24 Hours in Bangkok

I’ve been to Bangkok several times. Ironically enough, it’s never been for much longer than a day. Although I’ve never had an extended stay in Bangkok, all of my short stays have given me a chance to see what’s really worth seeing. Bangkok is definitely worth exploring for a few days, but if you are pressed for time here are the things you can’t miss!

24 Hours in Bangkok 

24 hours in Bangkok, Thailand

Temples Galore

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace is at the top of everyone’s “must see” list in Bangkok. Built in 1782, this multi-building complex was once home to the Thai King, the Royal Court, and many other high power government officials and state departments. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. Be advised: this place can get busy. I mean really really busy and crowded. Your best option to avoid the crowds is to go in the early morning.

Grand Palace

Wat Phra Kaew (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

Within the complex of the Grand Palace are several beautiful and unique buildings including The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in all of Thailand, the Emerald Buddha is carved from a single block of jade and dates back to the 14th century.

Because this temple is held in such high regard, a strict dress code is enforced for both men and women. Long pants and covered shoulders are a must. Not dressed appropriately? Have no fear! There is a an area near the entrance that can provide coverups for a deposit.

Pro-tip: The Palace is open daily from 8 am – 5:30 pm. If a local tries to tell you it is closed during those hours they’re lying. This is a common scam in Bangkok. They tell you it’s closed but offer to take you to another temple that is a long tuk-tuk ride away. Do not fall for this.

Grand Palace

Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha)

A short distance away from the Grand Palace you will find another temple iconic to Bangkok, Wat Pho, or the Reclining Buddha. The Reclining Buddha is exactly what it says it is, a giant (45 m long and 15 m high) gold Buddha laying on its side. Although the Reclining Buddha is no doubt the main attraction, Wat Pho also contains several chapels and a beautiful courtyard.

Wat Arun (Temple of the Rising Sun)

Across the Chao Phraya River, you’ll find Wat Arun, or the Temple of the Rising Sun. This temple looks much different from the others. In fact, it very much resembles the Khmer style of temples at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

Related: Complete Guide to Visiting Angkor Wat 

The 5 towers of the Wat Arun temple are hard to miss and look amazing from afar when lit up at night. However, as the name implies, it is best to see it in the morning. As the sun rises, it gives off a beautiful shimmering light that causes a reflection from the river.

Wat-Arun-BangkokVIA

Khao San Road

Khao San Road is like no other road in Thailand. Widely regarded as the backpackers meeting ground, Khao San is overflowing with food carts, souvenir shops, Thai message parlors, restaurants, bars, and clubs blaring loud music at all hours of the day. Khao San is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you want the full Bangkok experience you should at least stop by.

Related: What to Expect on Bangkok’s Famous Khao San Road 

Khao San Road

Khao San Road

Indulge in a Thai Message

Get ready to have your world rocked, because Thai messages are on a whole other level. The best part is, depending on where you are, you can get an hour-long, most amazing message of your life for less than $10 American. Beware of places that advertise “happy-ending messages”.

Bangkok

Visit a Floating Market

There are several floating markets in the Bangkok area, but one of the most popular is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, made famous after it was featured in the 1974 James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun. Since then it’s gone from being mostly a locals market to a huge tourist destination. Damnoen Saduak is located about 1.5 hours out of the city. Take the bus to Samut Sangkhram Ratchaburi province. Once you arrive you can walk along the passageway to the market, take a boat to the market pier, or even arrange for a tour.

Bangkok-floating-market.jpgVIA

Eat some street food and local fruit

Food in Thailand ranges from street carts to top of the line restaurants. If you’re not on the budget to dine at the fancy-smancy restaurants, have no fear! You can find some amazing, authentic Thai food right on the street. Pad Thai is always sure to please, but if you’re feeling more adventurous try out one of the many curry dishes. My favorite is the massaman curry. For your sweet tooth, try the so simple, yet so amazing, Thai Pancake, a doughy pastry fried and folded over with your choice of filling and topped with amazing toppings like Nutella, chocolate sauce and peanut butter. My go to was the banana peanut butter.

If you’re looking for something a little lighter and healthier, Thailand has amazing fruit available right on the street. I recommend mangosteen and jackfruit, and if you get the chance to try durian, or as it’s sometimes called: smelly fruit, do it!

Bangkok fruit

Thai Pancake

Bonus: Chatuchak Weekend Market

If you’re in town on a weekend you do not want to miss the Chatuchak Weekend Market! It is the mother of all markets and will blow your mind. Because the Chatuchak is so big in size (over 15,000 stalls) it is divided into sections to help you better find what you’re looking for. If you’re trying to beat the crowds (which I suggest you do) plan to come early.

24 hours in Bangkok, Thailand. What to see, do, and eat!

What’s your favorite Bangkok activity?

linking up with Lauren, Van, Isabel, and Marcella for Wanderful Wednesday.

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  • This is great! I visited Bangkok fairly briefly last year, and I actually found myself quite overwhelmed by it. It’s like nowhere I’ve ever been before! I kind of fell in love with it though, so I’d love to go back and see more. Particularly the floating market, more temples, and some more of the old Bangkok town. I’ve heard of river tours where you can see the back streets and more traditional parts of the city that remain, so I think I’d like to do that. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I 100% agree that’s it’s like no other place. Parts of it can be very modern and other parts, as you said, can be more traditional. It’s kind of unique to see those two different styles come together. I hope you make it back there again, Rachel! 🙂

  • Bangkok seems so fascinating! I’d love to visit all those temples and try the food! And the floating market would definitely be on my list as well!

    • the food.. seriously. I miss it so much. Everything is so fresh and the fruit they have over there is on a whole differently level from anything I’ve ever had in the US. Plus watching a little Thai man cut up an entire pineapple in less than 30 seconds is quite impressive. haha.

  • My favorite Thai food is also massaman curry. My favorite dessert is mangoes and sticky rice- so simple, yet so delicious! #wanderfulwednesday

    • My ideal Thai meal perfection is exactly that, Allison! I ate mango sticky rice SOOO often while I was there. I just could not stop. as you said, so simple, and honestly, kind of a weird combination, but the coconut sauce and the mango with rice, my mouth is now watering. 🙂

  • I’ve flown through Bangkok but have never actually gone outside the airport. Sure seems like there’s plenty to see and do!

    • I hope you get a chance to make it out of the airport someday, Rachel! It’s an impressive city with a lot of personality!

  • Wandering Feline

    Thanks for sharing this post – will save this list for next time I’m in Bangkok. I went through there twice on my travels with almost enough time to visit stuff, but it seems so overwhelmingly big, I didn’t know where to start so ended up staying in the airport. Really useful tips. One question – could you do all of this in 1 day do you think?

    • I agree with you about it being overwhelming, Feline. You could easily spend a week in Bangkok doing different things every day. I will admit this is an extremely full day. this is how i would do it. Get up early (like 6 am early) and head to the floating market. buy some things, try some food. from there, I would recommend picking one or two of the temples that seem most appealing. If you only have time for one, I recommend the Grand Palace. after walking around the palace get yourself a thai message. a full body will take an hour and be amazing, but even just a 30 min foot massage is worth it after walking around the market and the Grand Palace. From there, sample some street food, and head to Khao San Road in the evening/night to end your night.

  • So I’ve never really wanted to visit Asia very much, but the more I fall in love with Asian food and the beautiful pictures I see from other travel bloggers, Asia moves even farther up on my travel list! Thailand looks so incredibly beautiful, and I’d love to try some of the food, obviously, and the floating markets look so cool!

    • You’d love it, Ashely! One of my favorite things about Southeast Asia in general is that it can be top of the line, super expensive, luxurious, romantic, etc., or it can be budget backpacker dirt cheap. It can also be somewhere in between the two of those places as well! It’s such a fun place to travel for anyone and any budget, in my opinion.

  • Ahila Thillainathan

    I was planning to visit Bangkok next month but have now postponed it for another trip. Enjoyed your post and looking forward to trying out the Bangkok street food scene. #WanderfulWednesday

    • Yay! Great to hear you’ll be making it to Bangkok soon, Ahila! I have no doubt you’ll love it. I look forward to reading your posts when you get back 🙂

  • I was in thailand on 25 June 2011, when the Tsumani was came! Really very fainted and screaming view on beach… When i remember those days my soul fainted…