Asia Travel

Bangkok in 24 hours

So you find yourself in Bangkok with only one full day to see the city. Here’s a suggestion of how to spend your day.

Your first stop is Wat Pho. Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple, it houses Thailand’s largest reclining Buddha. 46 metres long and 15 metres high, the gold leaf covered Buddha fills the hall.

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Looking up at the Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho is also a centre for traditional medicine, including massage.

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Sketches illustrate pressure points and massage instruction

Another highlight is the farang guards which my son took a particular shine to. They originate from China but are actually huge stone caricatures of Westerners.

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My son with our wonderful guide, Nui

From Wat Pho, walk a short distance to the river and take a ferry across to Wat Arun. Named after the Indian God of Dawn, Aruna, this temple demonstrates a strong Khmer influence with its prominent tower, or prang.

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Wat Arun from the opposite side of the river

Follow the steps and the narrow stairs up the central tower for panoramic views of Bangkok.

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Climbing to the top and the rewarding view once you get there

Now head back to the river and take a long tail boat along the canals. Bangkok is often called “Venice of the East” due the labyrinth of canals that dominate much do the western part of the city. Pass by traditional Thai houses set on stilts, floating vendors and numerous temples. Pause to feed the catfish before alighting back at Wat Pho.

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View from the long tail boat

From the long tail boat to another iconic form of Bangkok transport – the tuk tuk. Wind through the traffic to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeon, your next stop.

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When Rama I established Bangkok in 1782, he built Wat Phra Kaeon to house the glittering “Emerald” Buddha. Diminutive at only 66cm in height, this Buddha is actually made of jade and sits perched atop several bedazzling and bejewelled golden tiers.

The temple also features several gold towers, Buddhas and many statues of mythical creatures. You can also follow the story of Ramayana, spread out over 178 panels throughout the complex, totalling nearly 1km in length.

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The Emerald Buddha, the beautiful gold towers and Ramayana murals

Grab some lunch nearby before you start the next part of the day – shopping. Depending on what you’re looking for, what kind of shopping experience you’re after and what your budget is will determine where you go. For sprawling markets try Chatuchak Weekend Market or Pratunam Market – here you will find cheap clothing, cheap souvenirs, knock-offs and fashion accessories. For designer boutiques and cosmetics, try Siam Paragon mall or Gaysorn Plaza. For IT and electronics, head to Pantip Plaza. I headed to Platinum Mall which is full of cheap shoes (including large women’s sizes) bags and unique t-shirts. And while you can’t really bargain in the malls, there seemed to be “wholesale” prices being offered if you bought more than one item in any given store.

As the sun sets on what has been a busy but rewarding day, head to a rooftop bar for a sundowner and a glittering view of the Bangkok skyline. I recommend Bar 9 at Novotel Platinum, the Moon Bar at Banyan Tree and the Sky Bar at State Tower.

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View from Bar9 at Novotel Platinum

To achieve the above itinerary, I absolutely recommend that you invest in a guide for half a day. It may seem like a luxury but to have a Thai speaker with you is invaluable. Your transport and your entrance fees are taken care of. You’re taken through the sights with as much (or as little) detail as you like. Plus, your guide can organise anything for you in a simple phone call and will tailor the itinerary to your needs and interests. You will maximise your time and yet minimise the stress. So speak with your travel agent when you’re booking your stop in Bangkok about adding in a private half day tour based on the outline above.

Safe Travels
x Sonia x

Interested in my other “In 24 Hours” itineraries? Check them out here.

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