Journeys, Travel Guides

Bangkok for the 1st time [3 Days Travel Itinerary]

The skytrain stopped in a sun bathed station and a forest of skyscrapers mirroring themselves in the opposite buildings opened in front of our eyes.

I was instantly fascinated by this architecture collision and surprised by the way people seemed so accustomed to walking on sky crossings (hello, fear of heights!). That’s because when it comes to pedestrian passages and roads, Bangkok has more layers than a cake.

When we arrived at our hotel, Bangkok’s sky was at an impasse, caught between the sunny standard and the rainy clouds gathered for a party. So we decided to go out and explore the city, no plans attached.

Walking in Bangkok turned out harder than imagined, but little surprises awaited at each corner to reward our endurance of the awful humidity and heat combo.

At 6 p.m., tens of scooters roam the streets of Bangkok while cars are at a complete standstill, so we found it pointless to try reaching other parts of the city during our first evening.

Instead, we tasted our first matcha bread at Master Wheat (it’s divine), took a tour of the Xmas decorations in front of the 10 malls we passed by on a single avenue, and adventured on the streets at night.

Luxurious malls next to filthy street food stands, corporate people in a hurry, youngsters in search of fun things to do, scooters and mopeds constantly roaming the streets composed our first image of Bangkok. And, of course, glass & steel architecture that stopped me on my way more than a few times.

We finished our first day in Bangkok with a Thai dinner at Kalpapruek, one of the nice and cozy restaurants in the city.

The next day, we adventured to the temples’ area and visited the gorgeous Wat Arun, but also had our first tourist trap experience with a boat ride on the city’s canals.

Wat-Arun-Bangkok-City-Guide-for-3-days

In retrospective, the tourist trap led us a bit off the beaten path in Bangkok, so it was ok. It was also an opportunity to find out that there are huge Asian Water Monitors (big lizards) living in the middle of Bangkok.

Bangkok has a great coffee scene and the neatly designed coffee shops to make the experience even better.

Hands and Heart Coffee Shop was on top of my list. That’s because they serve a divine Thai Coffee (Cold Brew) and one awesome Flat White. The minimal styling of its interior was also a big plus and it was pretty quiet when we got there at 11 a.m., so do stop by for a coffee here when in Bangkok.

For dinner, we wanted to test one of the most beautiful restaurants in Bangkok – KarmaKamet Diner, but when they didn’t come to take our order 15 min. after we sat down, even if the place was far from being full, we chose to leave.

Still hungry, we stopped by Quartier Foodhall, in one of Bangkok’s many malls and grabbed a quick Thai dinner.

One thing I wanted to do was go up in a sky tower to take a look at the city from above. So after a crazy tuk-tuk ride on the smog filled streets of Bangkok, we arrived at one of the most beautiful skyscrapers to enjoy drinks with the view.

This luxurious experience at State Tower Sky Bar did hurt our wallets, but the myriad of lights, the ghost towers, the tiny lit up boats on the river and the highways glowing in the dark offered a marvelous view, well worth the spending.

Our third day in Bangkok meant visiting the most famous and crowded temples: Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

While Grand Palace amazes the traveler with its many great temples and stupas, Wat Pho wins his heart by providing a kaleidoscope of patterns through its 91 chedis.

Unlike other places in Thailand, Bangkok is a design nook for creative people. There are so many beautiful spaces that you just can’t go around them.

One of the hidden gems I’ve found while walking across from Wat Pho is a café and design shop called Good Job that was created by the alliance between a Thai designer and a Japanese one. Besides the beautiful interior of this coffee shop, my eye was caught by a bag that opens up like a flower. Needless to say, I had to have one as a souvenir. Btw, this coffee place and shop is a great spot to buy some unique souvenirs.

Another great corner of Bangkok is Tha Maharaj riverside, where there’s a little square filled with coffee shops, co-working spaces and bistros. We enjoyed some non-Thai food at Gram and had our first black burger.

Tha Maharaj riverside is more of a hidden gem for travelers, but it’s one of the usual spots for locals and expats.

We spent our last morning in Bangkok traveling to the popular Floating Market in Damnoen Saduak, 100 km outside the city, but it’s one experience I wouldn’t recommend.

To me, it was more like a very expensive tourist trap and an overrated attraction, with few old ladies selling food and hats off their little boats and not the colorful bustling market I was expecting after seeing the popular travel brochures.

After the trip to the floating market, we headed for the airport towards our next stop: Chiang Mai.

Bangkok from above


3 Days Travel Itinerary in Bangkok

  • Visit the pearly white Wat Arun
  • Admire Wat Pho’s 91 colorful stupas and see the huge Reclining Buddha
  • Visit Grand Palace Bangkok & Wat Phra Kaew
  • Go coffee shop hopping
  • Take a food tour in Bangkok to try staple Thai dishes (Pad Thai, Mango Sticky Rice, Tom Yum)
  • Wander Khao San Road instead of taking a canal boat tour in Bangkok
  • See Bangkok from above at State Tower Sky Bar
  • Skip Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and visit Erawan Museum instead
  • Take a night walk in Bangkok, especially if you’re visiting in December

Visiting Wat Arun, Wat Pho and Grand Place Bangkok

Wat Pho Bangkok

Wat Pho is well-known because of its 46 meters long reclining Buddha (position suggesting ascending to Nirvana), but this temple complex is much more than that.

It’s one of the oldest royal temples in Bangkok and the crib of public education in Thailand. Wat Pho is also home to a Thai School of Medicine and it’s considered the place of origin for Thai massage.

We visited it two hours before closing time, so fewer people were around, allowing us to wander peacefully among the temples and the perfect bonsai trees, admiring each of its 91 colorful stupas.

Btw, did you know bonsai is a practice and not a specific plant? I was fascinated to find that out a couple of years ago. Anyway, Wat Pho has tens of nicely crafted bonsai trees that complement the white temples and blue stupas.

The main reason for visiting Wat Pho is the fabulous architecture, making it one of the most photogenic places in Thailand.

Entrance fee: 100 baht/person |Schedule: 08:00 – 17:00

Wat-Pho---colorful-stupas


Wat Arun Bangkok

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, dazzles the visitor with its pearly white walls adorned with colorful porcelain flowers and seashells, but also because of its numerous angles and points of view.

The main temple has a stellar shape, with a central phrang (tower-like spire) surrounded by four smaller towers, but it’s not the only beautiful building within Wat Arun.

I also loved the Ubosot – Ordination Hall and the two colorful guardians similar to those found within Grand Palace Bangkok.

Wat Arun is the smallest of the three temples we visited in Bangkok, but we spend two hours walking around its buildings and admiring its incredible architecture as the sun was about to set, turning the sky into shades of pink and orange.

Entrance fee Wat Arun: 50 baht/person |Schedule: 08:00 -17:30

Wat-Arun-Bangkok


Grand Palace Bangkok & Wat Phra Kaew

Grand Palace was the most crowded place we visited in Bangkok, as to be expected since it’s the city’s main attraction.

One thing people don’t tell you about Buddhist temples in Thailand is that it’s never just one building, but a complex of temples and chedis or stupas.

Still, we didn’t expect to spend half a day wandering Grand Palace Bangkok. There are 35 points of interest within Grand Palace – buildings, courtyards, pavilions, gardens, stupas, guardians  – and I wanted to see them all, study their decorations, and admire each colorful corner.

Grand Palace has a dazzling eclectic architecture because it was built over a period of 200 years and each king added new buildings and gardens to it.

Wat Phra Kaew, also known as  the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, and it’s part of the Grand Palace Bangkok.

If there’s something you really need to know before visiting Grand Palace is this: bring two bottles of water with you. That’s because there’s just one small shop at the entrance, and street vendors within the complex won’t sell water to tourists. So if you spend half a day at Grand Place, make sure you have plenty of water with you.

Entrance fee Grand Palace:  500 baht/person | Schedule: 08:30 – 15:30

colorful-guardians-inside-Wat-Phra-Kaew---Grand-Palace


Coffee shops and restaurants in Bangkok

  • Hands and Heart Coffee Shop – Have a Flat White or better yet, go for the Thai Coffee Cold Brew.
  • Good Job Café – Try the Thai Ice Tea
  • Kalpapruek restaurant – We went for a Thai dinner and tried the Glass Noodles with Shrimps.
  • Gram Bistro – When you’re tired of Thai food, go for a black burger and one avocado & poached egg on fluffy pancakes.
  • Quartier Foodhall – Go for Pad Thai, Coconut & Milk ice cream in a coconut, and Mango Sticky Rice.
  • Master Wheat – Try their matcha bread! I dislike matcha latte, but I fell in love with the matcha bread. Do what locals do: buy a loaf, ask them to slice it, and then eat it then and there.
  • Sky Bar – See Bangkok from above at night by having drinks at State Tower Sky Bar. The experience is amazing, although pretty expensive.

Travel Tips for visiting Bangkok

Planning for a slow trip in Bangkok is recommended for two reasons: traffic & weather. Also, visiting each temple will take up 2 to 4 hours, without adding the time needed to reach them.

All 3 temples are pretty hard to reach, and it took us an hour to get to them from our hotel. The heat and humidity combo also slowed us down, so a lot of patience is needed when visiting Bangkok.

Getting to the temples using the public transport is difficult, and I got the impression this is a situation created on purpose. That’s because all the other parts of Bangkok, the less touristy ones, are easy to reach by using the bus, metro or the skytrain.

Therefore, we used two alternative transport options: tuk-tuk and a car sharing service similar to Uber.

We visited Wat Arun and Wat Pho two hours before closing time, and both were less crowded. When it came to visiting Grand Palace Bangkok, I believe the Royal complex is always very crowded, so the times for visiting matter less.

Skip visiting the Floating Market in Damnoen Saduak! The same goes for the canal boat tour in Bangkok. You’ll surely be disappointed by the two experiences because they’re far from being as exotic as travel brochures will let you believe. Both felt more like tourist traps to me, and both are very expensive.

Don’t listen to any piece of advice from anyone, not even the hotel receptionist. We did listen to the one at our hotel and booked a trip to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market instead of visiting Erawan Museum in Bangkok as planned, and felt sorry afterwards.

There are lots of tourist traps waiting for you in Bangkok, we experienced two, and both involved listening to what locals have to say. Therefore, I would recommend keeping a distance from locals approaching you, and even from hotel receptionists.

Accommodation in Bangkok – There are so many hotel options in Bangkok that it might be hard to choose one. We booked Hotel Icon Bangkok  because it has a good view, decent rooms and a good price (61€/night), but the experience with the hotel’s receptionist that led us into a tourist trap makes me not recommend it (although you can go around it).


There are so many things left unsaid about Bangkok; it’s pretty hard to describe all the experiences such a big city has to offer a traveler in just one article and during a short stay like ours. Still, I hope you found the info useful and you now have a pretty good idea about how to spend 3 days in Bangkok.


Thailand TripBangkokChiang RaiChiang MaiKrabi – Railay, Krabi, Phi Phi, Hong, Ao Nang, Phuket| November – December  2017 | All Photos – Copyright: ©Ana Matei | Follow me on instagram @mateiana

Ana
Last updated: March 16, 2018
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