Many tourists head straight out of Bangkok to a beach or hilltop retreat and yet the city has some fascinating sights if you know where to look. We recently spent 48 hours in Bangkok and visited a mix of famous and more off the beaten path attractions.
Day 1 – 48 Hours in Bangkok
Our favourite sight in Bangkok was undoubtedly the Buddhist temple of Wat Pho. This sacred royal temple is the place where King Rama I’s ashes are enshrined. As you can see, it gleams in the sunshine. Thai massage actually originated here and is still practiced at the temple today.
However, it’s most famous for its golden Reclining Buddha who takes up an entire building. As its a holy place, visitors are required to place their shoes in a bag and carry them round with them. Those who have forgotten to cover their shoulders or knees can also borrow a shawl. You can then walk round the Buddha statue, admiring the craftsmanship of this masterpiece.
There are many other beautiful sights such as Phra Ubosot, where Buddhist rituals are performed, so allow at least a few hours for your visit. Entrance costs 100 baht and the temple is open from 8 am to 5 pm.
Another must-see if you have 48 hours in Bangkok is the Grand Palace, close to Wat Pho. An imposing sight, it was built in 1782 and was previously the home of the Kings of Siam. It houses a series of temples such as Wat Phra Kaew, with its iconic Emerald Buddha. The late King was lying in state and people from all over Thailand had come to pay their respects to him. It was therefore not possible for us to visit inside but we will be back! Normally it is open from 8.30 am to 3.30 pm and tickets cost 500 baht. Like Wat Pho, it is important to dress respectfully and to cover your shoulders and knees.
For dinner, sample authentic Thai cuisine at Michelin starred nahm or one of our dining recommendations such as Paste for a contemporary take on the classics.
Finish your night with a cocktail in a panoramic rooftop bar such as Skylounge at the lebua Hotel. The views are far reaching and the State Tower itself is an impressive sight.
Day 2 – 48 Hours in Bangkok
A real oasis in the city. Lumpini Park is spread over 57 hectares and popular with locals who come here to practice tai chi in the morning and early evening. It’s virtually deserted during the day as the heat can be so strong. There’s a lake with charming swan boats…
And a Chinese temple that caught our eye.
Enjoy a tasty lunch nearby at Café Claire within the Oriental Residence.
Art in Paradise
One for the photography fans, Art in Paradise is a quirky 3D museum. It’s completely kitsch and located inside the rather nondescript Esplanade shopping mall on Ratchada road but if you’re with older children or a big kid yourself then you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.
Fancy yourself as an action hero?
Or as a message in a bottle? Well now you can capture those weird and wonderful moments in all their glory!
For more upmarket shopping, there are many air conditioned malls in the centre. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many in one area. Gaysorn, Central Enbassy, Siam Paragon, EmQuariter, the list goes on. Not only are they great for cooling down but they also house many well known luxury brands and restaurants.
To see the real Bangkok, have a look around the wholesale flower market. You’ll see stall holders preparing floral garland offerings for the gods.
We admired these beautiful orchids…
As well as this cat watching customers go by. You won’t come across many other tourists and it’s an interesting glimpse into Thai traditions.
Finish your weekend with an evening at Asiatique The Riverfront where you’ll find a wide selection of bars and restaurants as well as a night market. Although Bangkok is famous for these, the actual shopping can be a bit underwhelming but it’s worth seeing at least one for the atmosphere.
We flew with Eva Air, the Taiwanese airline that has been scooping awards for its service. They’re certified as a 5-Star Airline by Skytrax, and were also voted in the top 2 of the world’s cleanest airlines for 2 years in a row. We tried their Elite Class and were impressed with the efficient service as well as the roomy 38 inch pitch and 19.5 inch seat width. There was a handy amenity kit with aromatherapy toiletries from Thai brand Thann. We were lent a decent pair of headphones and the USB plugs and 110V AC laptop outlets came in very handy. There was an 11 inch LCD screen and the film selection was fairly complete with a particularly good range of foreign language films as well as the usual blockbusters. We also appreciated the fact that there weren’t endless in-flight announcements interrupting them! As for the food, it was extremely tasty. We were brought 2 full meals as well as snacks and even ice cream! We were only given one small half glass of wine but it was excellent quality and we don’t tend to drink much on flights anyway. All in all, we were very happy with the whole experience and we even landed half an hour ahead of schedule.
Due to the humidity, I’d recommend taking an air conditioned cab or the Skytrain for the great views – thankfully that also has air conditioning.
Tuk tuks might look fun but can be very overpriced and for anything but short journeys, you will swelter in the heat. A river cruise is a relaxing way to get around and you’ll also see some of the major sights like Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn.
Where to Stay
For another authentic Thai experience, stay at the luxurious Oriental Residence Bangkok. It’s a few minutes walk from Lumpini Park and the main shopping areas in the upmarket embassy area. You can check out our full review and video tour here.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our suggestions for what to see and do with 48 hours in Bangkok. Do you have any tips for first time or returning visitors?