My first day in Bangkok was all about soaking up the atmosphere and partying, so I wanted to see as much as possible in the time I had left. Luckily the center of Bangkok, near the river, is tightly packed with attractions, so you can have your fill in just a day or two.

Here’s how to make the most out of Bangkok, in just 2 days.

Day 1

Pom Phra Sumen Fortress

This is one of the fortresses that were built when Bangkok became Thailand’s capital. Architecturally, it’s nothing much, but around it is one of the few parks in the area, where you can escape an impending heat stroke, under the shade of a tree. The Thai people seem to enjoy taking afternoon naps outside, so this is a good place to join them.

Open: Non-stop

Entrance fee: Free (you can only see the fortress from the outside)  

See Bangkok in 2 days

Thammasat University

As I gaped at my map in confusion, a Romanian guy called David chatted me up. He was on his way to have lunch at the university canteen and told me that I could take a shortcut through there, to get to my next spot. The economics department is a large open space, a good location to see how young Thais interact.

Open: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM but best visited at lunch

Entrance fee: Free

The Amulet Market

Down the river from the university, this is one of the most interesting markets in Bangkok. You’ll find piles of amulets and knick-knacks here, most of which seem to be props for voodoo magic. I was scared to think what some might be made of, but in this maze of narrow alleys, there are unbelievable finds as well.

Open: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Entrance fee: Free

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days
These sculptures were so realistic, that they were a bit frightening.

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

Wat Mahathat

This Buddhist temple, located right across from the Amulet Market, is made up several sections with distinct purposes. I accidentally walked into the 4th sections, where the young monks live and learn. They gave me a few confused looks, but nobody tried to turn me away.

Here you’ll find gilded statues of Buddha in various sizes and decorations, but that’s not what left a permanent trace in my heart. I was alone that day and Bangkok overwhelmed me. I must admit that I shed a few tears in the privacy of my sunglasses. However, Wat Mahathat was serene and the monks smiled kindly.

Even though I know nothing about this religion, the temple’s largest hall, with an enormous statue of Buddha in the center, made me feel safe and comfortable enough to just sit on the floor and shed my anxiety.

You can certainly see grander temples in Bangkok but none of them gave me this same sense of happiness and freedom. According to one of the monks, you can join a meditation course every day at 1:00 PM, in section 5.

Open: 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Entrance fee: 50 Thai baht

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

The Grand Palace

After peaceful Wat Mahathat I found my way to the dizzying mess of tourists, that is the Grand Palace. Since there was only an hour left until closing time, I decided not to go in. Later, my new travel buddies Tom and Tara told me that the 500-baht ticket was not worth the experience, and so I completely gave up on the palace. However, it’s one of the most popular attractions in Bangkok and is certainly beautiful.

Open: 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Entrance fee: 500 Thai baht

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

Wat Pho

One of the most magnificent places I have ever seen! The most popular sight at this temple is the 46-meter long Buddha statue, displayed in one of the halls.

As popular as the Reclining Buddha may be, it was not what I loved most about Wat Pho. The stupas in the courtyard are marvelous, huge structures, elaborately decorated in flowers and tiny mirrors. I was in awe and couldn’t stop taking snaps.

In the afternoon, when the setting sun caresses the stupas, a fairytale unfolds. 

Open 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Entrance fee: 100 Thai baht

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun)

On my way to Bangkok, a flight attendant, who had visited the city over 50 times, gave me a great tip – make sure you see the sunset over the Temple of Dawn, with a local beer in hand.

I found a tiny pier, which shook and squeaked with vigor, but the view was fabulous. It was an opportunity to steal a peaceful moment away from the madness of Bangkok.

Make sure that you watch the sunset across the river from the temple, rather than on its side of the river.

Open: 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Entrance fee: 50 Thai baht

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

The Flower Market

Taking a short stroll between these pavilions covered in flowers is worth it. They don’t serve a romantic purpose so much as a religious one. Still, the bags of rose petals immediately took me back to romantic baths from chick flicks and soap operas.

Open: Non-stop but best visited before dawn or in the early morning

Entrance fee: Free

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

Bangkok’s Classic Tourist Traps

We wanted to spend the night in Chinatown but instead got ourselves into another classic Bangkok experience – scams. While we were trying to find our way through the maze of alleys and into Chinatown, a sweet elderly man stopped us on the street and told us that everything was closed that day, because of traditional celebrations. He then came to our rescue, promising the best street food, only 5 minutes away from where the festivities would be held. He then pointed us to a tuk-tuk driver who would give us a discount and take us to a firework display, later in the evening. 

Soon, we found ourselves in a restaurant, where the price of the boiled rice equaled my weekly budget.

We later discovered that Chinatown hadn’t shut down, there were no festivities and we had been caught in one of the most popular tourist traps in Bangkok. Thai people might be a bit scammy but on the flipside, they are not aggressive about it. They just try and see if you’ll take the bait. In fact, there are very few countries where I’ve felt as safe as here. 

Open: Constantly

Entrance fee: Depends on how long it would take you to catch on ?

Phaya Thai Night Market

To soften the blow, we headed toward the Phaya Thai metro station, where we discovered that being scammed was actually a blessing in disguise because we found some of the best street food stalls and seafood.

A few beers later and I realized that it was after 3:00 AM. I raced to my bed, as the next day was going to have an early start.

Tip: If you don’t want to stay on Khaosan Road, it’s a good idea to find accommodation near Phaya Thai, since there is a direct metro line to the airport from there.

Open: 6:00 PM – 12:00 AM

Entrance fee: Free

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

Day 2

Khaosan Road Morning Market

I woke up at 5:30 AM for some insight into local life. In Southeast Asia, locals usually shop at morning markets, which open at 3:00 AM and shut down at around 7:00 AM. After the locals have bought their produce, many of them open stalls for the tourists, where prices triple.

Wherever I am, one of my favorite things to do is shop alongside local grandmas. Visiting the market is like opening a hidden door and peeking into people’s lives, so I am willing to put up with certain inconveniences, such as an early morning and hordes of cockroaches. Even though Khaosan Road is the ultimate tourist spot in Bangkok, the morning market is still local territory and is worth a visit. So forget about the snooze button and go mingle with some Bangkokians.  

Open: 3:00 AM – 7:00 AM

Entrance fee: Free

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

The Golden Mount (Wat Saket)

This is, by far, the shiniest temple I have ever seen. The name is an accurate description of what is essentially a temple perched up on top of a man-made silver and gold concrete hill. The sweaty staircase hike ends in a sanctuary, with a beautiful view over Bangkok.

An installation of vultures, tearing apart plagued bodies, is one of the more peculiar features of the temple.

Open: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Entrance fee: 20 Thai baht

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

Royal Pavilion Mahajetsadabadin

A relatively small, yet stunning structure. It was used as the king’s residence, when he would go out of the palace to meet a royal guest. It’s usually not nearly as busy as some of the other sights, such as the Royal Palace, and you can marvel at the design in peace. The pavilion is surrounded by a pretty park.

Open: 9:00-6:00 for the temple but you can enjoy the pavilion, from the outside, anytime

Entrance fee: donation-based

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

A Maze of Homes and Traditions

On my way back from the Golden Mountain, I walked around an impoverished neighborhood around the river. I wouldn’t call it a ghetto since people here are so friendly and welcoming, but their tin can houses threaten to fall apart any second.

The so-called streets in between these houses are no wider than 1-2 meters and since most doors are left wide open, you see how people live. Their tiny rooms resemble a dollar store, possessions rolling around the floor, but everyone is very relaxed.

I happened upon preparations for a cock fight, but couldn’t bear to watch.

One of the tiny food stalls, where locals snack, seemed particularly appealing and I got a grilled fish. Later, I realized that I had eaten a native of the Bangkok canals. While the canals are beautiful, they certainly don’t seem sanitary. Even so, I didn’t get sick – yet another point in favor of street food.

Open: Non-stop but best visited in the early morning when everyone is at their most active

Entrance fee: Free

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

The Giant Swing

A monument, used for religious ceremonies. Its shape resembles a swing, hence the name. Although all guide books and tourist maps include it as an attraction, I didn’t think there was much to it. It’s enough to walk by.

Open: Non-stop

Entrance fee: Free

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

Chinatown Night market and Little India

Chinatown is a struggle to find because everything seems closed and lifeless until you suddenly turn a corner and it erupts in front of you.

I was dumbfounded and simply walked around in silence, experiencing the neighborhood with all senses. It’s a strange, busy place, where you’ll find all manner of weirdness. Sparrow nests are popular here, as they are a delicacy for the Chinese. They look like someone else’s spit up but if that’s not enough to turn you off, consider the fact that it is a cruel industry.

A few blocks away, in Little India, you can enjoy hearty portions of delicious food, just as long as you brave the cockroaches crawling on the walls and the mice in the toilets.

Open: The market is open from around 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM but the shops and restaurants work during the day as well

Entrance fee: Free

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

My Cozy Accommodation

Many Thais don’t seem to be the most pretentious people when it comes to napping locations. Parks are often filled with sleeping locals. Through the open doors of a home, I saw a puppy nestled between the bedsheets, while its human was taking a nap on the floor. I, however, felt that I needed to compensate for the stress of my first solo trip, by having a cozy place to call my home in Bangkok.

That’s how I found Canale Hostel. To be honest, I chose it because of the beanbag chairs, laid out on a porch overlooking the water. It turned out to be a good decision, because the beds were big and private, each with its own TV and a robe – impressive for a hostel. Although only half of the staff spoke English, the vibe was friendly and relaxed. Besides, some of the people I met the very first day at the hostel helped shape the rest of my journey.

After 2 nights at the Khaosan Road parties, I can say with confidence that it’s a good idea to have accommodation that’s near it, but certainly not on it. Unless of course, you enjoy waking up to barfing college students and ladyboy love calls.

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days

What to See in Bangkok for 2 Days