While Thailand is certainly known for its beautiful beaches in the south and mountain ranges in the north, don’t overlook spending time in Bangkok before exploring the rest of the country. This vibrant capital city has it all — food, nightlife, history, architecture, spas, and entertainment. You may not get to everything but our guide helps you make the most of your time, even if it’s a whirlwind 24 hours.
You’ve probably travelled a fair distance to get to Bangkok and could use a revitalizing massage. Luckily, you’ve landed in the right place. Thai massages are different from the sports or hot stone massages you get at home. You lie fully clothed on a mat while the practitioner manipulates your body in different ways to stimulate your organs, improve flexibility, and relieve tension. The practice goes back over 2,500 years and there’s no shortage of spas in Bangkok to try out the time-honoured tradition.
Now there are multiple ways to get around the city. You can opt for the practical way — taking the Skytrain which is fast and affordable. OR, you can go with our recommendation of hopping on a tuk-tuk. It’s not necessarily the most efficient way, but it’s probably the most fun and a must-try experience. Make sure to negotiate the price before getting in or you could overpay a bit. Another solid option is a motorcycle taxi. These are great for getting through congested traffic (which Bangkok is known for) and can go up to 100 km/h to get to your destination faster than a regular taxi or bus.
Once you’ve selected your tuk-tuk, motorcycle taxi, or skytrain option, get yourself to the Grand Palace. As one of the oldest and most historical attractions in Bangkok, you’ll learn about the history dating back to 1782 and marvel at the Thai style architecture. Get your tickets for 500 baht (approximately $15 USD) and remember to dress appropriately (covered knees and shoulders) or you won’t get into any temples or places of worship. It’s also recommended to dress in black or white to show condolences to the late King Rama IX.
Belly rumbling? If you’re looking for a tasty and traditional snack, try durian. It might be super stinky, likened to ripened cheese, and banned on public transportation, but don’t write this superfruit off just yet. It’s incredibly nutritious — one of the most nutritious fruits in the world — and provides a plethora of health benefits. Eat it fresh, pair it with sticky rice, blend it into a juice, or pick up a bag of durian chips. Yum yum!
Even if you’re full from (or put off by) your durian indulgence, experiencing Bangkok street food is a must. It’s the way to eat and basically impossible to resist the rows of vendors selling grilled and barbecued meats, soups, curries, fried rice, and seafood. Can we interest you in some tom yum noodle soup? Perhaps paired with khao pad gai (thai chicken fried rice) and a crab omelette. There are loads of places all over the city but consider checking out the Old City and Chinatown. Friendly health reminder: ask for bottled water and don’t take any ice.
One of the best ways to experience Bangkok is from the water. You can find a hop-on-hop-off boat that travels along the Chao Phraya River to explore different spots, or just chug along and enjoy the views. There are 11 stops with boats departing every 30 minutes so you can take your time, but definitely stop to take in the stunning Wat Arun. This Buddhist temple is one of the most beautiful in Thailand and it’s open daily. Again, dress appropriately or bring a sarong to cover up. For the best photos, go across the river at sunset.
As the evening approaches, it’s time to discover what Bangkok is known for… night markets. While there are quite a few to choose from, we recommend starting with Asiatique right on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. Your options for food are plentiful — discover food stalls carrying finger and street food or enjoy a sit-down meal. Along with food, you’ll find loads of shopping opportunities ranging from typical souvenirs to clothes and vintage items. The buzz and vibrancy in the market alone is worth the visit.
Hot tip: If you’re looking for a daytime vibe, you can also visit Chatuchak Market which is open every weekend and boasts over 15,000 stalls. Bartering is a thing here and the best way to snag a deal is to smile and be polite.
For the perfect way to cap off your night, a visit to the famous Khao San Road is in order. Find cheap drinks in the form of beers or buckets (mostly lots of whiskey and coke) and check out Brick Bar and Mulligan’s Irish Bar. The drinks can wash down the nice crunchy taste of cockroaches, grasshoppers, spiders, or scorpions, if you’re feeling adventurous. And why wouldn’t you?!
Ready to spend one (morning, noon and) night in Bangkok? Plenty of our itineraries can get you there as part of a bigger adventure. Here are some of our faves:
Thailand Island Hopping – West Coast
Bangkok to Chiang Mai Express
Northern Thailand Adventure