruise.
After dinner, join locals and tourists at the bars in Sukhumvit (Soi Cowboy is the unavoidable stop) -- just exit the BTS Skytrain at Asok station or the MRT subway at Sukhumvit station. Or, if you prefer, browse the night market in Patpong and take a peek at the raunchy bars on the same street.
One of Ayutthaya's many temples
3 Days in Bangkok
For days 1 and 2, follow the suggested itineraries above, and on the third day take a day trip to Ayutthaya. Upon returning to Bangkok, take a boat to Asiatique, the riverfront dining, shopping and entertainment complex. The boat is free, and departs from the Sathorn pier outside the Saphan Taksin station of the BTS Skytrain. The journey takes about 15 minutes. Enjoy the alfresco dining and the views, and stay for a show at the famed “ladyboys” cabaret or ride the riverside Ferris wheel.
Lumphini, Bangkok's "Central Park"
More than 3 Days or One Week in Bangkok
You can easily spend an entire week in Bangkok and, since this is a “resort city,” that’s exactly what many travelers do. On a fourth day, if you visited the weekend market or the floating market on the 2-day itinerary above, you may choose to visit the trio of neighboring temples described in the same itinerary. If you been there done that, consider a visit to the Erawan Museum. Although it’s technically outside the city, it can be reached by BTS Skytrain, and it’s quite a sight.
If you enjoyed the temple-hopping, add another to your list, the Marble Temple (Wat Benchamabhopit). If you want to explore more of the local culture and history, visit the Siam Museum and the Bangkokian Museum, and if you’re into contemporary art, don’t miss the MOCA Museum and the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.
Whenever you need a refreshing break in the city, head to its “Central Park,” Lumphini Park, which is a short walk from the Snake Farm. See other green spaces in our guide to parks in Bangkok.
If you enjoy shopping, explore several of the city’s malls and the shops around Siam Square.
For some pampering, try a traditional Thai massage, and if you want to get your feet wet, head to one of the nearest beaches.