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By Zarut Suriyaarunroj, Edited by Holly Stark
72 hours may not sound long when adventuring in one of the world’s most energetic cities, but you’ll be amazed by how much you can fit in. Bangkok is a huge hub for Southeast Asia, bursting with myriad attractions that appeal to a diverse demographic of tourists. Home to an incredible amount of architecture, culture, history, food and shopping, there’s plenty to do in Bangkok in 3 days. Bangkok local Zarut, has lived in the city all his life and believes Bangkok to be a city for everybody, catering equally for those who love luxury and backpackers on a budget. Bangkok offers a fantastic place to kickstart your trip and with a Bangkok in 3 days itinerary, you’ll be able to get the most out of your visit to the city. Whether you’re visiting for a long weekend or just passing through on the way to the islands, use this bespoke itinerary to make the most of your stay and enjoy the best places to see in Bangkok in 3 days:
To get your 3 days in Bangkok trip rolling, make the best of your morning by combining both Taling Chan and Khlong Lat Mayom’s traditional riverside and floating markets. They are only a couple of kilometres away from each other, and only about 20 kilometres from town. Start with Khlong Lat Mayom, the smaller of the two, and enjoy its charming and authentic atmosphere at dawn, delicious aromas and array of colours. Then head to Taling Chan where you can hop onto a longtail boat (for a small fee) and ride around the neighbouring areas. Here you’ll find some of the best local Thai breakfasts and Bangkok’s must try foods. The morning will provide a great insider’s view of Bangkok’s local life. Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Get there via a taxi from Wongwian Yai BTS station, which should cost around 150 Thai Baht.
Take a taxi or the BTS Sky Train, Bangkok’s elevated rapid transit system, to Chatuchak weekend market, one of the world’s largest weekend markets. Despite being named a weekend market, the market is open to locals and visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from 09:00am to 6:00pm, and Fridays from 6:00pm to midnight. Plant sections are also open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 07:00am to 6:00pm. The market covers 35 acres and is home to 8000 stalls, with vendors selling local crafts like antique wood carvings and chests, clay handicrafts, bespoke Buddhist amulets, hand-made decorated flowers and ceramic wares. They say if you can’t find it at Chatuchak weekend market, then you can’t find it anywhere! Here you can easily spend a few hours, finding everything from vintage Levi’s jeans to pythons, as well as delicious, traditional Thai food and tea. Choose from herby noodle soup or Som Tam (papaya salad.) If you have a sweet tooth, go for coconut ice cream, freshly squeezed orange juice or mango dessert.
For further immersion into the local way of life, visit my favourite hidden gem, Pratunam market and discover a maze of creators at their sewing machines with colourful clothes, embroidered fabrics, shoes and accessories; all at wholesale prices. As one of the best things to do in Bangkok at night or in the evening, this market won’t disappoint, giving you an insight into shopping life pre-air-conditioned malls. Bargaining is acceptable, though you may not need to as items are already very cheap. Pratunam market is open 24 hours, and retail shops open at about 10:00am until 9:00pm. Bangkok’s markets offer a different vibe throughout the day so I recommend booking a full day with a local to get the best out of them.
Complete your day by unwinding with a traditional Thai massage. The treatment focuses on pressure points, manoeuvres, rhythmic compressions, joint release and deep breathing, often starting with the feet and gradually moving up towards the head. Through varying amounts of pressure applied to energy lines along the body, the massage relieves deep muscle tension, and relaxes and realigns energies. As one of the best things to do to in Bangkok, and definitely my favourite, your Bangkok in 3 days itinerary simply wouldn’t be complete without it. Enjoy your treatment at the birthplace of traditional Thai massage, Wat Pho. Massages are 420 Thai Bhat per hour. If you are keen to learn more, take a course here; a 5-day introduction or a 5-week professional Thai massage therapy course. Alternatively, Health Land Spa offer a luxury spa experience with an array of treatments to choose from.
In Bangkok, people smile a lot, and that’s no surprise when the food is so good, and available at literally any hour of the day! For an authentic fresh market breakfast experience, head to Khlong Toey Fresh Market where you’ll have the chance to appreciate the role markets play in the lives of local people. The market, deemed the capital’s biggest, freshest and most sprawling, operates daily, with many stalls trading from around 2am until around 6pm. For the best experience, Khlong Toey is best visited in the early morning (around 6am). If you’ve ever eaten a meal in Bangkok, it’s likely that the ingredients that went into it passed through this produce market at some point; whether it be meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices or pastes. Alternatively, try a Thai breakfast in historic Bankrak.
One of my must see Bangkok tips is getting to know its cafes. Café Hopping is the art of spending short amounts of time in different coffee shops, cafes, tea bars and desert houses, soaking up their vibe, either with friends as I do, or alone, and maybe even taking instagram shots of their signature drinks, latte art, savoury snacks, sweets and ice cream. The centre of Bangkok’s hidden coffee community is in the Sukhumvit area, sandwiched roughly between its 55th and 63rd side streets. For cold brew lovers and Instagram enthusiasts, head to Hands and Heart. For the perfect espresso, hunt for Kaizen Coffee Company, a two-story shop tucked away in a small urban mall on Sukhumvit 63. It’s easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled.
The Jim Thompson House is one of the top places to see in Bangkok in 3 days since it showcases traditional, beautifully maintained Thai home design, décor, art collections and architecture. Jim Thompson was an American expat, former architect and silk entrepreneur who moved to Thailand and started a successful textile business. However, Thompson’s story doesn’t end with being one of Bangkok’s designers. While out for a walk in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia in 1967, Thompson mysteriously disappeared. His former home remains and is a fascinating jungly compound to explore. Set in a beautiful green area of vast vegetation and canals, The Jim Thompson House is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, close to the National Stadium.
Khao San Road became popular as a backpacker’s haven, though now it attracts a wide variety of visitors who simply want to enjoy the best things to do in Bangkok at night. Located close to the Chao Praya River, Khao San was once a rice trading hub and is now lined with bars, cafes, restaurants, shops, neon lights and hotels. The area is a perfect example of how Bangkok gets its reputation as a city that never sleeps. As well as lively bars and vibrant clubs, the area is one of the best in Bangkok for enjoying delicious food, local beer and Thai delicacies. Basement pub, Brick Bar, is loved by locals and has live bands playing mostly Thai indie, ska, and reggae. To get the best at Brick Bar, arrive early. Entry is free on weeknights and costs 300 Thai Bhat on weekends.
A great way to see the true Bangkok is through visiting its enchanting temples. The best way is to meet at Central Pier and take the ferry across the river. Take an orange-flag Chao Phraya Express boat and pay around 15 Thai Baht once on the boat, or a blue-flag tourist boat for unlimited trips all day (hop-on, hop-off) at 150 Thai Baht. Visit the mesmerising Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn, which features a soaring 70-metre-high spire decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain. The royal temple predates the founding of Bangkok and the start of the Rattanakosin era in 1782. Directly opposite, across from the river, is the Grand Palace which served as a residence for the Royal Family until 1925. This is a cultural spot which speak to me on a personal level and leaves me feeling so proud to be Thai. Now used for important religious and royal functions, it celebrates Thai architecture, artworks, carvings and detailed adornments. Complete your temple tour with a visit to Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha, one of Thailand’s most attractive, oldest and largest wats/temples, home to more than 1,000 Buddha images and an iconic 46-metre long gold-plated Buddha image.
Enjoy lunch at a tiny, affordable restaurant in the low-rise old quarter of Bangkok, near the Democracy Monument. The Chote Chitr was once visited by Megan Markle who claimed the plate of pad thai at the teeny 6-table, no air-con, no reservation, restaurant was one of her favourite eats in the world! After, ride a canal boat along the Chao Phraya peaceful riverside and see a more traditional way of Thai life up close. Discover a level of tranquillity as you drift past captivating wooden homes on stilts, floating kitchens, Buddhist temples, and small family businesses.
Maeklong Railway Market is especially unique since it has a train running through the middle of it several times a day, as well as stalls displaying fruits, veggies, meats, seafood, sweet snacks, clothing, and flowers. It has been around since 1905 and is one of the most fascinating places to see in Bangkok in 3 days. The train departs Maeklong Station at 6:20 am, 9:00 am, 11:30 am and 3:30 pm and arrives at Maeklong Station at 8:30 am, 11:10 am, 2:30 pm and 5:40 pm. As it does so, vendors and merchants collectively move their belongings and umbrellas away from the tracks.
No trip to Bangkok would be complete without a visit to Bangkok’s Yaowarat Chinatown. Experience an overindulgence for the senses and relish in the pulsing Bangkok energy of shopping paired with the steam of delicious street side food. From temples and shrines to shopping arcades to the staggering array of good Chinese-Thai fusion food, Chinatown is a must for anyone’s 3 days in Bangkok itinerary.
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