With 24 hours in Bangkok, there is a lot to see and do. There are also so many questions needing to be answered, and so little time for it all! This will answer your questions and give you an idea of the best things to do in Bangkok in 24 hours. In my personal opinion, Bangkok is far too chaotic. I planned to spend 4 days here but after the first day, I was ready to move on to the next stop.
Where is Bangkok?
Bangkok is the Capital of Thailand, located centrally within the country, and just north of the Gulf of Thailand. The city its self is huge, build along the Chao Phraya River. The city center is located near the Grand Palace. You can choose from hundreds of accommodation options including hostels.
How to get to Bangkok?
Flying to Bangkok
Getting to Bangkok is very simple because it is such a large city. There are two airports within the city that you can fly into. Both airports are about an hour drive or transit to the city center. Both airports have public transport including trains and buses for less than 100 baht.
Taxi into Bangkok
The is also an organized taxi system and it is about 400 baht to drive to the city center. Make sure that the driver puts the meter on! Our driver tried to charge us 600 Baht flat rate but we insisted that we wanted the meter. Turns out, Bangkok is the one place where a taxi meter is your friend!
Views over Bangkok
Is Bangkok safe?
Let me just start by saying that I am a tiny white girl, no taller than 160cm. Safety is always a concern for me because my only defense mechanism is ducking underneath someone and running.
That being said, I never once felt unsafe in Bangkok. Everyone I met was incredibly friendly. I even once had a local lady come up to me and tell me that my bag should be in front of me while I was in the busy area.
How to stay safe in Bangkok?
There is a degree of caution that obviously comes with being in a new place. Bangkok is known for pickpocketing and thieving. There are many ways to avoid this though. I always carried my money it a waist belt attached at the front of my body. My wallet and phone were always put back into the waist strap when I was not using them.
Protecting your belongings
My backpack was a one compartment bag. It closed with a string tie and a buckled flap, there were no zippers. I kept all my belongings in the main compartment and put anything with value at the bottom of the compartment so they could not be reached without unpacking the bag. I never kept anything in my pockets.
Getting around in Bangkok
Taxis in Bangkok City
Although the taxis from the airports are safe and reliable, the taxis in Bangkok city should be avoided. The taxis in the city overcharge everything and will often not use a meter when driving you.
Should I take a Tuk Tuk?
The cheaper and much more exciting alternative to a taxi is the Tuk Tuk. Tuk Tuks are essentially crazy motorbike drivers with carriages attached to the back of their bikes. Tuk Tuks are absolutely everywhere.
A little secret about the Bangkok Tuk Tuks is that the red and blue ones belong to the government and will charge you significantly more than a locally owned one. You can find locally owned tuk-tuks just as easily, they will just be any color other than red and blue.
The roads in Bangkok are absolutely chaotic. That is a complete understatement at the least. It's like the lines on the road are invisible to anyone driving, lanes do not exist and there is no right side of the road, if you are turning, you swerve across all oncoming traffic to the side that you are going to turn on.
Road safety in Bangkok
I think you become color blind when stepping into a vehicle in Bangkok because apparently traffic lights only show green. Motorbikes and tuk-tuks will speed through traffic lights with no regard for someone crossing or not.
Crossing the road is like a game of chicken. You will stand on the side of the road with other people and slowly step out and start to walk across the road one lane at a time. Cars, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, trucks will all be swerving around you but will not stop for you.
Renting a motorbike
I highly recommend not driving in Bangkok unless you are in a tuk-tuk or taxi with a local driver. If you're looking for a cheap adrenaline rush in Bangkok, find a busy intersection and simply cross the road.
Views from the temple
Where to go while in Bangkok?
There is so much to do in Bangkok that you need to decide what you want to do within your 24 hours. The best way to get to each attraction is to get a tuk-tuk driver for the day. We had a driver named Sun who took us to 5 different tourist spots that we had chosen over the course of 4 hours.
How to spend one day in Bangkok
If you were to get a private taxi and tour guide for 4 hours, it would cost you close to $500 or more. The total for the tuk-tuk was 400 Baht, or $20. Sun was great as a tour guide too, he let us sit in the tuk-tuk driver's seat for photos, and took photos of us at all the stops.
Street Vendors in Bangkok are along every street you walk no matter what. They sell fried food, soups, meals, snacks, clothes, hats, sunglasses, literally anything you can think of you can find on the streets of Bangkok. Buying from street vendors is a good way to spend your money because it goes to their personal lives and supports their individual businesses.
What to avoid with street vendors
I would recommend being food safe about what you purchase too, not purchasing anything pre-cooked or that looks like it has been sitting in the sun for a while. I bought a mango smoothie from a street vendor that was the best smoothie I have ever tasted. That smoothie was in fact so good that I went back to buy a second one.
The best smoothies in the world
Khaosan Road is a backpacker's paradise. You can find dirt cheap street food and meals every night of the week. The vendors sell all the classic travel clothes including elephant pants and Hawaiian shirts.
If you're on a budget then make sure you do your shopping before you tuck into the cheap beers! Everything becomes a great idea after a couple of Chang Beers. I recommend only visiting Khaosan after 5 pm, nothing much happens on the street earlier in the day.
What temples to visit in Bangkok?
The Grand Palace is a very popular destination for tourists to visit. The best time to go is early in the morning before all the crowds so that your pictures aren't just of crowds of people. The grand palace is surrounded by a huge white wall, so unlike most temples, you can't see much of the palace from the exterior. The entrance fee for the grand palace is 500 Baht.
There is a temple called the temple of the emerald buddha within the walls of the palace. For a temple visit, this is a very expensive fee, but if you are dying to see the palace, this only totals out to be around $20!
Wat Mahathat Yuwaratrangsarit
This is the first Bangkok Temple we visited, the temple is in a courtyard surrounded by golden Buddha statues. It was free to enter and they provided long skirts to cover up any exposed legs.
One of many Golden Buddha's
Wat Arun is also known as the Temple of Dawn. To get to Wat Arun, you can catch a public ferry for 4 Baht from Tha Tien. The temple its self also has an entrance fee, but you can walk around and still take pictures over the walls and through the gates for free!
There are many vendors selling clothes and other souvenirs and handcrafts outside Wat Arun. This temple also looks beautiful at night time lit up against the night.
The exterior temples of Wat Arun
Wat Saket is also known as the Temple of the Golden Mountain. This was the best temple I visited in Bangkok, the entrance fee was 50 Baht and it gives you a view over all of Bangkok. If you were wanting to go to a sky bar just for the view, then this is a much cheaper option to get some spectacular Bangkok views.
The temple is located at the top of a hill and you need to climb stairs to get there. All around the temple you can find rows of giant bells. Ringing the bells is said to be good luck. I'm still waiting for my luck since ringing them but maybe you will be luckier!
Ringing the bells of Wat Saket
Catching a longboat in Bangkok
As mentioned earlier, Bangkok is situated along the Chao Phraya River. The river has several docks for tourist boats and long boats. I was advised by a local that the cheapest of the docks catch a longboat from is Rachini.
Longboat tour loop itinerary
We took a longboat tour for an hour from the Chao Phraya River into the Bangkok Yai canal and wound our way through all the channels before getting off at the temple of dawn. This is a fantastic way of seeing the more rural side of Bangkok including the riverside houses and the floating markets.
Animals in Bangkok
The river also had hundreds of catfish that we could see from the boat, and we spotted about 30 iguanas sun tanning and swimming along the canal. Although the tour was very unique, it was quite pricy costing us 1200 Baht or $50. I would recommend taking a public ferry or doing a shorter longboat tour.
So, should I visit Bangkok?
Overall, Bangkok was a cool place to spend one day. The people really lived up to the standard of the land of smiles, but the rest of the city was quite chaotic.
I would recommend visiting all the tourist sites in the morning and spending the afternoon strolling around the street markets. Despite the awesome culture and ways of life, I would not spend more than a day here.