The city of Bangkok is vibrant, busy and full of amazing things you need to see. But what if you’ve only got 24 hours? Can you see anything worthwhile in Bangkok? Or should you just hole up in your hotel room?
Well, of course you should get out and see Bangkok! Here are some of the wonderful sights of Bangkok, and it’s just about doable to squeeze these things into 24 hours.
Fill up on a yummy breakfast before you head out into the city. If you booked things right, and got breakfast included, your hotel will provide a range of western products and eastern dishes. We enjoyed noodles and stir-fried pork for breakfast, while our children munched on Kellogg’s cereal and fresh fruit.
Getting around the city of Bangkok is really easy. You can walk out of your hotel and find a million tuk tuks, or hail a taxi. Be sure to agree on a price before you get in.
The bus is cheap, and we always found someone very happy to show us exactly where to find the correct bus stop, and ensure we knew the number of the bus for where we wanted to travel to. On the bus, the conductor walks up and down with a round case full of tickets, and will take your money.
You buy your train ticket from the booth before you enter the platform, or you can use the automated ticket machine. Trains are clean and air conditioned.
If you take a boat, make sure to take the boat with the Orange flag, and not a blue flagged “tourist boat”. The orange flagged boat costs roughly 15 Baht, and is without the bad English audio guide that you probably can’t hear anyway for ten times the price. To get to Wat Pho (sometimes Wat Po), get off at Ta Chang.
Wat Pho, or the temple of the reclining Buddha, is your first stop for the morning.
Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples. It is a huge complex, and houses over 1,000 buddha images, as well as the famous reclining buddha.
To enter the temple building with the reclining buddha, you will need to remove your shoes, put socks on, and ensure you are modestly dressed with covered shoulders, arms, and legs. They will lend you a coverall if you need it.
Wat Pho is also the home of Thai massage, so where better place to get one than the Thai medical centre in the complex. Be prepared to bend like a pretzel!
Blessing from a monk
While you are here in Wat Pho, you can also have the rest of your time in Bangkok blessed by a Buddhist monk. They will tie a Sai Sin Sacred thread around your wrist, and splash you with water using a bamboo brush. Nearby will be a jar or box for money – leave at least 20 Baht.
Pick up lunch in one of the many street stalls on each road in Bangkok. Juicy mangoes, coconuts to drink, and delicious chicken or pork satays can be found very easily. Alternatively there are hundreds of restaurants serving all different types of food.
The Grand Palace is just around the corner from Wat Pho. This spread of buildings houses the temple of the Emerald Buddha, the mint, and also war ministry and state departments. The Grand Palace is open from 8:30 to 3:30pm.
Again, you need to be respectful in what you wear, but don’t stress about this. At our hotel we were cheerily asked where we were going to as we were leaving, and when the response was heard “the Grand Palace” we were ushered back upstairs for long trousers, full shoes (not flip flops) and long sleeved tees. With bag bulging we headed out to our destination. When we got there, we discovered that things are a lot more relaxed than our sensitive concierge felt. If you are wondering what to wear to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, here is the official sign.
Rob wore shorts (previously we’d been advised men didn’t need to worry about covering up at the Grand Palace because they’re not sexy!) and he was directed to the dedicated change rooms. Here they will loan you trousers, tops, etc – whatever is needed – for a small deposit, which is returned to you when you give the clothing back. I wore linen trousers and short sleeved tee to the Grand Palace and was told I was completely fine. I did keep my flip flops on, as did many other people also visiting.
I’m not telling you this as a way to disrespect the Thais, but more so you can be prepared to know what to wear on your visit to the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Your ticket to the Grand Palace costs 500 Baht. It consists of three parts: firstly your entrance to the Grand Palace and the temple of the Emerald Buddha; secondly entrance to a number of places including the mansion house, the Samakhom throne hall and two other places, which must be used within 7 days of purchase; and finally the third part of your ticket allows you entry to the pavilion of regal and royal decorations and coins. If you are visiting Bangkok for 24 hours you may decide to only use the first part of your ticket. I think it still gives value for money.
Inside the Grand Palace it is busy, amazing, GOLD, and awesome. Like nothing else on earth. If you’ve got just 24 hours in Bangkok the Grand Palace is a must see.
From the Grand Palace head to the river and catch an orange flagged boat. You can get off at Wat Arun if you want more temple seeing, or continue to the Siam Discovery Centre for some shopping (and air conditioning!). The Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat is a great way to see the city. You can get off at any stop and take a look around, and hop back on again when you’re ready. It’s a cheap way to fill in a day, travelling up and down the river, but if you’ve only got 24 hours in Bangkok you need to be a bit more focussed. So lets go to the Siam Centre by getting off at Sapan Hua Chang.
The Siam Centre is a collection of Malls, with shops, food halls, cinema and so on – everything you’d expect in a mall, as well as the Sea Life Bangkok aquarium and Kidzania. Here you can pick up your souvenirs – head to the MBK if you want Thai handicrafts, silk scarves and so on. You can also find everyday items here, like clothes, beauty products, and so on. Siam Paragon houses the international brands of shops as well as a bowling alley and opera house.
Alternatively, catch a tuk tuk to Kao Sahn Road, where things are a little subdued at the moment since the King of Thailand’s death. There are fewer street entertainers, and this is more like a tourist street lined with bars. But you can still pick up food quite cheaply, as well as enjoy a cold beer or two.
From there you’ll be ready to rest your head on your hotel pillow!
This was an entry to the AccorHotels 24 hours in the city competition.
Have you spent 24 hours in Bangkok? What are your must see places from Bangkok?