If you're planning a trip to Thailand, chances are you're going to find yourself in the capital city of Bangkok at some point. Bangkok, like many big cities, is colorful and filled with frenetic energy that never seems to take a break.
But don't let Bangkok's size and chaos scare you off – the city is also modern and quite tourist-friendly, making it one of the more popular destinations in Southeast Asia.
For those visiting Bangkok for the first time, here's a look at what you can do and see in just 48 hours in the Thai capital.
Once home to kings dating back to 1782, the Grand Palace is one of Bangkok's top attractions. Located in the heart of the city along the Chao Phraya River, the Palace complex is also home to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or Wat Phra Kaew, which remains one of the most sacred spots in all of Thailand. While you can’t visit all the buildings within the Grand Palace complex (it is, after all, still a working palace where they host official affairs), you can visit Wat Phra Kaew, and see plenty of golden stupas and other examples of classical Thai architecture.
Don't listen to any Tuk Tuk drivers who try to tell you that the palace is closed. The Grand Palace is open 7 days a week, nearly 365 days a year.
Hop on a river taxi from just about anywhere in the city, and head to the Grand Palace early, to beat the crowds and the worst heat of the day. You'll need to be dressed conservatively to enter – be sure your shoulders and knees are fully covered.
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Go temple hopping
After taking your time exploring the Grand Palace, spend the afternoon visiting a couple of Bangkok's other famous temples. Start with Wat Pho, located near the palace. This is the oldest and largest temple complex in Bangkok, and it is home to the famous 150-foot-long Reclining Buddha.
Don't just pop in to see the Reclining Buddha. Spend some time exploring the rest of the massive temple complex, too. You'll find a huge collection of gilded buddhas, detailed stupas, and some beautiful spaces to just stroll and relax.
From there, hop a ferry across the river to Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn. You can't really miss this temple, thanks to the colorful porcelain and ceramic tiles that cover the entire facade. For great views of Bangkok, climb to the top of the central prang, or tower.
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Head to a rooftop bar
Some Bangkok itineraries might tell you to go to the famous Khao San Road at night, where you'll find all-night parties, dance clubs, and street vendors. But this center of backpacking culture isn't for everyone.
If eating fried insects in your harem pants doesn't sound like a fun evening, you might want to put on some smart clothes and head to one of Bangkok's swanky rooftop bars for sunset and a drink, instead. Try out The Speakeasy Rooftop Bar atop Hotel Muse, or Park Society on the 29th floor of So Sofitel, which overlooks Lumpini Park.
Start your day early and head to one of Thailand's famous floating markets. There are quite a few to choose from including Damnoen Saduak, Amphawa, Khlong Lat Mayom, and Taling Chan. Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa are located further from Bangkok, but Khlong Lat Mayom and Taling Chan are just on the outskirts, and you can reach them by public transport.
No matter which one you visit, you'll find the sights, smells, and chaos that Thai markets are known for. The difference at a floating market is that the vendors all paddle along in small boats piled high with food and wares. Be sure to bring along your haggling skills!
Chatuchak Weekend Market
If you happen to be in Bangkok on the weekend (Friday-Sunday), don't miss out on the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Take the BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit station, and be prepared to get lost in the market stalls for a few hours.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the largest and most diverse markets in Bangkok, with more than 15,000 stalls selling everything from artwork to old books to designer clothing. Plan to grab your lunch here, as there are plenty of affordable food vendors, too.
Or, if you're all market-ed out after your morning, or if you aren't in Bangkok over the weekend, consider spending the afternoon at the Bangkok National Museum, which houses the largest collection of Thai art and artifacts in the country.
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Go to a luxury movie
Bangkok is a modern city, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the city's upscale shopping centers. Many of these massive malls come complete with luxury movie theaters, where you can book dinner-and-movie specials for around $25-$35 USD*. These specials include dinner, a recliner-like seat, and free drinks and popcorn throughout a screening of an English-language movie.
Some of the most popular luxury theaters in Bangkok include the Paragon Cineplex, Quartier CineArt at Emquartier, and Embassy Diplomat Screens. This would be an excellent (not to mention relaxing) way to end a whirlwind tour of Bangkok.
There are tons of other things to do in Bangkok. It's a huge city with more than eight million people, after all! But if you only have two days to explore the Thai capital, this itinerary will help you experience the best of what Bangkok has to offer.
Have you ever been to Bangkok? What was your favorite thing to do?
All content provided in this blog is supplied by Amanda Williams and is for informational purposes only. Barclaycard makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
*Prices indicated in this article may vary according to season and guest demand. Please check corresponding website(s) for current pricing and availability.
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