Big, loud, bustling and hectic. Bangkok is all of these things, and it’s also vibrant, eclectic and overflowing with fascinating sites. This city of 13 million people may not match the visions of Thailand as a relaxing beach getaway. But don’t let that deter you from allowing 2 days in Bangkok on your Thailand itinerary. As the capital, Bangkok is filled with plenty of must-see sites, enticing day trips, delicious food and a rich history that all provide the perfect introduction to Thailand.
Overview of your 2 days in Bangkok itinerary
For your first full day in Thailand, spend the morning visiting Wat Pho and seeing the impressive Reclining Buddha, then visit Museum Siam and learn all about Thai-ness and Thai identity, then check out The Grand Palace where the Emerald Buddha resides and then finish your day shopping and dining at Asiatique The Riverfront Bangkok night market.
What I love about this itinerary is that all of the daytime attractions are within a 10 minute walk from one another on the same side of the Chao Pharya River which bisects the city. This really maximizes your time and allows you to see more with less hassle.
For your second day, get out of the city center and check out any of the three day trips options recommended. For lovers of history and impressive ruins, go to Ayutthaya (the previous capital of the Kingdom of Siam). For a look at a traditional floating market, visit Amphawa Floating Market. For those looking for artisan pottery and more chill look at life in Thailand, head to The Island of Artisans (Ko Kret).
Get ready for a whirlwind 2 days in Bangkok that you’ll never forget!
Travel insurance for Bangkok
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What to pack for Bangkok
Before we get to the itinerary, here are a few items to consider bringing with you:
-lightweight full-coverage clothing for visiting temples and royal sites (check out these awesome options for men and women)
–universal power adapter, since some outlets are American and others are European
-consider pairing that adapter with a USB extension cord – this one allows you to simultaneously charge two devices off the regular outlets along with three USB devices
-a phrase book will win you the appreciation of locals
What to do in Bangkok for 1 Day
Bangkok 1 Day Itinerary Snapshot
Quick breakfast at a local cafe
Wat Pho (1 hour 30 minutes)
Museum Siam (2 hours)
The Grand Palace (2 hours)
Buddhist Temples in Bangkok
Buddhism is such a central part of life in Thailand. It feels like there is an impressive temple on almost every other corner. The two temples in Bangkok that are well worth your time are Wat Pho and Wat Arun Ratchawararam.
Pro Tip: Modesty for both men and women are essential when visiting Buddhist temples. For women and girls, bring a scarf to cover your shoulders and to cover your legs above your knees. For men and boys, purchase a cheap pair of Thai ‘elephant’ pants (you will love using them as pajama pants later) and make sure you have them handy before entering a temple. You will see stands selling scarfs and Thai pants near all major temples. Also, make sure you remove your shoes before entering any temple building. You can wear your shoes around the temple grounds.
Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)
Wat Pho, also known as Temple of the Reclining Buddha is a must visit in Bangkok. The sprawling grounds are beautiful and provide a retreat from the busy streets outside. It is one of Thailand’s oldest temples and was established by King Rama I in 1788. The temple is said to house the most Buddha images in all of Thailand. The main attraction here is the Reclining Buddha, measuring over 150 feet long. We spent a decent amount of time admiring this incredible religious object.
Hours: Sunday – Saturday, 8:00am – 6:30pm. Price: $200 Baht ($6 USD) Recommended amount of time for visit: 1 – 2 hours
Temple of Dan (Wat Arun)
Wat Arun, also known as Temple of Dan is one of the most iconic landmarks visible from all around Bangkok. The centerpiece of the temple is a 230 feet high spire decorated with beautiful porcelain and glass. In order to access Wat Arun you will need to take a hop on and hop off ferry which will cost you 25 cents round trip.
Pro Tip: Wat Arun is beautiful both up close and from afar. If you do not have enough time to visit Wat Arun, try to find a great spot at sunset to view the temple and take some amazing photographs. We took the photo above at Eat Sight Story Deck, but get there early for a table since it can get crowded!
Hours: Sunday – Saturday, 8:30am – 6:30pm. Price: $50 Baht ($1.50 USD) Recommended amount of time for visit: 2 – 3 hours
The Grand Palace
I’m not going to lie to you: of all the places we visited in Thailand, The Grand Palace in Bangkok was the greatest disappointment. You will feel the crush of humanity as you begin your audio tour in the grilling heat. Additionally, the tour does not take you into any portion of the interior of the palace. You basically tour the grounds of the palace but none of the rooms.
The big attraction at The Grand Palace is the famous Temple of the Emerald Buddha housed within one of its courtyards. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is considered to be one of the most sacred sites in all of Thailand.
Pro Tip: Make sure to dress modestly if you choose to visit The Grand Palace, as it is a royal site. This means closed toe shoes for men and women, covering shoulders (ideally with a shirt, not just a shawl) and pants for both men and women. The best time to visit is around 2pm to avoid the tourist buses and largest crowds. Also, if you are there at the end of the day you can watch the changing of the guard which is a cool experience.
Hours: Sunday – Saturday, 8:30am – 3:30pm. Price: $500 Baht ($15 USD) Recommended amount of time for visit: 2 – 3 hours
Easily one of the favorite places we visited in Bangkok. The Museum Siam takes you on an interactive journey exploring the meaning of ‘Thai-ness’. You will encounter everything from the history of Thailand, to the role religion plays in Thai society, to the evolution of Thai music, to the influence of western culture, and the diversity of Thai food. We enjoyed dressing up in traditional Thai clothing for our family picture and playing Thai board games.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10:00am – 6:00pm. Price: $200 Baht ($6 USD) Recommended amount of time for visit: 2-3 hours
Bangkok Flower Market
If you have time, the Bangkok flower market is a nice place for a stroll. You can visit early in the morning to see the fresh flowers for sale or later in the day to see the small non-touristy shops come alive. You can see where the flowers are made into garlands, grab street food with the local community (instead of a bunch of backpackers!), enjoy bakery sweets and stock up at a pharmacy.
Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Bangkok)
This museum is definitely out of the way and not conveniently located to anything else. So why might you ask is it on our list for what to do in Bangkok? Well, if you love art, and want a unique Thai experience, then MOCA Bangkok is worth a visit. Our kids brought their sketch books and enjoyed coming up with their own Thai art while appreciating the beautiful artwork on display. Taking an Uber is your best bet getting to and from MOCA Bangkok. This is a great add-on if you’re planning a Bangkok itinerary for 3 days or more.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30am – 6:30pm. Price: $250 Baht per adult ($8 USD) and children are FREE Recommended amount of time for visit: 2 – 3 hours
What to do in Bangkok in 2 days – Day trips from Bangkok
During your second day in Bangkok consider getting outside of the city and exploring some wonderful attractions nearby. Taking a day trip will show you a different side of Thailand and provide you with a better feel for the culture and history. We have three Bangkok day trips for you to consider.
Day trip to Ayutthaya
Imagine walking around ancient ruins of temples and a city that looks as if it were frozen in time. Taking a Day trip to Ayutthaya was our choice for our Bangkok day trip. It was well worth the visit. Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and was established in 1350. It was a prosperous hub of religion, commerce and civic life until 1767 when the Burmese attacked and destroyed most of the city. Today, the ruins of Ayutthaya are a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Getting there: To maximize our time we took an Uber out to Ayutthaya from Bangkok and then took the train back. An Uber will run you around 1,000 Baht ($32) and takes roughly 1 hour.
A more economical option getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok involves taking the train from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station. To get to the train station you can either take an UBER or the MRT (Bangkok’s subway).
There are trains departing almost every hour. The train ride will take you around 1.5 hours depending on the train you take. You can ride 3rd class with no assigned seats and no air conditioning for 20 Baht (.60 cents) or 2nd class with air conditioning and assigned seats for 340 Baht ($11). Just a fair warning, there were a decent number of mosquitoes (as is the case throughout Thailand) on our train ride… be sure to bring spray to protect yourself. We found the train to be quite comfortable and easy to use.
Pro Tip: Train tickets can only be purchased at the train station. Do NOT get scammed, be sure to buy your tickets only from the sales window. Plan on arriving an hour before your departure time. Try to catch an earlier train to make the most of your day in Ayutthaya. Trains are often delayed by at least 30 minutes so make sure to build that extra time into your travel schedule.
Upon arrival in Ayutthaya, you can take a Tuk Tuk (motorcycle taxi) for around 100 Baht ($3). Another option is to rent a bike for around 50 Baht ($1.50) and bike around the area on your own.
Once in the old historical area, most of the sites are within close proximity to one another and can be visited by walking. If you are traveling with kids, consider taking a Tuk Tuk between sites that are further away from one another.
Have you ever wanted to see a Buddha statue head tangled in the tree roots of an ancient banyan tree? Then you must visit Wat Maha That to see this incredible site. It is one of those places that provides a “WOW!” factor. Make this a priority during your visit. We also loved Wat Rachaburana as we found the structures to be pretty well intact throughout. Wat Thammikarat houses a giant reclining Buddha which is reminiscent of the Wat Pho in Bangkok. Wat Phra Si Sanphet was considered the holiest site in the ancient Kingdom of Siam and houses some impressive structures. Admission to each temple costs 50 Baht ($1.50).
Pro Tip: Bring plenty of water as it can be quite hot outside. Also, make sure to wear sunscreen as the sun can be strong (as is true throughout Thailand). For a refreshing treat, purchase a young coconut to drink… nature’s energy drink. Also, if you are in a pinch and want to get dinner before your train ride back, the restaurant The Station at the train station is pretty good and not too expensive.
Amphawa Floating Market Near Bangkok
Who doesn’t want to buy delicious tasting home cooked Thai food from boats floating down a river. At the Amphawa Floating Market you can experience a slice of a bygone time. Amphawa Floating Market is considered one of the most famous in the area surrounding Bangkok.
Getting There: It will take roughly 1.5 hours to get to Amphawa Floating Market from Bangkok. The easiest way to travel there is by taking a minivan from Sai Tai Kao Pinklao (Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal) and it will cost you 150 Baht ($5) each way. Check the bus schedule in advance to make sure you know when the last bus leaves back from Amphawa Floating Market to Bangkok. To be on the safe side, plan on heading back no later than 6:00pm if you want to avoid taking a more expensive taxi back to Bangkok.
The market is open Saturday – Sunday from 8am – 7pm and has an array of food and souvenirs.
The Island of Artisans (Ko Kret)
Located just north of Bangkok. The Island of Artisans (Ko Kret) is a great day trip to visit on the weekend when most of the artisan pottery shops and restaurants are open. It is one of the oldest settlements of the Mon people and a man made island. The vibe here is laid back and will provide a nice respite from the hectic pace of Bangkok.
Getting There: It is approximately a 45 minute bus ride from the city combined with a 30 minute ferry. If leaving from Sanam Luang take bus 33, or Bus 166 from Victory Monument to Pak Kret. Once at Pak Kret you will need to take a 20 minute taxi to Wat Sanam Nuea. For the most up to date bus schedule consult with your hotel or the local tourism office. Uber is another more convenient but pricier option if you want to save the hassle of taking the bus.
All ferries to The Island of Artisans depart from Wat Sanam Nuea. The island itself is quite small and easily walkable. You can also rent a bike from the ferry departure point as well. There are no cars allowed on the island so it is a pedestrian friendly zone.
Things to do in Bangkok at night
Asiatique The Riverfront Bangkok night market
Night markets in Thailand are a really cool and unique aspect of this incredible country. If you ever want to feel the energy of Thailand come to life then you must visit a night market. Your senses will be overwhelmed by the delicious smell of Thai food cooking and the vast sight of goods for sale on display.
Asiatique The Riverfront is far from an ‘authentic’ night market. It is more like a Westfield outdoor mall meets night market. With that said, it is still a very pleasant and enjoyable attraction in Bangkok and offers a less-intense experience than the typical night markets. Consider spending an evening here eating at one of the many delicious restaurants, and enjoy some time shopping for gifts and trinkets.
The best way to get to Asiatique is via the free dedicated ferry. It runs between the Central Pier (Sathorn Pier) on the Chao Phraya River and the entrance to the market from 5 to 11pm. It’s a quick boat ride, though the line to get on can take about 15 minutes.
Hours: Sunday – Saturday, 4:00pm – 12:00am. Recommended amount of time for visit: 2 – 4 hours
Khao San Road
Long regarded as the hub for backpackers and partiers. Khao San Road takes on a very different nature by day then by night. Regardless of the time of day you will find cheap food and drinks here. At nighttime, the streets get packed and the area turns into one huge party. It is located just north of The Grand Palace and can be accessed by bus, metro, Uber or taxi.
I know. I know. You only have two days in Bangkok, so why am I recommending that you go somewhere that you could go anywhere in the world… a mall. Well, it turns out that Bangkok malls are incredible air-conditioned havens with great shops, cheap eats and some even have movie theaters playing films in english. Don’t make a mall the top priority for your 2 day visit to Bangkok. Just have it in your back pocket in case you need a break from the heat and sightseeing.
Our favorite mall that we visited was the MBK Mall. This mall is most popular with tourists and probably one of the more impressive ones in Bangkok. You will find all the western shops along with some great local ones as well. If you want visit the largest mall in all of Thailand then find your way to Central Mall. It has almost every clothing store and electronic gadget you would ever want.
Where to stay in Bangkok
There are tons of options as to where to stay in Bangkok. You can book a range of accommodations from luxury hotels to modest hostels. Where you stay will depend on how close you want to be to either transportation, major attractions, restaurants and nightlife. The neighborhoods we recommend are Siam, Sukhumvit and Khao San Road.
For our stay we were excited to stay at a condo through HomeExchange.com. It was a very comfortable space along the Chao Pharya River with incredible views of the city. We loved chilling during hot afternoons in the rooftop infinity pool.
Probably the most family friendly area to stay in Bangkok. The Siam area is close to tourist sites, malls, restaurants and public transportation.
Khao San Road
Known as being the backpacker’s paradise. Khao San Road has evolved into a highly touristy area that has a party culture. This area is not for everyone but it does present an appealing option given its close proximity to major attractions and cheap eats.
Tons of restaurants, shopping and convenient proximity to other neighborhoods make the Sukhumvit a great area to stay during your 2 days in Bangkok. It is further from the major tourist sites.
Pro tip: Use Booking.com to find the best deals. Booking.com has a handy map feature that allows you to see where the hotel you are considering is related to the attractions you want to check out. Click here to save $25 off your first reservation!
Getting around Bangkok
Bangkok is a sprawling city. Luckily for you there are some great ways to get around Bangkok with little to no hassle. Bangkok has invested a tremendous amount of resources into creating a comprehensive and easy to use bus and metro system (MRT and BTS). It is clean, cheap and runs on time.
You can easily get to most attractions throughout the city using this system. Taking a taxi, Uber or Tuk Tuk (traditional Thai motorcycle taxi) are more expensive and convenient options for getting around the city. The Chao Pharya River runs through the middle of the city. If you opt for a combination of walking and public transportation then you might find yourself taking a ferry across the river.
Choosing how to get around Bangkok will also depend on how much heat you want to endure. Bangkok, like all of Thailand is hot and humid throughout the day. For our family of four, there were times when we just wanted to beat the heat and opted to pay a couple of extra dollars to enjoy the refreshing air conditioning in an Uber or Taxi. Unlike other big cities, taking an Uber or taxi is not going to break your budget.
Chao Phraya River Boat Taxi
Given the intense traffic on Bangkok’s crowded streets, one of the best ways to access the major tourist sites is using one of the many river boat taxis that run up and down the Chao Phraya River.
There are many boats you’ll find running along the river. The most popular line for most tourists is the Blue Flag Line. You can think of it like a “hop on, hop off” bus running along the river. It runs between Nonthaburi and the Sathorn Central Pier, stopping at Khao San Road, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, the Flower Market and Wat Arun (you may have to use a quick shuttle boat to cross the river for this one).
The Blue Flag Line costs 180 THB for a full day pass in 2019. That includes English-speaking operators who will help you on your way (without trying to scam you) and even narration of major highlights along the route. Service runs every 30 minutes, though stops are on-demand.
The other option is to take the Orange Flag Line. Service is more frequent at every 15 minutes and the fare is much cheaper. However, the operation is entirely in Thai and boats can be very crowded. Sometimes if you’re getting on later in the route, the boats can be so crowded that they don’t stop for new passengers. But the fare is very cheap – just 15 THB for any one ride.
Taxi, Grab, Tuk Tuk in Bangkok
We used Uber (now merged with Grab in Thailand) quite a bit throughout our time in Bangkok and were pretty happy with the overall service. The benefit of using Grab over a taxi or tuk tuk is that the rate is set and you don’t have to bother with the hassle of negotiating the cost of your ride. Most taxis will opt to use their meter (which we recommend asking for) and tuk tuks will almost always want to negotiate the price of your ride.
For shorter distances we would sometimes take a tuk tuk. They’re everywhere in the city and pretty easy to flag down. For longer rides we preferred to take a Grab or regular taxi.
Pro Tip: If you prefer to take a taxi or tuk tuk instead of Grab, you can still use your Grab app to get a rough idea of how much the fare should cost. Use that figure as baseline to negotiate with your driver.
Bangkok Metro and Subway – MRT and BTS
The most economical option is to take public transportation. We recommend using a combination of MRT (The Metropolitan Rapid Transit) and BTS (Bangkok mass transit system aka Skytrain). Google maps is pretty good at outlining routes and giving you the best options if you are considering using either the MRT or BTS. Historically the MRT was considered the underground train and the BTS was considered the Skytrain. Staring in 2015 there were additions to the BTS that now go underground. It is important to note that you might find yourself lugging up A LOT of steps to get to your BTS Skytrain. Keep this in mind if you are planning to use the BTS while carrying heavy bags.
Pro Tip: It is wise to avoid using MRT and BTS during rush hour either in the morning (7am – 9am) or in the evening (4pm – 6pm). Depending on which line you are using during rush hour you will almost certainly feel the crush of humanity as the city of 13 million tries to either get to work or get home at the end of the day.
Bangkok Airport Arrivals
We’re Angelenos; we know traffic. Let’s just say that we spent two hours stuck in the worst traffic ever getting from the airport in Bangkok city center. We do not wish this pain on any other traveler. We’ve put together all the essential information for how best to deal with Bangkok airport arrivals.
When traveling to Bangkok it is important to know that there are two airports. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is the international airport. Chances are if you are coming from North America, Europe or most other places in the world you will arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.
Don Mueang Airport (DMK) services more regional low cost carriers. There is a good chance that if you are flying to Bangkok from within Thailand or from one of the neighboring countries that you will fly into Don Mueang Airport.
Below we provide you with a breakdown for your best options for getting into the city.
Pssssst… make sure you check Skyscanner to get the cheapest flights to Bangkok!
Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Bangkok
Take the Bangkok Airport Rail Link
We were traveling with our two kids and figured that a taxi would be the way to go. Had we known about the Bangkok Airport Rail Link then we would have opted for this option because of the horrendous traffic we faced. The Bangkok Airport Rail Link runs between every 10 minutes during peak hours (6am – 9am and 4pm – 8pm) and every 15 minutes during all other operating hours.
Depending on where you are heading into the city you will either want to take the Airport Rail Link to the Makkasan stop (which will connect you to the MRT Blue Line (Phetchaburi station), or to the Phayathai station (which will connect you to BTS Sukkhumvit Line). Use google maps or contact your accommodation in advance to figure out which line makes the most sense to take.
Pro Tip: During rush hour, taking the Airport Rail Link and MRT or BTS will likely save you plenty of time. We encountered two terrible hours of traffic when we took a taxi from Suvarnabhumi Airport into Bangkok. Just note, that the trade off is dealing with rush hour crowds on the MRT or BTS which will not be that pleasant if you are lugging around tons of luggage.
Taxi or Uber from Suvarnabhumi Airport – Bangkok
Taking a Taxi or Uber from Suvarnabhumi is definitely the easiest option. A ride will cost you roughly 400 Baht ($12 USD). Keep in mind that Bangkok roads can be quite congested which means a lot of traffic. Make sure to allow up to two hours to get from the airport to your destination in the city.
Don Mueang Airport (DMK) to Bangkok
Your best bet for getting from Don Mueang Airport to Bangkok city center is to take a taxi or Uber. It will cost you roughly 350 Baht ($11 US) and take approximately 45 minutes – 1:15 minutes depending on traffic. There are train and bus options from the airport to the city center that require multiple transfers. At $11 US it is worth spending the extra money on the taxi and avoiding the hassle of navigating the public transportation.
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