How to Spend 48 Hours in Bangkok

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In this post, I’m sharing my ultimate itinerary for spending 48 hours in Bangkok, Thailand. From my favorite hotel, to the best temples to explore and foods to try – I hope this guide will help you plan your perfect trip to Thailand’s capital city. 

While I personally don’t love big cities, I still think Bangkok is a must-see for your South East Asia trip! It’s a great place to start your adventure – from Bangkok you can easily get to the luscious north or beachy south. Bangkok is also full of life! Night markets, temples, palaces, there are plenty of corners of this city to get lost in. 

We recently spent 48 hours in Bangkok while traveling between Phnom Penh and Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. And while I’ve been before, I decided that this time I was going to play tourist and help you come up with the perfect 48-hour itinerary for Bangkok. 

Grab and coffee and tuck in, this is a long one! 

Table of Contents

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48 Hours in Bangkok itinerary overview

  • Day 1: Temples and Palaces. Wake up early, eat a good breakfast and put on your walking shoes because you’ll be exploring so many temples today. 
  • Day 2: Markets, Chinatown and Khao San Road. 

Things to Know Before You Go

This is just a Bangkok ‘taster’! There is so much more to do in this city. I’ve been several times and still don’t feel like I’ve seen or done it all. If you want more ‘off-the-beaten path’ recommendations, I recommend checking out Polyglot Petra. She’s a good friend of mine who’s Thai (she’s also my Thai teacher!) and she shares local insights all across Thailand. 


Thailand uses the Thai Baht. It’s around 35฿ to $1. You can take baht out of any ATM and you’ll usually have to pay 220฿ (about $6) for the ATM fee. If you want to get ALL of your ATMs fees refunded to you – open a Charles Shwabb checking account like yesterday! 


In Thailand they speak Thai! Thai is a tonal language that’s actually really interesting! They don’t use past or present tense, outside of two words and they have 5 tones. I recently started taking Thai lessons and have had so much fun being able to communicate more while I’m here. 

If you’re just getting started, make sure that you know these phrases. It’s important to note that when speaking Thai you’ll end all of your phrases/sentences with ‘Kà’ (if you’re a woman) and ‘Krap’ (if you’re a man). You’ll also quickly notice that Thai people use those endings even when they’re speaking English. It makes everything more polite. 

Here are some basic phrases:  

  • Hello: Sa Wat Dee (Kà/Krup)
  • Thank you: Kawp Koon (Kà/Krup)
  • Yes/No: Chai / Mai Chai
  • Excuse Me: Kor Tot 
  • Goodbye: Lah Gorn
  • Delicious: Aroi – pronounced ‘a-roy’  

I recommend making an effort with Thai phrases! It’s a really fun language to learn (because it’s tonal!) and Thai people will always give you the biggest smile when you try to speak in Thai as much as you can. If you want to take a trial Thai lesson, you can use my tutor here


Bangkok is still a big city, so it’s important to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. That being said, I think that Thailand is one of the safest countries that I’ve traveled to. I’ve been here alone multiple times and people are so friendly and kind. Everything is willing to go out of their way to welcome you and help you in any way. 

There’s a reason people in Thailand are said to be the friendliest in the world! 

Planning Your Trip to Bangkok

Chances are, you’re headed to Bangkok to transit somewhere else! Whether you’re going to be island hopping in the south or relaxing in the north, your adventure might be starting here. 

Best Time to Visit

The best time of the year to visit Bangkok is between November and March. It’s the winter months, which means the temperatures will be slightly cooler. It’s still Thailand, so it’s HOT. But at least you won’t have to worry about the rain and humidity of the monsoon season. 

In May it’s going to start getting really hot and then monsoon season is from around July to October. If you’re visiting temples and markets, you’re going to be spending quite a bit of time outside, but there are also plenty of shopping centers and high rises you can escape to when the heat becomes too much. 

Getting to (and around) Bangkok

Bangkok has two airports (Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang.) Suvarnabhumi is the main international airport, so if you’re flying into Thailand from home – you’ll probably land at this one. It’s quite a journey from the airport into the city center, but you have the option of taking airport buses, taxis or Grab/Bolt. 

For traveling around Bangkok, you can use public transportation (which is really affordable) or you can use Bolt/walk. I recommend hopping on a Bolt Scooter taxi because the trip will cost you around $1-$2 and save you hours. 

What I recommend is taking a Bolt Scooter to the ‘area’ you need to be in and then walking around from there.

Pro tip: even if you’re traveling with your partner or friend, take two scooter taxis instead of a regular taxi – it’ll save you so much time and hassle sitting in traffic. 

How Long Should You Spend in Bangkok

I recommend at least 3 nights, especially if it’s your first time in Bangkok! You’re likely going to be tired from traveling and just a bit jet lagged, so give yourself more time than you think. 

This itinerary is going to give you so much to do over the course of just 2 days, so you might want an extra day to lay by the pool, catch up on sleep and explore somewhere a bit off the beaten path. 

Since I’m not a huge fan of big cities, I usually spend a maximum of 4 days in Bangkok before heading on my way to my next destination in Thailand. 

Where Should You Stay in Bangkok

It can be hard to choose the right neighborhood in Bangkok. I know I keep saying this… but it’s a big city! There are several different neighborhoods that are going to offer you different things. You can stay downtown and explore the rooftop bars and shopping malls, you can stay around Khao San Road or you can pick based on the hotel amenities. 

Most tourists will choose to stay around Khao San Road for their first stay in Bangkok. I’ve stayed around Khao San multiple times and it’s very convenient. It’s also very loud. 

Since it’s so easy to get around Bangkok, I recommend finding a hotel that you love! Choose somewhere that can be your own oasis within the city. Here are some hotels/hostels that I can recommend.

Shama Yen-Akat Bangkok | This is where I stayed on my last trip to Bangkok and it was PARADISE. I absolutely loved the rooms, gym and pool. Breakfast was included at the Brunch Paradiso restaurant and the bed was so comfortable. It’s in a quiet neighborhood that’s walking distance to restaurants, bars and a great supermarket. Learn more about Shama Yen-Akat here. 

The Yard Hostel | In a quiet neighborhood with plenty of local restaurants and bars to explore. This is a very clean and well run hostel with really affordable private rooms. Yes… I’m still a hostel girly but I do like my privacy when I can afford it! 

D&D Inn Khao San | I’ll be honest, it’s not the nicest and it’s not the quietest but it is in a really convenient location. If you’re traveling overland in Thailand you might be leaving or arriving at Khao San Road. It’s nice to have a bed, shower and rooftop pool that’s in a convenient location. 

Find more hotels in Bangkok here

48-Hour Bangkok Itinerary

Quick note: feel free to mix these days up! If you’ve just landed you might want to have a slower start to your explorations. In that case, do day 2 first. 

Day One in Bangkok

Wake up early! The days get hot and you are going to be spending a lot of time outside. Make sure that you fuel up on a really good breakfast (I loved the breakfast at Shama Yen-Akat, it was plenty of food for my day!). First up, make your way to the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. 

This will probably be the busiest place that you visit on your day, it definitely was for me. Make sure that you’re wearing comfortable and modest clothes. You will need to have your knees and shoulders covered – and I’ve seen multiple tourists turned away from having a high slit in their skirt or simply wrapping a sarong around their shoulders. 

The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew)

This was the busiest place that I visited in Bangkok, and for good reason! It’s beautiful. It was established in 1782 and serves as a ceremonial residence of the King of Thailand. The Grand Palace is also home to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha so make sure you plan enough time to explore it all! 

This also closes the earliest (at 3:30pm) so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to see it. 

Important information: 

  • Location: Na Phra Lan Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Bangkok
  • Opening Hours: 08:30am-3:30pm
  • Ticket Cost: 500฿ (approx $13.50)
  • Recommend Stay: 2 hours 
The Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho)

Once you’ve finished exploring the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, you can walk along the river to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It’s around a 10 minute walk from one to the other and if you walk along the side of the river there is some shade. 

Along the river there are also places to buy snacks and water. But don’t worry – Wat Pho has water fountains where you can refill your bottle. If you need something quick to eat, I recommend getting a Pad Thai from one of the street vendors. 

When you’re exploring Wat Pho, make sure to see the whole complex (most people just visit the reclining Buddha and leave). Wat Pho is the birthplace of Yoga. There are statues of Gods and Animals scattered throughout the temple doing various yoga poses. And because most people just visit the reclining Buddha, you’ll have so much of the temple grounds to yourself! 

Important information: 

  • Location: 2 Sanam Chai Rd, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Bangkok
  • Opening Hours: 08:30am-7:30pm
  • Ticket Cost: 300฿ (approx $8)
  • Recommend Stay: 1 hour
The Temple of the Dawn (Wat Arun) 

Now you’re going to cross the river to visit Wat Arun. Walk out of Wat Pho, cross the road and enter the souvenir/wooden shops by the river. There you’ll see a ‘ferry’ that takes you across the river to Wat Arun. The price to cross the river is 5฿. 

This was my favorite of the temples that I explored in Bangkok. I loved that it was fairly quiet, further away from the hustle and bustle and right on the river. The buildings were also beautiful and surprisingly different from what I’d seen so far. 

Outside Wat Arun, there are tons of shops with traditional clothing that you can rent. Because of this, the temple is full of young girls and families dressed in traditional Thai clothing having their photos taken. If you arrive from the river, you don’t see all of those shops until you leave – you might be just as confused as I was! 

Important information: 

  • Location: 158 Thanon Wang Doem, Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok
  • Opening Hours: 08:30am-6:00pm
  • Ticket Cost: 200฿ (approx $5.50)
  • Recommend Stay: 1 hour
The Golden Mount (Wat Saket) 

Now it’s time to visit your last temple of the day. I know, you’re probably getting tired from walking in the heat all day, but Wat Saket is definitely worth a visit. It offers you an incredible view over Bangkok. It actually used to be the highest point in the city before the skyscrapers took over the skyline. It’s pretty cool to see Bangkok like this. 

Unfortunately, you’ll have to climb the 300 steps to the top to be rewarded with this view! But don’t worry, it’s your last temple of the day. You can do it! 

Important information: 

  • Location: 44 Thanon Chakkraphatdi Phong, Ban Bat
  • Opening Hours: 07:00am-7:00pm
  • Ticket Cost: 50฿ (approx $1.35)
  • Recommend Stay: 1 hour
Swim and Relax

Now, you’re probably exhausted and sweaty. If you got an early start, it’s probably around 2:00-3:00 pm right now. Head back to the hotel for a swim, shower and relax before dinner. I honestly recommend taking a nap by the pool. 

Our hotel pool at Shama Yen-Akat was incredible. It’s pretty cheap to travel in Thailand, so I recommend splashing out to make sure you stay somewhere with a pool in Bangkok. It makes all the difference on a long day of playing tourist. 

Dinner and Drinks at a Rooftop Bar

Bangkok is home to incredible restaurants and sky bars. You can eat your heart out for less than $5 at a night market, or spend around $15 (per person) to have vegetarian sushi! 

Waki Waki is one of my favorite restaurants in Bangkok. I genuinely recommend checking it out. It’s a tiny place, so you’ll need to make a reservation. You would never get the quality of food and creativity for this cheap anywhere else. And don’t worry, you still have one more day in Bangkok where you’ll eat plenty of street food. 

After dinner take a walk through downtown Bangkok and take your pick of ‘Sky Bars’. Head up, up, UP to the top of Bangkok for a found Singapore Sling. Watch the twinkling lights over the city before calling it a night. 

Day Two in Bangkok

I hope you’re hungry! Day two is going to be spent eating all the street food delights that Bangkok has to offer. You’ll also have plenty of time to go to souvenir shops and take photos around the city.

Yodpiman Flower Market

Did you know that Bangkok has a flower market that’s open 24/7? It’s very much a ‘local’s market’ selling flowers, fruit and vegetables. Yodpiman is a beautiful and unique place to explore! While I went around 08:00 am, I would also recommend visiting late in the night, just to see what it’s like. 

Keep in mind that you should always ask permission before taking someone’s photo. When you’re exploring a local gem like Yodpiman, it can feel like a street photographer’s paradise, but these people are here to shop and go about their days, be respectful if you’d like to take pictures. 

Important information: 

  • Location: San Chao Ban Mo Alley, Wang Burapha Phirom
  • Opening Hours: 24/7
  • Ticket Cost: Free to enter
  • Recommend Stay: 1 hour

You can definitely spend an entire day in Bangkok’s Chinatown without getting bored. Lost, yes. Bored, no way. I love the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. It’s one of the largest ‘Chinatowns’ in the entire world and it will transport you straight to the streets of Beijing. 

Yaowarat Road is the artery of Chinatown in Bangkok and it’s where you’ll find the bustling night market. I also recommend exploring Sampheng Market which is the ‘day market’ in Chinatown. Shop for souvenirs and sample the street food. 

Important information: 

  • Location: Soi Wanit 1 and surrounding streets
  • Opening Hours: 24/7
  • Ticket Cost: Free to enter
  • Recommend Stay: 3+ hours

If you’re in Bangkok over a weekend, make sure to add Chatuchak Weekend Market to your list of things to do! It’s the largest open air market in the world. I’ve actually never been able to go, but it’s still on my list. You can also explore one of Bangkok’s famous floating markets (most of which are also open on the weekends). 

Khao San Road

It’s time to end your day at the famous Khao San Road. This road is famous around the world. It’s full of bars, restaurants, shops and tourists (mainly backpackers). Explore the neighboring Rambuttri Street for a quieter experience. 

I love when you turn down Rambuttri street, it’s as if all the noise from Khao San dies away (even though it’s one block away!) There are plenty of bars on Rambuttri where you can sit and drink a happy hour beer, people watch and make a plan for your evening. 

If you’re hungry, I highly recommend ‘I love Thai Food’ on Rambuttri street. Try their Khao Soi (a Northern Thai Soup), it’s delicious. 

While I don’t frequent Khao San Road on my trips to Bangkok anymore, it’s definitely worth one night. 

Optional Additional Activities in Bangkok

Like I said, there is so much to do in Bangkok. You could spend a year there and never run out of things to do, places to explore and neighborhoods to get to know. If you want some help spending a little bit more time in Bangkok, check out some of these activities that you can do. 

Cost of travel in Bangkok

Daily Budget

While Bangkok is more expensive than other parts of Thailand, it’s still very cheap by American/European standards. You can stay in a *really* nice hotel in Bangkok for less than $50 a night. You can get a massage for around $8, take a taxi for $1-2 and eat most of your meals for less than $10. 

🏨 Hotel room: $20 – $80 a night

🛏️ Hostel room: $5 – $15 a night

🍛 Lunch / Dinner: $3 – $20

🍻 Beer: $1.5 (local beer) / Cocktail: $6 – $8

🚰 Drinking water: $0.80 for 1.5L

🛺 Bolt (Scooter): $1.00 – $3.00 a trip (up to 30 minutes) 

🚂 Intercountry Buses: $10 – $15 

Overall, you’re going to end up using most of your budget on entrance fees! That’s one of the reasons why I visited no temples on my second day in Bangkok. I definitely felt like I’d used up my activities budget on the 4 I visited in this itinerary. 

If you’re on a really tight budget, I recommend cutting out alcohol and fancy dinners, that way you can see each of these uniquely beautiful temples. They each have something to offer so it’s worth exploring them all. 

Are you headed down south? Make sure to read the rest of my Thailand posts, especially my guide to Island Hopping in the Gulf of Thailand

Thailand Travel Essentials

I’ve spent over 6 months traveling and exploring Thailand! Here are some of the essentials that you’ll need when planning your trip to Thailand. You can also explore my blog for more tips and travel hacks! 

Flights: Find affordable flights to Bangkok on Kiwi.

Visas: If you’re traveling from the US or Europe, you don’t need a visa to enter Thailand! You can stay for 30-days visa free, and you’re also able to extend for an additional 30-days. The cost of the extension is 1,900 THB or $52. 

Travel Insurance: I never travel without travel insurance! As a full-time digital nomad, I highly recommend SafetyWing. Learn more and get insured here

Airport Transfer: In cities like Bangkok, you can take Bolt taxis and scooters anywhere! I recommend booking a Bolt Taxi from the airport to your hotel. 

Accommodation: Find the best Thailand hotel deals on Booking. You can also find a great deal at Shama Yen-Akat on Booking.

Thailand Guidebook: Get your copy of the new Lonely Planet Thailand travel book. I love how these books detail the various regions to inspire you to get off the beaten track. 

5 Things to Pack for Thailand 

Walking shoes. If you’re on the islands, you probably won’t ever wear your walking shoes! But Thailand is home to many incredible national parks, hikes and temples – so it’s important to have a comfortable pair of shoes for exploring. 

Modest, lightweight clothing and a scarf for visiting the temples and memorials. It’s very important to dress modestly when you’re visiting any palaces or temples in Thailand. You are going to want flowy, lightweight pants, lightweight tops with sleeves, and a scarf that you can use to cover your shoulders. Keep in mind that for some temples, simply covering your shoulders with a scarf won’t be enough. You’ll need to wear modest clothing. 

A reusable water bottle. Thailand definitely suffers from plastic pollution, but more and more places are offering filtered water refills for around 5 THB a bottle. Make sure that you bring a reusable water bottle. I love this water bottle because it comes with a lid for coffee or a smoothie, which means you can get smoothies without the excessive plastic cup, straw and bag! 

Entertainment for long travel days. It’s usually 50/50 if I’m going to get motion sick on a long bus or ferry ride. Luckily, I always travel with motion sickness drops and tablets so that I can spend long journeys reading. My Kindle has explored more countries than most American adults! I love using the Libby App to borrow Kindle books even while I’m abroad. 

Wet wipes and tissues. Bathrooms across South East Asia don’t usually have toilet paper, so I like to keep wet wipes and tissues in my purse. It also doesn’t hurt to carry hand sanitizer.