One day in Bangkok

Only got one day in Bangkok? This is what you should be doing.

1 April 2019 / Luke C. / Bangkok

You've got just one day in Bangkok or a layover? Welcome to the jungle.

A vast, humid metropolis with a suitably dramatic skyline crisscrossed by sky trains and neon lights. Think Bladerunner.

For the uninitiated, it's a culture shock. But what do you do with just one day in Bangkok?

First off, there's no where else on Earth that compares to the Bangkok's food scene, so consider getting to grips the street eats on the city's highest rated food tour.

While taking it in from the heady heights of the capital’s tall skyscrapers is a must, it’s down on ground level where you’ll find most of the action.

Here, the streets heave with vendors cooking fire-blasted woks, lines of multi-coloured taxis cause gridlock along the wide roads, long wooden boats ply the canals and there’s a distinctly exotic feel even amongst the towering, glassy buildings.

Here's our one day in Bangkok itinerary. The food, the sights, the things to do and everything in between.

7 AM

Nakhon Sawan 6 Alley

One day in Bangkok breakfast
Grilled fish in Nang Leong market

Start your one day in Bangkok right with the breakfast of champions. You don't need to look far to find one.

Thais almost entirely shun the idea of having dishes sold solely at breakfast, so almost anything is available to eat at any time of day.

Forget the hotel’s stagnant buffet and hit one of the local markets like Nang Loeng, the oldest in the city at not far from the old town. When you arrive, follow your nose or the heave of office crowds to the best vendors. Jok, a type of rice porridge cooked in chicken stock and topped with slices of ginger and deep-fried garlic is always a crowd-pleaser. As is khao man gai, poached chicken on rice accompanied by a spicy ginger and garlic sauce.

If you're not sure, guess. You'd be hard pressed to find something awful in Nang Loeng market.

While you are there, take a quick look around the old wooden structure next door to the market. It was Bangkok's first silent cinema and will reportedly be renovated soon.

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8.30 AM

939 Rama I Road

+66 81 917 2131

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One day in Bangkok itinerary coffee
Northern Thai coffee. Photo: Gallery Drip Coffee

Coffee may not have originated in Thailand, but they’ve taken it as their own and now roast and sell some fine beans, most notable from Northern Thailand. You’ll rarely spot someone on their way to work that isn’t clutching a cold coffee.

If you’re on a shoestring, grab one of the freshly made cold brews from a vendor in the market before you continue on your one day itinerary of Bangkok.

Alternatively, make a dash to Gallery Dip Coffee for something a little more refined. Selected beans from Northern Thailand and Ethiopia are roasted and hand-ground in-house. It's also air-conditioned, something you will quickly come to appreciate in Bangkok.

10.30 AM

6 Kasem San 2 Alley

+66 2 216 7368

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Jim Thompson House - Perfect day in Bangkok
Gardens of Jim Thompson House

Even if sightseeing isn’t your bag, it’s hard not to be bowled over by Jim Thompson House, a museum and the former house of an American expat who reignited the Thai silk trade in the ‘60s and then mysteriously disappeared in the Malaysian jungle.

If you're going to visit just a single place on your one day in Bangkok, make it Jim Thompson House. This beautiful wooden property, surrounded by pond-studded gardens, is one of the last remaining traditional homes in the city. There’s are few places better to get a sense of old Bangkok.

You'll need to take one of their hourly guided tours which leave regularly and there's usually enough space, but to be sure, you can always book in advance. It's only a short walk from Gallery Drip Coffee.

12.30 PM

137/1-3,9 10 Sanam Khli Alley

+66 2 655 8489

Polo Fried Chicken best day in Bangkok
Polo fried chicken covered in garlic. Photo: Krista

It’s time to try one of Bangkok's most treasured dishes – gai tord.

Move aside KFC because no one does crispy fried chicken like Bangkok. Its best is, arguably, found in Polo Fried Chicken. It’s grown from a humble street hawker stand to the fine establishment you’ll find today.

Whole chickens are marinated and fried overnight creating a lightly spiced and, most importantly, a crispy coating which wraps around tender meat. Best eaten with fistfuls of deep-fried garlic and chewy, sticky rice.

One day in Bangkok just got a whole lot better with this crowd-pleasing lunch spot.

2 PM

Rama IV Road

Lumpini Park one day in Bangkok
Lumpini Park

Time permitting, you could take a stroll through nearby Lumpini Park, an oasis of calm in this fast-paced capital.

As you walk along the pathways, you’ll find lakes dotted with swan-shaped pedalos and fringed by tropical flora, towering Chinese-style pagodas used to playing chess or cards.

Silver-haired residents practice tai chi and monitor lizards, a less threatening cousin of the Komodo dragon, scamper along river banks.

A walk around Lumpini Park on your one day itinerary of Bangkok is best done in an hour or so.

4.30 PM

158 Thanon Wang Doem

Wat Arun
Climbing the steps of Wat Arun

Darkness closes in around 6ish year-round in Bangkok. There are some fine vantage points to watch the sun setting, but a clamber up Wat Arun makes for one of the best spots.

The temple lies along the western edge of the meandering Chao Phraya River and a steep staircase up the main prang opens provides some magical views over the city’s skyline.

Remember, this is a temple so be sure to wear the right clothing – flip flops and shorts just aren’t appropriate. Ending the one day itinerary of Bangkok right while watching the sun setting over this vast metropolis. It's often crowded, particularly on weekend, so try to get their earlier to nab a good spot.

7.30 PM

49-51 Phadung Dao Road

+66 2 223 4519

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Yaowarat street food one day in Bangkok
Street food in Yaowarat

The night time is the right time in Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown district.

Locals and visitors know this is one of the best places to eat in the city. Unless you want to get lost in the maze of dark backstreets, your best bet is sticking to the main neon-lit drag or end your one day in Bangkok on this food tour.

Waiting in line for a table at T&K Seafood is always worth it. Banana-sized prawns grilled on the al fresco barbecue, zingy tom yum soup and lemongrass-infused mussels are some of the best in town.

Sign off the evening meal with some fried Chinese dough dipped in pandan custard from Pa Tong Go Savoey, an outdoor hawker who’s recently had a nod from Michelin.

10 PM

76 Soi Nana

+66 97 003 1173

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Teens of Thailand cocktail bar
Cocktails at Teens of Thailand. Photo ToT

For after dinner drinks, head to Teens of Thailand. Despite the odd name, this isn’t a hang-out for Bangkok’s youth. Instead, you’ll find a small, sophisticated cocktail bar within in one of the old Chinatown town houses. The perfect ending to your one day in Bangkok.

So there it is. Your one day in Bangkok is over. Now you can fly on down to sun yourself on the beaches of Koh Samui or take the train north to the hilly surrounds of Chiang Mai.

But return to Bangkok because you could spend a lifetime exploring this exotic, sticky, crazy city and you still wouldn't know it properly. How many days in Bangkok is enough? Definitely not just one day.

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