Aaah, Bangkok! So you are heading to Thailand and feel like it just wouldn’t be right to go all that way and not even hit up the capital city, right? Maybe you want to get to the beaches, or up to the mountains, but chances are, you can find great deals to Bangkok first, so you feel like, “Why not just stop for a few days to see what all the buzz is about!” (After all, it has been voted the best city in the world in recent years, there must be a reason, right!?)
You have two camps of people who leave the City of Angels
- The people who loved it
- The people who couldn’t leave fast enough
Why the vast difference and little in the middle of the spectrum? I personally have my own speculations. For example, I have found Bangkok
- Overwhelming at a first glance
- A barrage on ALL your senses
- Intimidating at times if you’ve never been to Asia
- An obviously huge city
But those are all things that I LOVE about travel. I crave the unknowns and pushing my boundaries all while diving into a culture that I know very little about.
Therefore, I actually really enjoy Bangkok!!
However, if you are a person who isn’t a fan of big metropolises or all those other things mentioned, I can see why you’d be ready to get to your next Thai destination (if this IS you, keep reading as I have tips on how to still enjoy Bangkok if you are on this side of the camp!)
But I digress. You feel like you at least need to make a quick appearance and now need to know what are the best places to visit in Bangkok!
While I think you can visit the city in just a few days, I really do think that even just a small added amount of time can make a difference in your final impression.
Therefore, here is the perfect Bangkok Itinerary for 5 days that will get you to all of the “Bangkok must see” attractions while balancing it out with off the beaten path activities as well as adjusting to a new time zone.
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In this 5 day Bangkok Itinerary you’ll get a breakdown of ideas on what to do each day in addition to tips on how to get around, what to eat, where to stay, and more. Sure, we will be hitting up the touristy places, but hopefully, you can find some “off the beaten path” ideas as well….all while traveling on a budget!
What You'll Find In This Article
5 Days Itinerary in Bangkok
Day 1: Arrival and Acclimate
Depending on where you are coming from will depend on when you arrive. We got in around midnight local time and considering we were traveling in Thailand with a baby and 3 year old, saying we were tired upon arrival is a bit of an understatement!
The great thing about a Bangkok 5 day itinerary is that it gives you the flexibility to go off and running the second your feet hit the ground OR to take some time to get adjusted to the new time zone. (Don’t worry- we won’t be taking it slow the rest of the time!)
We chose the latter!
So, take your first full day to sleep in and get situated. Get outside and explore your immediate surroundings, find your nearest 7-11 and order from the “Barista” (yup, that’s a thing!) an amazing Thai Iced Coffee (or 3), grab some snacks, scout out where the nearest night market is, etc. If your hotel or lodging has a pool, maybe go take a nap down there! Overall, get rested and ready for some jam packed days coming up!
In the afternoon, head to the Jim Thompson house. This is a low stress, easy, and relatively quick activity for day 1.
Ironically, this home was actually built by an American (spy). However, he built it in a traditional Thai style and in beautiful teak wood! I found the tour fascinating learning about why Thais build their homes in a very specific and intentional style, as it was my first glimpse into the Thai culture.
After the Jim Thompson house, go grab some dinner (if you are a budget traveler, avoid ordering anything at the Jim Thompson house, even the coffees there are outrageously overpriced).
Jim Thompson House Address: 1 Khwaeng Wang Mai, +66 2 216 7368 (jimthompsonhouse.com)
Hours: Daily 9am-6pm.
Cost: 200 THB
Depending on how jet lagged you are, you can find a night market to go to instead of going out to dinner and really kick off your time in Bangkok with….well, a bang!
Other Options to Add to Day 1:
If you aren’t planning on a full 5 days in Bangkok or just feel guilty lounging at your hotel, there are still plenty of things you can do right from the get-go to fill your day with Bangkok things to do!
Get a Thai Massage: No better way than to release all that tension from a long haul flight!!
Shop at the Siam Center: This big, bustling mall is quite the sight to be seen and typically on people’s “Must Do” lists (I’m just not a big shopper- I’d rather save that money for some Thai massages!) Simply take the sky train and get off at “Siam Station” and shop to your heart’s content.
Tip: There is a great food hall at the Siam Center to get local, affordable food before or after the Jim Thompson house
In the Evening/Night
Below after the full 5 day Bangkok Itinerary, I have a list of Bangkok night activities to choose from. I personally don’t think there is any particular reason to choose one for one day over another, so pick one for each evening that fits best with your interests and energy levels!
Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Bangkok Temples and the Grand Palace
Alright, absolutely NO Bangkok itinerary would be complete with today’s activities. And I’m even throwing in a few “Bonus” temples and walks that you don’t find on many other lists that will get you a little bit off the tourist tracks and totally worth the effort.
Note: Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Grand Palace are big Bangkok tourist spots and with that will come touts and scams. Further below, I’ve outlined several things to beware of, especially in these areas.
Take a Boat Ride To Today’s Bangkok Attractions
While nothing is quite “off the beaten path” anymore, today we are going to try to do things a bit more “local” to balance out the big tourists sites. The first being a boat ride. No, not a river cruise! One of the ways locals get around is by boats on the Chao Phraya river. This morning, we’ll be joining them!
1. Start at Sathorn Pier
You can get to this pier really easily by any of the following methods:
- Taxi (or Grab)
- Tuk Tuk (pending where you are starting from)
- Songthaew (like a pick up truck and is like a group share taxi)
- BTS: Take the Skytrain to the Saphan Taksin stop
Note and Beware: If taking a private taxi to the pier, beware of taxi driver scammers (You’ll be less likely to have any issues with Grab since you rate them on the app after your drive). Many will try to sell you on a different “excursion” that day, sell you on the tourist boat line, or even claim that certain sites are closed for the day. Be calm and confident when you tell them that you are going to Sathorn Pier and do not want anything else.
2. Find the Orange Line
Once you arrive at the pier, you might find it confusing at what to do next. Follow the next steps closely for a stress-free time:
- You’ll see two Piers, one to your right and one to your left. If you are choosing to do the Tourist Boat (more on this just below), you’ll go to the right
- If choosing to go on the local route (my recommendation), you are going to go to the Left. Pass all the people trying to sell you on ANYTHING. Ignore anyone that tells you to go to the other dock! (They are just trying to sell you on the tourist route)
- Head up the stairs and go towards the sign for the Orange line.
- There might be a kiosk, if not, the day we were there, there was just a table set up with someone taking money in exchange for tickets. There was an orange line sign taped to the table so it was easy to find. At the time of current writing, the cost was 20 THB per person for the ticket (about $0.65 )
- Take the boat from Sathorn Pier to the Grand Palace. Alternatively, you can mix around the next few suggestions and get off at Pier 8 to go to Wat Arun and Wat Pho first.
Just sit back and enjoy watching the skyscrapers, the other boats, and the beautiful architecture pass you by. You’ll easily know which pier to get off at because they will make announcements for Pier 8 and 9 but also announce in English that they are stopping at Wat Arun as well as The Grand Palace.
Expert Traveler Tip: On the Chao Phraya River, there are ferries and the Express boat. The orange line (Express boat) and the blue line (the tourist boats) both go up and down the river. The ferries go across the river. However, they do NOT use the same piers! Therefore, if you need to ask for help, make sure you clarify what kind of boat (Express/Tourist or Ferry) you are looking for.
The Grand Palace
You’ll take the Sathorn Pier all the way to the N9 Grand Palace pier (about 30 minutes). As you exit the pier, you’ll go straight and will follow a huge white wall (along your right side). Keep following this until you reach the main entrance.
Expert Tip: At this point, many people will start coming up to you trying to sell you on anything from trinkets to excursions. You’ll even be told that the Palace is closed that day (it’s not!). Ignore them all. This is a scam (covered below) and keep on keepin’ on to the main entrance where….Hey! What do you know!? It’s open!!!
You can easily spend the next several hours/ the majority of your morning at the beautiful and intricate Grand Palace. I could have spent my whole time just marveling at the stunning architecture of the buildings! Despite many of the official buildings not being open to the public, there is still plenty to see and walk around, the most notable probably being the Emerald Buddha.
The Grand Palace is just as strict (if not more) than many of the other temples in Bangkok on what to wear. Again, shoulders and knees should be covered and you should be dressed moderately. If you are not, they do have sarongs for rent to use while you are touring the palace grounds.
Traveler Tip: Avoid going on the weekend if you can. While mornings supposedly also have less tourists any day of the week, just know that this is just one of those Bangkok tourist places that is going to be packed, busy, and possibly very overwhelming due to the amount of people.
The Grand Palace Address: Na Phra Lan Road, +66 2 623 5500
Hours: Daily 8:30am-3:30pm
Cost: 500 THB
From the Grand Palace you’ll next go to Wat Pho. You can either walk a short 15 minutes or take a 2 minute Tuk Tuk. While the Tuk Tuk is retrospectively cheap by Western Standards to get to from Wat Pho to the Grand Palace (a few bucks), it is outrageously overpriced locally due to the mass amount of tourists in the area. However, many people find themselves quite hot and tired, so it’s totally up to you (There’s A LOT more walking today as well if that influences your decision)
The famous reclining Buddha (also known as the Golden Buddha) is truly a sight to behold coming in at 150 feet long and 19 feet tall!
Like many famous temples, there are other buildings in the complex in addition to just the reclining Buddha. Spend about an hour total seeing everything there is to see in the area before heading off.
Expert Tip: This is another favorite location of Tuk Tuk scammers. Don’t fall for it! If something doesn’t feel right, just keep walking.
At this point, if you haven’t eaten yet, you are probably starving! It is only a short, 3 minute walk to the Wat Pho/Wat Arun Ferry Pier.
You’ll walk down Thai Wang Alley (you’ve gone too far if you hit the pier!) where there are a few food touts, and snack stands and restaurants. You might think that you won’t get good food or prices at such a tourist area, but we desperately stopped in at one (we had two very hungry, hot kids!) that looked like it had good food on the menu (Blogger fail: I can’t remember the name!). Not only was it shockingly cheap (as in, NORMAL Thai prices) but the food was fantastic!!
Take the Ferry to Wat Arun
Now you are going to take the ferry across the river to Wat Arun. At the end of the Thai Wang Alley will be the Tha Tien Pier.
Pay the 4THB (yes, only 4!) and wait for the next ferry. It will take you directly across the river.
After getting off the pier, you’ll see a few little stalls of people selling things right by this pier. This is a great place to get some Elephant pants with no nonsense. You really shouldn’t pay more than 100THB for pants and here, this is exactly what they are priced at. Personally, I’ll give my business to anyone that gives me a fair price from the get-go without the headache of haggling!
After stepping off the pier, follow the crowds. You’ll go left off the ferry and walk straight to the main entrance.
Expert Tip: In case you have switched things around, Gettin to Wat Pho from Wat Arun is really easy. Just one major thing to note:
- Walk out from Wat Arun and go left. There are a few signs that point the way to the Pier but they are easy to miss. The main thing to know is that you are NOT going to go to the Orange Line Express Pier! The ferry to Wat Pho is a different pier just down a bit from the main Express Pier.
You’ll be enjoying this Wat with plenty of other tourists, so be mindful of your belongings, especially while waiting in line for your ticket.
Also, remember that this is a religious temple, therefore you need to be dressed appropriately (shoulders and knees covered).
After you get off the boat, Wat Arun will be right in front of you. Wat Arun, otherwise known as the Temple of Dawn, is probably my favorite temple in all of Bangkok.
It. Is. Stunning!
Spend about an hour or 2 just wandering around the temple and the surrounding grounds. There are numerous other buildings that should not be missed within the complex. In fact, I really enjoy these almost as much and for some reason, tourists don’t seem to go to these parts, so it’s like you have the grounds and other temples all to yourself (compared to the very busy main Wat).
Walk To Wat Prayurawongsawat Worawihan and the Khao Mo Mountain Replica
I know, you are most likely sweating to death and REALLY tired (aren’t you glad you took that rest day yesterday!?) but these next few temples and walk are totally worth it.
If you are tempted to take a Tuk Tuk from Wat Arun to Khao Mo- DON’T!
Yes, it will take you about 40 minutes to walk, but it is going to be one of your favorite moments in Bangkok. Why? You are leaving the hustling, bustling city streets of Bangkok behind. And better yet, you are leaving all the other tourists behind as well. As you meander through the back alleys and over the city’s ancient canals, you will feel like you are in a whole different place. And you almost sort of are….you are entering the Thornburi area, which actually used to be it’s own city- THE capital city of Thailand before Bangkok swallowed it up as a “neighborhood.”
This is REAL life here. You can catch a glimpse into the locals’ homes as you pass by, you’ll see kids out playing in the waterways, and don’t be surprised when you come across a chicken or 10.
Wat Prayurawongsawat Worawihan
Also known as Wat Prayoon, Wat Prayun, AND Wat Rua Lek is a totally overlooked Bangkok attraction! It’s amazing how many people skip right over this beautiful temple complex. It’s HUGE white Chedi is beautiful and gives great views when you walk along the wall. Supposedly, some of Buddha’s relics reside inside the pagoda.
Khao Mo Mountain Replica
This strange monastery, on the Wat Prayun grounds, feels like you left Bangkok and entered some mountainous retreat. It is a strange juxtaposition knowing just how crazy Bangkok is just a few feet away, yet calm and peaceful inside this little sanctuary. Like many animals, turtles are considered sacred to many Buddhists, so an odd highlight for most visitors here is seeing (and feeding if you wish) all the turtles waddling and swimming around (which is why it’s also known as Wat Khao Tao “Turtle Mountain Temple”). And did I mention it is not overrun by tourists!
Get a Thai Foot Massage
That’s it for planned activities today!By this point in the day, you are most likely starving again, exhausted, extremely overheated and have aching feet from walking all day!
After dinner, if you’ve got the energy for it, tonight is the perfect night for a Thai foot massage to ease those sore feet!
Chinatown and Pak Khlong Talat
As a writer, you’d think that I’d have an eloquent way of describing the Bangkok Chinatown.
This is one of those places that there are just no words to truly describe and get across what you’ll see, smell (Oh, the smells!!!!), and hear.
Talk about a barrage on the senses. Chinatown.Is.Nuts!
Is Chinatown overwhelming? Holy Yes! Should you avoid it because you’ve “Seen other Chinatowns” or because “You don’t like crowded places”
It is simply a fascinating experience that transports you as a tourist and visitor to a place you have never experienced before.
You may not know where to even begin or where to go in Chinatown. We took this fantastic,FREE, DIY Bangkok Chinatown walk. You can skip places that doesn’t interest you and adapt it to what you want. Just don’t miss the Talat Kao Old Market; an absolutely bizarre network of small covered alleys selling anything from useless trinkets to reams of paper to nail polish to fish balls to dried squid to pokemon pillows. You want something? Anything? They’ll have it!
Traveler Tip: It’s reported that some of the best Thai food in Bangkok can actually be found in Chinatown! There are plenty of great food stalls and if you are there in the evening, the street corners will come alive with the most fascinating (and possibly nerve-wracking!) foods!
The Bangkok flower market (Pak Khlong Talat) is technically in the above DIY walking tour, but if you have either decided not to do that walk, or it was just too long, I still recommend making your way over to this enormous, gorgeous, and fascinating market. It can be a short Tuk Tuk ride and a nice reprise for your nose compared to the smells of Chinatown!
For your evening entertainment, as usual, choose any of the things to do Bangkok at night from the list below.
Day 4 and 5: Day Trips From Bangkok
While there is still plenty that can be done IN Bangkok, I want to maximize your time and experiences on this itinerary for Bangkok for 5 days, so I recommend considering taking at least one of the next two days to do an easy day trip from Bangkok. We chose to visit Ayuttaya (day1) and a Floating Market (day2).
However, if you want to still continue exploring IN the city, I’ve got a few other recommendations below as well as alternatives to the day trips.
Now, if you regularly read my other articles, you know I am all about DIY travel for the sake of cost-efficiency. However, this trip was personally a bit different for us, having two very young children in addition to my parents with us. For the sake of everyone’s sanity, we shockingly hired a guide for the following two days! (I know, I almost can’t believe it, either!!) If you are wondering how to get to Ayuttaya on your own, here is a quick guide that can help you out.
We went through Khanom Bangkok (no, not sponsored and yes I paid full price for our tours) and were generally quite happy with all our guides and experience. Overall, I would recommend looking into them if considering a private guide for Bangkok and surrounding areas. I was impressed with how willing they were to work with us and even went out of their way to secure two car seats for both our kiddos.
An Ayuttaya day trip is a phenomenal way to get out of the city and into the past (especially if you are a history buff or just want a break from Bangkok). The ancient Thai capital (once the largest city in the world) is full of temples and buildings, many of which are gorgeous ruins. They were extremely reminiscent to the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia, but on a lesser scale.
You’ll most likely return in the late afternoon or early evening from your Ayutthaya excursion (again, probably utterly exhausted!). So, spend a few hours recuperating at your hotel pool, getting another massage (ok, can you tell that I just simply don’t think that there is such a thing as too many Thai massages!?) or just hang out a bit. If you’ve got the energy, head out for the evening doing any of the suggested night activities.
Day Trip to a Bangkok Floating Market and the Train Market
Ok, let’s clear something up real quick. A floating market is a tourist thing. There. I said it.
In fact, on our first trip to Bangkok, we skipped going to a floating market near Bangkok for this reason alone.
However, I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed our day going to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market this time around and is just another reason why a Bangkok 5 days itinerary is great; it gives you a lot of flexibility!
You could find countless posts about what is the best floating market, but after doing quite a bit of research, I knew I also wanted to visit the famous Train Market. Therefore, for the sake of locations, it made sense to do the Damnoen Saduak market as the floating market.
We personally used the same tour company for this day trip and it was actually REALLY nice to have a guide with us for today’s activities. She knew exactly when to be at the train market to see the train go barging through (it truly is something that you’ll only believe if you see it yourself). She bought us local fruit from a vendor that we probably would have walked right on by, got us some yummy local coconut pancakes (Kanom Krok) to try, and showed us her favorite Mango Sticky Rice boat! It was also just really nice to not have to figure out how to get from one place to the next, haggle with boats for a canal ride, etc. I think using a tour company for this particular day trip was a no brainier. (I know, I know…I can’t believe I said that, either!)
Day 4 and 5 Alternatives
Do a Thonburi Walk
On our first trip to Thailand, we took an accidental (let’s be honest here- we got lost!) walking tour through this “neighborhood” of Bangkok. It actually once was it’s own city, in fact, it was even the capital of Thailand after the fall of Ayutthaya!
If you enjoyed (or skipped! GASP!) the suggested walk between Wat Arun and Wat Prayun, then I highly suggest you do a nice DIY (again, free!) walking tour like this of Thonburi.
Take a Bangkok Canal Tour
I REALLY wanted to do this, but we were either too tired for more activities or just didn’t have the time. However, if we hadn’t done our day trips, this would have been my top pick for additional Bangkok activities.
Once upon a time, Bangkok was a city of canals, not entirely different from Venice. The canals were the main artery ways of transportation around this section of the city, but most have now been filled in, or even turned into real roads today. However, there is still a small network of canals hanging on.
These canal tours typically start in the above Thonburi area and go even deeper, taking you to areas few tourists go, allowing you to really see daily life.
Visit Bangkok’s Museums
Bangkok has numerous museums. Here are just a few to look into:
- Bangkok Art and Culture Center
- National Museum
- Madame Tussauds
- Museum of Siam
Similar to Central Park, Lumpini Park is Bangkok’s call to nature in the middle of the city. If you are looking for a reprise from the cityscape, this is a great place to go for a few hours.
Things to do in Bangkok at Night
If you are looking for places to visit in Bangkok at night, there are no shortages of things to do! As noted from earlier, depending on your energy levels, any of the following things to do would be great ways to fill your evenings
Having traveled all over Asia, night markets aren’t anything new to me. But, as usual, Bangkok likes to really kick up the “Holy cow” factor in over stimulating activities- the night markets being no exception!
We went to the Ratchada Train Night Market as an alternative to the Chatuchak Weekend Market thinking it would be a great taste of a night market but even WE were pretty overwhelmed at the sheer volume of people. (But we did get some pretty darn delicious Roti and chicken skewers! And Lil B had his first fresh coconut, so there’s always a silver lining!)
However, people still claim that if you are there on the weekend not to miss the Chatuchak market. However, if you get easily overstimulated or claustrophobic, even though a night market is often touted as a “Must Do” in Bangkok- I’m giving you permission to skip it.
Night River Cruise
I obviously really enjoyed seeing Bangkok from the river. A night cruise is another fantastic way to see the city in a different light (literally). Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, and other buddings are stunning in the evening light and is a great way to kick back after a long day on your feet.
Go to a Rooftop Bar
It is pretty crazy how just going up several floors can feel sort of “away” from all of the hecticness of Bangkok.
We enjoyed a beautiful (albeit more expensive than down at ground level) evening, dinner, and drinks overlooking the Chao Phraya River as the sun set. The evening glow illuminated Wat Arun in the distance and it was a wonderfully slow way to finish a day of fast paced sight seeing.
See a Lady Boy Show at Nana Plaza
On one of our day trips, our guide was telling us about the Lady Boy culture in Thailand and it was fascinating! For the sake of a quick explanation here, the term loosely translates to a male to female transgender person (or even just a third person gender), of which are actually called “Katoey” locally.
Thailand is an amazingly open, accepting, and forward thinking culture when it comes to the topic of gender.
Here is a wonderful article on how to respect and enjoy a Thai Ladyboy Show.
Visit Khao San Road, Soi Rambutri and Soi Cowboy
If you are looking to munch down on some fried insects for dinner, wanting to participate in a rowdy party scene, or like a huge nightlife scene, just head to any of these “roads.”
- Khao San Road is famed as the backpacker’s district. If you are going to make your way there, I would highly recommend going a few streets over to
- Soi Rambutri, which we felt was an even more authentic feel to this crazy nightlife rather than the flashy neon lights and drunk backpackers everywhere.
- Soi Cowboy, also a similar area houses plenty of night clubs, bars, and restaurants.
Either way, both are totally worth it just for a stroll to take it all in.
Get a Foot Massage
Ok Ok, I know I’ve mentioned massages a ton already (they are SO cheap!!!! And SOO wonderful!) but a Thai foot massage on the sidewalk of a busy street is such a fun thing to do. There are so many places that have chairs right along the street outside. It’s a blast to kick back and relax and just people watch as the city bustles on by.
Getting Around Bangkok
Whether you are doing a 5 days Bangkok itinerary or just 2, you are going to need to get around the city.
This is a highly unpopular way to get around Bangkok, but some of my best times in the city was when we simply walked from one place to the next. This is when we found ourselves in local neighborhoods seeing daily life or stumbling upon quiet temples that no other tourists were at. Plus, if you find yourself too hot and tired mid-walk, there’s typically a Tuk Tuk nearby to the rescue!!!
While Bangkok is not COMPLETELY walkable because of it’s size, there are plenty of things that can be reached by foot (Like Wat Arun to Wat Pho to the Grand Palace).
Tips for walking in Bangkok
- WATER!!! It’s so freaking hot (and humid) in Bangkok. This is probably the biggest reasons why most people don’t recommend walking. If you don’t mind a bit of heat though, you can get by. Just have plenty of water.
- Extremely Comfy Shoes: I made the horrible mistake on our first trip to Bangkok wearing those flimsy little $2 Old Navy flip flops!!! (What was I thinking!?!?) On our second trip, I had THE MOST COMFORTABLE pair of walking sandals. Even after a full day of walking, my feet were still not killing me (I mean, I still wanted a foot massage, right!? But only because why not!?)
- Sweat Towel: I grabbed a set of these“cool towels” just before leaving for Thailand. Not sure if they actually kept me cool, but it was fantastic to have something to sop up the sweat!
Public Transportation (BTS and MRT)
The Skytrain (BTS) and Underground (MRT) are a phenomenal way at buzzing around the city. Oh, and did I mention they are air conditioned!?
We really enjoyed taking public transportation in Bangkok because you really do get to travel with and like the locals and it’s a great way to people watch!
The stops are all really well laid out in the city and can get you just about anywhere major that you’ll need to go as a tourist.
Taxis and Grab
Grab is like Uber or Lyft and is a great alternative to Taxis, which are a pain to deal with (unmetered cars, drivers who try to scam you, etc). Grab, on the other hand, uses both the rideshare technique but also Taxi drivers that allow you to agree upon a price prior to pick up. Since you can rate all the drivers (even the Taxi ones with Grab) you can have a stress free ride exactly to where you need to go.
As a group of 6 people, we found it cheaper just to get a Grab than to take the BTS/ MRT. But, with that means running the risk (ok, guarantee) of bumper to bumper traffic in Bangkok.
Tip: If the driver asks if you’d like to take the toll, say yes. It will cut down on your time and if you are on a metered taxi, most likely save you money since you won’t be sitting in standstill traffic.
I mean, have you even been to Bangkok if you haven’t taken a Tuk Tuk???
These are perfect for short distances and rides in major tourist areas. Just make sure you have negotiated and agreed upon a price prior to even getting in. Some Tuk Tuks are also known for stopping at places that they’ll get kickbacks. Make it very clear that they know exactly where you want to go and that you don’t want other stops.
Hail a Motorbike
Drivers wearing an orange vest are kind of like taxi drivers- but on motorbikes! Again, you can actually “order” one on grab and it is really cheap, or you can wave down an available one just like you would a taxi. These are ideal for solo travelers and/or people going short distances.
Songthaews are a pickup truck that has been converted for travelers in the back on benches. They are a bit harder to figure out in Bangkok compared to other locations in Thailand though. They typically have a set route, similar to a bus. In Bangkok, the destination is probably written on the side, but in Thai, so it’s a bit harder to figure out than other transport options in the city. Like a taxi, you can wave them down anywhere along the route and just hop in with the group in the back.
If you have several people, you can also order songthaews on Grab just like a car.
As mentioned previously, a great way to get around is by boat. You can take the local color-coded boats or just do an all-day ticket on the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat (similar to a hop on hop off bus).
How To See Bangkok If You Are Nervous, Don’t Like Big Cities, Or Are Afraid of Being Overwhelmed
Get a Guide
As discussed above, one of my favorite parts of travel is the thrills of the unknowns. That even includes the moments of panic when you realize you have absolutely no clue where you are in the middle of the madhouse that is Bangkok Chinatown!
However, I totally get that not everyone is as sadistic as me when it comes to travel comforts!
Bangkok is by far, the main city that I tell people that it is ok to get guides!!!
I would rather someone hire a guide for their time in Bangkok than to stumble around in a state of overwhelm or worse, fear.
I was really surprised that the cost for guides in Bangkok wasn’t lower, but if having a guide means going to Bangkok over not going, then I say by all means….get one!!!
Take the Tourist Boat
For 150 THB, you can get on the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat rather than the local boats. You won’t be sitting among locals obviously, but you will get a speaker with information and history in English and explicit directions for where and when to get off at which piers, which can be a welcome sound compared to figuring it out yourself.
Follow the same directions above to get to the Sathorn Pier. Instead of going left to the Orange Express Line, you’ll go right to the Blue Line (Tourist Boat).
Go Into Bangkok With a Good Attitude and Open Mind
No matter what your thoughts, feelings, hesitations, or excitement is about Bangkok, the best thing you can do when heading there is to not go in with a preconceived view of what your time will be like. Go into it completely open minded and willing to experience each fun, strange, quirky, and new experience in and of itself!!
Popular Bangkok Scams
Even though this is the “Land of Smiles,” Bangkok is not impervious to scams, just like any major tourist city. Here are a few of the main ones to watch out for:
The Palace (Or Any Major Site) Is Closed
As mentioned above, if you are at ANY popular tourist attraction (the most common being Wat Pho and the Grand Palace), a Tuk Tuk driver may tell you that that attraction is closed today…but they can help you out! They’ll give you an amazing discount and will show you all the off the beaten path temples and highlights of Bangkok!!! (Guess what? The Palace ISN’T closed. And in addition to those temples, they’ll also be stopping at travel agencies, gem stores, and anything else that they can get a commission out of you!)
Tuk Tuk Prices
In those same top touristy places, don’t be fooled by Tuk Tuk drivers trying to gauge your wallet. There really is no set rule on how much a Tuk Tuk fare should cost, but let’s just say that 200 THB from Wat Pho to the Grand Palace (a 15 minute walk) is nothing short of highway robbery.
Gas Coupons For Drivers
This is most likely to happen with a Tuk Tuk driver again but could happen with a taxi driver as well. He’ll butter you up first with conversation, then tell you that if we can just make a quick stop at this shop (a tailor, spice shop….you name it) that he can get a gas coupon…EVEN IF YOU DON’T PAY! After his sob story of needing to feed his children and not affording gas, you feel for the guy, right? Well, that’s extremely kind-hearted, but no…this is all a lie….and a scam. He wants a kickback from whatever you are about to get suckered into buying.
If you decide to take the suggested Thonburi Canal tour above, don’t think that going to a pier and negotiating is going to get you a better price than a pre-arranged tour. On the contrary. They’ll give you a phenomenal price (that should always be a red flag) and you’ll have an amazing time on your “tour.” Then, instead of pulling into the pier to drop you off, they’ll stall the boat within eyesight telling you they need a docking fee. What are you going to do? Jump into the polluted river?
Check Your Documents
I’ve never personally seen this one in action, but ff anyone (even someone extremely official looking!) stops you on the street saying they need to see your Visa or passport, smile politely and say that you’d be happy to come down to the station to do any paperwork or checks. This “policeman” will quickly “excuse you this time.”
When It Sounds Too Good Too Be True
Here’s the thing, I love Thailand because the people are all SO nice! But if anyone approaches YOU out of nowhere telling you that something is closed, a train is too full, etc….but that s/he can help you (and for a great price, too!) Just say no thanks and continue on with your original plan. If something seems way too good or that you are being offered an amazing deal/ discount. Guess what? You are about to get scammed.
With all that being said: Don’t walk around Bangkok worried that at every corner there will be a scam. Scammers know how to scout out dummies (or just naive travelers). Now that you aren’t one, you won’t be as big of a target.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
There are limitless options for where to stay in Bangkok, each having their own pros and cons. There’s places like the Khao San, which is backpacker central or the Sukhumvit Area which is fantastic if you are planning on using mostly public transportation….and plenty more. A lot of where to stay in Bangkok will depend on your budget, but more importantly, your interests and style of travel.
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