(Updated December 2019)
After my stopover in Bangkok on the way back from my travels through Cambodia, I’m now ready to share my best tips in this brand-new “24 hours in…”-post. As usual, it’s meant for just a layover or a very short break on a trip through Thailand.
Of course, in 24 hours you’ll see just a fraction of all the attractions this bustling mega-city has to offer. So if you’re staying longer or want to try out more, check out the Bangkok-section in my Thailand-post.
Thai Bath (THB) / 1 US$ = 33 THB (March 2020) / current rate
Tourist Police 1155
Suvarnabhumi Airport, IATA Code: BKK
Don Mueang, IATA Code: DMK
Tourist Info online and onsite
There are many semi-professional websites on Bangkok tourism online. I’d recommend the official website of the Tourism Authority of Thailand which does not lure you with ‘objective’ information just to sell you tours and other services.
Every hotel will supply you with a free map and brochures about what to do in 24 hours in Bangkok.
Getting Downtown and Back
Most of the hotels in Bangkok offer a more or less costly pick up at the airports which might be necessary after a long, tiring flight e. g. from Europe. But if you’ve been to Thailand – or a neighbor country – for a while and had a short flight with no jet lag, you can save a lot of money by using public transportation – it will add up to about 2 $:
Suvarnabhumi airport: To get to the city center, e. g. to Hua Lamphong train resp. MRT station, you take the ARL (Airport Rail Link) at Suvarnabhumi Airport Station and go to Makkasan Station (approx. 20 minutes for 35 THB (=approx. 1 US$)). There you change to the MRT blue line – this station is called Phetchaburi, although it is connected to Makkasan station. From there it takes another 20 minutes to get to the Hua Lamphong station. From there it’s a ten minutes walk to the Shanghai Mansion Hotel.
If you prefer to stay at the Vismaya, you just go to the 2nd floor at ‘Arrivals’ and ask for the complimentary shuttle service to the hotel. But note: The shuttle back to the airport is not complimentary anymore – they charge about 100 THM (approx. 3 US $) for it.
Don Mueang airport: To get downtown, the cheapest option is to take bus #6 to Chatuchak Park/Mo Chit station (approx. 25 minutes for 30 THB)). There you change to the MRT blue line towards the city center (approx. 40 minutes to Hua Lamphong) or the BTS Sukhumvit line. A taxi from this station to Hua Lamphong resp. the Shanghai Mansion Hotel will charge about 200 THB which might be a better option if it’s late, you are tired or have much luggage to schlepp.
There is a direct shuttle bus connecting the two airports.
There is a very good and informative Website on all public transportation in Bangkok.
On a sunny day, the best way of seeing Bangkok is to take a ferry on Chao Phraya river. It’s a ten minutes walk from the Shanghai Mansion Hotel to the Ratchawong boat pier: Walk the Yaowarat road westward and turn left into Ratchawong road that brings you to the pier. Make sure to take on of the cheap Chao Phraya ferries that will cost you about 50 cents and not a posh, expensive tourist cruise ship!
There are countless ‘Wats’ to be admired in Bangkok: beautiful, colorful, gold plated Buddhist temples. The biggest and most important one is Wat Phra Keo located right next to the Royal Palace. To get there, get off the ferry at Tha Tien station. The entrance fee to the Wat and Palace for ‘farangs’, i. e. foreigners, is quite high – 500 Bath. With your ticket, you can visit also the textile museum where you can admire Princess Sirikit’s lavish wardrobe.
Talking ’bout wardrobe: Visiting the wats, again: the Buddhist temples (!), knees and shoulders should be covered, i. e. classic T-shirts with (short) sleeves and pants or long skirts are required. You can, of course, use a sarong resp. a scarf to cover, but often that’s more complicated and hotter than simply dress appropriately in the first place.
Wat Phra Keo is open from 8.30 a. m. to 3.30 p. m.
As I said, although Wat Phra Keo is the most important complex, there are many more temples worth a visit, however, one of the nicest is right around the corner: Wat Pho housing i. a. an enormous reclining Buddha. To get there, exit Wat Phra Keo on Na Phra Lan Road and turn right into Sanam Chai road where Wat Pho is located.
Wat Pho is open from 8 a. m. to 5 p. m. and the entrance fee is 100 THB.
A rainy day in a big city is never much fun: Racing quickly through the alleys where the dirt is washed into the gutters, making sure not to step in anything gross. I try to show you how to enjoy Bangkok even on a rainy day – which is seldom, anyway:
Unless it’s pouring cats and dogs, I think that Wat Phra Keo should be visited, but on a rainy day, you might want to skip the short cruise on river Chao Phraya. Just get a tuk-tuk or a cab straight to the palace complex. Nice touch: Taxis are metered in Bangkok – sometimes, especially during rush hour, you have to remind – or even convince – the driver to switch the meter on, but in general there’s no problem. Obviously the tuk-tuks are not metered, so the risk to be cheated is much bigger. Simply ask at the hotel’s reception how much you should pay for a ride to the palace complex.
If it’s raining, you might visit Wat Phra Keo faster than in the sun since you probably won’t spend too much time outside the temples. Therefore you might have a little extra time before lunch so that you could visit the National Museum and admire Thailand’s rich history documented in the many beautiful exhibits.
Bangkok National Museum
4 Na Phra That Alley
Phone: + 66 – 2 – 224 1333
The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday 9 a. m. to 4 p. m., entrance fee is 40 THB
You can eat constantly and everywhere in Bangkok – from simple street food to posh fusion cuisine at one of the high-class restaurants. Therefore I’m recommending this Thai restaurant mainly because of its convenient location to the afternoon activities; an alternative might be the food court at the Siam Paragon shopping center.
To get here either from Wat Pho or the National Museum, just take a taxi – it should cost you about 100 to 150 THB.
The Ban Khun Mae Restaurant is very conveniently located for the afternoon’s visit to the Jim Thompson house.
Jim Thompson did not only revolutionize Thailand’s silk industry and made Thai silk really popular, he also had a great taste and deep admiration for the Thai cultures. He ‘collected’ six traditional houses all over Thailand, let them demount and re-assemble in the most eclectic fashion right here in Bangkok. The late Jim Thompson’s home is now a museum and can be visited.
Jim Thompson House
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road,
Phone: + 66 – 2 – 216 73 68
The House is open daily from 9 a. m. to 6 p. m. and the entrance fee is 150 THB (students under 22 pay 100 THB)
After the visit of a very sophisticated place, I dare you to take one of the small Klon Saen Saep water busses that will take you on the Saen Saep canal to the Golden Mount, another sight not to be missed, especially for the grand view of all Bangkok. The boat ride is a truly Thai experience, though.
Wat Saket was built on a man-made hill. This ‘Golden Mount’ is on the one hand quite fun for tourists – who are climbing the 300 steps to the top (relatively easy, but due to the heat still a challenge; make sure to have enough water on you), at the same time it is a sacred pilgrimage site, so that too much brouhaha should be avoided. The Golden Mount can be visited from 9 a. m. to 5 p. m. and the entrance fee is 20 THB.
Since Jim Thompson’s estate consists of six houses made into one as well as a restaurant and a big gift shop, its visit is suitable even in heavy rains.
Please check the afternoon activities in the sunny day-section for the visitors’ info.
Is it still raining? Never mind, Bangkok is known to be one of the world’s most complete shopping destinations and most of the larger than life shopping malls are just a stone throw away from the Jim Thompson House. The three most popular would be the Siam Paragon, the CentralWorld, and the MBK – all open from 10 a. m. to 10 p. m., so knock yourself out!
If you’re staying at the Shanghai Mansion, you’re already in the heart of Bangkok’s Chinatown – so why not have some really good dim sun for dinner – just around the corner from your hotel!? Plus I think that you’ll enjoy the very authentic atmosphere, too.
The Canton House
530 Yaowarat Road
Phone: + 66 – 92 – 249 8299
Open daily 11 a. m. to 10 p. m.
Of course, you can choose from a variety of cool bars in Bangkok – many of them on the rooftops of luxury hotels. But especially if you had a long day or will have an early flight, you might be more comfortable enjoying a cocktail right at the Shanghai Mansion’s bar “Red Rose”. It’s not only a pleasant terrace facing the bustling Yaowarat street, but they also have some cool live music on certain evenings.
Depending on the departure time of your flight, I recommend one hotel – actually one of my most favorite hotels in the world! – in China town and another one just minutes from Suvarnabhumi airport.
Shanghai Mansion Hotel Bangkok
479-481 Yaowarat Road
Samphantawong, Bangkok 10100
Phone: + 66 -2 – 221 2121
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Map – sunny day itinerary
Map – rainy day itinerary
Do you have more time to spend in Bangkok and need more ideas and inspirations? Check my post on Thailand
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