A Perfect 48 Hours in Bangkok Itinerary


Thailand is one of my favourite destinations. I first started going there as a young 20 something backpacker, and now, nearly three decades later, I must have clocked up more than 30 trips back to The Land of Smiles. But it isn’t just me that feels that way. Thailand is one of those destinations that seems to appeal to all. From the highlands of Chiang Mai to the islands of Koh Samui and Phuket in the south, and the temples of Thailand’s ancient city Ayutthaya to its modern capital of Bangkok, there truly is something for everyone to discover in this fascinating country.

When planning a trip to Thailand, don’t underestimate the wonders of Bangkok. While many travellers see it as just a stopover, the city has so much to offer. To truly make the most of your Thai holiday, I highly recommend spending at least two to three nights in Bangkok before continuing your Thailand itinerary. This will allow you to indulge in the city’s famous street food, navigate its picturesque canals, and fully immerse yourself in its rich culture.

Once you’ve explored Bangkok, you can then venture to other breathtaking destinations like Chiang Mai or Kanchanaburi, where you can visit the iconic Bridge on the River Kwai. And, of course, no Thailand adventure is complete without experiencing the pristine white sand beaches of the stunning islands in the south.

Here is my suggested itinerary for spending 48 hours in Bangkok.

Image: The Speakeasy

Friday night:

Check into Hotel Muse, situated in one of Bangkok’s loveliest neighbourhoods, Langsuan, about 400 metres from the Chit Lom BTS station. I love the 1920s feel of the hotel, from the staffs’ outfits to the swirling wrought-iron decorations and the claw-foot bathtubs.

You won’t need to go far tonight, with Hotel Muse boasting one of the city’s funkiest rooftop bars – The Speakeasy. Very popular with Thai trendsetters, The Speakeasy takes you back to a time of illicit liquor and mobsters. Expect top-shelf spirits, daring cocktails, and a large selection of wine and sparkling wine. Local and international DJs ensure the vibe is as funky as the view is inspiring.

Bangkok Golden Buddha
Image: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Saturday AM:

Many of Thailand’s famous cultural sites are located in Bangkok, so it is a good idea to include at least a couple of them (yes, we know, the shopping and the spas are calling!). Get to the temples early, before the crowds and the heat of the day become overwhelming.

Perhaps the most visited temple in Bangkok, Wat Phra Kaew or ‘The Temple of the Emerald Buddha‘ is in the precinct of the Grand Palace and a must-see. We hired a guide (Tour with Tong ) to take us on a tour of a few of Bangkok’s highlights, and recommend doing this if only to understand the broader story and history behind these incredible sites.

The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (the actual Emerald Buddha was nowhere near as big as we expected!) is one of Thailand’s most sacred sites, boasting some of the finest examples of Buddhist sculpture, painting and architecture. It was the former residence of the Thai monarch and is made up of more than 100 buildings – parts of it are like walking through a fairytale with the golden turrets and ornate paintings.

Next stop is the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, not far from the Grand Palace. The enormous Buddha – 15 metres high and 43 metres long! – is originally from Ayutthaya (Thailand’s ancient capital). It is a must-see while in Bangkok.

If you are a bit of a culture-vulture, there are plenty more sites to discover in Bangkok, including the National Museum.

A tip for getting around the main sites this morning: Conveniently located along the banks of the Chao Phraya River are many of the city’s main temples and the royal palace, so consider exploring the city’s attractions along the Chao Phraya River by taking a riverboat ride. This is a great way to see Bangkok’s many delights, especially if it’s your first visit. The riverboats that travel along the river are frequent, affordable, and faster than taxis or tuk-tuks.

To catch a boat, simply take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station and follow the crowds towards the river. During the day, there are free boats to Iconsiam Mall, and in the evening, there are free boats to Asiatique Mall. Adjacent to those are the tourist express boats, marked by blue flags, which make stops at piers near major tourist attractions. If it’s your first boat ride, I recommend choosing the blue flag boat as it’s the easiest to navigate. Next to the blue flag boats are the orange flag ones, which function more like local ferries and are cheaper but tend to be more crowded.

Another option for exploring the city is to take a longboat and explore the canals leading off the main river. However, longboats can be expensive, so it’s best for small groups.

Related Article: Bangkok Insider Guide to The City’s Creative Scene

Saturday lunch:

Bangkok Street Food

Bangkok is known for it’s amazing food stalls, so be daring and grab some street food – just be sure there are plenty of locals eating there (always a good sign) and that the food is cooked freshly for you. From traditional dishes passed down through generations to innovative creations, the city’s street stalls have something to satisfy every palate.

One popular spot is Raan Jay Fai, a street stall in Phra Nakhon known for its high prices but exceptional quality. Be prepared for a wait, as they don’t take reservations. Another must-visit is Thipsamai Padthai, named the best pad thai in Thailand by the Prime Minister and has even received recognition from the Michelin Guide. The recipe for their pad thai has been passed down through the generations, and they still use traditional cooking methods to ensure the best flavour. 

Looking toward Taling Chan Floating Market
Looking toward Taling Chan Floating Market

Or, you could head to Taling Chan Floating Market – perfect for food lovers seeking an authentic taste of traditional Thai delicacies. Taling Chan offers a more intimate and local experience, unlike other crowded tourist markets. The market is situated along a serene river, where traditional longboats serve various fresh seafood. As you wander through the market, the enticing aroma of fried fish fills the air. You’ll witness skilled elderly women grilling octopus, shrimp, and fish on their tiny boats while catfish gracefully swim in the background. Alongside the seafood, you’ll find an array of traditional Thai snacks to satisfy your cravings. 

Whether you’re craving pad thai, mango sticky rice, or a flavourful noodle dish, Bangkok’s street food scene has you covered, all at affordable prices, and it’s a quintessential Bangkok experience.

Note: The Taling Chan Floating Market operates exclusively on weekends; we suggest swapping this with the Artist’s House if you seek a unique experience on weekdays

This historical dwelling, dating back over two centuries, stands adjacent to the canal and exudes creativity. Referred to as Baan Silapin and Klong Bang Luang, the Artist’s House attracts a diverse crowd of locals and a few tourists keen on experiencing its artistic ambience. You can experience local cuisine, community engagement, and a traditional Thai puppet show while enjoying refreshments at the Artist’s House in Thonburi, Bangkok’s former capital. The house remains tucked away amidst the labyrinthine alleys, with subtle signage guiding visitors to its location.

Getting to the Artist’s House is easy. You can take a taxi or ride the MRT and get off at the “Bang Pai” station. From there, walk 700 meters down Phetkasem Soi 20 until you reach Wat Kam Paeng Bang Chak. Take a left turn, and walk another 50 meters along the canal walkway until you arrive at the Artist House Bangkok.

Saturday afternoon:

We told you shopping was on the menu. You have no shortage of malls to choose from. Start with the Siam area for a range of shopping malls where prices are spread from one end of the scale to the other. If you are after budget shopping, MBK is a favourite with tourists, locals and expats alike and is home to more than 2000 stores. You can then check out Siam Centre – one of the city’s first malls, or head to Siam Paragon, the piece-de-resistance of the Siam area (which is dubbed the ‘battleground of shopping malls’).

Bangkok Sirocco and Sky Bar
Image: Sirocco and Sky Bar

Saturday night:

You saw Hangover Part 2 and want to party it up like the boys? Even those of us not looking to go crazy in Bangkok will absolutely love an evening at the now (in)famous Sky Bar, the world’s highest open-air bar. But don’t just go for a drink – Lebua Bangkok offers an incredible dining experience at the stunning two Michelin-starred Mezzaluna restaurant.

Start at Distil – part smoking lounge with its outdoor cigar terrace, part DJ spin and part restaurant with its own oyster bar – for a pre-dinner drink. Then head on to Mezzaluna for a romantic degustation menu you will never forget, and finish with a post-dinner drink at Sky Bar and enjoy the best views of Bangkok. Or, just come to be seen and mingle with Bangkok’s chic set at one of the city’s coolest hang-outs.

Read more: The Best Things to Do & See in Bangkok

Bangkok Hotel Muse bedroom
Image: Hotel Muse

Sunday morning:

Head to the 19th floor of your hotel to enjoy Hotel Muse’s generous breakfast before heading 150 metres down the road to one of Bangkok’s best yoga studios for a session of Yoga Rhythms (a blend of yoga postures, sports and fitness science) at Kri Yoga. In the same building you will find Jasmine Spa where you can indulge in a fabulous Thai massage for around $15 Australian, a Pilates centre, and macrobiotic cafe where you can grab a healthy bite to eat and organic juice for lunch before heading to the Weekend Markets for a look around.

Chatuchak Weekend Markets bangkok

The Chatuchak Weekend Markets are a must-see, even for non-shoppers, due to the atmosphere and ‘local’ prices (you will find something you never knew you needed!). The sheer scale is mind-boggling – 35 acres, more than 200,000 visitors a day and a range of products that includes everything from animals to funky clothes and jewellery. Easy to reach via the Skytrain.

Sunday night:

Head back to your gorgeous hotel and enjoy the luxurious surrounds and respite it offers after a crazy afternoon at the markets (grab a massage down the road if you didn’t have time this morning!). Be sure to make a dinner booking at Hotel Muse’s Medici Kitchen, the hotels’ highly regarded, multi-award winning Italian restaurant.

Get a reasonably early night because tomorrow your Thailand adventure continues. Where will you be flying to? Chiang Mai for zip-lining and some highland culture? Phuket with its luxury resorts and gob-smackingly beautiful beaches? Romantic Samui to check into a five-star resort and enjoy the chilled out island vibe? Or perhaps Krabi or Koh Lanta, for an even quieter pace?

Check the best rates at Hotel Muse Bangkok Langsuan - MGallery

Related: 6 of the Best Beach Destinations in Thailand.

You’ll want to find the perfect place to stay and whether it is Phuket, Koh Samui or elsewhere in Thailand, chances are you’ll find it here..

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