Let me be perfectly honest with you guys…visiting Bangkok in only two days is a real challenge.
Indeed, it would be better to stay in the city for at least 5 days, considering its many must-see (the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, the gorgeous Ayutthaya, the town of Lopburi and the fascinating Kanchanaburi).
No travel itinerary in Bangkok is the same. It all depends on the budget and time you’ve got at your disposal. If you’re staying in the capital of Thailand for just two days, bear in mind you’ll have to set off early in the morning, be ready to walk for hours and come back to the hotel late at night, possibly knackered.
Amongst some of the most famous must-see of Bangkok there are the Wat Pho, the Gran Palace, the Wat Aroun, Wat Phra Khew and Wat Saket, the Jim Thompson House and, why not, a short visit to the MBK Shopping Mall. The Wats I’ve just mentioned are only a few of the temples in the city which are well worth visiting.
If you’re passionate about the Buddhist culture, Thailand and Chiang Mai (read also: the best things to do in Chiang Mai) are undoubtedly the perfect place for you.
In this post you can find my 2-day-itinerary in Bangkok. It’s a full immersion itinerary in which I’ll leave the historical and cultural aspect aside, as I often do, (you can discover much more about it on dedicated websites or on any travel guide), to primarily focus on the most practical and useful information to travel around the city.
Where to stay in Bangkok
Before diving in what makes Bangkok unique, I would like to recommend a hotel which I personally found ideal to visit the city. Being just a few metres from the last stop of the Airport City Link, Bangkok City Hotel (click to see the hotel) enables visitors to be more flexible, in both arrival and departure times. Its rooms are spotlessly clean and the customer service is excellent.
Suggestion: try to get a room on the top floor, the view from there it’s really breath-taking.
What to see in Bangkok and how to get around it
As I was saying, visiting all the thing to do in Bangkok is a real challenge, yet it is not impossible to accomplish. If you wish to do so, please keep reading and have a look at my travel itinerary, It mights come in handy!
If Bangkok is the first city you’re visiting in Thailand, you can reach it from Suvarnabhumi Airport. The best way to reach the capital is by getting a PRIVATE TRANSFER to your hotel or use the Airport City Link. The City Line makes six stops between the airport and Phaya Thai Station, thus it surely represents the perfect alternative to buses and taxis to get in and out of Bangkok.
The ticket for the Airport City Link is actually a small token which you can get from the many automatic vending machines you’ll find onsite. To enter the platform, simply tap the token at the gates, easy peasy, right?! The fare is 45 baht (2020) and the ride takes about 30 minutes.
Once you’ve got off at Phaya Thai, you’ll immediately be thrown into Bangkok’s everyday life. The very first impression is of an unbearably humid, chaotic, trafficked and rich in street-side grills city. At the beginning you might be a bit nauseated because of its particular smells and scents, but you’ll soon grow accustomed to it and, in the end, you might even find it a fascinating characteristic of the city.
Just a few metres away from Phaya Thai stop, you can get onto the BTS Sukhumvit Line to reach Bangkok city centre. If you want to get a taxi, there are many different companies and cars you can opt for, don’t worry.
For more information on how to get a taxi in Bangkok, please read Transportation in Bangkok: How to Take a Taxi
Bangkok: things to do in 2 days – First day
A must see in Bangkok that cannot be excluded from your itinerary is the Grand Palace with the Wat Phra Khew and Wat Pho.
Respect tips: there are a few rules of temple etiquette that you should know before visiting one of the many Wats. Firstly, your legs and shoulders should be covered, so keep a big scarf, a shawl or a sarong in your backpack. If you’ve forgotten to take something to cover yourselves up, you can rent a pair of pants across the street from the entrance.
Not only does this brief itinerary around Bangkok include visiting temples, but it also offer you the possibility of enjoying a river cruise along the Chao Phraya River.
To get to the Chao Phraya River, take the BTS Silom and get off at Saphan Taskin, the closest stop to the river. Take the Exit n.2 and follow the directions to the Sathorn Pier. It will only take you a few minutes to reach the ticket office (if needed, there’s also a bureau de change just next to it).
The Chao Phraya River is definitely not one of the cleanest rivers I’ve ever seen, but cruising it was still very fascinating.
If you decided to see the Grand Palace, get off at Tha Chang. If, instead, you opted for a visit to the Wat Pho, stop at Tha Tien.
I’d personally recommend visiting the Grand Palace first. Then, if you wish to, you could have a look at the Wat Pho as it’s only a short 10-minute-walk from the Gran Palace.
The admissions to the Grand Palace close at 3.30 pm, but the tourists visiting it can do so until 4.30 pm. Once past this time, the guards will start whistling to tell the visitors that they must walk towards the exit and leave the temple.
The Admission to the Gran Palace costs 500 baht (2020)
Be careful: if you’re visiting the Grand Palace in the afternoon, when walking towards the entrance, you might be approached by some friendly and smily Tuk-Tuk drivers. Between one question and another, they might tell you that the Grand Palace is now closed and you won’t be able to visit it. At this point, they will tell you to come the next morning and offer you a ride around the most characteristic places in Bangkok. Needless to say, try to avoid this crafty scam which may cost you a lot of money.
When inside the Gran Palace, you can also see the Wat Phra Kaew which hosts the tiny Emerald Buddha.
As you may already know, the Buddha statues in Thailand are countless: there are giant or really tiny ones, those covered in gold, others made with precious stones, some sitting on a cushion, others with closed eyes and pointed ears… In short, there are Buddhas to suit everybody’s tastes.
In Thailand, nearly all the inhabitants are Buddhist and this religion plays an important role in their everyday life. I personally found the devotion of people kneeled in front of the many statues of Buddha very fascinating and the rigorous silence of people walking in procession and praying very overwhelming. When visiting Chiang Mai, a much more quiet place compared to Bangkok, I almost felt compelled to be part of that silence and decided to sit down for a few minutes enjoying a moment in complete quietness and peacefulness.
Lets go back to our 2 or 3 days Itinerary in Bangkok…
The visit to the Grand Palace will certainly take up a considerable amount of time. It is indeed a huge complex of buildings which needs 2 or 3 hours to be visited thoroughly.
Once you’ve done with the Grand Palace, you can then start walking towards the Wat Pho. The admission price is 100 baht and the ticket includes a free bottle of water. Considering how hot and humid it can get in Thailand, this is, without a shadow of doubt, a very appreciated little gift.
The Wat Pho is home to the famous Reclining Buddha, it’s a 15 metres tall, 46 metres long and completely covered in gold statue of the “awakened one”.
The Wat Pho, though, isn’t only the temple which hosts a giant Buddha, but also a stunning site with Buddhist monks telling parables and with a massage school where tourists can enjoy a relaxing massage given by Thai students who are still practicing to master this art. As for the cost of a massage, if I remember correctly, it was about 250 baht for an hour. This is unquestionably a very cheap price compared to what we are used to in our more occidental countries.
Suggestion: the queue to get a massage can be very long (you might have to wait for more than an hour), so be prepared because a great deal of patience is certainly required.
After Grand Palace and Wat Pho
After visiting the Grand Palace and the Wat Pho, the only thing left to see is the Wat Arun which is situated on the opposite bank of the river. To get to the Wat Arun, take the ferry from the Tha Tien Pier (the ride across takes about 2 minutes). Unfortunately, as I didn’t have much time, I wasn’t able to visit the Wat Arun and I’m therefore unable to tell you much about it. Many other travel bloggers highly recommend hiring a long tail boat and cruise around the Thonburi Canal, which allows tourists to see a unique side of Bangkok.
Bangkok Night: Khao San Road
As the night gets closer, I’d suggest going to Khao San Road to see it taking off from the moment the sun sets. Indeed, Khao San Road has a great party atmosphere and it offers, without doubts, the best night life in Bangkok.
The road is closed to traffic and is packed with food stalls pretty much everywhere. Take your time, stroll around its many shops and when you’re hungry, go looking for the street food stall that suits you best.
With just a few bahts, you’ll be served a massive plate of whatever it is that you’ve ordered. Whilst sipping a beer and munching on your Thai street food, stop for a while and admire people coming and going the enchanting Khao San Road.
Bangkok: things to do in 2 days – Second day
Needless to say, waking up early in the morning is pretty much obvious if you’re staying in Bangkok for just two days. Have some breakfast (try a plate of noodles with onions if you want to feel Thai) and get ready to walk.
On the itinerary today: the Jim Thompson House, the Wat Saket, Chinatown, the MBK Shopping Mall and, hopefully, you’ll still have some time to squeeze in something else.
Visiting the Jim Thompson House
To visit the Jim Thompson House, take the BTS Silom and get off at the last stop called National Stadium. This place is a “Bangkok must see” and It will only take you 5 minutes from here to the museum. The Jim Thompson House is the home of James H.W. Thompson, an American entrepreneur who made a fortune in the Thai silk business.
The admission cost is 150 baht with the guided tour included. Once you’ve decided if to go for a tour in French or in English, you’ll be given a ticket with the time your tour starts at. Whilst you wait for the tour to begin, you can stroll around the enchanting garden and marvel at all the different plant and animal species hosted there. Jim Thompson’s house is gorgeous, he really had taste for architecture!
Just a small point: understanding a Thai guide speaking in English won’t be that easy. As you might know, Thai people tend not to pronounce the “R”s when talking in English, so you’ll need to make a small effort in trying to make out what they’re actually saying. Despite a few problems in understanding the guide, our Jim Thompson House’s tour (which lasted about one hour and a half) was really interesting and fascinating.
La casa è molto bella, Jim Thompson aveva proprio buon gusto, i colori sono caldi e già di per sé il tek contribuisce parecchio. La visita prosegue lungo tutte le stanze e la guida continua a raccontarvi tutto quanto concerne ogni aspetto della casa.
Chinatown, Wat Saket and MBK Shopping Centre
After your visit to the Jim Thompson House, you could either have a walk around Chinatown or visit the Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount.
Once you’ve paid for your admission ticket, start climbing the many steps in front of you to reach the top of the Wat Saket. The view from high up above is not one of the most spectacular, but it’s still definitely worth it.
I’d also recommend visiting Siam Square so as to get another view of Bangkok. This area isn’t amongst the most ancient ones, but it will give you the possibility of seeing a different, yet unique aspect of the capital. Indeed, Bangkok is a city where poor areas crammed with tall skyscrapers are immediately followed by other richer ones full of Wats and shopping centres where to buy anything you could possibly think. This is exactly the case of Siam Square with its huge Siam Paragon or MBK Shopping Centre. If you’ve got enough time, have a walk around one of them. You’ll certainly found something to remind you of your trip to Thailand to take home with you.
Lebua State Tower: looking Bangkok by night
As for what to do on your second night in Bangkok, I’d surely go for a drink in one of the many Sky Bars scattered around the city. The Sky Bars are posh and elegant rooftop bars where people can eat and sip their cocktails surrounded by a unique atmosphere and panorama. One of the most popular SkyBar is the Sirocco, situated on the 63 rd floor of the Lebua State Tower.
This bar/restaurant became famous all around the world for being used as the set for many scenes in the movie “The Hangover 2”. Needless to say, the Sirocco is a very expensive restaurant, perfect for a candle light dinner with the person you’re in love with. And to refresh yourselves a bit, just grab a cold beer or fancy cocktail from the circular bar and enjoy a breath-taking view over Bangkok.
To get to the Sirocco Rooftop Restaurant take the BTS Silom and get off Saphan Taskin (the same stop to get to the Chao river). The bar is just 5 minutes away by walking. Once arrived at the Lebua State Tower, get inside it and walk along the entrance hall until you get to the queue where many people are waiting to get up to the Sirocco restaurant/bar. It is impossible not to see it, given how long if often gets!
If you wish to have dinner at the Sirocco restaurant, you’ll have to book for a table. If, instead, you just want to get up there for a short visit and a quick drink, there’s no need to book in advance. Just pay attention to the smart casual dress code the restaurant adheres to: avoid sport uniforms, slippers, beach sandals, flip-flops as well as sleeveless clothing and short and open shoes for gentlemen.
At the top of the Lebua State Tower, the view of Bangkok will leave you speechless.
The prices, as you may expect, are really high: I got a pint of beer and paid 400 baht for it, taxes excluded. Apart from the expensive prices, a short visit to the Sirocco bar is really worth it, especially for the view it offers. Bangkok from high up above seems like another city: no bad smells, no pollution and thousands of skyscraper rooftops. From the Sirocco bar you’ll also be able to clearly spot the BTS Skytrain as well as the Chao river.
The Sirocco Bar is opened until 1.00 am. Be careful! Being an open-air bar, in case of heavy rain the Sirocco stays closed, whilst if it’s only drizzling, it remains open and this will contribute in making your experience even more interesting (that’s what happened to me).
Once you’ve got off the lift (which seems more like a rocket as it only takes it about 10 seconds to go back to the ground floor), you’ll be once again immersed into the real Bangkok with its particular smells and its incessant hustle and bustle.
To get back to the hotel you might need a taxi. Watch out! At night, the taxi drivers refuse to turn the taximeter on to then negotiate a price which will be much more than the one you’d have to pay if the meter had been switched on. If you want more information and tips, read “how to get a taxi in Bangkok”.
If you find the 2-day-itinerary I suggested above excessively concise, I’d definitely recommend staying in Bangkok and enjoying the capital city for, at least, one more day.