Bangkok is one of the most exciting and fascinating cities in Asia. From exquisite temples and palaces to hip bars and bistros plus vibrant markets and streets, you won’t run out of places to see and explore in this city. But if you’ll only be in Thailand’s capital for a weekend, you can only make room for a couple of attractions and activities. To help you decide, here’s Skyscanner‘s list of things you may want to include in your itinerary.
1. Go on a temple run
If there’s one attraction you can’t miss out on in Bangkok, that would be the temples. Start with the Grand Palace, an architectural gem renowned for its intricately-designed historic buildings. Within the grounds you’ll also find Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The highlight here is a small but much-revered Buddha image carved from a block of jade.
A 10-minute walk south of the Grand Palace leads you Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. While it houses Thailand’s biggest collection of gilded Buddha images, the main attraction here is the huge reclining Buddha (45 meters long and 15 meters high!). You won’t be able to view the statue’s entire stretch, but you do get to see up close its different sections. The Buddha’s 5-meter feet are adorned with precious stones and 108 signs of true faith, so watch out for that.
To round up your temple tour, ride a boat to Wat Arun, which is just opposite Wat Pho. What sets this temple apart is its 82-meter-high spire, a tower overlooking Chao Phraya River. It’s even more stunning up close, with its colorful ornate mosaics arranged in intricate patterns.
Quick tip: Cover up during your temple visits. That means no shorts, revealing tops, slippers and sandals.
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2. Shop ‘til you drop
Feel like going on a quick shopping spree? Bangkok won’t disappoint. For one, it’s home to the world’s largest weekend market. Spanning 35 acres and hosting more than 8,000 stalls, Chatuchak Market offers almost anything you can imagine, from clothing, jewelry, furniture and home accessories to plants, pets, artworks and books.
Its indoor counterpart, Platinum Fashion Mall, is a clothing and accessories bazaar that will put your haggling skills to the test, especially if you plan on purchasing in bulk. Bargains are also the main draw at MBK, an iconic shopping mall with a diverse selection of garments, accessories, furniture, appliances and electronics.
But if you’re seeking a unique shopping experience, wander through Terminal 21 and its destination-themed floors. The Tokyo, London, Rome and Paris floors house local and international fashion brands, while the Istanbul floor is patterned after a Middle Eastern zouk selling toys, and home and beauty products.
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3. Chill at rooftop spots
Cap off your day by experiencing Bangkok’s nightlife, where one of the highlights are the rooftop bars and bistros. Sky Bar steals the scene with its post-modern design, multi-hued ambiance and signature cocktails. And you’ll be 820 feet up, so expect no less than breathtaking vistas. Or you could also dine in style at the rooftop bistro Red Sky, popular not just for its striking outdoor setup but also its innovative seasonal dishes and extensive wine selection. This restaurant sits 55 floors above the ground, promising truly panoramic views.
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Photo credit: Nanut Bovorn
4. Enjoy some food for thought
The Bangkok culinary scene is also worth exploring. Love seafood? Somboon will have you feasting on curry-powder crab and soy-steamed sea bass, plus the prerequisite crab fried rice. To sample one of the local delicacies, grab a seat at Som Tam Nua and order its famed papaya salad. A staple in Thai cuisine, this savory salad usually features shredded, unripe papaya and a combination of chili, lime, peanuts and tomato.
Of course, Bangkok’s street food is a must-try as well. Head to Khao San Road for authentic pad thai, some mango and rice, and grilled meatballs. If you’re interested in exotic treats, go for the fried bugs! Yes, prepare to munch on cockroaches, grasshoppers, spiders and all sorts of creepy crawlies.
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Photo credit: AaronCaley
5. Get a relaxing massage
Don’t forget to squeeze in a relaxing massage during your trip. Give your weary feet a break and drop by Health Land, one of the most established spa centers in Bangkok. You can sign up for an invigorating traditional Thai massage or a more therapeutic massage. Or you could reward yourself with a luxurious spa-like treatment at Banyan Tree, where the massage sessions start with a foot bath and end with some herbal refreshments and healthy treats.