Fun & Weird

What To Do in Bangkok on a Short Trip

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Only have a day or two in Bangkok? Here are suggestions on how to make the most of your time — a combination of tourist destinations, local favorites, and things that capture (in my opinion) the best of what Bangkok has to offer. These recommendations might be controversial for those who feel like a city is best absorbed by mostly visiting historic sites and local neighborhoods, I’ve based my list on maximizing ease of transportation and relaxation as well.

In order of preference:

1. Wat Pho — Other than the childish thrill I still take in making jokes:

“We should go see the reclining buddha!”

“What fo’?”

I do think that temple and adjoining Grand Palace offer some amazing examples of Thai architecture and beauty. The reclining buddha is 141 feet long and nearly 50 feet tall, covered in gold leaf. It is breath taking. The temple grounds and Grand Palace feature amazingly ornate decorations that blow your mind with their intricacies.

Bangkok Temples

2. Take a Boat Tour — I used Tour with Tong a few trips ago to make the most of a day of site-seeing, and for me, the highlight was the boat tour. It takes you through neighborhoods you typically won’t see, you can admire the noodle boats with women cooking in tiny canoes and sailing past, and if you’re lucky (or unlucky depending on how you feel about it) you might even see a giant monitor sunning itself like a crocodile. It was also convenient because we boarded near Wat Pho and then landed at a completely different temple on the other side of the river.

Bangkok Souvenirs by Boat

3. Get a Thai Massage — There’s nothing like 2 hours of painful stretching and being walked on for $18 to get a feel for the ancient art and banish those airplane aches and pains. I highly recommend Health Land Spa as a great upscale day spa that won’t break the bank or feel sketchy.

4. Shop for Thai handicrafts at MBK mall or Amarin Plaza — Want to see what Bangkok residents do in their free time and get a market experience? It won’t offer stalls with pretty arrangements of bright fruit and interesting meats, but you will be able to hang with the locals and shop for unique (and not so unique) souvenirs. The 5th floor of MBK is the best — more like a flea market and with lots of thai silk, carved items, t-shirts, and faux designer purses. The 3rd floor of Amarin Plaza is quieter, with fewer shops, and in my opinion, a better selection of high quality goods. Both require bargaining skills!

5. Try the #1 dessert in Bangkok — it may not be one of the best desserts you’ll ever have, but it is ranked as the best of Bangkok and with good reason. The Secret Garden’s $5 crepe cake — 50 layers of sweet crepes iced with whip cream between each — has one of the most unique textures (and good taste) that I’ve ever had. And with a location at the Central World mall Food Court, just across from Amarin Plaza and easily accessible by public transportation, there’s no reason not to go. And while you’re there, pop upstairs for some of the best dumplings in the world at Din Tai Fung (review to come).

Bangkok Secret Garden Crepe Cake

6. Go to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam dating back to the 14th century — If you have a have day to spend and really want to take in some history — get a guide and car, or just a car, or take a boat cruise and go out to Ayutthaya. There are numerous old temples and structures with interesting things to see, including the buddha head dropped by fleeing vandals and subsequently embraced by a sheltering tree.

Aytthaya buddha head in tree

7. Visit/Eat at Cabbages & Condoms — they don’t have the best or cheapest food in Bangkok, but they do have very good food and a gorgeous outdoor eating area. And getting branded merchandise in the retail shop makes for a unique gift to say the least. (For context, they’re a family planning organization that supports their efforts through the profits of their restaurant and hotel, hence the name.)

Cabbages and Condoms Outdoor Seating


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.


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