Bangkok in 3 days – a Complete Guide & Itinerary for Travelers
Save yourself a headache and time figuring out what to do in Bangkok in 3 days. 3 days is just the right amount of time to spend in Bangkok. Within 3 days in Bangkok, you can get to know the city and its culture deeply, but not yet exhausted by its hustles and bustles. Our itinerary covers activities in every aspect – culture, history, shopping, and even nature (think nature hardly exists in Bangkok? It does!) You can do things at our suggested time or tweak it a little to fit your schedule better. All activities we suggest here are great for children too, if you’re traveling with one.
Click to jump to the content you want to read!
|Day 1: Bangkok Old City Sightseeing + Evening Food Tour|
|9am:||The Grand Palace & the Temple of Emerald Buddha|
|11am:||Wat Pho Temple|
|Noon:||Lunch at Tha Tian|
|1.30pm:||Wat Arun Temple|
|3pm:||The Golden Mountain Temple|
|4.30pm:||Kor Panich mango & sticky rice|
|Evening:||Chinatown or an evening Tuk Tuk food tour|
|Day 2: Cooking Class + Shopping + Sky Bar|
|2pm:||Shop at JJ Mall or Mixt Chatuchak|
|Day 3: Local Ways of Life + Massage + Night Market|
|Morning:||Canal boat tour or bicycle tour|
Bangkok in 3 Days – Day 1
The Grand Palace & the Temple of Emerald Buddha
With an early start on the day, you will catch the Grand Palace when it’s the least busy. The complex was built in 1782 by King Rama I, the first king of the Chakri dynasty. The Temple of Emerald Buddha is located at the northeastern corner of the complex. Passing the Viseschaisri Gate, the main entrance located on the northern wall of the Grand Palace, the Temple of Emerald Buddha is on your left. In the ordination hall (bot), is situated the 66-centimeter-high Emerald Buddha, made completely out of jade and dressed in a gold robe.
Prasat Phra Debidorn in the Grand Palace
North of the bot, standing in a group are Phra Siratana Chedi (a huge golden chedi), Phra Mondop, Prasat Phra Debidorn, and a replica of Angkor Wat. Phra Mondop – a building covered with green and gold glass mosaics serves as the palace library. Prasat Phra Debidorn, with two golden pagodas and the row of colorful demons, contains life-size statues of Chakri kings. The hall is opened one day in a year for public on April 6th.
Southwest of the Temple of Emerald Buddha is a group of large and small buildings, halls, and pavilions used as royal residences and government administrative offices until the reign of King Rama V. The Chakri Palace was a residence in Italian Renaissance style topped by Siamese stepped roofs. Phra Thinang Amarin Winitchai is a throne hall. The hall is used in ceremonies involving heads of state and for king’s coronations. Dusit Maha Prasat was originally King Rama I’s Audience Chamber where he received his guests. It is the only structure is the Grand Palace with traditional Thai architecture.
ENTRY FEE: 500 THB (2019) includes entry to a traditional khon (Thai masked dance) performance at the Sala Chalermkrung Royal Theater
OPENING HOURS: 8.30am – 3.30pm, daily
GETTING THERE: 1.3 km from Sanam Chai MRT Train Station, Exit 1.
Wat Pho Temple
The 46-meter long reclining Buddha
Wat Pho is one of the largest temple complexes in Bangkok. When it was built is unknown but certainly before Bangkok was founded as the capital of Thailand (1782). In the main pavilion (vihara), you’ll find the 46-meter long reclining Buddha. The statue feels too big for the pavilion itself. West of the vihara, there is a courtyard, home to The 4 Kings’ Phra Maha Chedi. The chedis were built by and dedicated to the first 4 kings of the Chakri dynasty who founded Bangkok. They are decorated with ceramic pieces forming intricate patterns.
The 4 Kings’ Phra Maha Chedi
At the entrance gates of the courtyard, you will find guarding Chinese statues. The statues were used as ballast aboard Chinese junk boats traveling to Bangkok. There are small stupas scattering in the courtyard where the vihara is located. Among the stupas are Thai yoga statues. Wat Pho is the national headquarter of traditional Thai medicine and Thai massage. There are 2 massage pavilions on the temple’s ground.
ENTRY FEE: 200 THB (2019)
OPENING HOURS: 8am – 6.30pm, daily
GETTING THERE: Opposite to the Grand Palace, across the Thai Wang alley. 450 meters from Sanam Chai MRT Train Station, Exit 1.
Manee Thai Food Restaurant
Tha Tian is a historic market known for selling dried & salted seafood. The market is housed in the yellow European-style shophouse buildings. Around the market, there are several cafes, bistros, and restaurants. Manee Thai Food (10.30am – 7pm, Thu – Tue), a tiny and clean restaurant, serves a wide selection of inexpensive Thai dishes. Try their deep fried sea bass with fish sauce (ปลากะพงทอดน้ำปลา), and Tom Yam Goong soup (ต้มยำกุ้ง). Ama (11am – 5.45pm, daily) is another Thai cuisine option just opposite to Wat Pho Temple. The restaurant features funky furniture made from recycled wood. Pad Thai and chicken green curry are highly rated here.
Wat Arun Temple
One of the most beautiful landmarks on the Chao Phraya river, Wat Arun has existed before the 17th century. Its distinctive Khmer – style spires (prang) were added in the early 19th century. The temple had housed the Emerald Buddha before it was moved to the other side of the river when Bangkok was founded and the Grand Palace was built. The central prang represents Mount Sumeru, the center of the universe in Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu cosmology. All the prang are covered with colorful pieces of porcelain making intricate patterns. Climbing the central prang, you’ll be rewarded by views of the Grand Palace and Wat Pho on the other side of the river.
ENTRY FEE: 50 THB (2019)
OPENING HOURS: 8am – 6pm, daily
GETTING THERE: Take a ferry boat across the Chao Phraya river at Tha Tian Pier.
The Golden Mountain is the 59-meter-high artificial hill inside the Wat Saket Temple compound. The temple dates back to the Ayutthaya era (1350 – 1767), when it was known as Wat Sakae. When Bangkok became the capital, King Rama I renovated the temple and gave it the present name. To reach the hilltop, you have to climb 344 steps. It takes 10 – 15 minutes. There are lush gardens and statues depicted in Buddhist teachings along the stairway. There are also series of bells that can be rung for good luck. At the top, there is a shrine with several Buddha statues. You will be rewarded with a 360 degree view of Bangkok Old City.
ENTRY FEE: 50 THB (2019)
OPENING HOURS: 7.30am – 7pm, daily
GETTING THERE: the temple is 2.5 km from Wat Pho Temple. Take a taxi or a Tuk Tuk to save time and avoid the heat. Sam Yod MRT Train Station is the closest to the temple, 1.1 km from Exit 1.
By the time you’re done with the Golden Mountain, you might be hungry again already. Lucky you, one of Bangkok’s best mango & sticky rice shops is nearby. Mango & sticky rice is a famous Thai dessert. Sweet coconut milk sticky rice served with slices of ripe mangos is divine. Kor Panich has been serving mango & sticky rice since 1947. They use Nam Dok Mai, a type of mangos known for exceptionally juicy and sweet taste. The sticky rice comes from Chiang Rai, an area renowned for producing some of the best quality sticky rice in Thailand.
A portion of mango sticky rice costs 100 THB, and should be shared by 2 or 3 persons. The shop sells other Thai desserts made with coconut milk sticky rice too, namely sticky rice & custard, or khao tom mat (steamed sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves).
OPENING HOURS: 7am – 6pm, daily from January to June, closed on Sundays from July to December
GETTING THERE: Kor Panich is located on Tanao Road, 1.4 km from the Golden Mountain. 1 km from Sam Yod MRT Train Station, Exit 3
The biggest evening street food market in Bangkok, Chinatown is best explored after dark. You’ll find street food vendors not only on the main road, but also in streets and alleys branching off the main road. Your street food options are extensive from typical Thai street food like Pad Thai, a hundred kinds of noodle dishes, to specialties like duck rice, pork rice, and seafood. You’ll find more noodles than any dishes here. On the sweet side, there are mango & sticky rice, Chinese fried dough, ice-cream, fruits, and custard buns to name a few.
Ouan Pochana, in the Michelin’s Bib Gourmand’s rolled rice noodle and crispy pork belly in peppery soup
If your aim is to eat street food in Chinatown but have no local persons accompanying you, the best advise is to eat at whichever vendor that the food looks good to you. If you have energy to fight the crowd, risk ordering unfamiliar food, try to communicate with the vendors, and perhaps wait in queues, you may try these vendors. On a corner of Padung Dao Street, R & L Seafood (staff in red shirts) and T & K (staff in green shirts) are perhaps the most popular street seafood vendors in Chinatown. Kway Chap Ouan Pochana in front of China Town Rama Cinema serves a Michelin’s Bib Gourmand guay jub (rolled rice noodle and crispy pork belly in peppery soup).
One way to do street food in Chinatown right is to take a tour. On our Chinatown Street Food Tour, you’ll be dining at 7 vendors popular among Thai diners, eating everything from Dim Sum, to noodle soups, seafood, ice-cream, traditional Chinese sweets and snacks, all delicious. The portions are smaller than usual. This ensures you have room in your stomach for the next stops. The best part of the tour is, our tour guides are Thai food experts. You’ll learn about the dishes you eat, and the cultural aspects that come with the food. Any questions you have about Thai food, shoot them to our tour guides.
Evening Tuk Tuk food tour
Left: Best Eats Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk | Right: Pad Thai
Since you’re already in Bangkok Old City and have seen the neighborhood during the day, you may as well see what it has to offer at night. Apart from some of the attractions that you have seen that will look and feel different at night, Bangkok Old City is well-known for its evening Mom & Pop restaurants. On Best Eats Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk, you will be taken to these restaurants and to some of Bangkok Old City’s best night-time attractions on a Tuk Tuk. The experience is truly unique, and as TripAdvisor users say, will be the highlight of your stay in Bangkok.
The night starts at a rustic Northeastern Thai restaurant where you get to try spicy raw papaya salad, spicy pork salad, sticky rice, and a few more dishes. At the second food stop, fried chicken noodle, you will sneak into the kitchen to see the cooking process. Be prepared for wok on fire! The third restaurant is the best Pad Thai in town. The long queue tells you how popular this place is. But you’ll skip the queue and go right straight to your table. En-route, you’ll explore Bangkok’s biggest night flower market definitely best explored in the evening, and one temple on this itinerary, crowd-free and beautifully bathed in golden light. Towards the end of the tour, you’ll get a cold beer at a rooftop bar with the lit-up Wat Arun Temple as a backdrop. The experience is so amazing that people who have done it once say they will do it again!
Bangkok in 3 Days – Day 2
Ingredients in a Thai cooking class
A Thai cooking class is a great way to learn about Thai food and the culture that is associated Thai cuisine. You don’t need to be a chef to take a Thai cooking class in Bangkok. Several classes are designed for travelers looking for fun cultural things to do in Bangkok. These classes usually take you to grocery shop at a wet market where you learn about Thai herbs, spices, and ingredients used in Thai kitchen. Afterwards, you will eat the dishes you make for lunch or dinner. Your host may cook a few more dishes to go with the meal.
Try Cooking with Poo, a cooking school run by residents of Klong Toey, the largest slum in Bangkok. Chef Leez Thai Cooking Class is another recommended choice. In their daily 10am class, you will learn to make 12 Thai dishes in 4 hours. Sounds impossible but they can do it.
A cook book of Cooking with Poo and Friends – Thai Cooking School
Another choice we highly recommend is Private Thai Cooking Class and Exquisite Or Tor Kor Market Tour. You’ll learn to make 4 simplified Thai granny recipes with the ingredients you can find at home. The dishes are Pad Thai, chicken green curry, spicy fruit salad, and mango & sticky rice. Prior to the class, you will grocery shop at Or Tor Kor Market, the world’s best 4th wet market according to CNN Travel, where you’ll get to eat a few tasty Thai snacks too. The class takes place in a homely home office nearby the market, to which you will take a Tuk Tuk.
JJ Mall & Mixt Chatuchak
You probably want to shop for souvenirs in Bangkok before you fly home. The massive Chatuchak Market is a place to pick up affordable Thai souvenirs, especially if you want to buy them in a big volume. However, the market is closed on week days. Fortunately, JJ Mall (10.30am – 7pm, daily) and Mixt Chatuchak (10am – 10pm, daily) are excellent substitutes for the market. These air-conditioning shopping malls are next to Chatuchak Market itself, near the cooking class you have taken in the morning, and are open every day.
Both shopping malls have a very good selection of Thai handicrafts, trinkets, clothes and other products. The shops spread out of multiple floors. There are less crowded than the stifling confines of Chatuchak Market. When shopping at these places, put your bargaining skill on.
Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar
Bangkok offers plenty of choices when it comes to places to watch the city’s evening skylines and drink upscale cocktails. The highest one (also the most expensive) is Sky Bar (6pm – 1am, daily) on the 63rd rooftop floor of lebua Hotel. Here, you have the place’s signature golden dome, lovely cityscapes, and the Chao Phraya river to accompany your drinks. A similar option is Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar (5pm – 1am, daily) on the rooftop of Banyan Tree Hotel. If you’re looking for more affordable options where you can blend with local crowd, you can read about them here: 7 Alternative Rooftop Bars in Bangkok to Meet Cool Bangkokians.
Bangkok in 3 Days – Day 3
Canal boat tour
A canal boat tour is a perfect way to see Bangkok Old City from a different perspective. Although every place in Bangkok is accessible by road, arriving to a place on a long-tail boat gives you a different experience. You will be walking the memory lane, just like how people did it back in the day before roads replaced waterways. Most of Bangkok’s canal boat tours take you to Thonburi, a rustic neighborhood on the west side of the Chao Phraya river. Thonburi was a capital of Thailand before Bangkok was founded. So the neighborhood is well over 200 years. While Bangkok has become a modern city, Thonburi remains a place from a bygone era. You can expect low-rise buildings, wooden houses, century-old temples, farms, orchards, and a lot of green. Traffic on the canals is light. And you can see day-to-day activities of lives on the canals.
You can find long-tail boats docking at any piers along the Chao Phraya river that offer private Chao Phraya river and canal tours. These sightseeing boat trips take 1 or 2 hours. You will not have a tour guide and prices are too expensive for the experience they offer. Best is to take a 4-5 hour boat tour with a professional tour guide to show you attractions and lead you through deep cultural experience. Pandan Tour offers temple and attraction sightseeing on a small teak boat. Thonburi Food & Canal Adventure combines a long-tail boat trip with street food dining at local markets. Co Rocket Boating 5-Hour Multi-Boat Tour by Co Van Kessel takes you to Nonthaburi, north of Bangkok. The experience highlights a rocket boat, small wooden boat going really fast like seen in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Bicycle tour in Bang Kachao
With numerous small alleys, Bangkok is great to be explored by bicycle. Several bicycle tours take you around Bangkok Old City. But if you want to see more green, more rustic and traditional neighborhoods of Bangkok, you’re better off to the western side of the Chao Phraya river, one of the most accessible yet amazing neighborhoods is Bang Kachao.
Bang Kachao is across the river from Bangkok‘s metropolis but worlds apart in the environment it offers. The area is filled with swamp forests and fruit orchards. In some parts, you can only commute through on small elevated paths only, making it car-free and fun to ride bicycle. Bang Kachao also feels very rustic and upcountry. The bustling Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market is on on Saturday and Sunday. Grasshopper Adventures (Bike Bangkok’s Hidden Oasis). Bamboo Bicycle Tours (Bangkok Bicycle Jungle Tour) run half-day morning bicycle tours in Bang Kachao.
Treatment at Let’s Relax Spa
After working off those calories and your leg muscles, you should reward yourself with a massage. Thai massage parlors can be founded on any streets. But to have a reassured relaxation, you want to go into a more established ones. Most hotels in Bangkok have spa and massage parlors. Otherwise, try Health Land Spa or Let’s Relax Spa, both of which have several locations in city centers. Health Land’s Traditional Thai Massage starts at 600 THB/2 hours, and a foot massage from 400 THB/hour. At Let’s Relax Spa, 2 hours of Traditional Thai massage cost 1,100 THB, and 45 minutes of foot massage is priced at 450 THB. You can also get a massage by blind therapists. The therapists are very professional and it’s a wonderful way to support disabled people. Perception Blind Massage offers a traditional Thai massage and a foot massage at 45o THB per hour.
Talad Rot Fai Train Night Market Ratchada
You cannot complete your visit to Bangkok without going to a night market. Night markets in Bangkok have become trendy places for Thai people to hang out in recent years. At these night markets, you’ll be able to eat, shop for souvenirs, drink at bars, and simply watch local diners hang out and enjoy themselves. You definitely want to go to a night market hungry. There are tons of street-food style hot meals and snacks to eat.
The Neon Night Bazaar
One of the most popular and easily accessed is Talad Rot Fai Train Night Market Ratchada (5pm – 1am, daily | Thailand Cultural Center MRT Train Station, Exit 3). The huge outdoor market features colorful awnings which can be seen from any rooftop bars in the market. Circling the awning vendors are more shops, bars, and restaurants set in modified shipping containers. With its vintage theme, the market is a popular gathering place for bikers.
Closer to the city center and less crowded is The Neon Night Bazaar (4pm – midnight, daily | Phetchaburi Road 23 – 29) There are nice sitting areas along with massage parlors (if you fail to have one in the afternoon). On the Chao Phraya river, located Asiatique The Riverfront (4pm – midnight, daily | free shuttle from Saphan Taksin BTS Train Station, Exit 2). With its iconic ferris wheel, Asiatique The Riverfront is a huge replica warehouse complex with over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants. Apart from dining and shopping, night-time entertainment like Calypso ladyboy cabarets and Thai puppet shows are located here.