Thailand has been a bucket list destination of mine since I could remember and last month I finally traveled to Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket with two friends for an unforgettable adventure. The main thing I learned is that Bangkok may not be the prettiest location in Thailand, but it’s home to an incredible amount of history, culture, architecture, and food. Despite all of the delicious dishes available throughout the country, I found Bangkok to have by far the best street food, leading me to be a bit overly adventurous (I ate a cricket).
Filled with a mix of ancient temples, vibrant streets, crowded markets, great shopping and friendly locals - here's my itinerary and suggestions on how to spend three days in Bangkok.
Day 1: Temples...Lots of Temples!
The Grand Palace & the Emerald Buddha
Wat Benchamabophit: The Marble Temple (pictured above)
Wat Pho: Temple of the Reclining Buddha & Thai Massages
It's hard to choose a favorite when all of these temples are incredibly beautiful, leaving me completely in awe. The detail that's put into these temples are mind-blowing and no pictures can do it justice. However, some of the famous temples can get extremely crowded with tourists, which is why the Marble Temple stood out to us the most with its peaceful and quiet ambiance.
The Grand Palace, with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, hosts some of Thailand's most sacred sites. The dress code is very strict; all must cover shoulders and legs before entering. It's better to go early in the morning to avoid crowds, but it's totally worth the visit since the craftsmanship in the architecture is absolutely stunning.
An easy 10-15 minute walk from there is Wat Pho, famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures over 150 feet and is covered in gold leaf. I recommend going to Wat Pho second and take the time to wander this complex. Wat Pho is the national headquarters for the preservation and teaching of traditional Thai massage. If you’ve never had a proper Thai massage before the experience can come as a bit of a shock. Incorporating yoga style postures to relieve stress and improve blood circulation, their treatments start as low as $10 USD for one hour.
After that, head across the river to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and get gorgeous views of the city from atop the temple.
Day 2: River Cruise + Night Food Tour
Start your day taking a Tuk Tuk to a nearby port where you can catch a relaxing boat tour to view the historical landmarks along the Chao Phraya River, which divides ancient Thailand from the present day metropolis of Bangkok. You do not need to book it in advance, they have private boats that come every 10-20 minutes. Like all urban rivers, the history of the Chao Phraya is intertwined with the city it flows through. It's a great way to see everything, without walking a ton. A perk of this ride was the floating boat that came up next to us and sold us some athentic Thai beers!
We took a Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk with Bangkok Food Tours to explore the best local eateries with a guide who knows the city like the back of their hand. I'm so glad we decided to book this because it was a fun way to discover authentic food shops that I normally would have missed.
We met our group at Chamchuri Square where we were greeted by our local tour guide who was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic the entire time. In between restaurants and street food stands, we also visited iconic temples and markets, giving us a unique night-time perspective on the sites, while (most importantly) making room for more food. Later in the night, she took us for a drink at her "secret spot" which had a spectacular view of Wat Arun. My two favorite stops were Thip Samai Pad Thai and Ann Guay Tiew Kua Gai. Thip Samai is one of the most famous Pad Thai restaurants in Bangkok and can't be missed. You may have to wait for a table, but it's fun to watch them make the dishes outside while waiting.
Day 3: Floating Market + Khao San Road
One of the most popular things to do in Bangkok is visit a floating market and there are quite a few markets to choose from. Definitely get there early to avoid crowds, but go on an empty stomach (these markets are great for foodies). Later on, head to Thailand's most popular night spot, Khao San Road. It's filled with endless bars, shopping, food and a great way to meet other travelers.
WHERE TO STAY FOR 3 DAYS IN BANGKOK?
Whether you're staying in a luxury resort, hostel or boutique hotel in a new city, I find that one of the most important things is the location. Hotel Indigo Bangkok, located in the city center, is a luxury boutique hotel that is within walking distance to the main shopping mall and local markets, and only a 15-20 minute drive to the temples. Between the 24-hour room service, friendly and welcoming staff, the AMAZING BREAKFAST and coffee shop - I never wanted to leave! The stunning infinity pool overlooking the entire city was pretty unreal. Hotel Indigo Bangkok combines local culture and modern colorful design. Their unique "neighborhood" restaurant, Metro on Wireless, ties in traditional Thai cuisines as well as other international cuisines, offering a wide variety of choices.
Top Reasons to Stay at Hotel Indigo BKK:
GETTING AROUND BANGKOK
Tuk-Tuks are the way to go to get around Bangkok. These three-wheeled, colorful taxis are everyones favorite use of transportation when visiting. You can hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you around for the day for very cheap. Just make sure he/she doesn’t take you shopping along the way — drivers get kickbacks if they bring customers into certain shops.
The Bangkok Skytrain (BTS) is one of the fasted and easiest ways to get around the city, especially with all the traffic. It runs through all the important downtown districts and major transport hubs in Bangkok.
Planning a trip to Bangkok and want advice? Feel free to say hi and ask me anything!