Bustling and vibrant, Bangkok is an assault on the senses. The city feels alive in every sense of the word, with wild traffic patterns, ornate temples, and busy markets. Most people either love or hate Bangkok, but for many people, the city and airport are the perfect entry point into Southeast Asia.
Whether Bangkok is your destination or just a stop along the way, planning the perfect Bangkok itinerary for your time in the city means you’ll get to see and experience Bangkok at its best.
We spent 4 nights in Bangkok and are sharing everything we learned in planning and taking this trip. Below you will find things to know to help you plan your itinerary in Bangkok, an extensive list of the best things to do in Bangkok, suggestions on 1-4 Day Bangkok Itinerary and more.
To see everything we did on our Thailand Itinerary, check out: Amazing 2 Week Itinerary For Thailand – The Perfect Adventure Trip
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Quick Look at the Perfect Bangkok Itinerary: Things to Do in Bangkok
This guide offers suggestions on how to plan the perfect Bangkok Itinerary and is designed to be adjusted as you go based on your interests. You can use this free printable to take with you on your trip to Thailand.
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Things to Know about Visiting Bangkok
Quick Overview of Things to Know for Your Bangkok Itinerary
Bangkok embraces its past but is surging forward into the modern world, and you will find a mix of everything in this city. With a population of over 10 million people, Bangkok dates back to the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century and is one of the World’s most visited cities. Here are some helpful things to know about visiting Bangkok and Thailand in general:
- Thailand uses the Baht as the currency
- Bangkok has limited infrastructure and you will find significant traffic
- Temperatures are remarkably constant throughout the year with an average high range of 31.7 C to 35.4 C
- Note there is often a local price and tourist price – do your research before booking
- Bangkok attracts tourists all year long – as in any tourist area, be aware of pickpockets
- Many people in Thailand speak English, but not everyone. – learn a few words, or be prepared to communicate creatively
How to Get to Bangkok
Most people will come to Bangkok via the airport. The Bangkok airport (or the Panrawat Kittikorncharoen Suvarnabhumi Airport) often has the best deals for places to fly in the region. We were able to book round-trip tickets from New York to Bangkok for $450 a person (although prices like this are uncommon now). If Bangkok is on your list, it’s helpful to keep an eye out for deals. If you are traveling from nearby countries, you may also arrive in Bangkok by train or bus.
If you do fly into Bangkok you will need to get from the airport to town, as it’s a 20-30 minute drive to get there. The cheapest way is to take the Airport Rail Link – this takes about 35 minutes to Makkasan Station and costs between 15-45 baht.
Another good option is to take a taxi. We arrived quite late so took a taxi directly to our lodging. If possible, insist on the meter and avoid a flat fee. It’s a good idea to have your destination written out in Thai. It’s also possible to take a public bus into town.
Best Time of Year to Visit Bangkok
The temperature in Bangkok is quite consistent throughout the year and is pretty much always hot and humid. It rarely gets below 70 degrees F and night and average daily highs are typically in the 90s F. The biggest difference is the rain. The rainy season lasts May-October. This doesn’t mean it will rain all day, but you can expect significantly more showers during these months. Generally, November-March is considered the best time to visit Bangkok.
How to Get Around Bangkok
Bangkok is a busy city that is dealing with serious traffic issues. Driving in the city is not recommended as it can be difficult and adds to the problem. The best ways to get around are:
Taxi – make sure to get your driver to use the meter and you can always track that they are taking the best route to your destination
Bus – there are buses all over town and tickets can be purchased right on the bus. This is an inexpensive way to get around Bangkok. See more on the bus route at Bangkok Mass Trasport Authority.
Skytrain or Metro – this is a great way to get around if your destination is on one of the metro lines. We found that many of the places we wanted to go were not yet on the line.
Tuk-tuk – This is one of the classic ways to get around the city, but I would only recommend taking it for the novelty of the ride. It tends to be an expensive way to get around the city.
How Many Days do You Need in Bangkok?
This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on the person. We found 3 full days the perfect amount of time to see some of the major sites, do a day trip and visit some markets. You could easily spend a week here or on the other end, if you only have a day in Bangkok, you can still get a sense of the city.
Looking for more? Check out a Backpackers Guide to Bangkok.
15 Things to Do in Bangkok
The information below gives an overview of the best things to do in Bangkok. Scroll down for more information on how to make the perfect 1, 2, 3, or 4-day itinerary for Bangkok.
Eat the Amazing Food
Bangkok is a food lover’s paradise with amazing and cheap food. It’s nearly impossible to describe the best place to get food in Bangkok since just walking down the street you will find small restaurants, stalls, and more. It is perfectly reasonable to find a delicious and complete lunch or dinner for $10 for a family of 5.
If you have your heart set on sitting down in a more traditional restaurant, be prepared for slightly higher prices (although still remarkably reasonable). Markets are prime places to find excellent food as well.
This guided food tour gets amazing reviews and would be an excellent way to sample some of the best food in the city.
Visit the Grand Palace
The grand palace is huge and incredibly impressive. Built in 1782, it is not just one building, but a series of buildings where you can wander. You need at least 2 hours to explore the palace.
Note that it is a common scan for people to wait outside and tell you that it’s not open today. Ignore these people continue on to buy tickets and go in. We did not find crowds on the day we visited, but this area can get quite crowded and hot.
Make sure you check out the Temple of the Emerald Buddha which is one of the highlights of visiting the Grand Palace.
Tour the Temples
Right near the Grand Palace, are several other temples that are some of the highlights of Bangkok. You can easily walk around this area and visit several sites at once (although you may also get templed out!). Make sure you check out the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. You should also add Wat Suthat, and Wat Arun to your list of temples to visit in Bangkok.
Check out the Massive Malls
Ok – so malls aren’t normally our thing, but on day 3 in Bangkok, we needed a break from the heat and chose to visit the Bangkok Aquarium. The Aquarium is right in one of the malls and we were blown away by the entire downtown area of Bangkok and the size of the malls.
If you are look to take a break from siteseeing, and the bustle of Bangkok – check out one of the malls
Take a Cooking Class
Taking a Thai cooking class is a must if you like food and are spending time in Bangkok. There are lots of options for classes and some also include a visit to one of the markets. This Thai cooking class gets great reviews and gives you all the tools to go home and make amazing Thai food in your own home.
Visit the Markets
Visiting the markets in a highlight of any trip to Bangkok. There are so many markets it’s often difficult to find the best one to visit. We made a point to go to at least one market a day for a meal or just to wander around. You can also arrange tours to make of the markets which is helpful since some of them are quite far out of town.
Here are a few suggestions for amazing markets in Bangkok
- Chatuchak Market – the largest one in Bangkok
- Srinakarin Train Night Market – a popular train market
- Neon Market – a great general market
- Chang Chui Plane Night Market – You will find a plane at the center of this market
- Khlong Ong Ang Canal Night Market –A weekend market along a canal
- Flower Market Pak Khlong Talat – We loved visiting the flower market
- Khlong Toei Fresh Market – Bangkok’s biggest fresh market with meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits
Get a Thai Massage
Getting a massage is a great deal in Thailand. I have to admit that I am not someone who really enjoys a massage (although I did get a massage in Krabi), but there are so many places that offer a good massage in Thailand for an incredible price. We talked to people who got one a day during their visit!
Check out Khaosan Road
The traditional backpackers street, Khaosan Rd has the reputation as a fun scene. Perhaps because we visited in the late afternoon with our family, but we were less impressed than we thought we would be. I imagine this is an amazing nighttime spot to explore when you are up for some nightlife, but it felt touristy to us and we only stayed for a quick drink and were on our way.
Visit the Jim Thompson House
One of the most popular tourist stops in Bangkok, this is the home of Jim Thompson, the famous Thai Silk King. His house is a museum and houses and extensive collection of Asian Art. The house is open everyday and is 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children. You can learn more on their website.
Dive into the Art Scene on Charenkrung Road
This old riverside community is developing into a thriving art scene. Stroll the road and admire the art galleries, studios and cafes lining the street. Mostly modern, this part of town highlights a different part of Thailand and is worth a visit.
Cool off at the Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World
We visited the Bangkok Aquarium one afternoon mostly as a chance to cool off in the middle of the day and were quite impressed with the exhibits. The highlights were the large tank with tunnel and the penquins. The Aquarium is located within one of Bangkok’s malls and was a good choice to get out of the sun for a few hours.
Walk Around Lumphini Park
This 142 acres park in Bangkok is the perfect place to walk around. We enjoying checking out the outdoor gym and the playground and also seeing Asian Water Monitor Lizards that live in the park. We spent over an hour in the park and spent most of the time just people watching.
It might seem funny to visit Chinatown on your visit to Thailand, but Chinatown in Bangkok is busy and exciting and offers amazing food and markets. It’s also the biggest Chinatown in the world and has been there since 1782. Visit for the food, but enjoy the history, temples, and bars.
Take a River Cruise
The Chayo Phraya runs through Bangkok and offers the perfect way to see the city. There are a few ways to get out on the water. You can book a tour on the river (there are several that include dinner out on the water. If you want something cheaper, you can also take a water taxi. These run between some of the temples and cost just 5-15 baht depending on where you are going.
Take a Day Trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
The last activity is something I highly recomonend, but is not actually an activity in Bangkok. If you have several days, spending one of those days on a day trip to Ayutthaya is completely worth it. Ayutthaya is located about 1.5 hours north of Bangkok and was once one of the largest and most important cities in the world. Today you can visit temples and ruins and explore this ancient world.
You can visit Ayutthaya on a guided tour, book a van to take you there, or do it as a self guided tour by taking the train. We took the train and rented bikes in Ayutthaya and loved the flexibility to wander and explore on our own. The only drawback to doing this as a self guided tour is that there is very little information at the sites so you don’t always know what you are seeing.
If you are interested in going to Ayutthaya, I suggest reading this post: How to Plan a Bangkok Day Trip to Ayutthaya (A Perfect Ayutthaya Itinerary.
Map of the Best Things to do in Bangkok to Help Plan the Perfect Bangkok Itinerary
You can use the map below to help plan your Bangkok Itinerary.
Suggestion to Plan the Perfect Itinerary: Bangkok
Below you can find suggestions for the best itineraries in Bangkok whether you have 1 or 4 days. You can also use the list of the best things to do in Bangkok above to plan you own itinerary based on your interest.
How to Spend a Day in Bangkok
With just one day in Bangkok, you want to spend part of the day viewing temples and then get out and explore a market or two in the afternoon. If you feel ambitious, you can also woork in one other activity (such as a riverboat cruise or massage). With just one day, you will need to pick and choose which temples to prioritize. Here is a possible schedule for the day.
- Morning – visit the Grand Palace and either Wat Arun or Wat Pho
- Early afternoon- find somewhere to grab some food
- Late Afternoon – visit the flower market (or take a riverboat cruise or book a massage)
- Evening – visit one of the night markets
Top 2 Days Bangkok Itinerary
With 2 days, you can relax your pace a bit and explore more of Bangkok. You will still want to visit the markets and temples, but you can also check out some of the other parts of town such as the malls, the park, Chinatown or Khaosan R.
- Start the day with a visit to the temples and a ride on the river
- In the afternoon visit the flower market and end the day in Chinatown
- On the second day, begin with a visit to the Jim Thompson House (or if you missed one of the temples on the first day, start back at the temples)
- During lunch grab some food and take a walk through Lumphini Park
- In the afternoon you have time for a massage or cooking class
- In the evening you can visit one of the night markets or check out Khaosan Rd.
Best 3 Days Bangkok Itinerary
I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time in Bangkok. With three days in bangkok, you can do the same itinerary as the 2 day Bangkok itinerary listed above and on the additional day, take a day trip to Ayutthaya to visit the ancient ruins and temples. This will take a full day, so unless you have 3 days, there really isn’t time to do this tour. Your Bangkok 3 day itinerary look like this:
Day 1: Temples, Grand Palace, boat ride on the river Chinatown
Day 2: Jim Thompson House, Lumphini Park, Night Market (optional massage or cooking class)
Day 3: Day Trip to Ayutthaya
Perfect 4 Days Bangkok Itinerary
If you have 4 days in Bangkok, you have time to visit all the main Bangkok attractions and some of the less popular sites. With 4 days, you can do the 3 day Bangkok Itinerary and add on a final day with a visit to one of the malls, the Aquarium, or Charenkrung Road. You can also take your time and work in a bit more down time.
Your 4 day Itinerary – Bangkok:
Day 1: Grand Palace and Temples – boat ride on the river – Chinatown
Day 2: Jim Thompson House, Lumphini Park, Night Market
Day 3: Day Trip to Ayutthaya
Day 4: Take a Thai Cooking Class, visit the malls and end the day on Charenkrung Rd or Khaosan Rd.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Bangkok is a large city so choosing where to stay is important. Once you decide on a general Thailand Itinerary, you can narrow in on where you want to stay. The city is generally broken up into the following regions.
Siam – This is the shopping center of Bangkok and you will find taller buildings and the malls in this area. Check out the Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok.
Khao San Rd – this area is considered the backpackers part of Bangkok, although you will have to go a bigt outside of the main rd to find the best deals. The Wild Orchid Villa is a great option for this part of town.
Rattanakos – this is right in the heart of the temples and the palace. The OB ARUN House is a small B and B with amazing views of the temples.
Chinatown – Chinatown is a lively place to stay in Bangkok with history and amazing food. Check out Hotel Royal Bangkok @Chinatown.
We stayed at an apartment called the Serena House. It was simple and a good landing place for our family but definitely nothing fancy. Two other places we considered are:
Praya Palazzo – we considered this more elegant hotel with a pool
Lamphu Tree House Boutique Hotel – this fun-looking place was also on our list, but didn’t work well for a family with the room set up.
Special Situations and Common Questions When You Plan Your Bangkok Itinerary
What are the Best Places to Visit in Bangkok with Family? The best places to visit with kids are the temples, markets, and other popular places on the list above. Know that the heat is often difficult for kids andif you are traveling from far away you will want to give extra time to adjust to jet lag.
Are 3 days in Bangkok long enough? Yes – I think 3 days is the perfect amount of time to get a taste of Bangkok – will you see everything – no way, but unless you love cities, this is enough time.
Do you have more questions about planning your Bangkok Itinerary? Let me know if the comments and I will continue to update this article.
Also – check out this video of our time in Bangkok