Also known as Krung Thep in Thai language, Bangkok adorns larger than life avatar at the advent of dawn with every new calendar day! The charm of far east casts a magical spell with Bangkok. From the ancient palatial buildings dedicated to the Thai royal family, shrouded in gold and glistening brightly in broad daylight, to new age chic skyscrapers challenging the height of the sky: Bangkok has rightly emerged as the pearl of the orient globe.
I have chalked a rough week-long itinerary in Bangkok. I aim to draw a fine balance between experiencing Thai culture and the quirks of a modern metropolis that Bangkok truly is. No trip to Bangkok is complete without tasting world-famous Thai cuisine. Needless to say, the week-long Bangkok itinerary also features a few authentic Thai joints to taste Pad Thai and Red Curry.
Day One in Bangkok:
Sawadee Ka Bangkok (Hello Bangkok in Thai)
Day one in Bangkok will ideally see you checking into a hotel during day time at one of the touristy neighborhoods of Bangkok.
I recommend you to stay close to the riverfront if your budget permits. The riverfront is a quieter place and full of pleasant luxury. You may choose to stay near Sukhumvit, downtown Bangkok, where the city never falls asleep. Alternatively, you can book your stay near Khao San Road or China Town in Bangkok. The last two options are budget-friendly and generally allows more local and authentic Thai experience. For example, an old shophouse turned into BnB in Chinatown, Bangkok would be an intense cultural experience.
Take sufficient rest on the first day, assuming you are jet-lagged and tired from the long flight. Rest well for the afternoon and avid Bangkok’s sticky heat situation. Give your body the necessary time and ambiance to adjust.
As the sun bids adieu, head towards Asiatique Riverfront. From the Sapan Taskin metro station, you can take the free ferry ride that will bring you to Asia’s largest open-air mall.
There are a few vintage corners where old world pushcarts and tram finds a place alongside the swanky new brand stores. Thai puppet Show, Ladyboy show at the Calypso Cabaret are major entertainment crowd-pullers at Asiatique Mall. More than 40 fine dining restaurants are present on the premises.
However, if you want to experience a more rustic Bangkok, hop on to one of those air-conditioned tourist vehicles and aim to reach Khao San Road to end your day.
Often touted as the center of the Backpacking universe, Khao San Road is a stretch of 1 KM where street-side stalls sell anything from Travel tickets to fried insects to tattoo and everything in between. Khao San’s Walking street is notorious for quirkiness in Bangkok. Khao San has plenty of mid-range and budget guesthouses and hostels and cheap beer houses. Khao San featured briefly in Leonardo DI Caprio starrer movie, The Beach based on Idyllic Thai beaches. Be extra cautious with purse and mobile phone while walking on the walking street in Khao San
Day two in Bangkok:
A Day to Explore the Markets
Bangkok is situated by the banks of the Chao Phraya river. The topography has multiple canals and wetlands and water bodies connecting with each other. The waterborne economy of Bangkok predates the age of globalization. On a weekly basis, farmers from distant markets would bring in fresh produce and transact with the royals and nobleman by the edge of the river. Bangkok’s wet markets doubled as a hang out place for the locals where social interactions would take place. These wet markets would find a way on the river system or every weekend.
Damnoen Saduak Floating market is where most of the tourists head to when in Bangkok. You can hop on to one of the ferries, pay a nominal entry fee and experience the market that takes place on a daily basis. There are lesser touristy floating markets happening in the outskirts of Bangkok. However, they only take place on weekends. Finding an English speaking shopkeeper could be a challenge too. One of the more famous weekend floating market is Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market.
The century-old Maeklong Railway market is another quirky destination in Bangkok. Every day at a stipulated time, local trains pass by the narrow gauge rail line. As the engine approaches, savvy, hands pack up their makeshift shops swiftly. From masks to fresh fruits, these markets sell everyday essentials for a Thai household. Streetside vendors also sell amazing Boat noodles made of Chicken or fish ball and top that with generous amounts of herbs! Once the train passes by, the market is set up again with stalls reclaiming the lifeless steel track of the rail line.
These wet markets are the best backdrops for colorful photo opportunities. For the best Instagram moments, please pay a visit to Pak Klong Flower Market. The place is filled with the aroma of myriad petals. It is a twenty-four-hour market, but crowd subsides as evening beckons.
Bangkok also houses Asia’s largest weekend market. It is named as Chatuchak Market. With more than 8000 stalls, Chatuchak sells everything on Earth and more. Books, antiques, silk, fabrics, souvenirs, pets, ceramics, jewelry, bags, etc. are some of the products on offer at Chatuchak market. The market runs on cash and heavy bargain skills.
If you dedicate half a day to each one of the markets, you should be able to cover at least two places in a day. We recommend choosing between a floating market and the Chatuchak market. In case you are quick and not looking for extensive shopping, squeezing all of them in a day is very much possible. They are located close by. Only remember to schedule the date on a weekend to ensure not missing out on Chatuchak.
Day three in Bangkok:
Paying a visit to the Monuments and river ferry
Bangkok’s river promenade is studded with ancient palaces and Buddhist temples. The area has an intangible old timer’s charm. From the Sapan Taskin pier, tourist ferry (hence more expensive and traditional looking small boats) as well as public service ferry (regular steamers and nominally priced) start for Wat Arun and Grand Palace. We suggest, start with the Grand palace first.
Once the residence of the Thai king and his family, the Grand Palace is a stunning sit of royal power with a jade Buddha temple housed inside. Entry to Grand palace will cost you 1000 Thai Baht. It will take at least two hours to cover the entire palace. Try to reach as early as possible since the area tends to get overrun by tourist footfall as the day unfolds.
You can pay a visit to Wat Pho, the temple of reclining Buddha located at a walking distance. All these places demand visitors to dress modestly and pay an entrance fee.
Hop back to the ferry and stop at Wat Arun. The ivory white Buddhist Stupa is painted ornate with intricate designs, resembling countless gems and mosaics. Wat Arun looks particularly beautiful if you can make it there during sunset.
These heritage attractions remain open from 8 am to 5 pm.
You can end the day with a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya river where traditional Apsara dance takes place. You will be treated with an elaborate dinner menu and cocktail drinks as well.
Day four in Bangkok:
Day trip to Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is a UNESCO heritage site and the erstwhile capital of Siam, ancient Thailand. Countless Buddhist monuments, dilapidated temples, and remain of ancient capital are scattered around the countryside. Using a Grab Taxi, Ayutthaya is only a couple of hour’s drive from downtown Bangkok. It should not cost you more than 2000 Baht one way. However, the cheapest way to reach Ayutthaya is to hop on the local train. From Hualamphong station, you can purchase a first or third class train ticket and reach Ayutthaya.
If you prefer a bus ride, you can board one of the frequent buses plying from Mo Chit terminus. The Bus runs from 6 in the morning till 5 in the evening. Ayutthaya is yet to develop tourist infrastructure, hence we would not recommend a night stay.
When at Ayutthaya, you can either rent a tuk–tuk or hire a bike to explore the old town.
Be cautious before venturing into the abandoned temple since they are the dens of venomous snakes oftentimes. You may also want to avoid the rainy season since stepping into the temples may cause erosion and other distressing effects.
Day five in Bangkok:
Eat your heart out in China Town & visit Mahanakhon Skywalk.
Bangkok’s China Town is one of the oldest Chinese settlements in Asia. The area is also known as Yaowarat Road among the locals, snaking up by the old port area. The Glass Noodles of Bangkok’s China Town are the best in this part of the world, served with steamed tiger prawns. Neon lights lit up the road brights.
To end the day, we highly recommend a sundowner cocktail on the top of Mahanakhon Skywalk. At the 73rd floor, the observation deck casts an impressive spell on the busy urban jungle that Bangkok is. Yet, you stand above all of these, feeling overwhelmed with a sense of detachment and empowerment!
The glass walk on top of Mahanakhon is unnerving and once in a lifetime experience.
Day Six in Bangkok:
Thai Cooking Class, Pub Hopping, and Relaxing Massage
Now that you have tasted Thai delicacies for the past 5 days and (assuming) loved it, you can dedicate a day to learn the tricks employed to conjure a traditional Thai meal. A Thai cooking class starts from picking up the freshest ingredients from a morning market and balancing the act of spices and chilies. Chef Leez and Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy are particularly famous among many.
Now that you have tasted Thai delicacies for past 5 days and (assuming) loved it, you can dedicate a day to learn the tricks employed to conjure a traditional Thai meal. A Thai cooking class starts from picking up the freshest ingredients from a morning market and balancing the act of spices and chilies. Chef Leez and Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy are particularly famous among many.
At night, you can pub crawl at Soi 11, often touted as the most happening nightlife area of Bangkok. Numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants adorn the streets, attracting a vast number of tourists and expats.
End the day with a little pampering for your body and soul. Sign up for an iconic Thai Massage. A full body Thai Massage and spa can take anywhere between one hour to three hours. Allow your body to distress at the hands of a trained masseuse. While the street side stalls are more economic, for an authentic, luxury experience you can visit Wat Pho traditional Thai Massage (closes by 7 PM), Spa Intercontinental and Health Land.
Day Seven in Bangkok:
Shop till you Drop and indulge in Nature at Lumbini Park
Considering this is the last day in Bangkok, you may choose to dedicate it to shopping. From souvenirs to fine clothing and leather bags and electronics, Bangkok offers excellent retail therapy. From budget-friendly options, choose to visit the Chatuchak Market, the night markets, street vendors near Pratunam Mall. Pratunam Mall and MBK centers are the premier choices for mid ranges cloth and jewelry shopping. For buying the choicest of silk cloth, Maneerat Thai Silk, The Silk Zone at The Old Siam Plaza are highly recommended. You can choose from rolling fabric and stitch it from the tailors. Bangkok is slowly growing as a hub of tailor-made clothes, coats and leather shoes of high quality.
Check out should be done keeping in mind Suvarnabhumi Airport is in a couple of hours away from downtown Bangkok. You are free to take a leisurely stroll at Lumbini Park, the breathing space at the heart of a concrete city. Lumbini Park has a water body. Be careful not to step on the tail of water monitors that frequently appear to sunbathe in the Lumbini park. They are mostly benign to humans though.
This was just a rough itinerary for Bangkok for seven days. Please remember erratic traffic congestion, drastic weather change, and unprecedented political circumstances may challenge this flow. You can, alternatively, take a few more day trips from Bangkok in you want to escape the maddening urban rush. A day trip to River Khwai, for example, will bring you close to the historical war sight of World War 2 fame.
Many prefer to shop in Bangkok till they drop. Needless to say, numerous malls and night markets help them indulge in the shopping spree. Shopping in Bangkok is surprisingly affordable and quite a rewarding experience. For upscale souvenirs and authentic silk, you can visit Jim Thompson’s House.
There are Sea World Marine Aquarium and Safari World in Bangkok for those willing to see wildlife in cages and confined spaces. They are particularly famous among family and group travelers. However, in recent times, they have come under scrutiny for unethical treatment of wild animals.
When in Bangkok, ensure you make the best use to BTS Skytrain and MRT (the underground) train system. The interwoven network connects distant parts of the city and is the best way to beat intense traffic situations and reach piers and central attractions.
Bangkok is the ultimate recluse for those with a penchant for exploring many nuances of urban life. An urban progressing life that is well based out of age-old tradition. Add to that your inclination to partying, you are in the quintessential heaven of world party hot spots. The city has something on offer for a recluse, an extrovert, a cultural explorer, a photographer, the list goes on. Chances are endless. It boils down to what you pick and choose really.
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