One day in Bangkok: A bite-size itinerary
Thailand is a very popular destination, and many choose to start or end their stay with a day or two in the capital, Bangkok.
A massive city, with more than 8 million inhabitants, Bangkok offers an exciting mix of culture, both ancient and modern. From palaces to boat trips, tuk tuks to temples, it goes without saying that there’s plenty to see and do in this vibrant metropolis.
So, if you want to make the most of your time in the City of Angels, a bit of planning would be wise. You can experience a lot, even in one day, we promise you!
Here we give you our short itinerary for one day in Bangkok, tried, tested and fully recommended by our team.
This is undoubtedly the largest tourist attraction in Bangkok.
The Grand Palace was built in the 1700s. It was the government’s administrative centre and home to the Royal Family for 150 years.
This striking complex consists of over 100 buildings, each one more magnificent than the next.
You could spend hours here. Buildings are decorated with gold and silver, making them sparkle and shine. Vivid colours, creative mosaics and intricate patterns adorn these impressive structures. The details are by far the most fascinating aspect of the Grand Palace.
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The crown jewel at the Grand Palace is the Wat Pra Kaew, the “Temple of the Emerald Buddha”. The 75cm Emerald Buddha is so named because it was carved from one solid block of jade.
Be aware that there are strict clothing requirements to enter the palace area. Knees and shoulders must be covered for both genders.
If you’d like to escape all the tourists at the Grand Palace and have a quieter experience, make your way to Wat Arun, “The Temple of Dawn”. This one’s a must-see if you’re only spending one day in Bangkok.
You can easily catch a taxi or a tuk tuk outside the Grand Palace, which is a short journey directly across the river, Chao Phrayas, to Wat Arun. The temple is 79 metres tall and majestically decorated in colourful porcelain.
Wat Arun is an architectural representation of Mount Meru. According to Buddhist cosmology, it is a symbol of the centre of the world, as well as the universe and the centre of the mind.
There is also a small market near the temple. Here you can buy some souvenirs or refreshments before you continue exploring Bangkok.
Take a boat trip
Wat Arun is right on the river, so why not continue the day on the water? You can rent a boat all to yourself for a reasonable price.
Bangkok has many waterways that were originally made to transport cargo. This is a really cool way to get a different perspective of the city.
There’s a great deal to take in: boats of all sorts, people feeding fish, kids swimming in the canals… It’s a great experience, and one you’re not likely to forget anytime soon.
After your tour along the canals, you can choose if you want to return to where you started or go to another of Bangkok’s wonders.
Evening tour by tuk tuk: markets, temples and local food
Tuk tuks are very common in Bangkok. They are a simple and quick way to get around.
With GetYourGuide you can book a guided evening tour that takes you through the streets of Bangkok in a tuk tuk. Here you’ll see the amazing monuments of the city glowing in the night and visit places most tourists only see during the day.
Along the way you’ll be served authentic Thai food. And trust us, you definitely won’t return home hungry. Vegetarian food is also available on the tour.
With a tuk tuk tour by night, a group (maximum 10 people) gathers at the meeting spot, and then hops in tuk tuks and goes.
The first stop is one of Bangkok’s night markets.
The guide will take you on a small tour to give you an impression of what a typical night market is like, another must-see if you’re only staying for one day in Bangkok.
Unfortunately, there isn’t time for shopping on the tour, but you’ll get a good sense of the lively, carnival-like atmosphere at these bustling markets, which buzz with the sound of bargaining locals, live music and sizzling traditional cuisine.
The next stop is Wat Prayoon. This temple was built during the reign of King Rama III and is especially beautiful, shining white against the dark sky. Enjoy a delicious appetizer fresh from the market.
Afterwards, dinner will be served at one of Bangkok’s most popular street food restaurants, Thip Samai, which is known for its Pad thai dishes. You’ll see straight away just how popular this place is, with a queue outside that can reach dozens of metres during the busiest evening hours.
After dinner, the tour continues on to the Giant Swing and the Parliament building. This is an excellent time to learn more about Bangkok’s real name, which actually holds the Guinness World Record for the longest city name:
Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphiman Awatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit.
The highlight of the tuk tuk tour is a visit to another of Thailand’s famous temples, Wat Pho, home of the Reclining Buddha. Although the temple is closed during evening hours, and you won’t be able to enter, it’s much less crowded and this majestic wat makes for a fantastic photo opportunity as it lights up the night sky.
The last stop on the tuk tuk evening tour of Bangkok is the flower market. It never closes and becomes more and more lively as the night rolls on. Sit and relax among the fragrant lotuses and orchids while eating a traditional Thai dessert.
Your day in Bangkok will end around 11pm. You can ask your tuk tuk driver to take you to your hotel or try out some of the famous nightlife in the Thai capital.
You can visit Bangkok at any time of the year, in fact, the city is one of our top summer destination recommendations. That said, if you’re combining your stay with a beach trip to one of Thailand’s southern islands, then the best time to come would be from December to March, when you’re more likely to have sunnier and drier weather.