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Bangkok is the capital of Thailand and the country’s most populous city. It’s home to more than 10.5 million people or about 15.3% of Thailand’s population. The busy city is a great way to start your Thailand trip before continuing on to the rest of the country. However, it can be overwhelming. There are literally thousands of things to do in Bangkok.
There are ancient temples, incredible restaurants, rooftop pools, and even a nearby national park for when you wish to escape the hustle and bustle. How do you make the most of a couple of days in Bangkok? Continue reading for the best 2-day Bangkok itinerary.
How to Get to Bangkok
Bangkok is located on the delta of the Chao Phraya River and is about 25 miles (40 km) from the Gulf Of Thailand. The city has two international airports: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK). Suvarnabhumi Airport is one of the largest airports in Southeast Asia and will likely be the airport you use. Don Mueang Airport (DMK) generally serves as a low-cost carrier hub.
How to Get Around Bangkok
Bangkok is a huge and populous city. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to navigate it. It’s often too hot to walk or bike so you’ll have to explore other methods of transport. One of the best ways to get around Bangkok during the day is by boat. Chaophraya Express Boat is the main ferry service along the Chaphraya River. It’s an inexpensive and great way to avoid Bangkok’s congested roads.
The boats generally run from 5 am to 7 pm. Boats may leave every 10 minutes during peak times and only once per hour during off-peak times. There are also shuttle boats and water taxis available. Many of the hotels located along the river provide free water shuttles to the main pier for their guests.
When water transportation is not an option, the next best option is BTS (Skytrain) or the Metro. These two trains will allow you access to most of Bangkok and are much faster than sitting in heavy traffic on the roads. Other options are taxis, tuk-tuk, and Grab (an Uber-like app).
Best Time to Visit Bangkok
Bangkok has a tropical monsoon climate and has three seasons: cool, hot, and rainy. Bangkok is generally hot and humid year-round and can be visited at any time of year. However, the best time to visit Bangkok is during the cool season. The cool season is from November to February. During these months humidity is relatively low and the average high/ low is about 90°/ 74°F (32°/ 24°C). These months are also the high season and Bangkok will be at its most crowded.
The hot season is from March through May. Both Temperature and humidity are high. The average temperature during these months is about 95°/ 79°F (35°/ 26°C). Bangkok’s rainy season is from July to October. These months are considered the low season and you’ll find the best rates on hotels. The rainy season consists of overcast skies and afternoon rainstorms. It usually doesn’t rain all day, so visiting Bangkok during this time is still an option. These months generally see temperatures around 92°/ 77°F (33°/ 25°C).
Bangkok Itinerary: Day 1
Tour the Temples in Bangkok
Begin your Bangkok itinerary by touring Bangkok’s top three temples: The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun. Ideally, you want to start your day as early as possible. This is for a couple of reasons – to avoid both the heat and the large tour groups.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is divided into two zones, Wat Phra Kaew (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the royal residences. Wat Phra Kaew houses the Emerald Buddha and is considered one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in all of Thailand. No one is actually allowed near the Emerald Buddha but one can explore the ornately decorated buildings surrounding it. There are so many beautiful details. I recommend hiring a guide who can point them out and explain the meaning behind them. Guides can be found for hire once you are inside the main gate.
The second part of the Grand Palace is the royal residence. The architecture of the residences is stunning. Construction began in 1782 with additional buildings and courtyards added over the years. The Grand Palace housed the King, his court, and the royal government for 150 years. I recommend arriving when the admission gates open at 8:30 am. Expect a line of people to form before this though. I had about 45 minutes before the grounds became extremely crowded.
Wat Pho or The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is one of Thailand’s oldest and largest temples. It covers 80,000 sq m (95,679 sq yd). Wat Pho is known for its giant reclining Buddha. The reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana. The impressive statue measures 46 m (151 ft) long and is covered in gold leaf.
This temple is a must-do on your Bangkok itinerary. It’s just a ten-minute walk from the Grand Palace or you can easily find a tuk-tuk to take you there. The atmosphere is much more relaxed than that of The Grand Palace. Many people leave after viewing the Buddha but it’s worth staying to explore the expansive temple grounds.
Wat Arun or the Temple of the Dawn is one of Bangkok’s most iconic structures. It’s known for its 82 m (260 ft) temple tower called Phra Prang. The spire is covered in a gorgeous mosaic of colorful glass and Chinese porcelain. The temple grounds are large and I suggest giving yourself plenty of time to explore. There are many incredible buildings, pavilions, and statues. The Temple of the Dawn is another must-see structure.
Wat Arun is located on the western bank of Chao Phraya and can easily be reached by ferry. It’s open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. The temple is especially beautiful when viewed from the river at night. The tower is illuminated and casts a lovely reflection on the water.
Dine Next to the River
At some point during your stay in Bangkok, you should enjoy a meal next to the river. Many of the restaurants along the river are quiet and peaceful. They are the perfect escape from the busy tourist attractions. There are quite a few options when it comes to riverside restaurants.
I had lunch at the Peninsula Hotel’s River Cafe & Terrace. I ordered salmon with asparagus and pumpkin purée but if you’re looking for traditional Thai food, the River Cafe & Terrace offers it as well. The food is delicious and the views are incredible.
Visit a Rooftop Pool or Bar in Bangkok
One thing Bangkok does not lack is rooftops. Whether you are looking to grab a drink or take a swim, there are plenty of options. I stayed at AVANI Riverside Hotel because it has one of the best rooftop pools in the city. The hotel is located about 10 minutes down the river from the Sathon Pier and can be reached by water taxi. AVANI’s infinity pool is located on the 26th floor and offers spectacular views of the city. Drinks and food can be ordered poolside and the rooftop bar opens in the evening.
Another great option for drinks is the Sky Bar at Lebua. It opens at 4 pm and is the perfect place to end your day. It is located on the 63rd floor of the Lebua Hotel and has great cocktails. It’s also commonly referred to as the Hangover Bar, after appearing in the movie, The Hangover II.
Bangkok Itinerary: Day 2
Day Trip to Erawan National Park
Erawan National Park is the perfect day trip from Bangkok and by far my favorite thing to do on this Bangkok itinerary. Erawan is one of Thailand’s most popular national parks and is known for its beautiful waterfalls. The water is the most perfect blue-green color. However, the color is season-dependent and the water may appear brown and dirty after heavy rain. You should inquire as to whether or not it is a good time to visit before you go.
The waterfall consists of seven different tiers with a trail leading to each tier. The first few tiers are relatively easy to reach and the last few are somewhat difficult. Toward the top, it does get slippery and steep. Make sure to bring proper footwear and take advantage of the ropes and ladders available. Take your time in reaching the top and enjoy swimming in the different pools along the way. You’ll find lots of small fish in the pools. Don’t let them startle you, they will nibble the dead skin on your feet but are completely harmless. The gorgeous pool at the top is well worth the trek.
Erawan National Park is located about three hours outside of Bangkok. I suggest departing the city early and arriving at the park upon opening at 8 am. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time at the park; I spent 4 hours there and could have stayed even longer. There are a few ways of reaching Erawan. The bus will be your most inexpensive option but it is also the most time-consuming. It does require a bus change about an hour outside of the park.
Another option is a tour. Both group and private tours are offered from Bangkok and can be a good option if you prefer to have a guide. The third option and the option I chose is a private car. Although it is somewhat pricey, it is still more affordable than an organized tour if you are traveling with a group. The cost round trip with wait time is about 4,714 THB ($140 USD).
Where to Stay in Bangkok
AVANI Riverside is a large upscale hotel with 250 rooms and suites. It offers amazing views of Bangkok and has one of the best rooftop pools in the city. The infinity pool sits at 30m (100 ft) above the river and has a great restaurant and bar located next to it. AVANI also provides a free boat shuttle to the pier and other nearby hotels.
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit is a beautiful luxury hotel. It has a tropical pool area, incredible restaurants, and a full-service spa. It’s directly connected to Asok BTS Skytrain Station and is just steps from Sukhumvit MRT Subway Station.
The LOL Elephant Hostel is a great budget option. It’s located in the Old Town district of Bangkok and is just a 3-minute walk from the popular Khao San Road. Both dorm and private rooms are available with some of the rooms having patios.
Have you visited Bangkok? Is there something I should add to this 2 day Bangkok itinerary? If you’ve enjoyed this post, please leave a comment or share using the social media buttons below. Want to see more of incredible Thailand? Continue to my post, “The 8 Best Things to Do in Chiang Mai” and discover what Thailand’s next biggest city has to offer.