Marble Temple, Bangkok
The Thai capital, Bangkok is also known as the ‘Asia’s City of Angles’! This is because Southeast Asia’s most exciting city is Bangkok, which creates an amazing first stop for any Thailand itinerary. Three days may be enough for some, but not everyone. For me, I was visiting Bangkok on a 3 day stopover to break up the long flight from London to Sydney. And I wished it had been longer except for the exhausting heat. Bangkok is a vast and sprawling city along the banks of the Chao Phraya River. It is a very cosmopolitan capital city and is known for its opulent Grand Palace, ornate temples with buddhas, bustling street and river markets and buzzing nightlife. No matter your reason for visiting Bangkok, here is how I recommend you spend 3 days in Bangkok when visiting Thailand.
Useful Bangkok Information
The Best Time To Visit Bangkok
Thailand has a tropical climate and in general, is hot all year round, and I mean hot. The best time to visit is usually November to February when the heat isn’t as intense but this is the time that many tourists visit and so attractions will be crowded. Then there is the monsoon season which falls between July and October and the weather is rainy and humid but you are still able to visit all the attractions. Really anytime is a good time to visit Bangkok but as a tourist, it may depend on what weather you prefer.
Thailand, or officially, the Kingdom of Thailand and formerly known as Siam, is located in the centre of Southeast Asia. It is bordered by Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma). The population of Thailand is around 69 million with 10 million of them living in Bangkok. The most common religion in Thailand is Buddhism with around 95% of the population being followers, hence all the temples or wats, about 40,000 of them in Thailand with about 400 or so just in Bangkok. Thai is the official language however, English is widely understood, particularly in the tourist areas of Bangkok.
Arriving in Bangkok
You can arrive in Thailand by land transport from one of the many countries surrounding Thailand or you can arrive at one of the two international airports. Suvarnabhumi Airport, also known as Bangkok Airport, is the main airport in Bangkok. Once through all the formalities you will need to get into central Bangkok where you will be staying for your 3 days in Bangkok. The cheapest and fastest way to get into Bangkok is via the Airport Rail Link. Have some local currency, Baht, available to purchase a ticket. The other options involve lots of traffic and are taking a metered taxi, express airport bus or organise a private transfer. You can book a private transfer here.
Getting around Bangkok
Getting around Bangkok is relatively easy and generally safe for solo travellers who want to roam the city, visit the cultural sites and shop. Be careful if going out at night. There’s a good public transport network with trains, buses and ferries along the waterways. Taxi’s and tuk-tuk’s are plentiful making getting around uncomplicated.
What to Wear in Bangkok
Thailand does not have a specific dress code in general but when visiting temples there is a specific dress code for tourists and locals. You must have covered shoulders and wear pants or dresses that cover your knees and preferably your ankles also. Men should wear a collared shirt rather than a t-shirt. And you must take your shoes off in temples. Keep all beach wear for the beach.
Tip: Appearances mean a lot in Thailand so dressing properly and being respectful of dress regulations you should be treated in return with respect.
Where to Stay in Bangkok – Bangkok Accommodation Options
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation in Bangkok with a wide variety available. The best areas to stay in Bangkok for your 3 days in Bangkok are Riverside, Sukhumvit, Khaosan and / or Chinatown.
Recommended Riverside Accommodtations
You will find some of the best hotels in Bangkok in the Riverside area around the riverfront. Staying here will mean you are very close to all the major attractions such as many temples and the Grand Palace. You can also use the nearby ferry system to visit places along the riverfront.
Recommended Sukhumvit Accommodations
Sukhumvit is an urban area in Bangkok that is well connected by the Skytrain, the Bangkok Transit System, to some of the best shopping malls, markets, restaurants and street food areas.
Recommended Khaosan Accommodations
Khaosan Road is famous as being the liveliest and business area in Bangkok. It is conveniently located very close to all the cultural attractions which you can reach easily by tuk tuk or taxi. The Kaosan is often preferred by budget travellers and backpackers due to the large amount of cheap accommodation here.
Recommended Chinatown Accommodations
If you love street food and great vibes then Chinatown right near the major attractions around the Grand Palace will be a great place to base yourself during your 3 days in Bangkok.
How to spend 3 Days in Bangkok
Day 1 – Explore Royal Bangkok and Temples
In the grounds of the Grand Palace
Today get to know Bangkok and its temples known as wats. If your time is limited go on a tour of this area however, you can explore by using local transport. Catch a sky train to Saphan Taksin BTS station and get on a ferry from Central Pier. It’ll take you along the Chao Phraya River towards the ancient royal district of Bangkok. As soon as you get off the ferry, you can start your walking tour between Bangkok’s famous historical sites and temples.
The Grand Palace with more than 100 ancient buildings is a sight to behold. It was built over 200 years ago and is truly spectacular. The opulence of this palace is breathtaking. It is mostly used for state occasions now rather than a royal residence. Within It grounds you will find the Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which is worshipped by Buddhists all over the world as it is the most sacred temple in Thailand. The Emerald Budha has been in the royal chapel since the 18th century. It is a symbol of wealth and prosperity and watches over Thailand. It is quite interesting to think this 26 inches tall Buddha statue sitting in a yoga position is carved from a single jade stone – wow!
TIPS: The Grand Palace is an extremely popular destination for visitors when in Bangkok and becomes crowded early. Also, ensure you dress respectfully as their is a dress code and it is enforced. So cover your shoulders and knees and remove your shoes before entering the temple. And don’t point your feet towards the Buddha as this is considered disrespectful.
After visiting the Grand Palace it is only a few minutes walk away to The Temple of the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho on Maharat Road. This Buddhist temples is the oldest temple in Bangkok and houses a stunning reclining Buddha. He is 46 metres long and 15 metres tall covered in gold leaf and intricately decorated. Truly spectacular.
If you aren’t too templed out head to the majestic Wat Arun. This 18th century Buddhist Temple is also known as the Temple of the Dawn and is a landmark in Bangkok. Rising from the banks of the Chao Phraya River it towers over the surrounding landscape. If you would like sweeping views over Bangkok city and the river climb the stairs and enjoy the views.
By now you might be hungry. Cross the river and head to the night market at Chinatown for an authentic eating experience. Yaowarat Road has a great vibe and is full of street food stalls selling delicious Thai -Chinese dishes. Don’t be phased to stand up while you eat as there maybe a lot of traffic. If single and looking to enjoy some nightlife check out Khao San Road which is known as a backpacker hub. This is due to the large number of cheap accommodation plus bars, restaurants and street stalls. Or if you are a little tired after all the walking today head back to your hotel, like I did and went up to the roof top bar at my hotel and enjoyed a cold cocktail by the pool while watching the sun set over Bangkok. Sunsets can be spectacular.
Day 2 – More Royal Bangkok – End with a Massage or Rooftop Drink
This morning explore more of Royal Thailand with a visit to Dusit Palace, it is the current home of the Thai Royal Family and political centre of Thailand. It is set amidst acres of leafy green gardens with complex and impressive buildings. Most of the buildings are open to visitors including my favourite, the stunning Vimanmek Royal Teach Mansion. Its Grand staircases and intricate lattice walls is a sight to see, so I highly suggest you see it!
Next visit the charming traditional Thai residence, Jim Thompson’s House. The name doesn’t sound very Thai, that is because the premises is named after Jim Thompson the founder of Thai silk who was an American businessman. Thai Silk was started in 1948 and is now a museum that explains the progress of the silk industry in Thailand and also displays the extraordinary art and antique collection of Jim Thompson. The residence is made from Teak and it is a wonderful place to visit to understand Thai Silk. It is open 11am – 7pm and the easiest way to get there is to take a tuk-tuk or a taxi.
Need a bit of a rest why not head to Lumpini Park to relax and unwind from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and visiting temples. Lumpini Park is a gorgeous park where you can rest or maybe hire a paddle boat for paddle around the lake. Though in the heat of the middle of the day you may prefer to head back to the air conditioning of your hotel room before coming out again later.
Maybe after a long day of sightseeing have a relaxing Thai massage. Book one here. As the day is almost over, a suggestion is to head to one of the rooftop bars in Bangkok for ‘happy hour’ to end your day in style with a cocktail. It can be either the rooftop bar of Muse Hotel, Octave Rooftop Bat at the Marriott Hotel Sukhumvit, Sirocco’s Skybar or maybe the Sky View 360 degree restaurant and bar located on the top floor of the Grand China Hotel in Chinatown. There are a number to choose from. However, a popular place is the Moon Bar of Banyan tree Hotel as it will give you festive vibes and some fancy drinks along with great food options! But if your hotel has one, like mine did, you can always head there.
Day 3 – Shop till you drop
Siam Square Shopping Mall
After two intense days of discovering Royal Bangkok it’s now time to shop till you drop. If you are a shopaholic, you will love shopping in Thailand. Head to Siam Paragon Shopping Mall then maybe The Emporium or Central World or maybe the markets. There are markets all over Bangkok. Start by visiting Bangkok’s popular floating markets like Damnoen Saduak Floating Market for exotic fruits, vegetables and snacks. But the best markets only operate on weekends. The Chatuchak weekend market is the largest and most interesting market in Bangkok with over 15,000 stalls. Then there is also Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market which is 12 kilometres from central Bangkok and well worth the journey. If you can be in Bangkok on a weekend to visit the markets you will be treated to street food stalls and fresh produce sold from boats. But you do need to be visiting Bangkok on a weekend to enjoy these.
After the markets or serious shopping in the shopping malls why not hire a long tail boat to take you along the canal to Tailing Chan to experience some ‘fish spa therapy’ to let the fish nibble your toes. But if you still want to shop particularly for handicrafts and jewellery check out the Chiang May Night Market. If not why not book yourself onto a Thai Cooking Course. These are lots of fun. Some courses include a visit to a market to purchase all the fresh ingredients. Then you will learn how to cook some delicious Thai food and eat what you have made. You can book into a cooking class following. What a great way to end a 3 day visit to Bangkok!
More things to do in Bangkok if extending your stay
The things to see and do are endless in Bangkok, so if you are planning to extend your stay for more than 3 days you can visit the National Museum of Bangkok to learn more about the history of the bustling city. What about a dinner cruise along the Chao Praya River. Maybe hire a tuk-tuk and have a tour around the city. There are also day trips you could consider. How about a day to the Bridge over the River Kwai. Maybe a day trip to Ayutthaya to see the ruins of the ancient Siamese capital which flourished from the 14th-18th centuries. Or if seeking a day lazing on a beach head down to Pattaya.
Extend your stay by Teaching English
Many travellers who have a Teaching English qualification are in demand to fill teaching positions with English Language Schools in Thailand. This is because English is a language many people want learn. Some travellers arrange a job before they arrive while others arrive on a visitor visa, apply to a school who then sponsors you and will organise a work permit for you to stay and teach.
Extend your stay as a Digital Nomad
Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand is a digital nomad hotspot. Mainly because of the cheap accommodation, cost of living and the infrastructure already set up for digital nomads. If you have an on-line business you might want to set up here also. Though when you work on-line you can set up anywhere there is great wifi.
READ MORE: How to become a Digital Nomad and Online Jobs you can do.
As you will find, Bangkok is a vibrant city with a rich royal history situated along the Chao Praya River. You can make your 3 days in Bangkok as action packed or relaxing as you want. I hope you enjoy your 3 days in Bangkok, just like I did. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this 3 day Bangkok Itinerary please leave them in the comments section below.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.