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Bangkok in Two Days: 10 Must-Sees (and a few honorable mentions)

If you have two days in Bangkok and want to hit the highlights, here is a list of the top 10 tourist sites in the city:

1. The National Museum and The Grand Palace 

This was the closest we came to The Grand Palace, outside the walls of the complex. It's funny how the thing was about four blocks from our hotel, yet we never made it inside!

This was the closest we came to The Grand Palace, outside the walls of the complex. It’s funny how the thing was about four blocks from our hotel, yet we never made it inside!

Located in the historic area of Ko Ratanakosin (the veritable Vatican City of Thai Buddhism, filled with Thailand’s most revered and sacred sites), The Grand Palace is only used by the king for certain ceremonial occasions like Coronation Day (the king’s residence is at Chitlada Palace). The funny thing we encountered, The Grand Palace never seemed to be open when we tried to tour it! The last ticket is sold at 3:30 PM, which we did not realize on the first two attempts. The third strike was during the king’s birthday celebration; we were told by a very friendly Thai man that the palace was closed on said day until 2 PM and that we should take a promotional tuk-tuk tour of Bangkok for $1 and come back later in the day. We thought this was such a nice gesture, until we realized that we were being herded around to jewelry and clothing outlets so the driver could make a large commission (he got the short end of that deal, since we did not purchase anything).* Alas, I will have to visit The Grand Palace on my next trip to Bangkok.

2. Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

Also located in historic Ko Ratanakosin and within the grounds of The Grand Palace (i.e. one ticket for both attractions, cost is 400 baht or about $14 USD), Wat Phra Kaew (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is deemed the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. The Buddha image was meticulously carved from one piece of jade around the 15th century AD. Again, this will be on the top of my priority list to see the next time I’m in Bangkok!

3. Wat Pho Untitled-3 copy

Again, located in the historic Ko Ratanakosin area, Bangkok’s oldest monastery is home to a gigantic reclining Buddha image. See my last post for more details about Wat Pho.

4. Wat Arun (Wat Chaeng)

This Khmer style spire, a mosaic of porcelain tiles, is one of Bangkok’s most famous and quintessential landmarks. Legend tells of King Taksin arriving at this temple as dawn was breaking, after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya (besieged by the Burmese). He renovated the temple and named it Wat Chaeng, The Temple of the Dawn. We were able to view the strikingly beautiful temple from the Chao Phraya River but did not actually visit the temple. Adding this to my list of must-see spots when I return.

5. Jim Thompson’s House

Jim Thompson dedicated three decades of his life to the Thai silk industry revival, which was a dying art, and changed the industry forever. He mysteriously disappeared in the jungles of Malaysia, but he left behind a legacy, which shines and shimmers through his amazing collection of Thai antiques and art on display in Jim Thompson’s House and Museum. The house itself is a stunning residential enclave of six traditional Thai teakwood houses. My biggest regret was not seeing Jim Thompson’s House. Add it to the list for my return visit!

6. Explore Mae Nam Chao Phraya (Chao Phraya River) and its waterways Untitled-5 copy

You can take an hour trip, as we did, or you can cruise the river and many canals of the “Venice of the East” for a half or whole day. Read more about our experience here.

7. Wander around chaotic Khao San Road, backpacker haven

This is the place where East meets West. This is the place where tourists and locals come to party. If you’ve seen The Hangover 2, you’ve seen this place. This.is the place.for nightlife.

8. Sample the commercial chaos of Chinatown Untitled-6 copy

9.  Soi Cowboy 

The Vegas-meets-French Quarter red-light district, featuring a colorful neon-lit streetscape, is filled with go go bars, scantily clad girls, and Western tourists. (Similar: Patpong, Nana Plaza). We missed these areas during our stay, but they are noteworthy, indeed.

10.  Floating Market

There are a few different floating markets to choose from in Bangkok, these include Ampawa Floating Market, Damnoen & River Kwai, Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Taling Chan Floating Market, and Tha Kha Floating Market.

Also mentioned in many must-see lists:

  • Chatuchak Weekend Market – This 35-acre area of Chatuchak houses more than 8,000 market stalls and draws more than 200,000 visitors in a typical weekend. Anything and everything is for sale. If you have extra time in Bangkok and like to shop, it may be worth a day trip for the experience. We did not venture out there. To be honest, the thought kind of stressed me out! 
  • Biyoke Sky Hotel (highest building in Bangkok)- Take in Bangkok’s electric skyline while sipping on a cocktail.

*Check back for more on exploring Bangkok like a local, including: finding green spaces (parks), wandering the streets and canals, eating street food, and being swindled into taking a “very cheap tuk-tuk tour of the city” (oops, we didn’t read the guidebook warning until later… And we thought we got such a good deal!!) *

Thanks for stopping by!

♥ Lindsay

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9 Responses to Bangkok in Two Days: 10 Must-Sees (and a few honorable mentions)

  1. Kenneth December 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM #

    Hey, Nice to read your blogg. In fact im going up to Bangkok today, so il see if i get to use your little guide:-) im looking forward to se some posts from the Africa trip:-) x

    • The Traveluster December 30, 2012 at 1:15 PM #

      Hey Kenneth! Check out my post today about the Gem Scam in Bangkok! Watch out! Enjoy the city! It’s a good one! And I should start posting about Africa soon!!!

  2. Anonymous July 6, 2013 at 6:55 AM #

    Not sure what you actually saw. You seem to have left it all for another trip

    • The Traveluster July 6, 2013 at 9:15 AM #

      Hi there, and thanks for the comment. If you click on the link above, “exploring Bangkok like a local” – you will get a taste of what we did in Bangkok. This post was simply an illustration of what many tourists prioritize when they travel to Bangkok, not necessarily what I was prioritizing. We tried to see the Grand Palace (which also houses Wat Phra Kaew) several times, but it was always closed when we went. We were able to visit Wat Pho, Chao Phraya River, Khao San Road, and China Town. Again, we did many other things on our own, just trying to take in the city at our own pace.

  3. Toni December 18, 2013 at 3:01 AM #

    Hi Lindsay. We travelled to Bangkok from South Africa at the beginning of this month and your advice was very welcome indeed. We stayed only 2 nights in Bangkok before heading off to Phuket and had only 1 day we could possibly see the Grand Place. We were dropped off by taxi at the main gate but were immediately shepherded (quite persistently) by a Thai gentleman to a different gate which he told us was the entrance for tourists. Another man at this second gate told us that the palace was closed until 1.30pm for the monks to pray but that for R30 a tuk tuk parked conveniently on the side of the road would take us sightseeing for an hour. I had read your blog just a couple of days before so warning bells were ringing especially as we could see many tourists inside the palace from where we were standing and there was a sign behind him clearly stating the tourists were to enter by the main gate at the next entrance. I thanked him and said we would come back later. As soon as he moved on to the next tourist we ducked round him and the man at the main gate and went inside. It was something I am glad we did not miss.

    Just for information, the entrance fee is now 500 baht per person. Also please note that they are quite strict about dressing appropriately with no shorts, strappy tops etc. However, they loan you clothes for free if you forget. They ask for 200 baht deposit per item, which you must have in exact money. You get the same notes back when you return the clothes.

    Thanks again for your helpful advice

    • Lindsay December 19, 2013 at 1:39 AM #

      Hey Toni! Excellent! I’m so glad you were able to use some tips for my site and that you were able to get to the Grand Palace! Those Thai schemers are relentless!

  4. Sakshi August 23, 2016 at 2:32 AM #

    Hi,

    I am planning to get to Bangkok in coming weekend from Jakarta, Indonesia which is just 3 hours by flight. Where do you recommend staying and how much money per day will be required?

    Thanks for replying.

    • Lindsay September 15, 2016 at 11:28 PM #

      Hey Sakshi- well Bangkok is a massive city, like New York or Beijing. There are countless options! Where you chose to stay would probably depend on your budget and interests. I hope you found a great place!

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