Bangkok has been hailed as the number-one tourist destination in Southeast Asia. The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is a feel-good city that offers a myriad of experiences from exquisite cuisine to shimmering temples, to exotic adventures and luxurious retreats.
The bustling metropolis is approximately double the size of Singapore and has a rich history that dates to the 15th century. In fact, Bangkok wasn’t Thailand’s capital back then. With the rise and fall of Kingdoms and changing of rulers, the capital moved further and further south— to where we know as Bangkok today. The former ancient capitals, namely, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, located in Northern Thailand, have become UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
You’d have heard that Bangkok is often called the City of Angels, and why is that so?
For the Thais, the capital is called Krung Thep, which translates into City of Angels, but that’s not the FULL name— a mind-boggling fact.
The full name is a mixture of ancient Pali and Sanskrit languages:
Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit
A general translation of the full name:
The great city of angels, it’s where the immortal divinity dwells, the invincible city, the royal capital endowed with nine precious jewels and full of joy, it is abundant with enormous royal palaces, it’s where the reincarnated angels reside, at the order of Inrda, Vishvakarma majestically built the capital.
Urm..Let’s just stick to Bangkok, ok?
It only takes a few days to understand why this city is the top travel destination in Southeast Asia.
What we appreciate about Bangkok is their impeccable hospitality, despite the language barrier, the hot weather, the city pollution, and political instability which makes it a less-than-ideal city. But it doesn’t mean the city is any less interesting. In 2018, the Thai capital has welcomed a record 38.27 million tourists!
How much mind-boggling can be packed into a 3D2N holiday in Bangkok? Well, you’re about to find out now.
Oh, just don’t forget to bring along a portable battery-powered fan to keep cool!
Bangkok is home to 9 million people, so expect traffic chaos if you’re on the road. You’ll feel it when you’re riding from the airport, especially during peak hours.
Getting around the Thai capital seems like a challenge at first, but if you have WiFi and a smartphone, everything becomes easy. Download the Citymapper app to help you navigate the mega-city and remember to carry enough small notes and coins with you.
The two modes of transports you’d be using regularly are the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS), also known as the Skytrain, and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). They are the swiftest way to get around the city, beating the congested traffics in air-conditioned comfort.
For short-term visitors, don’t bother getting the transport card (Rabbit Card) because you’ll end up paying more. It is more cost-effective to buy a ticket at the station machine. To save time and money, we’d recommend getting the one-day ticket for unlimited travel, which costs 140 bahts (SGD $6). Tickets are valid only for that day, not for 24 hours. The trains stop running at 11:45 pm, so if you are staying out late, plan to take a taxi back using Grab app.
If you plan to stay in Bangkok for a longer period of time, then we’d recommend getting the 30-day Rabbit card.
In any case, you can also ride a tuk-tuk! These open-air motorised rickshaws are quintessentially Bangkok. However, you need to be wary of ‘mafia’ tuk-tuk around tourist areas, who often boasts privileged knowledge of ‘secret’ or ‘special’ shopping places and things.
Local Tip: Remember to download a translation app which will come in handy when you need to ask for direction or communicate with your tuk-tuk driver.
We’ve left the buses out because unless you’re well-versed in Thai, don’t waste time getting lost. But that is not to say you can’t experience Bangkok on a bus, consider going on a two-hour bus tour here.
Where to stay:
First things first, where you stay in Bangkok can make or break your trip.
To make the most out of your trip to Bangkok, we recommend staying in either Sukhumvit Road or Silom area of town that is easily accessible by Bangkok Transit System (BTS) or the Skytrain.
What we like about Bangkok is that they have plenty of luxury hotels with impeccable service, and you don’t need to worry about busting your travel budget for the entire year.
If you wish to take in the sights of the city at the comfort of your room or while away your afternoon in the infinity pool, then SO Sofitel Bangkok located near Lumpini Park station will not disappoint.
The 5-stars hotel comes with impeccable hospitality and stylish amenities at a fraction of what you’d usually pay for a night in Marina Bay Sands Singapore.
From the moment you check into the hotel, you’ll feel like you’ve entered an oasis after feasting on street food in the sweltering heat or haggling over tank tops at Chatuchak.
With great views over the high-rise cityscape around the hotel, Sofitel is a real delight. The hotel also boasts two restaurants and three bars with enthralling views.
Alternatively, there are beautifully decorated Airbnbs in Bangkok that will make you feel right at home.
1Day 1: Morning Market, Gold-spired Temples and Dinner cruise on Mae Nam Chao Phraya
We start off the day with breakfast at Wang Lang Market, located on the west bank of Chao Phraya river. This riverside market runs only in the day and is well-frequented by locals.
There is no official entrance to the market, but it is not difficult to spot as it is opposite an old hospital, Siriraj Hospital. When you see street cart vendors occupying the walkway, that’s where the market is.
The maze-like market is made up of several alleys cramped with vendors and shops selling clothes and fashion accessories. But the highlight of Wang Lang Market is its variety of street food and local eateries.
Address 5 Wang Lang, Khwaeng Siriraj, Khet Bangkok Noi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10700, Thailand Getting there From Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain station, take Chao Phraya Express Boat (3 baht for a ferry ticket), Orange Flag, to Pier No.10 (known as Wang Lang Pier or Pran Nok Pier). The market is just off the pier. Opening Hours Daily from 8 AM to 6 PM
What to eat in Wang Lang Market? We’d recommend Sai Mai Noodles, famous for its noodles and shrimp wonton.
Don’t leave Wang Lang Market without trying the traditional crispy rice pancake at Auntie Tim’s Tungtag. It’s like a sweet taco wrapped with fresh cream and coconut. It comes with various fillings for you to choose from.
With more than 300 Temples (Wat) in Bangkok, we have narrowed down to 2 must-visit sites, namely, Wat Arun and Wat Pho.
Once you’ve eaten your fill at Wang Lang Market, grab a cab to one of the top sights in Bangkok— the majestic Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, that is only 2km away. The entry ticket to the temple can be purchased at the counter for 50 Bahts.
Local tip: Please dress appropriately if you plan to enter the Temple. No shorts and slippers are allowed, otherwise you will have to rent clothing in order to enter the temple.
Wat Arun sits on the west bank of Chao Phraya River and its unique architecture is an interpretation of Mount Meru, the centre of the world in Buddhist cosmology. Its visually arresting spires silhouette against the skyline imparts a sense of otherworldliness in sooty Bangkok. It is one of those places that you should not missed in Bangkok, even if you’re not into Pagodas and Temples. Wat Arun is so elegant and well-maintained that you can’t help but to marvel at its intricate architecture.
If you’re physically fit, you can attempt to climb the steep stairway up the face of the temple.
Address 34 Wang Doem Road | Wat Arun, Bang Kok Yai, Bangkok 10600, Thailand Opening Hours Daily from 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Our next stop will be another temple that is directly opposite Wat Arun, sitting on the east bank of Chao Phraya river— Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is a 5-minute ferry ride from Wat Arun Pier 1 to Tha Tien Pier.
Of all temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho is the one that every visitor would agree that it is a jaw-dropping spectacle to behold.
Built in 1848, Wat Pho has the largest Buddha statue in Thailand at 15 metres tall and 46 metres long! It is so huge that it is about to outsize the premise. Wat Pho also carries the largest collection of Buddha images.
Upon entering the temple, you’ll hear a constant clinking noise as there is a practice of tossing coins into the golden buckets around the perimeter of the temple for good luck. So make sure you join in the line and toss some coins too!
You’ll be expected to remove your footwear and that your shoulders should be covered, with no clothing to be worn that doesn’t fall below your knees. Ticket to the temple cost 100 Bahts.
After checking out the temple, there are food stalls around the area to grab a quick lunch.
What’s interesting about Wat Pho is that it also serves as an education institution for traditional Thai medicine.
Local tip: There is a traditional Thai massage school in Wat Pho so after a day of exploration on foot, treat yourself to a relaxing Thai foot massage.
Address 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand Opening Hours Daily from 8:30 AM – 6:30 PM
We’ve seen the iconic landmarks in the day, and according to the locals, these ornamental temples are even more remarkable at night. The 82 metre high Khmer-style spire looks like shimmering gold after dark.
One of the must-do gourmand experiences in Bangkok is to enjoy a sumptuous riverside dining. We’d recommend Aspara River Cruise that serves five-course Thai dinner while travelling down Chao Phraya river at night, away from the commotion of the city.
There is no live entertainment on board Aspara River Cruise, but that’s not necessary anyway. After traversing the whole day in bustling tourist spots, this scenic river cruise is a much-needed respite. There is ample time in between meals for guests to wander around the deck at both ends of the boat, the entire journey is about 100 minutes.
Address River City Shopping Complex 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng, Charoen Krung 30, Si Phaya Pier, Yota Road, Sampantawong, Bangkok 10100,Thailand Opening Hours Cruise start at 8:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Off The Beaten Track
Not new to Bangkok? How about wandering off the beaten path to discover a different side of the Thai capital— on a long-boat ride along Klong Mahasawat, a famous canal in Nakhon Pathom that was constructed during King Rama IV reign in the 18th century. Klongs, or known in English as canals or waterways, are an essential part of the Thai way-of-life and the cityscape.
Klong Mahaswat is best experienced in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. Sail leisurely to key attractions like the Lotus Farm, you’ll also be given the opportunity to paddle the boat on your own, and then join the locals to make some rice snacks. The tour ends with a visit to an organic fruit orchard where you’ll be enjoying a variety of exotic fruits of Thailand.
2Day 2: Floating Market, Sustainably sourced Coffee and Michelin Star Street Food
There are several floating markets in Bangkok, you’d be spoilt for choice. We’d recommend visiting the Klong Lat Mayom floating market, which is 30 minutes away from Bangkok to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. It is accessible by taxi from Wongwian Yai (the last BTS station on the Silom Line).
Located on the outskirt of Bangkok’s Thonburi side of the river, Klong Lat Mayom floating market is favoured by the locals so you can expect prices of the food and products to be significantly cheaper than what you’d find in the touristy markets (like Damnoen Saduak Market).
What we like about Klong Lat Mayom is its local vibe and the absence of souvenirs stall. It is a small riverside market with a narrow canal, and there are food carts and eating tables on land.
Local market culture is quintessentially Thai way of life, it is lively, casual and inexpensive. There is no Thai dish you cannot find in this market.
Local tip: Klong Lat Mayom floating market is only available on weekends. Besides shopping and eating, you can also take a 60 minutes boat tour around the countryside.
Address Soi Bang Ramat | Bang Ramat, Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170, Thailand Opening Hours Saturday & Sunday from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM
So you’ve had a great meal, enjoyed a scenic boat ride, and you’re feeling a tad sleepy already. It’s time for your caffeine fix. Let’s return to the city for a coffee with a good cause.
Elefin Coffee serves coffee sustainably sourced in Chiang Rai, and supports hill tribe farmers with their operations. The cafe also offers a Thai-Western fusion menu.
Address 394 / 1 – 2 Maharaj Road, Phra Nakhon Bangkok, Thailand 10200 Opening Hours Daily from 8 AM – 8 PM
When we learned that there was only one Michelin Starred Street Food Eatery in Bangkok last year so we absolutely have to check it out. The late Anthony Bourdain visited this street restaurant before too.
Enter Raan Jay Fai, a shophouse restaurant helmed by a 72-year-old lady chef, and is famous for wok-cooked seafood dishes, especially the 1,000-baht crab omelette.
Why so expensive? Remember Raan Jay Fai isn’t your average street food stall. The lady chef prides herself in using fresh ingredients for every dishes she prepared.
Is it worth the hype? Yes. The cost is justified because of the generous portion of crab meat in the omelette.
Local tip: Even though the eatery opens at 2:30 PM, you will find curious travellers making a beeline outside the eatery to make reservations. Try to get there before the dinner crowd and be prepared to spent more than 1000 Bahts.
Address 327 Maha Chai Rd, Khwaeng Samran Rat, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand Opening Hours Tuesday to Saturday 2 PM – Midnight (Closed on Monday and Sunday)
3Day 3: Take Your Brunch Affairs to A Whole New Level at Ocken
Well, the last day in Bangkok before getting back to the daily grind. The cure to last night’s hangover is to indulge in a good brunch and take a nap.
Ocken has successfully set themselves apart from the ever-saturated brunch cafes scene of Bangkok. Don’t expect the typical brunch fares like American Eggs Benedict and they change their menu from time to time.
Brunch in Ocken is a deliciously creative experience that every local foodie will sing praises about.
Local tip: Before you go, it is best to have a table reserved in advance. You can make a reservation here.
Address 31 South Sathon Road | Bhiraj Tower at Sathon, 1st Floor, Bangkok 10120, Thailand Opening Hours Saturday & Sunday from 10:30 AM – 2:30 PM