4 Things to Do on a 1-Day Trip to Bangkok
We’ve just got back from Bangkok, and we figured it was high time to produce a newbie’s guide to this steamy weekend getaway... one that doesn’t involve languishing at Chatuchak Market and the usual multi-story malls.
1. Do a Floating Market Medley
Taste a slice of old Bangkok with a marathon of the floating markets that still pepper the city’s waterways. Kick off with a hearty breakfast at Tha Kha Floating Market, where you can pick up a stir-fried omelet or some sweet coconut dumplings from one of the ladies on the boats.
For your inner foodie, make the weekend-only Amphawa Floating Market your next stop. You’ll find everything from bags of green mango slices sprinkled with pink chili sugar to grilled seabass with lime dip.
Tried and tested: We loved the full-day Offbeat Floating Markets Food Tour ($803, includes at least 17 food samples in three floating markets) by Bangkok Food Tours—the guide did a great job showing us around the markets and explaining Thai food and culture, all the while making sure that we were properly fed. It might sound expensive compared to other tours, but considering all the noms you’ll be gorging on, it’s a pretty sweet deal.
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2. Spend some #Templetime at Wat Arun
Pack away your stilettos and slip into something comfortable—you’ll be climbing a lot of stairs at this historical temple on the west bank of Chao Phraya River. Wat Arun, or the “Temple of Dawn,” dates way back to the 16th century and was later restored to honor the victory of King Taksin over the Burmese army. The best photo op of all has to be its 79-meter central pagoda, with floral mosaic walls, encrusted with stained glass and porcelain, that give off an opalescent glow in the first light.
Just a heads-up: The central spire is currently closed for renovation. Construction should be finished later this year, and the rest of the temple remains open. Remember the dress code: It’s hard in the Bangkok heat, but make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. If not, you’ll have to rent a sarong ($27) and climb the stairs with it wrapped around you.
$11 entrance fee, 158 Wang Doem Rd., Wat Arun, Bangkok Yai, Bangkok.
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3. Check out Bangkok’s Bangin’ Art
Looking for an escape from the standard “shop-eat-shop again” routine? Pop into the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre for a refreshing dose of modern art. The top three floors of this eight-story center are occupied by a spacious gallery displaying works by mostly contemporary Thai artists. Until August 21, the 5th White Elephant Art Award Art Exhibition is showcasing sculptures and paintings that depict different facets of life in Thailand.
Takeaway Art: Bring home a piece of made-in-Thailand art: Shop for jewelry made by local craftsmen or join one of the workshops on the lower floors.
939 Rama 1 Rd., Wangmai, Pathum Wan, Bangkok, (+66) 2-214-6630.
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4. Don’t get scammed at the Grand Palace
A staple on every Bangkok first-timer’s itinerary, the 232-year-old Grand Palace ($112 entrance fee) is a mix of ornate temples, throne halls and government offices. Swing by for a glimpse of the magnificent residence of eight kings of Thailand, before King Rama IX moved the royal residence to Dusit Palace in 1901. What the postcards don’t warn you about is the sea of umbrellas and tour guide flags you’re likely to get lost in: don’t forget to grab a map at the entrance. The palace is open every day from 8:30am to 3:30pm except on special occasions.
Scam Alert! When we were there, a kind-looking “policeman” offered to flag down a tuk tuk to take us to a temple that opens only once a year. Long story short, we were coerced into purchasing jewelry that we later found out was part of a rip-off jewelry scam. Take it from us! Don’t fall for chummy strangers outside the palace.
Na Phra Lan Rd., Phra Nakhon, Bangkok.