I am so grateful to have recently spent 3 days in Bangkok, Thailand. Many readers know I love the city life, so I was thrilled to get to visit a major city in Southeast Asia (and the world), Bangkok!
However, my experience turned out to be completely different than what I was expecting. You will have to read until the end to find out.
This guide is your three-day itinerary to Thailand’s city of angels and capital, Bangkok. I cover the downtown core and historic sights, as well as, a mini-day trip you will love!
For a closer look at my day to day experience in Bangkok, be sure to watch the video. If you want to subscribe too I won’t be mad about it.
Psst. . . Looking for more tips for your trip to Thailand? Check out my other posts.
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How to get from the Airport to City Center
They have an organized taxi queue which prevents you from asking “how much?” before jumping in the backseat. I didn’t exactly like that nor trust it. At least at the time. The last thing I wanted was to go in blindly and be charged $40 for a taxi. My inner-skepticism came out and I said NO. Learning later, the taxi-meters are not that expensive and in some cases, cheaper than Tuk Tuks with AC.
There is a small metro system in Bangkok which I explain next. We would have taken the underground but from where our hotel was it would have been a mile walk to our hotel from the station and with luggage, heat, and no cell service that was a hard no for me.
We took the Limousine Bus for 150 Baht per person ($5). The only downside to this was waiting for the driver to fill up with more passengers before we could leave. We waited for about 30 minutes as more flights landed.
Thailand’s equivalent to Uber. You can choose to add a credit card to the app or pay the driver cash. We used Grab quite a bit during our trip around Southeast Asia. I highly recommend you download the app and create an account.
Getting Around Bangkok
Bangkok BTS Skytrain and the MRT Underground are the two metro systems that operate through the core parts in Bangkok. The Skytrain has two lines, Sukhumvit and Silom. You can person single ride passes at any station. The MRT Underground has two lines as well. Unlike the Skytrain, the MRT does run from the airport to the city center.
Don’t rely solely on the metro to get you all around Bangkok. Only if you are staying in the downtown core (aka the new parts of Bangkok) will the metro lines be beneficial. If you plan to visit the older parts of town like the Grand Palace, you will need to take either a Taxi, Tuk Tuk, or Bus.
Tuk Tuks are the most convenient transportation option outside the downtown area because they can easily weave through traffic and are everywhere. You can always negotiate with them, but fair warning, they know when they are in demand and will put up a good fight. On the flip side, if it sounds too good to be true, you might be falling for a scam.
Tuk Tuk Scams to Avoid: tours that will try to upsell you on visiting multiple locations but add stops to the schedule. You will instead end up at their buddies market in hopes you will buy something or face being stranded.
Metered Taxis are the ones you want to use. You will see some “taxi drivers” that are not metered and willing to negotiate prices, however, these are known to be scams similar to Tuk Tuk scams. The good thing about metered taxis are when it’s hot outside, you can cool off to their AC while you sit in traffic.
Public Buses are the most affordable option. There are two kinds of buses in Bangkok, the newer ones with AC or the old ones that have no ac and look like they could break down at any given moment. Due to the heavy traffic in Bangkok, buses are always late. They might not even stop at the actual bus stop, so if you’re not paying attention, you could miss your bus. Buses are cheap but inconvenient in my opinion.
Where to Stay in Bangkok for 3 Nights
The three most popular neighborhoods in Bangkok that will offer the most are Siam, Sukhumvit, and Chinatown.
Known for their amazing shopping centers, Siam is also home to shows (Thai Boxing anyone?), museums, and theater.
Ibis Bangkok Siam is an affordable option if you want a great location near MRT lines, shopping, and nightlife.
Sukhumvit is the core of downtown Bangkok. We technically stayed in Sukhumvit but our hotel was a mile from any major metro line. That goes to show the scale of this neighborhood. To be honest, I got lazy when it came time to book a hotel. I was not in the mood for online research and booked the first place I saw that was cheap and clean.
Learn from my mistake and at the very least, check google maps to make sure your hotel is near a metro line and/or bus stop.
Hotel Muse is a better hotel I should have booked instead. It’s in the heart of Bangkok near the Skytrain. Hotel guests can enjoy free WIFI, airport shuttle services, and inspiring interior design. Like, I didn’t want to leave it was so pretty. Hotel Muse also has an amazing rooftop bar which I mention later in this post.
For amazing food and historic charm, Chinatown is a great location. You are within easy access to just about everything. Chinatown is one of the oldest parts in Bangkok – offering budget-friendly accommodation options to travelers.
Pho Place is a clean hostel offering 24-hour check-in, Air Conditioning, free Wifi, laundry service, and more.
3 Days in Bangkok, Thailand Itinerary
Depending on when you arrive and how you feel, you can easily unpack and head right out for a little exploration. We did just that – mostly walking around people watching and checking out the neighborhood.
Day 1 Itinerary
Day one is all about exploring historic landmarks by day and appreciating the modern parts of Bangkok at night.
Seeing at this is a holy place and home to the royal family, dress code for men and women is strictly enforced. Yes, even for men. Unlike many of the holy sites we visited in Thailand, the Grand Palace was the first to enforce the dress code. Men and women both need to be covered. For women, long dresses and shoulders covered. For men, long sleeves and long trousers. Absolutely no shorts. It honestly felt good to see a man get turned away because of what he was wearing.
Admission is 500 Baht per tourist ($16) plus an additional 200 Baht ($6+) if you want to rent an audio guide. You can purchase tickets up to 24 hours in advance online to help cut wait times.
The Grand Palace is open daily form 8:30 am – 3:30 pm.
Wat Arun aka Temple of the Dawn is located on the bank of the Chao Phraya river, so you will need to take a ferry. We went to the pier at Tha Maharaj. It cost about 30 baht per person one-way.
If by this point you’re hungry, you can find plenty of dining options around Tha Maharaj. We got lunch at a random hole-in-the-wall for 50 baht (<$2).
Wat Arun is open daily from 8 am – 5:30 pm. You should plan to spend an hour here. Sunset is the best time to visit. That said, get here early to claim a good spot.
You can’t come to Thailand and not shop. Siam offers tons of stores with unique finds for affordable prices. You’re not paying the additional cost for import because hello, you’re in Thailand where they make pretty much all the clothes you find anyways.
If you’re a fan of pink and adorable kittens, then stop the Hello Kitty Cafe in Siam. You should plan to make a reservation for this is a popular restaurant that fills up quick.
Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe
Also located in Siam is the Hard Rock Cafe. My touristy vice is that I always eat at a Hard Rock Cafe. It’s my little bucket list to visit as many as I can. One thing I will say about Hard Rock Cafe is their appreciation for local musicians. I love seeing live bands perform all around the world. It makes you realize how music brings people together.
Day 2 Itinerary
Day two is all about shopping in unique places starting with an early morning day trip. I’m talking at 5 am early.
Maeklong Railway Market
Rise and shine for a morning day trip to the famous Maeklong Railway Market. It’s exactly what you think. A market so close to the train tracks, they have to physically pack up shop five times a day when the train comes through. You will find a thick red line along the market to indicate safety from being hit by the train.
The train does move super slow through the market, but it’s still amazing to see. Photographers are everywhere so make sure to find a prime viewing spot before it’s too late.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Known as the first floating market in Thailand and quite possibly the biggest, Damnoen Saduak offers shoppers tons of unique finds from pillowcases to rice hats. I spent around 325 Baht here so plan to bring cash. They are a cash-only market and trust me, you will want to buy at least one thing.
Terminal 21 is a multistory retail and lifestyle area with a new theme on every floor. The design pays tribute to the most popular destinations around the world from Morocco to San Francisco. It’s a fun sight to see even if you don’t plan to shop. We caught a food festival and decided to taste a few samples while here.
Day 3 Itinerary
The last day is always bittersweet. You’re excited to move on, yet I wish you had more time to explore. End your time in Bangkok with a BANG starting in Chinatown.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is one of the larger ones I’ve been to. They have many free things to do here, which is nice given how expensive Bangkok can be for Thailand. You can start at the China Gate (shown above) which marks the entrance to Chinatown.
Wat Traimit is home to the largest gold Buddha in the world and completely free to visit!
Coconut Ice Cream is a must if you’ve never had it before. They crack open a fresh coconut, shave down the sides and fill it with vanilla ice cream and nuts. Oh, it’s so good.
Explore the City At Night
Even if you’re on a budget like I was, you still need to experience at least one rooftop bar in downtown Bangkok. We went to Speakeasy which was a roaring 20’s inspired bar with a very impressive menu of specialty cocktails.
Sandro ordered the Wasabi Martini which comes with a side of cooked salmon and wasabi to be eaten before drinking. I order the Girl with the Curls; a bourbon-based drink with pineapple and passion fruit. So bomb!!
After that, I recommend getting lost in the city. There are beautiful displays of neon lights everywhere making for a perfect nighttime photoshoot.
How much money do I need for 3 days in Bangkok?
Here’s the thing. Bangkok is expensive or at least similarly priced to many things in the US. If you’re looking for a posh cosmopolitan travel experience then you can absolutely get a great one in Bangkok. But if you’re stopping through as a backpacker with a small budget, Bangkok is going to be a sacrifice.
This is how much we spent over 3 days in Bangkok.
Transportation within Bangkok $40
Tours and Entrance Fees $42
Food & Drinks $183
TOTAL COST FOR 3 DAYS (2 PEOPLE): $434
Is Bangkok Worth Visiting?
If you are looking for incredible photo opportunities, then Bangkok is a great place – full of Instagram worthy spots.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’ll never return because I would. Only with more money and a different hotel. If you’re traveling on a budget, then I would skip Bangkok. If you’re looking to stay in the city and enjoy rooftop bars, cafes, and shop till you drop, then absolutely visit Bangkok. They do have some amazing retail stores.
Lastly, you need to be aware of the scams. Bangkok is a city full of hustlers and will easily eat you alive. I honestly don’t blame them. That is their livelihood, but at the same time, you don’t want to fall prey.
Bangkok is full of history and offers a unique contrast to modern-day and historic Thailand. You can absolutely enjoy yourself here with the right budget. I will certainly be back because even I didn’t get the full experience.
Psst. . . Looking for more places to visit in Thailand? Check out my other posts.
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Have you ever been to Bangkok? What was your favorite place in town? Share in the comments below!
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