13 Feb 2 Days in Bangkok
When we were planning our Thailand trip we had multiple people tell us to fly into Bangkok and get right out or skip the city altogether, but we absolutely loved our two days in Bangkok and recommend that everyone spend at least this much time!
The city is huge and has so much to offer. The Airbnb we stayed in on Sukhumvit was perfect for us, right on the BTS train line and a cheap fifteen-minute cab ride to Wat Pha Kaew (The Grand Palace) and Wat Pho (Reclined Buddha) which are right across the street from one another. We were a bit confused by the city layout before arriving, but most of the sights are right along the river and taking the express boat (river taxi) from spot to spot is the best! We also did a lot of aimless wandering around Bangkok, as we do everywhere we travel…
We landed on New Year’s day, fresh off sixteen hours of flying without sleep and drinking all the free wine and champagne, so we were up against serious jetlag during these two days. We pushed through on Day 1 without napping and went to bed pretty early both nights, which really helped set our bodies straight. We also got massages whenever we needed a second, or third wind during the day…
Day 1: Wat Pha Kaew, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Chinatown
We took a cab from our Airbnb to the Grand Palace around 9 am and still didn’t beat the crowds, but only had to wait in line for a few minutes. It is breathtaking and shouldn’t be skipped unless you hate big crowds and prefer the smaller, hidden gem temples. Note: girls and gals alike need to wear pants or knee-length skirts and have their shoulders covered to enter the Grand Palace. They don’t provide wraps inside and won’t let you in otherwise, which led to Aidan buying his fabulous red elephant pants across the street (featured in later images…)
From the Grand Palace, we hopped across the street to Wat Pho where there was no line and it was practically empty inside. People flock to see the Reclined Buddha and the rest of the temple was ours to wander around!
Then, it was Pad Thai time. We walked towards the river and rounded the corner toward the water ferry entrance where a little open-air gem of a lunch spot with amazing Pad Thai awaited:
The entrance to the water taxi that takes you to Wat Arun looks like a little market, but it is indeed a boat dock once you walk through. It’s only 4 Baht for a bit of a wild ferry ride across. We checked out Wat Arun from the outside but didn’t go in, being a little wat-ed out by this time.
From another set of docks right in front of Wat Arun, you can buy a ticket for the express water taxi either to and from a certain stop or for the full day. We bought a ticket to the Chinatown stop but ended up loving the express boat and buying an extra ticket so we could ride it all the way to the end of the line, then hop off at Chinatown on the way back.
Chinatown was our favorite thing in Bangkok. You will walk down the main street a bit from the express boat stop before you start to see tiny, magical alleys on both sides crowded with stalls and shoppers. It’s photographer and foodie heaven.
Night 1: Octave Bar, Studio Lam
We grabbed a cab back to our Airbnb to freshen up, then walked to Octave Bar (on the 45th floor of the Marriott). A friend told us about their sunset happy hour and we happened to get there right at 5:00, beating a huge line and getting our pick of tables with insane views of the city! The cocktails are expensive by Thai standards, but it was worth having one for that sunset.
Once the bright red sun was fully hidden behind the clouds, we descended to the streets and grabbed noodles at a small, crowded hole-in-the-wall on Sukhumvit before packing it in, seriously jet-lagged. We didn’t make it to Studio Lam, a funky bar where DJs spin old records, but if you’re seeking a nightcap this spot comes highly recommended by a trusted source.
Day 2: Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market and/or Bangkok Art & Culture Centre, Rambuttri Road
If you’re lucky enough to be in Bangkok on the weekend, which we weren’t, the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market will be open and we’ve heard it’s fabulous! If not, Bangkok Art & Culture Centre is also a wonderful way to spend the morning, and they sell local art and crafts right in the museum. We both had some work to do (alas) and hunkered down at a cafe for a few hours, then took a tuk-tuk to Rambuttri Road, our other favorite thing in Bangkok.
There are Rambuttri Road people and Khao San Road people. We definitely fall into the first bucket, though we might have felt differently in our closer-to-college years. Rambuttri is much smaller and lined with super eclectic bars, restaurants, and great shopping. We got divine foot massages right on the street to kick it off, then bar hopped our way down the road.
Night 2: Chakrapong Food Market, Khao San Road
Rambuttri Road is a loop, and either way you exit you’ll be right across the street from the Chakrapong market. Nothing like a fresh fish grilled with lemongrass and a couple of big Changs for dinner.
We walked over to witness Khao San afterward and weren’t feeling it, but have friends who danced the night away with hip Thai high schoolers wearing leashes, so to each their own. Moral of the whole story is, don’t skip out on Bangkok.