One day in Bangkok
This article is an itinerary.
Note the Grand Palace, Bangkok's most popular attraction, is purposely not include in this itinerary. As the Palace is located right next to Wat Pho, you can visit it instead or even try to squeeze in both if you wish, but the Palace grounds are so huge that it's probably best to visit on a separate day.
This itinerary will take you through the older districts of Rattanakosin, catching glimpses of both everyday Bangkok and some of its most famous attractions. The total cost per person will be approximately 100 baht, excluding Skytrain rides, food or drinks.
Start out early if you can, because temple-tramping during the heat of day is draining and there won't be much air-conditioning along the way. There are also surprisingly few (good) places to eat along the way, so pack in a good breakfast before you go.
Get in and out
This itinerary is structured around the Skytrain, so as long as you can figure out how to get from your hotel to the nearest Skytrain station and back, the rest will be easy.
There are two parts to this itinerary: a morning of canal cruises and tramping through temples, and two choices for an evening of entertainment, fine food and drinks.
The starting point of the morning's itinerary will be Ratchathewi station (N1), on the Skytrain Sukhumvit line and thus easily reached from pretty much anywhere in the city center.
- Take Exit 1 and head a few hundred meters south (after walking down the stairs, turn 180 degrees and walk down the street) and over the bridge across the Saen Saep canal. To your right, you will see a small, rickety pier.
- Board the next canal boat that comes barreling down towards the west (make sure the boat is heading left as you stand on the pier, from under the bridge) — but move quickly, because these boats don't wait for lingerers! Pay your fare (10 baht Jun 2008) and enjoy a view into the backyards of Bangkok. Some point of minor interest that you will pass along the way include:
- Jim Thompson House, an attraction in itself and worth a visit if you have spare energy after the tour
- Bo-Be Market, one of Bangkok's largest and cheapest clothing markets (not many tourists around here!)
- Disembark at the terminus near the Golden Mount. To your left, you'll see a small bridge with oncoming traffic, and a large bridge with multi-lane traffic. Cross the large bridge, pass the white Mahakan Fort and cross the street for Wat Rajanadda, one of Bangkok's unappreciated temples. Entry is free, just take your shoes off and climb into the tower for a bird's-eye view of Rattanakosin. (Just ignore people who try to stop you entering saying it is closed, or that they are praying.)
- Once finished, head back to the main street and hail a taxi (not tuk-tuk) for a quick trip to Wat Pho; if you insist on the meter, this won't cost you more than 50 baht.
- Entry into Wat Pho will set you back all of 50 baht. The world's largest Reclining Buddha is in the perennially busy building to your right as you enter. For good luck, you can do as the Thais do and buy a bag of 25-satang coins to plink, plink, plink into the pots behind the Buddha. Explore the rest of the large complex, and if you feel like taking a break, pop into the famous massage school towards the back of the temple grounds. (Building 17 on the maps scattered around the temple)
- Exit through the west gates (behind the Reclining Buddha) and look for signs pointing towards the pier of Tha Tien, which you will find half-hidden past a market alley full of stalls selling dried squid and such.
- You will see the white spires of Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) across the Chao Phraya River. Hop aboard the angular little ferry and pay 3 baht (each way) for the trip. Entry to Wat Arun is free, although quite frankly, it looks better from a distance. You will be charged if you want to climb up. Note how the decorations of the spires are in fact all made from millions of bits of smashed white porcelain painted with patterns!
- Head back across the river on the ferry you came on and cross the pier to the Chao Phraya River Express dock, clearly identified with blue-and-white signs. Wave down the next southbound (downriver) express boat and ride down all the way to Tha Oriental (N 1).
- To get to the Oriental Hotel, often judged the best in the world, just walk down the alley leading from the dock and turn left. Reward yourself with a drink at the famous Bamboo Bar, although (alas!) live jazz is played only in the evenings. It's expensive though: a beer will cost you a whopping 250 baht. You won't get in if you are wearing sandals either.
From the Oriental, head for the Skytrain's Saphan Taksin station (S6) by either taking the ferry one last stop downriver to Tha Central or by walking out onto Th Charoen Krung, turning left and walking some 15 minutes south.
Take a breather from the sweltering heat at the hotel swimming pool... or, if you still have energy to burn, go shop in any of the shopping meccas on Sukhumvit. Teens will love MBK and women will love the Emporium and Siam Paragon, at least as long as their credit limits allow. Families may like to visit the Siam Ocean World in Siam Paragon.
Two alternative routes here: either the classical Bangkok of teak houses and gogo bars, or the brash new Bangkok of super hip restaurants and clubs.
- Dine at Baan Khanitha (36/1 Soi 23, Sukhumvt Road, (Soi Prasan Mit), tel. +66 02 258 4181), a fair hike down the soi from Skytrain Asoke (E5). Excellent Thai food, because the amount of chili is toned down for tourists (although they'll spice it up if you're brave enough to try!). Particular favorites here are the pomelo salad (tam som om) and roast duck in red curry (kaeng daeng phed). Mains mostly range around B200.
- Hop on the Skytrain and change trains at Siam for Sala Daeng station (S2). Follow the crowds a few hundred meters down the Silom Rd and through the street market until you spot the Carlsberg signs of Patpong to your right. Pick a go-go bar of your liking, perhaps King's Castle III if you're adventurous and want to see transvestites strutting their stuff. Beers around B70 a pop.
- Dine at Bed Supperclub (26 Soi 11 Sukhumvit, tel. 2651 3537), a fair hike down the soi from Skytrain Nana (E3). A super cool space of pure white where you will lie on futons and dine on a multi-course meal of international fare, complete with a weekly changing floor show. Not cheap by Bangkok standards though, so expect to pay around B1500 per head with drinks. Reservations obligatory and only one setting daily (9 PM). Feel free to stick around for an active nightlife most days of the week. (Wednesday is model night.)
- Take a taxi to State Tower at the western edge of Silom Rd., easily spotted thanks to its golden dome, and then ride the elevator to the 63rd floor and The Dome (tel. 2624 9576), the world's tallest rooftop bar and restaurant with mind-boggling nighttime views of Bangkok below. Drinks B170 and up, and a live jazz band for free. Take note that there is a dress code: no shorts or sandals.
Touts can be a hassle at many of the better-known tourist sights. Don't trust a single word of unsolicited advice, especially if it involves temples closed for Buddhist holidays, 20-baht tuktuk rides and/or their cousin's jewelry shop. Don't let strangers steer you away from your intended destination.
Trying to get taxis to charge by the meter is difficult, especially at the weekend when traffic is heavy - so often the best you can hope for is to agree on a fee upfront and try to barter down.
This page was last edited at 23:57, on 19 December 2008 by Wikitravel user Edmontonenthusiast. Based on work by Hotels Combined, Jani Patokallio, Terence Ong and Lefty, Wikitravel user(s) Morph and Pashley and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.