This post on Bangkok itinerary is part of a travel series: Backpacking Indochina: A Guide for Filipinos – Crossing Borders, Tips, and Itinerary
Bangkok was the first stop in our 9-day trip to Southeast Asia. It was a fast, non-stop journey. We had less than 48 hours to spend in the city before leaving off for Laos and Cambodia.
The original route for the trip was: Manila to Bangkok then to Vientiane, Laos then back to Bangkok to ride the train to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Read further for the details of our Bangkok itinerary and accommodation.
Related: Backpacking Indochina: A Guide for Filipinos – Crossing Borders, Tips, and Itinerary
Even before landing at Suvarnabhumi airport, we found ourselves awed by what we’ve witnessed from above. We arrived at 12 midnight and from the plane, we saw Bangkok’s main roads and streets lined with bright lights.
Navigating through Suvarnabhumi airport was a breeze because there are walkalators everywhere that make it very convenient for tourists carrying heavy luggage. Outside the airport, there are already a lot of transport options to take you to your hostel. Everything was made very convenient.
Thais are generally warm and helpful. Strangers we talked to on the street guided us which buses to take and where, food servers were generous and polite despite the language barrier. There was no discrimination in any form. It seems that Thais are accustomed to foreigners visiting their country.
We also observed how very much the Thais respect their king who has passed away in 2016. Apparently, it was during one of their mourning ceremonies that we went out to explore the temples.
We had a full day to explore the city of Bangkok and almost half a day to explore Udon Thani, a province northeast of Thailand and near the Laos border. Since it was our first time, we decided to do a DIY tour of the temples and other famous landmarks. Read further for a detailed itinerary.
THINGS TO DO IN BANGKOK IN LESS THAN 48-HOURS
1 | Tour the temples DIY style
Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is a must-see for everyone who visits Bangkok. It houses the largest reclining Buddha statue in the country along with hundreds of golden Buddhas sitting in lotus position within the complex.
When to visit: the temple is open everyday from 8 AM to 5 PM
Entrance fee: 100 Baht
Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn is a Buddhist temple near the west bank of the Chao Phraya river. This is one of the temples in Bangkok that can easily turn as anybody’s favorite because of its beauty. The temple is best viewed just before the sunset and at night when all the lights are on.
Climbing the temple is possible however the steps are really steep. At the highest point, you will see the winding Chao Phraya river and the Grand Palace nearby. I can only imagine how majestic the view is at night.
When to visit: the temple is open everyday from 8 AM to 5:30 PM
Entrance fee: 100 Baht
Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha is regarded as one of the most important temples in Thailand. The Grand Palace, located within the same compound, is used for occasional ceremonial purposes like the mourning ceremony that was held on the day that we visited.
Tip: Ride the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat for 4 baht to cross to the Grand Palace and Wat Arun or v.v.
The huge palace compound contains more than a hundred buildings that are all decorated with gold and diamonds. It may hurt your eyes when you look directly at it in the afternoon lol, but it is a common favorite for many.
When to visit: open everyday from 8:30 to 3:30 PM
Entrance fee: 400 Baht
“Very nice pants, but, no!”
All visitors are expected to dress appropriately. Shorts, sleeveless shirts, mini skirts, anything too tight or falls above the knee and even open shoes are not allowed. There are usually signs around the entrances to guide you of what to wear. In case you forget, there are sarongs and long trousers for rent near the entrances of the temples.
Tip: To avoid long lines and further hassle, remember to dress appropriately and bring basic necessities like a bottled water to keep you hydrated and a sunscreen or cap to cover from the sun.
The ground security at the time we went to the Grand Palace was yelling hilarious comments over a megaphone. He was pointing at visitors while commenting: “very nice pants, but no.” “your dress too tight, go borrow.” Maybe he doesn’t know it but he was able to lighten up the whole situation.
2 | Go on an ultimate foodie experience in Chinatown
Chinatown is heaven for good but reasonably priced food! Lucky for us it was only a 10-minute walk or so from our hostel. Walk around the area early in the evening to avoid the heat.
3 | Experience the nightlife in Bangkok’s red light district
We went to explore the nightclub strips at Soi Cowboy and Soi Nana. No funny business! Lol. Scantily clad women (and ladyboys) were lined up in the streets waving at random, prospective “dates.” It is quite shocking if you are not used to the scenario, but yes, they were out on the streets wearing a 2-piece bikini.
Taking photos is not allowed. As long as you don’t aim your cameras at anybody in particular, I think it’s safe. *wink But to be on the safer side, better stow away your mobile phones for a while and just enjoy the show.
4 | Shop at Chatuchak Market
A day won’t be enough to visit all the stalls in this market. It is that huge. You can literally find everything here from clothes, postcards, accessories, souvenirs and even penis soaps in different sizes!
Chatuchak is also a heaven for street food finds. You got to try eating and drinking a few beers here and oh, do not leave without trying their coconut ice cream!
5 | Visit Nong Bua Lake at Udon Thani
*This is not in Bangkok but it is worth noting if you decide to fly from Bangkok to Udon Thani airport. Udon Thani is a province northeast of Thailand and is closest to the Nong Khai border and Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge. We booked return flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani and vice-versa to then take the train from Bangkok to Cambodia. Check out the guide here.
We had spare time before the flight back to Bangkok and so we took a little detour at Nong Bua Lake. We call it Nong Bua Lake because it is so much easier to say because its real name is Chaloem Phra Kiat Public Park. It is a large recreation park with lots of space for picnics, running, cycling and live shows. There are exercise stations and you can rent bicycles at the southern end of the lake.
You can also visit the Thai-Chinese Cultural Center that is right next to the park.
There you go, our Bangkok itinerary for less than 48-hours with some parts of Udon Thani in Thailand included. One day or two days is not enough to explore and enjoy this beautiful city. One week would be okay but of course, the longer, the better. If you have enough time to stay and the money to spend why not stay longer? 🙂
There is so much so see and do in this city. Aside from what we’ve included here, you can try Thai boxing, exploring all weekend markets and some Bangkok night tours.
The list of activities is endless. Scroll further down to find out what these are and where to book them.
WHERE TO STAY IN BANGKOK?
Bangkok offers a wide array of accommodation for all budgets you only need to know where to look.
Hotels in this city are pretty affordable but since we were looking for really cheap accommodation we favored hostels over hotels or private apartments. Because one, and this is the most obvious, you can save money on accommodation as rates are cheaper compared to hotels, two, you might want to stay in one mixed dorm room as a group for security purposes, and three, staying at dorm rooms of hostels is a great way to meet fellow backpackers.
Choose a hostel that is conveniently located near train stations and main tourist spots. Loftel 22 is a boutique budget hostel at Charoen Krung Road, 5-minutes away from Hua Lamphong station and 10-minutes away from Chinatown. You can reach the temples in a few minutes by taking a tuk-tuk or a taxi.
The hostel architecture and design is a classic loft-type building. The rooms are simple and basic but very clean, with dorm rooms sharing common bathrooms just outside the main dorm rooms.
We booked 3 beds from a 4-bed dorm room for the ladies at Php300 each. The beds have its own electrical outlet, reading light, shelf, and a personal locker. These lockers do not come with its padlock and key, though. You will need to bring your own.
Loftel 22’s other facilities include a bar and common area on the ground floor where they serve drinks and breakfast. They also have different wi-fi connections at each floor that you can access from anywhere in the building. You can ask the receptionist for the password when you check-in.
Read the main post: Backpacking Indochina: A Guide for Filipinos – Crossing Borders
OTHER TRAVEL TIPS
1 | Exchanging money
You can exchange your peso or USD at any money exchange shops in Bangkok and the rates will be nearly accurate. But to be sure, exchange your peso at the airport.
2 | Check for discounted tour packages online
3 | Pack and wear light clothes
Bring light clothes that cover well. It’s hot but you are not allowed to enter the temples if you show too much skin. And by that, I mean, showing your full arms or thighs. At the Grand Palace, ladies that wore shorts and skimpy dresses were not allowed entry. Even the men that were wearing shorts were not allowed. Bringing a sarong is a good idea and a hat too to help you cover up.
4 | There is more to Bangkok than its temples
Visiting the temples can no doubt teach you a lot of things about the city and its history but there are other things that you can do in Bangkok. You can visit the Thompson house that was turned into a museum or visit an elephant care sanctuary. You can also enroll in cooking classes in nearby towns in Bangkok.
5 | Take the train instead of taxis or tuk-tuks
Bangkok’s train system may look intimidating at first but you just need a few minutes to study it then you’re good to go because train maps really are simple to understand. By taking the train you will save time because it’s faster and it’s cheaper too.
I hope you found our Bangkok itinerary helpful for your trip. Or have you been to Bangkok recently? Share your experience and discoveries in the comments!
Thank you for reading!
This post is part of our Indochina backpacking series where we traveled to Bangkok, Vientiane, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh. Four countries in nine days! Check out our full guide to Backpacking Indochina: A Guide for Filipinos – Crossing Borders, Tips, and Itinerary.
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