Asia Reviews Thailand Travel

2 Days in Bangkok: A quick guide to Thailand’s capital

Bangkok is a beautiful city. Bangkok is also a busy city. But that’s what I love. Come on, I’m Expat and the CITY after all — I love the hustle and bustle! In August 2015, I took at trip to Thailand with my two gal pals, one of whom I hadn’t seen since I left for Korea. It was so nice to see her again! Similar to my Philippines experience, I first landed in the capital city, before heading off to one of Thailand’s famous islands – Koh Phangan – for the rest of my trip.

There’s a lot to do in Bangkok so you could probably spend more than two days (three nights) in the city. But for us, two days were perfect. It was fast paced yet we were able to take our time to see all the iconic landmarks and different areas of the city.

We flew from Busan, South Korea and landed in Bangkok around midnight. (Note: Jeju Air is not the best airline to fly 5 hours with… the seats were uncomfortable and no food on flight. But that’s what you get for booking with a budget airline). It was fairly easy to get a cab right in front of the airport. We tried to get into just any cab but they told us no. At first I thought “how rude!” but actually, the taxis have a certain system where you grab a numbered ticket from a machine and then you must go to that specific taxi that the ticket issued. On this ticket it has the information of the taxi driver, license plate number, and contact information of the Ministry of Transportation. I like how orderly they are with this type of system. I would keep hold of this ticket because you never know if you will need it later on.

When we arrived at our hotel – Citadines Sukhumvit 23 Bangkok – at around 1am, we were super hungry. So we decided to walk to find some grub. To our surprise, every place for delivery was closed (and it was only an hour past midnight).  Normally I would never do this if I was alone, because there were parts of the street that were completely dark.

Then all of a sudden, I saw lights ahead. I’m not sure how… but we had stumbled into the famous SOI COWBOY! Yes, the same place where The Hangover 2 was filmed. We found a few food stalls, ate some street meat as we tried not to stare at the lady boys, and headed back to the hotel. My friend from Canada was arriving in the A.M. and we knew we would have a busy day ahead.

The next morning, my friend had arrived bright and early. After big hugs, some catch up and breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we were ready to hit the streets of Bangkok!

Our hotel had its own tuk-tuk – the most popular way to get around the city – so our lovely concierge took us to a place where we could exchange money and hop on the Skytrain. Let me tell you, the Bangkok transit system is one of the easiest (and cheapest) I have ever taken! The metro is awesome – mostly because it’s above ground, so you can enjoy all the sights of the city. They have underground metros, too, which we used to connect to another line.

So what can you do for 2 full days in Bangkok?

Grand Palace and Wat Pho Temple

Grand Palace and Wat Pho Temple are two very popular landmarks in Bangkok. Grand Palace, home to the Kings of Siam since the 1700s, was crazy busy, even on a Monday! This is definitely the type of place that will be crawling with tourists every day of the week; so be prepared for crowds.

We thought we had done our research about the strict dress code for the temple. I bought a maxi dress and a pashmina scarf to wrap around my bare shoulders at the weekend market. However, when we arrived at the gates, to our surprise they denied us entry into the Palace. My one friend who had a loose t-shirt over her dress was allowed. But apparently, you cannot wrap a scarf around your shoulders. So my other friend and I ended up having to go to the gift shop and buy a t-shirt to put over top. The selection was limited – as you can see by the horrible pink and green clash of colours in my ensemble.

After that minor setback, we ended up hiring a tour guide (affiliated with the Palace) to show us around. I would recommend getting a tour guide if you can! We paid 300THB per person (about $10). Our tour guide – named Sunny – was amazing and so friendly. He provided great detail about each of the buildings and statues we saw – and would tell us the best point to take photos! He also took lots of photos of the three of us, so that was great, too!

I was very impressed with the place, although it was SO HOT! I was entranced by the beautiful buildings, the intricate designs, and the all gold EVERYTHING! Not to mention the stunning Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

We said our goodbyes to our tour guide and walked to Wat Pho Temple. Both places are quite close to each other so walking is definitely do-able. Wat Pho isn’t as strict with the dress code so I tore that t-shirt off and was ready to explore! Wat Pho is where you will find the famous Reclining Buddha. I was in awe when I saw how big this thing was! You can’t get too close as there are large pillars in the way – but you can certainly snap some great photos from certain angles! I found Wat Pho to be less crowded than Grand Palace. Plus they were giving away free bottles of water… exactly what we needed on this hot summer’s day!

TIP: If a local tries to tell you that the temples are closed, don’t listen to him or her! They will try to scam you and charge you a boatload for being your tour guide. We had a couple tourists approach us to ask if this was true. Thank goodness we stopped the scam before it could happen to them!

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC)

If you love modern art and culture, this place is worth checking out. Admission to the BACC is free, which is always a plus in my books! I loved the design of the building – they had a cool spiral staircase to each floor that can make your head spin when looking down! We didn’t stay too long here, as we were eager to move on to the next place on our list: Jim Thompson House.

Jim Thompson House Museum

Jim Thompson is an American architect who built a home in Thailand after falling in love with the country. He became quite popular in Thailand with this art and textile designs. But one night while traveling in Malaysia, Jim disappeared without a trace and still remains a mystery to this day. It was really cool to visit his house and see all the lovely designs and structures he had built. You can wander around the gardens and also take a tour inside the home, which is included in the admission price.

Chao Phraya River

Skytrain. Metro. Tuk-Tuk. Now, the only other mode of transportation left to take was the ‘river taxi’ on the Chao Phraya River.  After the Jim Thompson Museum, we hopped on the Skytrain to take us to the Chao Phraya Tourist pier. From there, we purchased a single trip ticket (40 THB) and rode along the river to take us to the Weekend Market. It was a great way to get another perspective of Bangkok.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

The Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must see when visiting Bangkok! You can find basically anything at this world-renowned market: clothes & shoes, household items, souvenirs, textiles, food & spices, artwork… you name it! You can spend hours getting lost within the corridors of the market, so pick up a free map! There are also tons of food and drink stalls to check out when you need a break from walking – which I guarantee you will!

Rooftop Bar

Thailand’s rooftop bar selection is abundant so you won’t have a problem finding a place to unwind and sip on your favourite cocktail. We decided to check out Octave Rooftop Bar at the Mariott Hotel, which was closest to where we were staying. No, this isn’t the same rooftop from The Hangover (has anyone been there? Comment below!)

I liked the ambiance of this bar, the service was great, and we got a decent table. The drinks were (obviously) pricier than what we are used to… but sometimes you just have to treat yo’ self! And the VIEW! Oh my goodness, the view of the city skyline was breathtaking. Bangkok, you beauty, you really impressed me!

Khao San Road

Getting street food

Getting street food on Khao San Road

Last but certainly not least… hit up the famous Khao San Road, aka backpacker land. I loved this area – people coming and going, walking through the streets with luggage in tow or a drink in their hand. You can find all walks of life here, just wanting to have a good time. There will be no problem meeting new people! I need to give a shout out to Tom from A World of Flophouses – who really captures the essence of the streets of Bangkok at night. Check out his photo essay HERE.

 

Well there you have it! I know there is so much more to do in Bangkok… such as visiting the Floating Markets. Until next time, Bangkok. I will be back!

Have you been to Bangkok before? What did you do while you were there? Leave a comment below. And if you liked this post, pin it on Pinterest!

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70 Comments

  • Reply
    Tom
    February 26, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Hey Samantha—This is Tom from A World of Flophouses, and I just now, just happened, to see the shout-out you gave me at the end of this article. Thanks much!

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    February 1, 2017 at 8:13 am

    Bangkok is a lovely place and this is a great guide to the lovely city. We loved it when we spent a few days in the city a couple of years ago. The temples and the Grand Palace are really magnificent.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      February 1, 2017 at 10:18 am

      The Grand Palace was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! So hot that day, though!

  • Reply
    Loren
    November 12, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    The rooftop bar is something I would totally love to see! xo Loren

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      November 17, 2016 at 4:23 am

      The rooftop bars are so cool! Pricey, so we only stayed for one drink, but it was so nice to see the view!!

  • Reply
    Zwitsy
    October 26, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    This reminds me a lot of my previous client. She invited me to visit her in Thailand but I opted out since my boyfriend then would be left if I said yes. Only if I have known, I should have grabbed the opportunity to visit the place. Anyhow, thailand is just there so anytime I can come. For now, I’ll just wonder what it feels like to wander there. This surely a good guide for those who are planning to visit bangkok!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 28, 2016 at 5:00 am

      You should definitely go and wander this beautiful country!!

  • Reply
    Karla | karlaroundtheworld
    October 22, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    This is a good guide of Bangkok. I remember my trip there before. We also went to Sirocco, OMG, that rooftop bar is so nice. I didn’t get to check out Octave though. I will leave it for next time then. I love the temples of Bangkok.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:43 am

      I love that there’s something to do for everyone. Plus a mix of the old and the new! Bangkok is awesome!

  • Reply
    Stargazer Writes
    October 22, 2016 at 5:12 am

    The temples and ancient building are the primary reason why I always wanted to visit Bangkok. You’re lucky to be able to visit some of them! I also want to ride the tuk tuk. The city has a rich culture, no doubt. Also, it is definitely a place with lots of stories to tell!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:42 am

      The temples are so exquisite…I’m happy and grateful I got to visit them. I hope you can visit some day, too!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Berlin
    October 21, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Bangkok is my mom’s favorite shopping place. I can’t just understand her but she finds Bangkok truly shopping friendly and cheap. Perhaps I get to understand her if I’ve been to the place.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:40 am

      That’s awesome! Bangkok is a great place for shopping! The weekend market is the spot to go for everything!!

  • Reply
    Mommy Queenelizabeth
    October 20, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Bangkok is on my bucket list! I was planning for an itinerary here for a trip next year. I hope it’ll push through! And this is very timely. Will bookmark this as my reference. Bangkok is a lovely place! Can’t wait to have first hand experience with it! 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:39 am

      I’m glad you can use this a reference for later. Good luck with your travels!

  • Reply
    Milton Coyne
    October 20, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Wow, if I was there to witness that Grand Palace, it will surely put me in awe! I have never been to Thailand but it has always been on my bucket list.. I always want to witness their floating markets and of course, this grand palace! I wish to have enough time and money to visit and embrace the beauty of Thailand! For the mean time, let me satisfy myself by looking at your photos haha

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:39 am

      Aw..thank you! I hope to go back again some day. The Grand Palace really is a magical place…exquisite detail EVERYWHERE!

  • Reply
    Jojo Vito
    October 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    wow, I just arrived from Thailand 2 weeks ago. I was one of the 6 winners for the Tourism Authority of Thailand Blogger Campaign. I was the only Filipino in the group. That was really fun. I really love Thailand. And yes, our farewell party was held at the rooftop of Mariott Hotel. I suddenly miss the fun upon seeing your photos 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:38 am

      That’s SO awesome you won that trip to Bangkok! Congratulations!!

  • Reply
    kriswanders
    October 20, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Bangkok has always been known with their beautiful temples and who would forget the floating market. 🙂 I totally enjoy reading the blog. I came across several go-to locations that I never knew existed. It’s like traveling to Bangkok and joining the tour while reading. Haha! Reading would totally take you to places. 🙂 I hope someday I will get to know more about Bangkok, not just in pictures but experiencing and witnessing the city in a flesh. 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:37 am

      Aw thanks so much! I’m glad you liked reading it! I didn’t have a chance to go to the floating market but if I go back, I’ll check it out! Hope you can visit some day, too!

  • Reply
    Thelittlelai: Beyond limits
    October 20, 2016 at 3:02 am

    Truly, Bangkok is one of the best and must visit city. They have colorful cultures and everything about this City is something everyone must see. I genuinely enjoy reading your blog that as if I’m traveling with you. I love how your thoughts reflect for your photographs.

    LaiAriel

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:37 am

      Aw thanks for the kind words! I absolutely love this country and I hope to go back someday!

  • Reply
    generosepomelo
    October 20, 2016 at 1:40 am

    I’ve never been to Bangkok but will definitely go sometime! it’s always cool to be a bit lost in the city and find hidden gems (ehem, SOI COWBOY!!!) haha but on a serious note, probably the dark side of Tourism would be scam on tours which is rubbish but good thing u guys did not fall for anything like that. None the less seems u guys did have a great time.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:36 am

      I think if you do your research and know the type of scams that go on…and use your intution… you’ll be fine! You should check out Bankok sometime!

  • Reply
    Marge Gavan
    October 19, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    I have never been to Thailand, and most of my friends did and they were all telling me to go check it out because it’s a good place to visit. Maybe someday. Good thing you found a good place to eat, I don’t know what I would do if it happened to me and I couldn’t find food. I love eating eh haha…

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 25, 2016 at 4:35 am

      You really need to go check it out! Thailand is beauitful!

  • Reply
    Toronto Seoulcialite
    July 25, 2016 at 6:48 am

    This is perfect now that I’m really back in action researching my trip! We need to chat all about Phuket and the islands soon 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      July 25, 2016 at 8:49 am

      Yay glad I could help! We can chat about Koh Phangan (that’s the only island I went to). I never went to Phuket, so I’ll be reading your blog to get some tips when I go (whenever that is)! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rea
    June 13, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Bangkok is one of my favourite cities EVER! I especially loved the vibes on Khao San road and the street food 🙂 I was there in April and it was SOOO hot! I think I had never experienced such heat before 🙂 By the way, have you been to Ayutthaya?

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 16, 2016 at 12:09 pm

      I love love love it! August wasn’t TOO bad in terms of weather. I could bear it. I would like to go at another time of the year to compare. No I have not been to Ayutthaya. What/where is this place?

  • Reply
    bavariansojourn
    June 13, 2016 at 7:23 am

    It’s been years since I last went to Bangkok, it doesn’t look like it’s changed that much! Love that your hotel had it’s own tuktuk! 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Maybe a few more rooftop bars have opened since your last visit! lol… It was cool that the hotel had a tuktuk!

  • Reply
    TravelGretl
    June 12, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Cool! Recognize many things from our own short stay in Bangkok, some years ago 🙂 Haven’t seen a rooftop bar back then, that would be something I love to do when going back!!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 13, 2016 at 5:50 am

      That’s awesome! I think rooftop bars are more recent…. maybe ever since the Hangover franchise came out!

  • Reply
    corinnevail
    June 12, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I think Bangkok is such a frenetic and chaotic city…I love every bit of it!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 13, 2016 at 5:49 am

      I know! I just love the hustle and bustle!

  • Reply
    lisa440440
    June 12, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Thanks for all the tips, looks like fun. Nice pics too!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 13, 2016 at 5:49 am

      Thanks!! I hope you can visit Thailand some day (if you haven’t yet already!)

  • Reply
    Carolina Colborn
    June 12, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I do need to go back, after 30 years! Did rooftop bars start in Bangkok?

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 1:14 pm

      I’m not entirely sure to be honest. There are so many that I would not be surprised!

  • Reply
    ashleigh
    June 12, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Gorgeous post, I loved Bangkok my fav place was the Grand Palace

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 8:03 am

      Wat Pho I think was my favourite place. Less crowded and that big reclining Buddha was beautiful!!

  • Reply
    Kaylene Chadwell
    June 12, 2016 at 6:35 am

    Wow, seems like an awesome place to travel to! I’d love to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho Temple, looks incredible! Great photos!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 8:01 am

      Thank you for the kind words! I hope you can make it there some day. Thailand is just beautiful!!

  • Reply
    Lesa
    June 9, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Your friend’s purple skirt is amazing! Thanks for the local tip, we travelers definitely have to look out for each other. Good on you and your friends for stopping the scam! Lovely post, and nice pictures.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 8:01 am

      Thank you for the lovely comments! I can’t remember if my friend got that skirt while she was in Thailand or she brought it from home…. I’ll have to ask her! lol

  • Reply
    Its A Travelful Life (@atravelfullife)
    June 9, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Poor Jim! What an interesting story. I’ve heard wonderful things about Bangkok.

  • Reply
    Lara Dunning
    June 9, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    The palace and temple are spectacular. Sounds like you had a great trip catching up with friends.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 8:00 am

      I did, it was so nice to see my friend from Canada. Thanks!!

  • Reply
    Lauren (@pgradpcards)
    June 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    2 days isn’t very much time!! But its great to know that if you only have two days, there’s a good amount of things you can still accomplish in Bangkok!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Ya, you’d think 2 days isn’t enough. But it was totally manageable!

  • Reply
    Gina Bear
    June 9, 2016 at 10:01 am

    Thailand never ceases to amaze me with it’s beauty! Did you find the main attractions jam packed with tourists? What kinds of tasty things did you find on Khao San Road? I never made it there!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:59 am

      The weekend market was quite busy but I really liked seeing all the people…so many different walks of life! We got a noodle / rice dish on Khao San Road. And in Soi Cowboy we had some chicken skewers….so tasty. I probably could have ate more!

  • Reply
    Melai
    June 9, 2016 at 7:39 am

    This is great! I remember my trip with my girlfriends in Bangkok as well. There’s so much to see and eat. But after a day or two, we got tired of seeing temples and went shopping instead. Really cheap! 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Ya the only shopping I did was at the weekend market, which was cheap! We found towels there too, for when we went to the island! It’s hard to find big beach towels in Korea (where I’m living).

  • Reply
    RCoe
    June 9, 2016 at 6:27 am

    i am dyyyyyyyying to go to southeast Asia, and a couple of days in bangkok is definitely on the list for my dream Asian backpacking trip. this looks like the perfect whirlwind!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:56 am

      I can’t wait for you to start your adventure in SEA! Make sure to see other cities and of course the islands in Thailand!

  • Reply
    Crazy travelista (@Crazytravelista)
    June 9, 2016 at 3:28 am

    I had no idea there was this much to see in Bangkok! I was there just briefly for half a day on my way to the islands, but looks like I missed a lot! Maybe I need to return 😉

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

      You should definitely head back there if you can! 🙂

  • Reply
    Erika Bisbocci
    June 9, 2016 at 1:41 am

    I found two days in Bangkok to be a good amount of time, though I of course could have stayed longer. It seems like you followed my itinerary pretty closely…though a drink at a rooftop bar would certianly have been nice after a hot and sweaty day of touring temples.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

      I definitely could have stayed longer. But I know I’ll be back to do some more things I never got to do!

  • Reply
    nycgingeronthego
    June 9, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Wow, you did a lot in two days. Great tips about the t-shirts and tour guides…and that rooftop bar looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

      Thanks! If only I brought a tshirt (that matched better) it would have been fine. But I guess now I have a souvenir that I was able to bring home with me! lol

  • Reply
    SuzeMonster
    June 1, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Great post! Looks like you had a great two days! The temples are just stunning.
    The same scam runs in Istanbul too, where they try and tell you things are closed.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Scams are universal for sure! We just need to be aware when they are happening to us… although sometimes it’s hard to tell! They are really good at what they do….

  • Reply
    Soraya
    June 1, 2016 at 1:55 am

    Lovely post! I have been to Bangkok a few times now and love this city. There is just so much to do. I also met Sunny at the Grand Palace and he did a great job touring me around. I’m sad to say that I haven’t been to the rooftop bar yet-I will have to do that on my next trip.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      June 12, 2016 at 7:49 am

      Sunny is so nice and friendly, I’m glad you had him as a tour guide, too! Next time you go, head to one of the many rooftop bars!

      • Reply
        Veerooniikaa
        October 22, 2016 at 5:38 pm

        Where have you booked this guided tour? Do you maybe have Sunnys contact?

        • Reply
          Expat and the City
          October 24, 2016 at 9:55 am

          He actually approached us outside of the palace! That’s probably the best way to do it. I’m unsure about how to book someone from the internet. Sorry!! Sunny was the best, though! So glad he approached us.

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