48 Hours in Bangkok

On March 14, 2014 by Oren and Cassie

Bangkok is one of the best cities for backpackers. It’s culturally rich, centrally located in Southeast Asia, and very inexpensive. Chances are, if you’re planning to spend a few months in this part of the world, you’re going to pass through Bangkok at least once, if not more. So how do you make the most of your time in this popular city? Here is how you spend 48 hours in Bangkok.

DAY 1

Water Taxi:
Bangkok is a city built into its river and canals. This is a great introduction to 48 hours in Bangkok and barely costs anything! In order to start from the south, we took the BTS Sky Train to Saphan Taksin. At the water there is the Central boat stop. Hop on a water taxi displaying an orange or yellow flag. (Watch out, there will be plenty of other boats trying to offer you a ride at a much higher price.) The water taxi makes multiple stops, but you can ride it all the way up and hop off anywhere. From the boat, you can see many of the city’s amazing temples and its ever-expanding skyline. Tickets can be bought beforehand or on the boat.

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Seeing the city from the canals is a must-do in Bangkok.

Grand Palace:
This is a must-see for anyone visiting Bangkok. Built in 1782, the Grand Palace covers an area of 218,000 square meters. King Rama I established this palace to serve as a location for government offices, as well as his home. One of the highlights here is the Emerald Buddha, carved from a solid block of green jade. It’s located in Wat Phra Kaew. The entrance fee to the Grand Palace is 500 baht. Dress modestly, no shorts, sleeveless shirts or flip flops. If you don’t, you will be forced to borrow or rent clothing to cover you before entering the grounds.

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There is now way to capture the entire beauty of the Grand Palace in one picture.

Other Temples:
There are so many fascinating Buddhist temples in Bangkok, it’s up to you to decide how many of them you want to see. We really enjoyed Wat Pho, which is very close to the Grand Palace. It is one of the biggest and oldest temples in Bangkok. It also has a huge 160 foot long reclining Buddha. We also love the story behind the Golden Buddha in Wat Traimit in Chinatown. It is the world’s largest solid gold statue. But, its true worth was only discovered in 1955. It had been plastered over with stucco for hundreds of years – a move to throw off any invading armies. Then, in the 50s, it was being moved and a rope snapped, which caused it to fall to the floor. The stucco broke off and revealed the valuable statue below.

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The Reclining Buddha takes up an entire building.

Khao San Road:
This is one of Bangkok’s most famous streets and is very popular among backpackers. It’s not a far walk from the Grand Palace and offers many shops, guesthouses, restaurants and bars. While you’re welcome to go there in the daytime, it really comes alive at night.

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This is barely a hint of the evening insanity here.

Street Food:
Bangkok has some of the best street food in the world. From Pad Thai to noodle soup, from grilled meat on skewers to fruit drinks, we couldn’t get enough! If you’re still hanging out on Khao San Road, there’s plenty there to choose from. But, our favorite was Suknumvit Soi 38. Simply take the BTS east and get off at Thong Lor. From the station, you can see the street, Soi 38, at the intersection. At night, we found some of the best street food there.

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My pad thai and whatever noodle soup Oren ordered.

DAY 2

Chatuchak Weekend Market:
Don’t miss Bangkok’s larger-than-life outdoor shopping scene. The market is open both Saturday and Sunday during the day. Take the BTS Sky Train north to Mo Chit. The market is filled with street food, clothes, electronics, and souveneirs. We managed to get lost in the market multiple times because it’s so big, but it didn’t matter. We enjoyed haggling, looking for gift ideas, and enjoying characters like this one:

Shopping Malls:
If you prefer the air conditioning, the Siam Square area is known for its shopping malls. There are several places to choose from. Some include: Siam Square, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, Central World and Platinum. We didn’t really spend much time in the shopping malls while we were in Bangkok, but we did actually snag some pretty tasty and affordable food from MBK’s international food court.

Baiyoke Sky Hotel Observation Deck:
We’re always suckers for a good view of a city’s skyline. The Baiyoke Tower is the tallest building in Bangkok and has a revolving sky deck on its 84th floor. A ticket costs 400 baht and earns you a free drink on the 77th floor (beer and non-alcoholic drinks). But, you can take your time and photograph every angle of the city when you get to the top.

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A view from the top of the city.

Muay Thai:
It’s always interesting to experience a sport that’s not found in your home country. Muay thai is a sport where boxers use muay martial arts to fight opponents. Unlike American boxing, fighters use their fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet during combat. There are different locations in Bangkok, but we chose Lumpinee Boxing Stadium. Tickets are a bit pricey for tourists, 2,000 baht per person. But, they include VIP ringside seats. There are ways to snag the cheaper seats though if you don’t need the perfect view. Definitely worth the experience.

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A Thai boxer prays before his match. Spoiler alert: he lost.

WHERE TO STAY IN YOUR 48 HOURS IN BANGKOK:

There are many hostels in Bangkok that fit the needs of budget travelers. Our starting point in exploring Bangkok was Lubd hostel. They have locations in Siam Square and Silom and we had an excellent experience at both places. Lubd Siam Square even has a van out front that’s been converted into a bar for its guests. (Pretty awesome!) Even better, both their locations are close to the BTS Sky Train, which will take you almost anywhere in the city.

The bar outside Lubd Siam Square.

The bar outside Lubd Siam Square.

-C.K.

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