How to Spend 3 Days or More in Bangkok
Bangkok is a vast, sprawling city on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is one of the most prominent cities in South East Asia. Thailand’s cosmopolitan capital has a lot to offer and is best known for its sumptuous Grand Palace, its ornate temples, and its bustling street markets. It’s easy to spend 3 days in Bangkok. There’s an ancient culture, a buzzing nightlife, and many possibilities for shopping so visitors are spoilt for choice.
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Solo Travel in Bangkok
Bangkok is generally safe for solo travellers and for women travelling alone if you follow the usual safety precautions and are especially careful at night. It’s a vibrant and interesting city to visit. I’ve always enjoyed travelling solo in Bangkok. But if you still feel a bit nervous to travel alone there are some things you can do to smooth the way. These 30 tips for women travelling alone will help you to have a fun and successful solo trip to Bangkok.
Stopover in Bangkok
Bangkok is a fabulous travel destination, and it’s also a great place for a stopover on the way to other places in Asia and Europe. Prior to Covid-19 a 30-day visa on arrival was available to visitors from 19 countries including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many European countries and this makes Bangkok a great option for a short trip but there’s plenty to keep you interested if you can stay longer.
Getting Around Bangkok
Getting around Bangkok is relatively easy and generally safe for solo travellers who want to roam the city, visit cultural sites, and shop. After dark Bangkok is alive and busy but there’s a seedy side to the city. So take care if you’re out and about at night especially if you are travelling alone.
English is widely spoken in Bangkok and in the tourist areas of Thailand. There’s a good public transport network with trains, buses, ferries, and boats on the khlongs and waterways. Taxis and tuk-tuks are plentiful and getting around is uncomplicated.
If you’re arriving at Suvarnabhumi airport, the Sky Train is a comfortable and reliable way to travel to the city centre or you can queue for a taxi. It takes about an hour or more by car to reach the city centre, depending on the traffic. But if you want to reduce the stress of your arrival in Bangkok and skip the taxi queue, book a transfer from Suvarnabhumi International airport to your hotel (or from Don Mueang International airport)
With 3 days or more in beautiful, buzzing Bangkok there is so much to see and do. Here are some highlights:
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3 Days in Bangkok
Grand Palace & the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
Of all the places to visit in Bangkok, the most spectacular is the glittering Grand Palace and it was absolutely a highlight of my Bangkok visit. The opulence of this palace is truly breathtaking! The Grand Palace is now used mainly for state occasions rather than as a royal residence. Within the Palace Grounds, you can also find the Emerald Buddha in the most sacred temple in Thailand. This revered statue has lived in the royal chapel Wat Phra Kaew, since the 18th century. The Emerald Buddha watches over Thailand and is a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
Travel Tips: The Grand Palace is popular with visitors and gets very crowded so get there early. It’s open daily from 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM
*Make sure you dress respectfully with shoulders and knees covered as the dress code is strictly enforced at the Grand Palace.
*Remove your shoes before entering the temple and never point your feet towards the Buddha as this is considered very disrespectful. Sit with your feet behind you.
Wat Pho is one of the best places to visit in Bangkok and it’s just a short walk away from the Grand Palace on Maharat Road. Also known as The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho is an important Buddhist shrine and one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. It houses a stunning gold and bronze Buddha that is the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand.
Take a moment to notice the extraordinary feet of the Buddha. They are inlaid with mother of pearl and intricately carved with sacred Buddhist symbols. As you pass through the small temple you’ll see 108 bronze bowls lining the walls. To earn some extra good luck, drop a coin into each of the bowls. Special coins can be purchased at Wat Pho.
Also within the huge temple complex, there’s a university, a monstery, and a Thai massage school.
Tips: You may have to queue to enter the temple to see the Buddha and you’ll have to remove your shoes.
You must dress respectfully when you visit with your knees and shoulders covered or you may not be allowed inside Wat Pho. And you will have to remove your shoes before entering the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha is open daily from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm and traditional Thai massages are available until 6 pm.
Next on the list of places to visit in Bangkok is the majestic Wat Arun. This 18th-century Buddhist Temple is also known as the Temple of the Dawn. Wat Arun rises from the banks of the Chao Phraya River and towers over the surrounding landscape. It’s an important landmark in Bangkok.
You can climb the stairs to the lower levels of the Wat for sweeping views of the river and the city. The mosaics which cover the temple glow in the early morning sunlight and this makes Wat Arun most photogenic at sunrise but sunset is also a great time to visit.
Tip: Wat Arun is just across the river from Wat Pho and you can catch a ferry from Tha Tien Pier. You can also walk or take a tuk-tuk from the Grand Palace to Tha Tien Pier.
Wat Arun is open from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Dusit Palace & Vimanmek Mansion
Explore more of Royal Thailand with a visit to Dusit Palace, the royal residence and the political centre of Thailand. It’s one of several amazing places to visit in Bangkok. Your entrance ticket to the Grand Palace also gives you entrance to the more modern Dusit Palace and is valid for a week after purchase.
Dusit Palace is the current home of the Thai Royal family. It’s a complex of impressive buildings set amidst acres of leafy green gardens. Many of the buildings are open to visitors including the stunning Vimanmek Royal Teak mansion with its Grand staircases and intricate lattice walls. To see the teak mansion you have to join a tour and tours begin every half hour. Also within the Palace grounds are two stately throne halls and many museums.
DON’T MISS: The FREE Thai Classical music & dance performances near the Teak mansion. The graceful Thai dancers originally performed for the entertainment of royalty and wear ornate and elaborate costumes. They are accompanied by traditional musical instruments and are truly beautiful to watch. There are performances every day at 10:30 AM and 2:00 PM FREE
Dusit Palace is Open from 09:30 AM – 4:00 PM
TIP: Get out and about early and escape the heat of the day. When the sun gets too intense, visit an air-conditioned shopping mall or head back to your hotel to cool down by the pool and go out again later in the day for dinner and sunset.
Jim Thompson’s House
With 3 days in Bangkok, you’ll have time to visit Jim Thompson’s house. It’s a charming traditional Thai residence made from Teak wood with a beautiful, lush, green garden. It’s now a museum that displays the extraordinary art and antique collection of Jim Thompson who was an American businessman, architect, and antique collector. He has a fascinating life story with a sad and mysterious end.
Jim Thompson established the Thai Silk Company in 1948 and one day he simply disappeared. No one seems to know what became of him and he was declared dead by a Thai court in 1974.
Jim Thompson’s House is open daily from 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Tip: The easiest way to get there is to take a tuk-tuk or taxi.
Alternatively, you can catch the BTS Sky train to National Stadium station (Exit no.1) and walk to Kaseman 2
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More things to do in Bangkok
You’ll have some spare time in this itinerary so you can choose how to fill your days. Here are some suggestions for more great things to do in Bangkok:
Take a Thai cooking course and market tour. This is lots of fun because you go to the market to buy your fresh ingredients. Then you’ll learn to cook some delicious Thai food and eat what you’ve just made.
Relax and unwind with a traditional Thai Massage at one of Bangkok’s heavenly spas.
Take a Day Trip to Ayutthaya and visit the ruins of the ancient Siamese capital. Ayutthaya flourished from the 14th to the 18th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
You can catch a train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station and it takes at least an hour and a half to get there once you leave Bangkok. Consider booking a tour to Ayutthaya from Bangkok, especially if you’re pushed for time.
Shopping in Bangkok
Bangkok has some amazing shopping malls for bargain hunters. Try the MBK Centre, The Emporium, or Central World for bargain shopping. And In the heart of Bangkok, the Terminal 21 shopping Mall offers quirky, stores, fashion, and great food in an innovative themed environment.
But my favourite place to shop in Bangkok is at the markets and I found it hard to resist bargaining for souvenirs and gifts to bring home. There are markets all over Bangkok but the best markets only operate on weekends.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest and most interesting market in Bangkok. There are over 15,000 stalls and it’s a great place to buy souvenirs.
To get there by public transport take the BTS Sky train to Mo Chit (Exit 1 or 3) or the MTR to Chatuchak Park. A good alternative is to book a tour and see several markets in a day.
Located just 12 kilometres from central Bangkok is the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. A highlight of this weekend market is the street food stalls and the fresh produce sold from boats on the Khlong (canal). After you’ve tried some delicious Thai seafood you can relax with a cocktail or hire a longtail boat to take you along the canal to Tailing Chan, visit a temple or two or try some “fish spa therapy” and let the fish nibble your toes. At this authentic Thai market, you’ll find delicious local food, clothes, handicrafts, and antiques.
Visit the Maeklong Railway Market and watch the market stalls pack up to let a train roll through the middle of the marketplace. It takes around 2.5 hours to get to the Maeklong Market by train so a tour is a good option. Some tours include the famous Damnoan Saduak floating market.
Where to eat & drink & shop
At Asiatique you can enjoy a beautiful sunset and a relaxed evening meal outdoors in a lovely location by the river. It’s very popular with tourists in Bangkok. There’s a selection of restaurants right on the riverfront and an upmarket shopping complex.
The shopping and restaurant complex at Asiatique is very popular with tourists. Shopping at Asiatique is rather like shopping at the airport. You’ll find a good selection of quality local crafts & clothing but you probably won’t get a bargain.
How to get there – Take the express boat on the Chao Phraya River or at night take the Sky train to Saphan Taksin and catch a free shuttle ferry to Asiatique from 5 pm – 11 pm. The regular riverboats stop running at sunset.
If the tourist prices at Asiatique get you down head to the night market at Chinatown for a more authentic eating experience. Yaowarat Road after dark has an energetic vibe and is full of street food stalls selling delicious local dishes. The pavement is often crowded with people and the road is full of traffic so you may have to eat standing up or wait to sit down. Enjoy browsing the many food stalls and try a delicious Thai – Chinese seafood dish and an Asian dessert. Believe it or not, some of these street stalls are famous and are booked out months in advance.
Khaosan Road never sleeps and is the backpacker hub of Bangkok. There are lots of bars, restaurants, and street stalls to choose from so sit back and watch the chaos or join the party. There’s also a large selection of cheaper accommodation in the area often catering to a younger crowd backpacking in Thailand.
Rooftop bars & nightlife
In the evening, head upwards to a rooftop bar and watch Bangkok light up with a cocktail in your hand. Get there early and take advantage of “happy hour” specials or better still, book a room at the hotel beneath the bar to make getting home easy at the end of the night.
There are many rooftop bars to choose from and these are just a few:
The Octave Rooftop Bar is one of Bangkok’s most popular night spots with a restaurant. Located on the 45th floor of the Marriot Hotel Sukhumvit (Thong Lor Skytrain Station)
Red Square Rooftop Bar and Restaurant is located on top of the new Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 4
The Legend Rooftop Bar is situated in the north part of Bangkok in the Lad Phrao area, on top of Pisawit Tower.
The Sky View 360° Restaurant & Bar is located on the top floor of the Grand China Hotel Chinatown
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Where to stay in Bangkok really depends on your budget and what your interests are.
If you’re looking for cheap accommodation in a central location then staying near Khaosan road is a good choice. There’s younger energy and plenty of action here but it’s possibly a bit noisy. If you’re a backpacker on a budget and you want to party, head to Khaosan Road.
Budget: Samsen Sam Place gets excellent reviews. It’s a quaint wooden Thai home in a quiet street 10 minutes from Khaosan Road and a half-hour walk from the main sights.
Khaosan Station is a cheap, clean, and quiet hostel popular for its fantastic central location close to Khaosan Road, the river ferry, and the main sights of Bangkok
Mid Range: I chose to stay at the Tongtara Riverview Hotel because of its location near Asiatique for riverside dining and shopping. My room had a fabulous view of the city and was a 10-minute walk from the river and the express boat to the main sights so I could avoid the city traffic. This hotel has a nice pool but it’s not close to the airport or to the BTS Skytrain.
Asiatique was a bit overpriced and touristy for me so I will probably explore other options in Chinatown or Khaosan Road next time I visit.
If you enjoy street food & an energetic vibe then Chinatown is a great central location for your stay in Bangkok.
Mid-Range: The Hotel Royal is located in the heart of bustling Chinatown & has a rooftop pool with breathtaking views. You can walk to the river ferry or take a tuk-tuk to the Grand Palace or a free shuttle boat to icon Siam the newest shopping mall
The Grand China Hotel Chinatown has a 360° bar & restaurant and gets fabulous reviews for its excellent location just a short walk from the Chao Phraya River.
Luxury: A popular five-star option located in Siam in the city centre is the Hansar Bangkok Hotel. It gets great reviews for its location and service.
The Chatrium Hotel Riverside is another luxury hotel near the city centre that gets outstanding reviews for its stunning riverside location & views.
- Buses and trains in Thailand can be booked online with 12Go Asia
- A Travel Guide for Thailand is always great to help you plan your trip and it always comes in handy when you’re away. I rarely travel without a trusted Lonely Planet Guide.
- Travel Insurance is essential for any overseas trip. I use Travel Insurance that covers me for overseas medical, lost baggage, and other expenses and I can concentrate on enjoying my trip without worrying about something going wrong.
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Bangkok is such a fun city to visit! I can’t wait to go back someday!
I have been to Northern Thailand and Bangkok is next on my list whenever travel opens up.
Hopefully it won’t be long….
I had a 4 day stopover in Bangkok and saw many of the places you mention to visit in this post. It is a wonderful place for a stopover and I wished I could have stayed longer to explore more of Thailand. Oh well, next time!
Thanks for your comment Sharyn. I’m looking forward to next time too!
We went to Thailand last January and spent 3 nights in Bangkok. We absolutely loved it and have longed to go back ever since. Such an epic city!
Great post! Looks like so much to see and do here. It has been on my list for awhile…hopefully soon!
I would love to visit Bangkok! I haven’t researched what to do there yet so this article was really interesting to read.
Thanks Krista! I hope you have an amazing time in Bangkok!
The idea of Bangkok has always intimidated me – such a big, busy city! This guide makes it seem more accessible, thanks for sharing!
Yes I understand but actually its easy enough to get around Bangkok. Tuk tuks are inexpensive & I loved catching the express boat on the river. I’m sure you would have a great time!
Another great post! I’d love to visit Vietnam and Thailand as soon as travel allows. Thanks for the inspiration!
I wanted to go to Bangkok last year with my family but this pandemic destroyed our plans. Thank you for this article! I think it’s a sign that we definitely should visit this place when this virus is over. I hope it’s gonna be soon.
Bangkok is such a lively city! And the food is delicious. I would love to explore it someday.
I think if I lived in Bangkok, I would go for a Thai foot massage every day! Great post. We explored Bangkok in 2014 and saw many of these sights. Great memories.
This is a great guide! I love Bangkok! You covered the main highlights. I would also recommend a tuk tuk night food tour too. The city is so incredible, and there’s always something to do.
Beautiful post and itinerary! I’ve never been to Thailand yet, but have many friends and they all recommend it. Thanks for sharing the post!
I still can’t believe I missed Bangkok when I was in Thailand years ago. I would love to go back and see some of those amazing Wats. Taking a Thai cooking class sounds like a blast as well. I love learning to cook different cuisines when I travel.
Bangkok has so much to see and do! It’s such a big city and I really enjoyed wandering around the non-touristy parts of the city too 🙂
Lovely post! I love Bangkok but sadly have not been for almost ten years. I am brewing up a plan to attend university there which would take me to the other end of the world for six months, but cannot conjure up the courage to ask my employer for six months unpaid leave and leave the family behind. So it will probably be another short trip. We often stay in the Sukhumvit area in walking distance to a skytrain, and there are some lovely older houses in pockets of Bangkok that look wonderful, too