The Best 3 Day Itinerary for a Trip to Bangkok, Thailand

Don’t let the city’s size and sizzle intimidate you.

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angkok is impressive in terms of numbers. Thailand’s fiery, colorful capital comprises just over 600 square miles, has a population north of 10 million, and, in high season 2023, welcomed roughly 2 million visitors … per month. No matter what stokes your wanderlust––be it the street food or the fashion designers, the neon of Chinatown, or the bygone appeal of the ramshackle river homes––Bangkok remains one of the world’s most exciting capitals to visit.

INSIDER TIPChoose one area per day to avoid traffic jams and explore on foot. The city is both remarkably flat and remarkably safe.

Here’s how to spend three beautiful days in Bangkok.

DAY1

Tackle Temples and Tributaries

Wake up, toss the curtains wide, and marvel at the morning light over the famous Wat Arun temple through giant floor-to-ceiling windows at Sala Rattanakosin. Even if you don’t stay here, the hotel is great to visit for breakfast, as the chic boutique property maximizes river and temple views from every angle. Dig into Thailand’s morning staple––Jok. Their haute take on classic Thai rice porridge comes with ground pork, shrimp, or chicken, alongside a spicy sausage salad and a salted duck egg.

Traverse one alley and a single street, and Bangkok’s Grand Palace comes into view behind high stone walls. Book a private tour to get the most out of this expansive royal enclave, comprised of manicured gardens and 100 buildings in a mix of Thai and Italian Renaissance architecture. The temple of Wat Pho, adjacent, houses the country’s largest reclining Buddha, spanning 150-feet long and 30-feet high.

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The Grand PalaceStockByM/iStock

Bangkok is famously hot and famously congested. The Tha Tien Pier is a two-minute walk from Wat Pho, and the city’s iconic, narrow longtail boats are easy to book here.

Expect to pay around $40 USD (1500 Thai Baht) for a private boat tour.

Breeze ruffling your hair, spend an hour in the tributary canals, visiting riverside life, sun-bleached wood houses, and small community temples. You might even spot one of the town’s mascots. Bangkok’s enormous monitor lizards grow up to six feet long and weigh more than 100 pounds.

Arrange with your captain to end at the Phra Athit pier. (Or, take a five-minute taxi or tuk-tuk from that original Tha Tien pier) for lunch at Nai Soi Noodle on Phra Athit Road. If breakfast was haute Thai, lunch is the opposite. Rustic, flavor-bomb soups are served at metal tables in an open-air garage.

Shopping along Phra Athit is festive and fun, from silk scarves to silver jewelry to second-hand books. It’s five minutes on foot to Khao San Road––Bangkok’s famous backpacker district. The stalls along the famous wide artery offer everything, from brews and cheap eats to knock-off RayBans, knock-off North Face bags, and knock-off name-brand flip-flops. Getting the gist?

Massage parlors sprout like weeds here. Expect $8 to $10 for an hour of service, and once your toes are revived, head to another Bangkok must-see––The Golden Mount Temple. It’s 10 minutes away by tuk-tuk or a breezy, 20-minute walk. You follow a circular path past thousands of tropical plants and ancient statuary, up, up, up, to the top, where you’re rewarded with the best views of the city’s historic quarter.

One of the city’s best restaurants is back where you began your day, just steps from the Grand Palace. At Supanniga Eating Room, reservations are highly recommended and can be made easily online. The outside roof tables give gorgeous views of the river sunset, as waiters drop stellar craft cocktails and exceptional Thai, from delicate Laab salads to fiery local curries.

DAY2

Florals, Fun Markets, and Michelin Meals

Make the most of your jetlag and head out at dawn. The Pak Khlong Flower Market is one of Bangkok’s liveliest, largest markets. Vendors craft arrangements and sweet-smelling lanyards for temples, hotels, restaurants, and citizens. It’s a hive of activity and an excellent place for morning-light photography. You can fuel your creative juices at the coffee cart inside. Thai locals take their jolt of caffeine with sweet, evaporated milk over crushed ice.

It’s a fun, half-hour walk to Hong Sieng Kong for breakfast. This café is a set of six restored ancient buildings right on the river. To get there from the flower market, take Song Wat Road, to peruse ample street art along the crumbling walls.

Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market, Bangkok, Thailand. © Sinseeho | Dreamstime.com

The heart of Chinatown is three blocks away, and Sampeng Lane is a huge wholesale market comprised of a series of covered, convoluted lanes. You don’t need to buy in bulk but do prepare to haggle for wrapping paper or fabric, costume jewelry, kids’ toys, electronics, shoes, or household goods. Grab some dim sum, fresh pomegranate juice, and grilled pork skewers sold by street vendors along Sampeng.

Chinatown might feel like the capital of kitsch commerce, but there’s deep history here, too. Leng Buai Eia Shrine is one of the city’s oldest Chinese structures, dating to the 1600s, and the impressive Wat Traimit offers glittering golden tiles and education opportunities at the Chinese Heritage Center.

Bang Rak is a great neighborhood, just to the west of Chinatown, about 10 minutes on foot. It’s a hot bed of artistic creativity, and the main campus of that is Warehouse 30––a multi-building art enclave, with galleries, burgeoning designers, vintage emporiums and cafes.

Charoen Krung Road––Bangkok’s first paved street, completed in 1864––winds across Bang Rak and features dozens of jazz bars, antique shops, gemstone jewelers and upmarket tailors. It’s a fine-dining dream, too. You could source dinner and drinks at any number of acclaimed spots, from Yu Ting Yuan––a Michelin-recognized dumpling restaurant at The Four Seasons––to 80/20, where Chef Andrew Martin pushes Thai ingredients to new heights in tasting-course menus, to Jua––a beloved Japanese izakaya, with yakatori skewers and inventive beverages. After that, drink and dance the night away at Tropic City––a funky Tiki bar with great DJs on Charoen Krung road.

DAY3

 Green Spaces and Serious Shopping

If you spend your first two days along the river in the historic neighborhoods, cut away to the city center for your final day.

Sukhumvit Road is massive, carving its way across several of Bangkok’s best central neighborhoods. Begin in the neighborhood of Khlong Toei, which is home to city’s best green spaces––Benjakitti and Lumpini parks.

Benjakitti was expanded in 2022 and now features wetlands, cycle paths, walking/jogging trails, and rare plants. Bangkok’s first park, Lumphini, was founded in 1925 and is a 15-minute walk from the western edge of Benjakitti. Lumphini boasts a shimmering, large lake where you can rent swan paddle boats.

You wouldn’t want to swim in the lake, but you will want to swim. Bangkok is one of the world’s hottest capitals, consistently breaking above 85 degrees year-round. A half-mile from Lumphini, the Sukhothai Hotel is one of the city’s most lavish properties, and, like many hotels, they offer pool passes for non-guests. For $30, their pass includes a lounge chair, a complimentary towel and a drink.

After a splash, hop on the above-ground BTS Skytrain. It’s affordable and easy to use. Choose the Siam stop. Siam is a neighborhood for retail lovers in all price ranges. The shopping malls here are connected by raised pedestrian platforms along the BTS Skytrain line. MBK Center is a wild experience. Once the largest shopping mall in all of Asia, this patina, multi-level emporium now focuses on discounts galore, from custom suits to knock-offs of name brands to colorful street styles. Siam Center and Siam Discovery are next to one another, home to more upscale fashion boutiques focused on emerging Thai designers.

Siam Paragon is the best option for lunch, combined with family-fun activities.

This glittering, ultra-posh emporium has a movie theater, futuristic bowling lanes, an aquarium experience, global luxury brands, and one of the city’s coolest food courts.

In the front section of that food court, you can pop by the long counter and tiny samples of traditional Thai snacks, from spicy Issan sausage to pandan sweets and inventive egg custards. Move in further and find a seat at one of the full-menu stalls for Japanese ramen, Chinese teas, Italian sandwiches, or French quiche. At the end of lunch, Gourmet Market is a brilliant, adjacent grocer for culinary souvenirs. The hot sauce aisle alone is worth seeing.

The neighborhood of ThongLor is often referred to as Bangkok’s Brooklyn. It’s quick to head there on the BTS train and is a ‘hood packed with hipster charm, like full-service barbers and retro vinyl shops, as well as the city’s cutting-edge culinary concepts and cocktail bars.

Start at sunset for drinks at Tichuca. This rooftop is decked in a jungle motif, with fiber optic trees and great views. It’s a 15-minute walk to La Dotta, a fine place to sample noodles of a non-Thai variety. La Dotta dishes some of the best Italian plated outside of Europe. Inside their petite, romantic dining room, 24-month-aged Parmesan meets hand-rolled Tagliatelle, Tortellini, and Garganelli, with luscious sauces and a European wine list.

One of the World’s 50 Best bars is 700 feet away. Rabbit Hole is a dark and dreamy, cavernous, industrial cocktail concept, with a menu that hinges on wild ingredients and molecular moments, from truffle oil gin to smoked sodas.

After a beverage, simply walk in the warm night air. Beneath gnarled branches of the Banyan trees and the dripping powerlines, puddles reflect the glow of neon and the architecture of old shophouses. Woks puff fragrant steam from metal carts, and cats scamper in and out of the alleys. Beers are raised and clinked. Parties give way to amber mornings and vignettes that could be 1824 as easily as 2024.

Yes, there’s truly no city quite like Bangkok.


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