Bangkok is a very vibrant city. It has something for everybody. Bangkok is a foodies paradise with all kind of cuisines available. It is a party person’s first choice for the many rooftop bars and clubs. Bangkok is filled with many heritage rich temples and palaces for the history lover. And you can shop till you drop literally. Everyone’s choice differs and am gonna point out few must do places from Bangkok that can be accomplished in a day.
Contents - Read all the way though.
Where to Stay in Bangkok
I stayed at Rattanakosin island which is closer to all the attractions. From here the palace is close by and down the river are all the attractions. Since this is a day itinerary, suggest to commute using tuk tuk or a cab. Guess what, I walked around very ambitiously between all the attractions which was pretty time consuming to be honest.
Here are the Must see places at Bangkok
The Grand Palace Bangkok
The most prominent attraction and a must visit which is at the heart of Bangkok is the Grand Palace. Built during the Rattanakosin period of reign, it was occupied by many kings from King Rama I to V and even today all royal ceremonies take place there. To the extent that, on the day when we were at the palace, it was birthday of someone from the royal family and so entry into the Emerald Buddha complex was barred. You can still see the Buddha from the door at a distance, just that we could not get up close. So even if somebody says that the Grand Palace is closed, it is a huge complex and you will get to see something or the other.
Grand palace open at 8:30 in the morning and since we have only one day in Bangkok let us start it early. The entry fee is 500bhat and pick up a rental audio guide for about 100 bhat. The palace is huge and jaw dropping. I totally mean it. One side there is Ramayana painted all around the wall, then you see colorful tiled towering pagodas, then you see golden pagodas, then you see the Emerald Buddha complex which is so grand, so many details and so many stories. There is a restriction that you need to return the audio guide in 2 or 3 hours, otherwise I would have easily spent half a day there. Once you are done touring the Emerald Buddha complex you will come near the Royal Residence area. Again depending on which day you are at the palace some of the sections are open to the public and some are not.
You will need easily 3 to 4 hours just for the Grand Palace. Dressing appropriately is a must which includes no shorts or sleeveless tops. Opposite the palace entry gates is a shop that lends you sarong but it is up to you to waste your time standing in that lengthy queue.
Now that you are exhausted with 3 hours of walking around the palace, head to the riverfront to catch the Chao Praya Express boat. On the way pick up a cold Thai coffee and indulge yourself before heading to Wat Arun. The Chao Praya Express boat is the best and easy way to commute along the river between the destinations for a cheap price. You can get one ticket to visit all the attractions and use it through out the day.
Get onto the ChaoPraya Express boat and cross the river. Voila, you are at Wat Arun..
It was monsoon time in Thailand and the dark clouds were gathering around the towering pagodas. It is tall white majestic pagodas, some of them under restoration and climbing above is restricted. The beautiful bells lining up around the tall pagodas keep jingling in the wind giving the most soothing music to the ears.. They have colorful porcelain motifs all around. It is known as Temple of the dawn but it is also said that it looks beautiful when seen lit up in the night. I didn’t get to see at both the time..
Take a lunch break. You can either cross the river, reach Wat Pho, have lunch and then explore temple. Or visit Wat Pho and then have lunch. But that will take a lot of time and you will get pretty hungry by then. For lunch try Singha beer along with Som Tum, the raw papaya salad or masalaman curry and rice if you like spicy or there is always the simple padthai
Wat Pho is the temple of reclining Buddha that many are familiar with. The Gold plated about 46 meter long reclining Buddha that is quite a common sight in many pictures depicting Bangkok. I was expecting to see that reclining Buddha only. First of all, even though we have seen many pictures of it online, it is overwhelmingly beautiful to see it in person. It is huge! Just huge!! With walls and windows and doors covered in tapestry and extremely colorful paintings. There is just not one inch of space left on the wall that does not tell you a story.. Everyone trying to take the full picture of reclining Buddha in one single frame. It is a functioning temple and a lot of Thai people keep coming in to offer their prayers, please make way for them. Once you are done admiring the length and breadth of this Buddha, there are more surprises waiting outside!
Like I said Wat Pho is not only about the reclining Buddha. It is a huge temple complex with many chedis and viharans lying inside it. From outside it just looks like a long compound wall running and a gate entry to it. The Chedis are huge and these ones are colorful. Not just the huge chedis, just like that when you are walking around the temple you will get to see many smaller ones too. Then there is the hall of many Buddhas around it and inside the hall. Quite fascinating to see so many ones, all representing different postures or mudras. There is also an ordination hall containing the primary Buddha where the Thai rituals are performed. There are many funny figurines all around the temple, the significance of which am not sure.
Wat Pho was the center of study of science, religion and literature. It is considered as the first university of Thailand. It is also the birth place of Thai Massage and still practiced here.
You will need at least an hour or two here. Let us say it is 3:00pm by now.. Hire a tuk tuk or hop into a cab and head to Jim Thompson’s house.
Jim Thompson House, Bangkok
Jim Thompson was an American who worked towards improving the dying culture and art of Thai silk. He came to Thailand during the Second World War serving as part of the army to free Thailand from Japan. Later when he retired from his services, he decided to start the Thai Silk Company Limited in 1948. What is the beauty of this place is, his house which he constructed according to the Thai style is on the banks of a canal. Thai style house or Lanna houses are usually raised from the ground so that when it floods, water doesn’t enter the house and made of wood.
He built a magnificent six mansions together for himself which was in Thai style and brought in little bit of modernization to the structure wherever possible. He was known for not just starting the silk company but the way it functioned. He encouraged weavers to weave at their home and then bring the product to the silk company. So opposite his house, across the canal was the weaving society. This helped in many women becoming the bread winners of their family. He also had an interest to collect antiques and paintings. Jim Thompson being a prominent figure, he went missing while touring Malaysia and it still remains a mystery as what happened to him.
So the present day Jim Thompson house is a museum in tribute to what he contributed to Thailand. There is a guided tour of the house which is mandatory to take. And they take in small groups because the house is now old and cannot take more weight. So they speak in a low voice and take people around the house to show his collectibles which are very impressive. There are antiques from across different parts of the world and some stunning Buddha sculptures too. It is definitely a tour worth to take and also an opportunity to learn about Thai silk.
Entry fee for Jim Thompson house is 150bhat
This would take you till about 5:00pm. Stop for a traditional Thai coffee at the Jim Thompson house bakery. Refresh yourself and next we are heading to watch Siam Niramit Show.
Siam Niramit, Bangkok
The show as such begins at 8pm but right from 7pm there are cultural activities happening in the open ground. It also has shops and other activities to indulge in. In case you want to squeeze in some shopping time at Prathunam Market or Central World shopping mall between Jim Thompson house and Siam Niramit show you can do that. However, be at the show at least by 7pm so that you will get a good seat in the house. And keep in mind that Bangkok’s traffic can be notorious.
Siam Niramit show is a fun and awesome way to know about Thailand, Thai culture and traditions, History of Thailand. Held at the Ratchada Theatre which holds the Guinness World of Record for having the World’s highest stage. The theatre itself is grand and the performers keep surprising you by coming from all directions of the theater. There are many acts, some depicts the way of life across Thailand, the different dance forms, the different Thai beliefs. It is fun to watch. Performers are seen flying in the air, it rains on the stage suddenly, it is visually very very stunning. I would say if you want to know about Thailand or you are going to go around Thailand then this is a must watch cultural show.
There are many seating options and the ticket price starts from 1500bhat. But it is totally worth it.
It would be 10pm by the time you head out of Siam Niramit Show. Well the night is young in Thailand and letus head to Khao San road
Khao San Road
Considered as backpackers paradise as this road is filled with cheap street food, booze, massage therapists, tattoo parlors and hostels.. Many consider this as over rated or has been too beaten and no longer has the hippie feel. But I loved the nights here. There is so much food to eat and music is all the way down the road. From banana crepe, durian fruit, padthai to grilled pork balls and insects everything is available on this road. There are some really hep bars for the crowd with money, there are bars for people with not so much budget or you need not even sit in those restaurants, you can just keep walking up and down the road eating stuff.
After this tiring day, get yourself a foot massage here 🙂 And that is one day in Thailand. Happy Traveling.