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5D4N Bangkok Itinerary To Experience The Best Of The City And Beyond

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Oh, Bangkok… Where do we even begin? 

The beating heart of Thailand offers an ultimate treat to all the senses that will excite any traveler, especially those who love experiencing both ancient traditions and modernity in one place. From the city’s gastronomic delights and marvelous sights that have stood the test of time to its fantastic shopping malls and electric nightlife, Bangkok will surely keep you on your toes, hungry for more thrilling experiences. 

Got five days to explore the city? Here’s an itinerary that will take you to the best of Bangkok and its nearby areas:


Day 1: Arrival + Taste The Flavors Of Bangkok Chinatown

Bangkok Chinatown Food
Photo by Streets of Food on Unsplash

After a three-and-a-half-hour flight from Manila to Bangkok, you must be starving, so why not kick off your trip with a food trip around one of the largest Chinatowns in the world: Bangkok Chinatown?

The very artery of Bangkok Chinatown is Yaowarat Road, where you will find “the arch”—a common feature in Chinatowns around the world. 

Yaowarat itself is lined with countless restaurants offering Chinese or Thai fusion fare, but if you enter the inner streets and alleys that surround the main road, you will find an even more impressive selection of stalls, restaurants, and eateries presenting some of the best bites you will find in all of Bangkok. 

Speaking of “best,” Chinatown also has a mindblowing concentration of Michelin-recognized food spots—from Bib Gourmands like oyster omelette place Nai Mong Hoi Thod to Michelin Plate-decorated spots like breakfast cafe Pa Tong Go Savoey and noodle house Nai Ouan Yentafo Bateng Sao Chingcha to the celebrated one-starred Jay Fai, where customers line up for at least four hours to be seated and served a big plate of crab omelette.

It is virtually impossible to leave Bangkok’s Chinatown with an empty stomach because this place is a paradise for foodies. 


Day 2: Set Off For A Temple And Palace Tour + Enjoy A Buffet Dinner While Cruising Down The Chao Phraya River

Bangkok Royal Palace
Photo by Jayanth Muppaneni on Unsplash

On your first full day in the city, tour the “Big 3” of Bangkok, namely Wat Arun, Wat Pho, and the Grand Palace.

You can actually start anywhere, depending on which site is more accessible to you, but for this itinerary, we’ll start with The Grand Palace. 

A complex of ornate buildings protected by high white walls in the center of Bangkok, The Grand Palace has been serving as the official residence of the Kings of Siam since the 18th century. 

There is no guarantee that you will have a royal encounter in the Grand Palace (the chances are actually very, very slim!), but you can gain access to some of the buildings within the complex with just one ticket worth 500 THB. The areas that you’re allowed to explore include the Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile. 

Located about 700 meters south of the Grand Palace is Wat Pho, which is one of the oldest and most expansive temples in Bangkok. It covers an area of 80,000 square meters and boasts more than a thousand images of Buddha—the largest collection in the country. The entrance fee to this temple complex is 300 THB. 

The biggest draw of Wat Pho is the 46-meter-long gold-plated image of the reclining Buddha. The colossal statue is housed within a pavilion on the western edge of the temple complex. 

Right outside Wat Pho, you’ll find eateries and cafes, where you can have a filling Thai meal, some refreshments, or a cone of ice cream to beat the heat. 

After touring The Grand Palace and Wat Pho, make your way to Tha Tien pier and take the ferry to cross the Chao Phraya River. From here, you can walk to the next temple destination.

Wat Arun—officially known as Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan—sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Although it is a Buddhist temple, it is affectionately called the “Temple of Dawn” because it was named after the Hindu goddess of dawn, Arun. And, indeed, it looks stunning against the early morning sky!

For postcard-perfect pictures during your visit, you might want to consider renting a set of traditional Thai costumes from a rental shop near the temple before purchasing a ticket at the temple’s entrance. A single-entry ticket to Wat Arun is priced at 200 THB and it comes with a bottle of water. 

Conclude your day of touring Bangkok’s biggest sights with a cruise ride down the Chao Phraya River. 

The most booked river cruises can cost anywhere from 650 THB to 1,250 THB and is inclusive of dinner. If you are in the mood to splurge, try the Michelin-starred dining on Pruek Cruise, which is offered on a luxe yacht. 


Day 3: Take A Day Tour To The Historic City Of Ayutthaya + Night Cap At Khaosan Road

Wat Phra Mahathat Buddha
Photo by Federico Mata on Unsplash

Amazing Ayutthaya should be in the itinerary of every first-timer in Thailand. Not only is this former capital of Siam a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also offers a peaceful respite from overly touristy Bangkok. 

As commuting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok can be quite tricky, it would be wise to join a tour group with a vehicle that can take you around the city, or, better yet, book a driver’s services, so you have full control over your time. 

Once in Ayutthaya, you can begin your tour at the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace—the Royal Family’s summer retreat, hence its more popular name “The Summer Palace.” The entrance fee costs 100 THB and is inclusive of access to most buildings in the area.

In this complex, you will find structures built in various architectural styles and influences—from traditional Thai and Khmer to Chinese and colonial. It offers tons of photo opportunities sans the crazy crowds in the background, all the while giving you a crash course of Thailand’s royal history.

Right at the entrance and exit gate of Bang Pa-In, you will find a cafe and souvenir shop, where you can enjoy a light meal with Thai milk tea or purchase some postcards to send to friends and family back home. The post office is located in front of the main gate, across the street. 

After exploring Bang Pa-In, make your way to Ayutthaya Historical Park, which features the well-preserved ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya. A good starting point is Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, the former royal monastery that the Burmese destroyed during the Burmese-Siamese war in the 18th century. 

For 50 THB, you can get a better glimpse of the three chedis or stupa that enshrines the ashes of Siam’s former kings, namely King Ramathibodi II, King Borommarachathirat III, and King Borommatrailokkanat. Keep in mind that these chedis are important monuments to Thais and are off-limits to tourists. 

From Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, head on over to Wat Phra Mahathat, which is among the Ancient City’s oldest temples, believed to have been built in the 14th century. 

This royal temple of the Ayutthaya Kingdom was highly regarded as it housed the Buddha’s holy relic. But when the kingdom fell in 1767, Wat Phra Mahathat was ravaged by fire and abandoned. 

Today, it is home to what remains of the kingdom’s former glory. It features ruins of pagodas, small temples, murals, and Buddha statues. 

Among its most famous features is the Ayutthaya-style head of the Buddha image, which is now cradled by the roots of a banyan tree.

Back in Bangkok—which is a little over an hour’s drive away from Ayutthaya (if you get lucky and the traffic isn’t terrible)—cap off your day on the buzzy Khaosan Road. 

A favorite among foreign backpackers, the short street feels more like an endless stretch of bars, cafes, and shops selling weed, which is legalized in Thailand. Here you can sample various street food or, if you’ve got an adventurous palate, exotic bites like skewered scorpions and other arthropods. 

But if you just want to chill, there are open-air restaurants in the district that offer excellent Thai dishes that go well with a cold pint of beer. Cheers!


Day 4: Party Hard In Pattaya + Thai Massage

People flocking to Pattaya's bars and clubs
Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

If you’re up for a quick beach escape during your trip, the most accessible place from Bangkok where you can get a good dose of vitamin sea is Pattaya. 

A hot and happening coastal city that is emerging as one of Thailand’s biggest seaside party destinations, Pattaya is a favorite among nightlife-loving locals and tourists. The best part? It’s just a two-hour drive away from Bangkok! 

During the day, the atmosphere in Pattaya, particularly on the beach, is a lot more laid-back. You can sink your feet in the white sand, recline on a beach chair, and get a sun tan as you take a refreshing sip of coconut juice. 

Alternatively, you can also tour some of Pattaya’s top sights, such as the Sanctuary of Truth, an imposing museum by the Gulf of Thailand; Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden, a 500-acre garden sometimes dubbed as the “Jurassic Park”of Thailand for its collection of dinosaur statues; and Wat Phra Yai or the Big Buddha Temple. 

After dark, you can either go nightclub-hopping or catch a spectacular cabaret show, featuring unforgettable productions from some of Thailand’s most talented and gorgeous ladyboy performers, before heading back to Bangkok. 

With all the walking and partying over the past couple of days, it is only right that you end your last full day in Thailand by treating yourself to a relaxing Thai massage session.

Thai massage sets itself apart from other massage techniques with its combination of stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques, which aim to relieve tension and enhance your flexibility. 

Keep in mind that Thai massage is carried out on a padded mat on the floor, with you fully clothed. No oils are involved and the therapist will guide you on the positions necessary for the treatment. 


Day 5: Shop Till You Drop At Markets Or Siam + Departure

centralwOrld Mall in Bangkok
Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

Really now, what’s a trip to Bangkok without some good retail therapy?

A shopping mecca of all sorts, Bangkok is a shopaholic’s dream come true, with its dizzying maze of open markets and jaw-dropping shopping malls. So before you catch your flight back home, make sure to grab the chance to experience the city’s unparalleled shopping scene. 

In the morning (even better if it’s a weekend!), your best bet is the iconic Chatuchak Market. Vendors in the area sell an eclectic selection of products and wares—from trendy apparel and fashion accessories to pre-loved books and household products. General stores also offer a wide range of pasalubong-worthy items like dried fish snacks, durian chips, dried fruits, and various herbal inhalers, which have gained a cult following around the world. 

Since Chatuchak Market closes before nightfall and a good number of shops don’t operate for the majority of the week, you may opt to visit Pratunam Market instead. 

Pratunam Market is best known for its bargain deals on clothes, shoes, and accessories, but it also has food stalls, where you can have a good meal if hunger catches up quick while you’re on your shopping run. It also operates on extended hours, generally from 5 AM to 9 PM daily. 

For a more upscale shopping experience, make your way to the Siam district, where you will find massive interconnected malls like centralwOrld, Siam Paragon, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, and MBK Center. 

These malls may look close to each other on the map, but a few hours might not be enough to check out all of them, considering the floor area that each one covers. So if you’ve got limited time left, it would be best to run a quick search online to see which mall has what you’re looking for and spend your time there to maximize your visit. 


Enjoy a seamless and speedy internet connection throughout your Bangkok trip with a trusty wi-fi device that fits right in your pocket! 

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***Featured image by Evan Krause on Unsplash