SHOP THE LOOK
Infamously known around the world, Bangkok is without a doubt one of the craziest cities I’ve ever been to and it certainly lives up to its hype. When I was invited by China Eastern Airlines to spend three days in Bangkok, I couldn’t resist! It was already my fifth time in Thailand and third time in Bangkok; but even still, there is always so much to discover and explore.
The insane traffic, the vibrant food and nightlife scenes, the posh mega malls and hotels lying side by side with glittering temples and traditional Thai culture — Bangkok truly is a city of contrasts.
With exciting things to do for everyone, you can spend as little or as much as you’d like and still have the ultimate luxury experience without breaking the bank.
It’s easy to see why Bangkok welcomes more visitors a year than any other city in the world.
That being said, you really don’t need a long amount of time to really see the city’s main attractions. Three days in Bangkok is plenty!
Especially if you’re flying long-haul from the U.S. or elsewhere, it would be a shame not to spend at least a few days in the capital before making your way to the islands or north to Chiang Mai.
Here’s a look at my ultimate guide to Bangkok in three days!
Getting to Bangkok
Let’s face it, there’s no easy way of getting to Thailand if you’re coming from the States.
All direct flights ceased operation years ago. While there’s rumors that they might resume in the near future, for now you’re going to need to layover somewhere– likely elsewhere in Asia.
This means that your travel time is going to be bumped up significantly. Transit times can range from 20 up to even 36 hours. Because of this I highly, highly recommend traveling business class if at all possible.
I flew China Eastern Airlines in business and their ticket prices are a third or less of most other carriers without sacrificing the service and quality. You’ll have access to all of the business class lounges during your layover. This means comfy couches and hot food, plus on board you’ll be able to lay fully flat which makes all the difference for getting a little shuteye! Despite arriving after 1am, I felt well-rested and not at all jet-lagged. This makes all the difference so you can really take advantage of your three days in Bangkok!
See my full experience flying with China Eastern here.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
Book yourself at the Conrad Bangkok, located in the heart of the city in the exclusive Lumphini district.
As one of the city’s premier five-star hotels, the property is simply gorgeous. You’ll be able to indulge at any of its six (!) restaurant and lounges on your stay. When you want to relax they have a to die for luxury spa and outdoor swimming pool on the seventh floor. While you’re up there, be sure to check out their well-equipped fitness center offering free yoga and pilates classes.
The rooms were incredibly spacious with gorgeous soak tubs complete with city views.
Being right off the BTS made it really easy to get around by public transportation and almost every cab driver knew immediately when we said Conrad, which was a welcomed rarity!
Day One in Bangkok
Start your day by heading to the Jim Thompson House, which is the home of Thailand’s greatest American entrepreneur from the 1950s and 1960s. After collecting many antiques and building a silk empire, the man mysteriously disappeared on a trip to Malaysia and his body has still never been found.
His home is now a museum housing all of his treasures surrounded by beautiful gardens. Plan to spend about an hour here as you can only visit the grounds with a guide.
Once finished, continue on to do some temple hopping.
The two temples you can’t miss are Wat Pho and Wat Arun. Lucily they’re located across from one another on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, which you can cross by ferry for 5 baht– or 15 cents. While most people will advise to go first thing in the morning, I find them actually more enjoyable and less crowded right before closing.
Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s largest and oldest temples, most known for its reclining gold Buddha. This is one of my favorite temples in all of Thailand because of its intricate details and vibrant colors.
Spend some time wandering around and photographing the colorful stupas before heading over to Wat Arun.
Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is one of the city’s most known landmarks. It is just so ornate! I love visiting at sunset and then getting to see it lit up at night, shimmering on the waterfront.
For dinner hit up the nearby Old City. Here you’ll find plenty of restaurants filled with locals after work. If you’re looking for some of the best pad thai in the world, try Thipsamai Pad Thai. Prepare for long wait times during peak hours though.
Before calling it a night you can pass through the super touristy Khao San Road — at least just to see this famous backpacker area — but I recommend heading a block further to Rambuttri instead.
This area is super cute at night and while it’s similar to Khao San, it’s a lot less crazy since it isn’t as well known. And a lot less trashy.
Grab a drink or two from 7-Eleven to enjoy as you walk around, get an amazing hour-long massage for 250 baht ($8 USD), or snack on some amazing street food. I always go for the noodles, fresh baby pineapples or my fave banana roti pancakes!
Day Two in Bangkok
Get up early and head to the Grand Palace.
The Grand Palace along with its Temple of the Emerald Buddha, date back to the late 1700s. Together they are Thailand’s most sacred sites and undoubtedly Bangkok’s most visited.
Just be aware that you must be properly dressed before entering and the dress code is rather strict. This means you’ll need to wear long pants or a maxi dress, make sure your shoulders and chest are covered and that you have closed shoes.
While all Thai temples do have a dress code you should be respectful of, this was the only one where we had people inspecting you as you walk in. If you don’t pass their inspection, you’ll be sent to buy appropriate clothing on the premises.
The palace was really pretty. Just be aware that this place gets Disney World-level crowded, so it can be a little mentally exhausting.
Since it’s guaranteed to be hot and sticky, take a short break at one of the city’s cute cafes to rejuvenate and get some free AC. Alternatively pop into any street massage parlor for a little R&R … your feet will thank you after all the walking you’ve been doing!
Once you’re refreshed, get ready for a night on the town.
You can’t go to Bangkok without experiencing some sort of rooftop. Grab dinner or drinks from one of the many famous bars around town. Most people choose Moon Bar (in Banyan Tree) or Sky Bar (because of being featured in the Hangover II). The views at both are great, and everything else is about equal too.
I personally recommend drinks over dinner, or actually, a single drink, because dinner is just too expensive. Cocktails will run you about $25 USD with very little alcohol in them, so have one just for the experience and then move on to elsewhere.
It’s just one of those weird Bangkok experiences that everyone does, but it’s not worth it at all. Even still, you’re still glad you did it.
For dinner splurge at Osha.
While still cheap by US standards, this restaurant’s plating game is strong with everything looking picture-perfect. Some of the dishes even arrived as an interactive experience with heat induction and dry ice. Just make sure to make a reservation in advance because this award-winning restaurant books up quickly!
Day Three in Bangkok
One of my favorite restaurants in Bangkok is Karmakamet Diner. This established beauty and fragrance brand recently opened their own cafe tucked away in a quiet area of Sukhumvit surrounded by gorgeous gardens.
While I’m sure everything on their menu is equally delicious, I adored their brunch options and amazing cocktails.
If you’re into shopping, spend some time wandering around Sukhumvit to work off your brunch. This area is filled with crazy mega malls filled with luxury stores and international brands. Emporium is right next to Karmakamet Diner and the fun airport-themed mall Terminal 21 is also close by.
For a late lunch or early dinner, look into taking a Thai cooking class instead! You’ll learn to cook a multi-course feast of traditional Thai dishes, plus then you’ll be able to recreate your favorites back at home!
The class we took was at Issaya Cooking Studio and they did a great job walking us through every step. As someone with zero… and I mean zero cooking / chopping / anything-in-the-kitchen experience, even I had no problem following along!
I was so excited to make some of my favorites like green curry and basil pork rice, and they were even awesome enough to modify everything for me so I could actually eat them afterwards (almost all Thai food has shrimp hidden in it somewhere — usually in paste or sauce form).
By now you’re probably pretty stuffed, so make your way to nearby Silom.
During the day this area is a busy financial district, but if you stick around at night it transforms to Bangkok’s notorious nightlife area.
Walk through the night markets and take in the atmosphere — just be sure to keep your belongings close. Patpong is not something I really promote (seriously, skip the ping pong shows) but it’s like a car crash you can’t look away from.
Once you’ve had enough of this different side of Bangkok, continue towards Maggie Choo’s. Depending how early it is, don’t bother getting to this bar before 11pm, stop by and grab a massage first at one of the many shops lining Silom Road.
Seriously though, get a massage. If you’re not getting at least one every day that you’re in Thailand, you’re doing it wrong. So, so, wrong.
Maggie Choo’s is a secret speakeasy bar themed like an upscale 1800s opium den.
Hidden down a dark staircase, you feel transported as you walk inside this dimly lit place. The perimeter of the bar holds a bunch of bank vaults — private rooms for your group to hang out in. The entire top of the bar is a cage with women inside; lounging, passing cards… dressed in vintage cheongsams. Another girl sits on a swing in the corner.
The whole atmosphere of the bar felt really unique and well-done. Most nights they even have live music until midnight and then a DJ takes over playing mostly American hits from the last two decades, which keeps the dance floor packed.
Visit During Thai New Year! Songkran is held April 13th-15th each year and it’s one of the most unique (and crazy) festivals around! Locals and tourists alike wash away the year before in the world’s largest water gun fight and no where is safe.
This was my second time participating in Songkran, with my first time being five years ago in Chiang Mai. Both experiences were totally different, but Bangkok is definitely more intense! Expect to be totally drenched!
You’ll want to buy a big squirt gun off the street along with a plastic pouch to keep your money and phone dry. Also make sure to carry change in an easy-to-reach spot because Bangkok charges you to refill your guns unlike in Chiang Mai!
If you’re going to visit during this time I highly recommend planning your trip so that you have a few days right before or right after Songkran to explore the city. Exploring the city becomes difficult with everything getting wet and wild. Plus, many attractions or restaurants actually close down during this time.
Still looking for more to do? Some of my other favorite Bangkok highlights include Chinatown, Chatuchat Market and the flower market. I didn’t get to these on this latest trip, but I’ve done them the last times I went and they were great!
If you have a really long time and a full day to explore, I’d recommend getting out of Bangkok for a day trip to Ayutthaya or the famous floating markets.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO BANGKOK
Always negotiate prices.
Whether you’re buying something on the street or grabbing a tuk tuk, remember to negotiate! Especially when it comes to tuk tuks, make sure to set a price BEFORE getting in. You’ll also want to make sure any cab drivers turn on their meters. We found Grab to be an awesome app. Grab bought out all of Uber in South East Asia, and the app works exactly the same way. It also seemed to be cheaper than taxis.
Avoid prices too good to be true.
Thailand is cheap, but tuk tuks aren’t the cheapest way to get around. Most rides will run around 100-150 baht. Don’t get in if you’re quoted something much lower! You’ll be driven to souvenir shops or tour offices that they get commission from before you get to your destination. This is not how you want to be wasting your time especially if you only have three days in Bangkok!
We ran into a few issues with addresses on Google that were incorrect. Have your hotel confirm for you where a place is before you set out. Even if you call your destination, it’s likely that whoever answers the phone won’t speak good enough English to direct you. A lot of streets can be confusing or are actually alleys and not streets. Consider downloading the maps.me app before heading out to help you get around without needing to rely on wifi (this has proven to be in lifesaver both in Thailand and during my time in Morocco!).
Use only secure ATMs.
You’ll be able to use card at most restaurants, stores and massage shops. However, any trinket marketplaces and street food stalls are going to require cash. Avoid the ATMs on the street as they’re all outside and unattended. Stick to ATMs at banks or the ones at 7-Eleven.
SHOP THE LOOK
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