If you just had a day to spend in Bangkok, first of all curse yourself as one day is too short a time to feel the pulse of this amazing city. You should have planned ahead to ensure you had more than a day for Bangkok. Shame on you!
Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is mostly used by travellers as a stopover on their way to the scenic beaches of Southern Thailand or the mountains of Northern Thailand. Bangkok has got this weird reputation with the travellers. It is supposed to be, in many ways, dangerous and unsafe. You would often hear stories about how innocent foreigners fall victims to the variety of scams almost as soon as they step out of the airport. However, hidden beneath the infamous antics of the tailors, jewellers, guides and tuk tuk drivers, is an awesome city just waiting to be discovered and explored.
Here is how I would spend a day in Bangkok:
When you have just one day in Bangkok, you will not have the luxury of waking up late. The streets of Siam are famous for its street food and they open up pretty early in the morning. You can sit in one of these stalls and have some traditional Thai food like pad thai or rice and chicken curry while watching the locals rushing off to work.
After an extremely delightful and spicy breakfast, you can check out the following attractions in the area:
- Ocean World – The Biggest Aquarium in South East Asia
- Jim Thompson House
- Madame Tussauds
- Shopping Malls: Siam Paragon, and MBK
In case you are into animals, you can pay a visit to Safari World and Marine Park which is pretty awesome.
Even though not very clean or well maintained, Dushit Zoo too can be an exciting option for someone who wants to get close to the wild animals.
Located a floor above the Ocean World is the Siam Paragon Food Hall which offers an overwhelming variety of cuisines and dishes. You can escape the sun for a while by having your lunch here. Try my personal favourite: ramen noodles and crispy pork. Delicious!
Now, take the help of a local to board a public bus to China Town. Why a public bus?
- Doing things like a local is fun when you are in a foreign land
- Chance to interact with a local and maybe make a friend.
If the bus conductor charges you 3 Bahts for the ride, you have done it right.
Roaming around China town is a different experience since it is so crowded and you can see the locals buying and selling all sorts of crazy things. It is loud and some of the smells can make you gag. You can do a bit of shopping and treat yourself to some dumplings before heading to the pier to board a boat to Wat Arun.
Wat Arun is exceptionally beautiful at night but since you have just one day in Bangkok (curse yourself again) and are on a war against time, visit the Wat Arun in the afternoon. On the other side of the river are The Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. Visit all three!
After an awesome day of sightseeing, head to the backpacker mecca, Khao San Road for some well deserved drinks and snacks. Many of the pubs offer “Happy Hour” rates in the evenings. Do not miss!
In case you still have some energy left in you, you have these options:
- Watch Muay Thai at Lumpini Park.
- Go to a Go-Go bar and get scarred for life.
- Do some more shopping.
If you, like me, cannot stand the meaningless thumping beats of the Go-Go bars or hate shopping, you can head to The Rooftop Cafe in Khao San Road and listen to some decent live music.
At times, Siam Square hosts small musical/cultural events which are pretty enjoyable.
There are plenty of food options in and around Khao San Road. Have your dinner there.
If you feel a bit adventurous, try some scorpions, frogs, tarantulas and several other insects that the street vendors around here sell. Rumour has it that these are local delicacies but I have never seen a local having them. Maybe it is just another scam. “Make the farangs pay to eat insects”.
After dinner, and a couple of more drinks, head back to your hotel, (not before 2 am), put the “Do not Disturb” sign on the door, and look back upon the awesome day till you fall asleep (Maybe curse yourself one last time for giving just one day to Bangkok).
If you are staying in a hotel/hostel in Siam, you can visit my favourite late night joint, Marina HK near the National Stadium train station and have some fried ducks and chicken or some delicious pork noodles. Marina HK is open 24 hours and apart from the delicious food, also has an awesome juice bar. No alcohol.