Last Updated on December 3, 2020 by worldoftravelswithkids
My first stop in Asia on my trip around the world was Thailand’s bustling capital city Bangkok. I wanted to create the ultimate 5 days Bangkok itinerary. I had visited Thailand before but had only been to Phuket enjoying the white beaches and delicious food at my luxury hotel. If you are ever looking for a luxury hotel in Phuket, The Surin Phuket is the perfect place to relax and feel special (check it out on Agoda.com).
But back to my time in Bangkok. I flew into Bangkok Don Muang Airport, arriving at night and spending a total of 5 nights in Bangkok including one night in Ayutthaya, the old capital.
This post is an ultimate Bangkok itinerary including the best things to do in Bangkok, things to do in Ayutthaya. Plus other information you might need for a Bangkok trip, like what to pack, what scams to look out for, and where to stay in Bangkok.
Let’s get started.
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What To Do In 5 Days In Bangkok – Ultimate Bangkok Itinerary
What To Pack For 5 Days In Bangkok
Here are a couple of things I think are especially useful for Bangkok.
Bangkok is hot! During my visit in December, it was just over 30 degrees Celsius and not too humid. Talking to locals, I was told December is one of the cooler months. April is supposed to be the hottest month and walking around seems to be almost unbearable.
So, the first item I highly recommend is a refillable water bottle. It is best to have a big one because in the heat you will dehydrate quickly. I use the Hydro Flask Water Bottle which I bought on amazon.com at the beginning of my trip. I can highly recommend it. Any Bangkok itinerary should mention that a water bottle is an absolute must.
The sun in Asia can be quite intense, and therefore I don’t leave my hostel without putting on a thick layer of sunscreen. I will turn into a bright red lobster if I don’t. Sunscreen is usually very expensive if you buy it in Asia (because the locals don’t use it). So, make sure to bring enough to last you for a while when you start your trip. When I am traveling in a place with amazing beaches, like Thailand, I make sure to use reef-safe sunscreen.
What To Wear In Bangkok
Even though it is hot, you can’t just walk around in shorts and tank tops during your Bangkok 5 days trip, especially if you want to visit temples or the Grand Palace.
It is considered disrespectful to visit holy places without wearing proper clothing. No matter if you are male or female, make sure you wear a t-shirt that covers your shoulders and trousers that go to your ankles. If you don’t have the appropriate clothing, they might insist you get changed or cover up your arms and legs with a sarong at the entrance.
As is usual in many other parts of Asia you are expected to take off your shoes when visiting some holy sights. Therefore I recommend you not only bring comfortable shoes for walking a lot but shoes you can easily slip on and off. Redoing my shoelaces again and again drove me crazy.
Carry a thin jacket or a cardigan around with you. As I mentioned it’s more than 30 degrees outside, but the people in Bangkok for whatever reason, like to cool down their buildings to freezing point. Shopping malls, restaurants, or the national theater were all very cold, and I was happy to have a light jacket to keep warm.
Buy A Local Thai Sim Card
The first thing I do when I arrive in a new country is to buy a sim card. In Thailand that is easy, especially if you arrive at the airport. I purchased a Happy Tourist Sim from dtac, 9 GB of data for 7 days. It only cost 179 bahts (5.70 US dollars) for the sim card including data. You can also use the card to make local phone calls which I always find very practical. They registered my Sim card for me, and everything was set up within minutes.
Also, when I came back to Thailand I could reuse my sim card. You might get promotions via SMS so check before you top up your phone. I paid 100 bahts and got 6 GB for 7 days through a promotion I was sent via SMS. You can top up your sim card at every 7-11 convenience store.
By the way, you can purchase a sim card before your arrival in Bangkok through KLOOK.com, but I don’t really recommend it. The price is almost the same, but the conditions are different. You will get 8 days of unlimited internet (which sounds very nice) but only 3 GB at full speed after which your speed drops.
Where To Stay – Bangkok Itinerary
Bangkok is a bustling metropolis, and so it really is no wonder that you have countless accommodation options. In my experience traveling to more than 20 countries in the past half-year, I have to say Bangkok has the cheapest accommodation of them all. It is really a budget-friendly destination. There are many accommodation recommendations for this Bangkok itinerary, here are a few.
AIRBNB IN BANGKOK
Airbnb in Bangkok is cheap and abundantly available. I just checked for private rooms at a local home, and you can find countless options for as little as 10 US dollars a night. For me, that sounds like a fantastic opportunity to get to know some locals and to see how the people in Bangkok really live.
If you are wondering about the Pros And Cons Of Airbnb For Travel read my detailed post about it.
HOMESTAY IN BANGKOK
Homestay.com has countless host families in Bangkok available. The prices are similarly budget-friendly to Airbnb, but here you will have the local interaction you seek, even if your Bangkok trip is only 5 nights long.
SERVAS IN BANGKOK
There seem to be quite a lot of Servas members in Bangkok and the surrounding areas which would have been a fantastic opportunity to stay with a local. If you are wondering what Servas is, the short answer is: it’s a much better Couchsurfing. To learn more you can check out the Servas website.
BEST HOSTEL IN BANGKOK
I don’t know if it is the best hostel in Bangkok, but it was definitely the cheapest hostel in a great location (not on the Khao San Street, but not far away either). At SiBamboo there are AC and non-AC dormitory rooms as well as private rooms with shared bathrooms. The beds were more or less clean. There was good WIFI, and the shared bathrooms had hot water and toilet paper. As a backpacker on a tight budget, it really an excellent place to stay.
BEST BUDGET HOTEL IN BANGKOK
If you were hoping for a private room and a little bit more amenities on a small budget, Bangkok can offer that as well. There are plenty to choose from no matter what your Bangkok itinerary is.
For example, a single room or standard double room with a fan at Santo House on Khaosan Street will cost you just 10 US dollars a night including a simple breakfast. The reviews for this hotel are very good for all categories including staff, cleanliness, and WIFI.
How To Get Around Bangkok
Even though Bangkok is a vast city and traffic sometimes sucks it is relatively easy to get around. This makes it really easy to plan your Bangkok itinerary.
You can hail a taxi from almost everywhere. If they use their meter, it is quite cheap to get from a to b. Just make sure that they turn it on, or tell them to turn it on if they don’t do it right away. If they refuse, I would insist or get out. It isn’t worth paying what most often is three times the price it should be.
Grab is the Asian answer to Uber and another option in Bangkok. I used it to get from the airport to my hostel, and for a more than 25-kilometer long drive had to pay 300 bahts (10 US dollars). For my ride back to the airport I took a taxi and spent roughly the same price. This tells me Grab isn’t necessarily cheaper than hailing a cab. However, it might be more convenient because you don’t have to try to explain to your taxi driver where you want to go.
I did, however, experience times when I wanted to use Grab but couldn’t find a driver in Bangkok. In those cases, I found a taxi. If you ever have difficulty explaining where you want to go, it sometimes helps to show them a picture of your destination or tell them a nearby street name.
Your other option to get around Bangkok is taking a tuk-tuk. Especially in the popular tourist spots they are everywhere and will offer their services. They are usually cheaper than a taxi or Grab but make sure you agree on the price before you get in. Write it down to be 100% sure that you are talking about the same amount to avoid unnecessary confrontation when you arrive.
Many people don’t really have this on the radar, but Bangkok has a metro. It is very cheap to use and especially during rush hour a much better option than sitting around in a taxi, Grab or Tuk-tuk for long periods of time.
Google Maps is your friend. When you search for routes from a to b, it will usually give you public transport options, buses as well as the metro.
I didn’t personally take a bus in Bangkok. For one, they are way slower than any other form of transport, and two, it is tough to figure out which bus to take because the information on Google Maps is all written in Thai. With so many other options it didn’t really seem worth it trying to figure out the public bus system in Bangkok.
Scam To Avoid In Bangkok
First hand I only experienced one scam, which I would like to tell you about:
On my fourth day in Bangkok, I took a taxi to the Grand Palace. The taxi couldn’t actually get all that close because of some barricades, and so they dropped me off a couple of hundred meters walk away from the entrance.
On my way, I was soon approached by a friendly guy who told me the Grand Palace was closed to the public in the morning for a special Buddhist ceremony and that it would re-open in the afternoon. What a bummer. He offered instead I could take a 2-hour boat ride to kill time and experience Bangkok from the water.
I told him I would take the ferry to visit Wat Arun instead until the Grand Palace reopened. He then said the only way to get there was by taking part in the 2-hour boat ride because, while there used to be a ferry between the east and west side of the river, it wasn’t in operation anymore.
Now I was on to him. I knew there was a ferry and that it was running. So I started questioning whether the Grand Palace was really closed at all. I thanked him and decided to check the Grand Palace myself. As expected the Grand Palace wasn’t closed at all. This guy had just tried to sell me his boat tour by lying through his teeth.
Don’t fall for these kinds of stories. Check for yourself. Sometimes the attractions are really closed, but maybe they aren’t. Do you really lose anything by checking for yourself?
I went to Wat Arun on the same day, and it was unfortunately really closed for that day. Still, I could take some great pictures from outside, and I did experience the very cheap ferry ride from one side of Bangkok to the other.
During my stay in Bangkok, I read a story by another blogger who had been scammed in Bangkok. She lost a lot of money by booking accommodation and transportation through a local travel agency. Find out more about the whole scam called Lucky Buddha Day here.
5 Day Bangkok Itinerary
So, let’s finally talk about what to do in Bangkok Thailand in 5 days.
DAY 1 – WEEKEND MARKET AND CHINATOWN
The Grab driver who took me from the airport to my hostel recommended I visit the Chatuchak weekend market the next day. Having done absolutely no research into where and no Bangkok itinerary settled on before arriving there, I decided to follow his recommendation.
SHOPPING AT CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET
I was lucky that my first day in Bangkok was a Sunday, which means the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market was open. The market is open every week from Friday to Sunday. On Fridays from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Chatuchak Market is the biggest market of its kind in the world and definitely one of the top things to do in Bangkok.
While walking around aimlessly is fantastic, you never know what kinds of treasures you might find, there is also a very convenient app to find your way around the market. You can search for shops and other facilities by category, and the in-app map will guide you from your current location to the destination.
Here is the link to the Chatuchak Market App in the App Store.
Everything at the Chatuchak Market is super cheap. So I really couldn’t stop myself from buying a natural lemongrass soap for 80 bahts and some beautiful trousers for 100 bahts (3 US dollars!). The shop owners are accommodating but not pushy at all which is great if you just want to browse and see what’s on offer. I highly recommend adding the Chatuchak Weekend Market to your Bangkok itinerary as it was definitely worth visiting.
HAVE A FOOT MASSAGE AT GOOD MASSAGE
After walking for a couple of hours in the narrow streets and the heat, I got tired. There is nothing better than getting a foot massage at a time like this.
I found a massage shop via the useful Chatuchak Market App and paid 250 bahts (8 US dollars) for a one hour foot, head, shoulder massage. A one-hour foot massage costs the same, and as far as I could see all the shops have exactly the same prices. But the level of comfort might be different (airconditioning, chairs, and wifi are all things you might want to consider).
WHAT TO EAT AT CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET
There is so much delicious-looking food at the weekend market. I had my first (but not my last) mango with sticky rice of my visit. It was delicious!
For lunch, I went to the food court and had delicious Pad Thai and Tom Yum fried rice. It was freshly prepared, super cheap and so yummy. There are proper restaurants around the market, but I recommend you eat at the food court, sitting on a plastic chair and eating from a plastic plate. It is way cheaper than the restaurants, and the atmosphere is entirely different.
I also wanted to try the coconut ice cream that was on offer everywhere. However, after lunch I was so full I couldn’t possibly eat any more — an excellent reason to revisit Bangkok, don’t you think?
One of my Thai friends suggested I check the food in Chinatown.
I tried to get a taxi from Chatuchak Market to Chinatown, but the taxi drivers who wait around at the exits of the market are there to rip off tourists. I couldn’t find a single one who was willing to turn on their meter. They also wanted between 200 and 300 bahts for a distance I knew wouldn’t even cost 100. I said thanks, but no thanks, and took the metro which was better anyway because I could avoid the crazy traffic of Bangkok.
I got off at Hua Lamphong Station (the central railway station in Bangkok) and walked the short way to Chinatown. The great Chinese gate was my first stop. After a couple of pictures, I headed into the heart of Chinatown. Here you can get a wide variety of Chinese and Thai street food.
LOBSTER FOR DINNER
If you can afford it, I recommend you have dinner at one of the seafood restaurants in Chinatown as part of your Bangkok itinerary. For example, Jumbo Lobster. As the name suggests, they sell humongous lobsters (seriously I had never seen such big lobsters before).
I can’t afford lobster for dinner, but I still drank in the atmosphere at one of these restaurants, ordering some fried rice and fresh coconut and watching the lobsters be prepared in different ways (grilled or topped with cheese and baked). Another thing to do in Bangkok on my next visit!
DAY 2 – AYUTTHAYA DAY TRIP
After just one day in Bangkok, I went on my one and only day trip from Bangkok, a one day trip to Ayutthaya. I spent 24 hours in Ayutthaya before heading back to complete Bangkok itinerary.
There are many other day trips from Bangkok you can consider (Rose Garden, a Floating Market, Koh Si Chang, Samut Prakan, and many more).
HOW TO GET FROM BANGKOK TO AYUTTHAYA
There are multiple options to go from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. You can take a bus, minivan, taxi or tour, but the cheapest option is to take the train, and that is what I did.
WHERE TO STAY IN AYUTTHAYA
I stayed at the Ray Nu Guest House. A private room with a shared bathroom costs about 13 US dollars here It comes with WIFI and a very simple kitchen for you to use, as well as free bicycle rental. The room is air-conditioned, spacious, and clean. Though the walls are very thin and you can hear what the people in the next room are talking about.
If you are looking for something even cheaper, a dormitory bed at 1301 Hostels Ayutthaya might just be what you are looking for. The reviews are excellent, and from the pictures, this hostel seems very modern, comfortable, and well thought through. At 6 dollars a night it isn’t quite as cheap as hostels in Bangkok but definitely a reasonable price for a bed including breakfast.
WHAT TO EAT IN AYUTTHAYA
Aside from the Thai food that you can get anywhere in Thailand, Ayutthaya has a couple of delicacies that originated there. You simply have to try them during your one day in Ayutthaya.
The name ‘boat noodles’ comes from the boats these noodles used to be sold from. Nowadays the only boat the boat noodles come into contact with are the ones put in the restaurants for decoration.
Boat noodles are a strongly flavored noodle soup made from pork and beef served with pork meatballs and liver. The dish is served in a small bowl and to get really full most people order at least 2 to 5 bowls. I had two bowls of boat noodles at Pa Lek Boat Noodle and they were delicious!
ROTI SAIMAI (COTTON CANDY)
Roti Saimai is Ayutthaya’s cotton candy. But it is better than cotton candy because it comes in crazy colors and is served in a sweet roti (an Indian style crepe).
I tried very hard to buy one in the morning on my second day in Ayutthaya. However, even though I visited the area that is famous for many Roti Saimai stands they typically only open in the evenings and I was not able to try any.
RENT A BICYCLE AND EXPLORE THE TEMPLES – AYUTTHAYA TOUR
The best way to explore Ayutthaya is by bicycle. At my accommodation, I could borrow a bike for free. Even if your accommodation doesn’t have bicycles, you can rent them for a very low price at every corner.
Ayutthaya being the old capital of Thailand boasts countless beautiful temples. If you have the time and money to visit them all I recommend you do so. If you only have one day you might want to prioritize. During my trip to Ayutthaya I visited the following temples:
Wat Mahathat: Most famous for the banyan tree that over the course of hundreds of years has grown around a Buddha’s head. Probably the most photographed image of Ayutthaya.
Wat Ratchaburana: Designed similarly to Wat Mahathat next door but in much better condition, and less visited. Therefore it is much better for taking pictures.
Wat Lokayasutharam: The reclining Buddha of Ayutthaya. Different from the one in Bangkok, because it is made from stone and lying in the open rather than being housed in a gigantic hall.
Other things to do in Ayutthaya include a short visit to the Petch Fortress and a stroll and maybe dinner at the Ban Lan Night Market.
AYUTTHAYA TOURS FROM BANGKOK
If you don’t want to organize your own trip to Ayutthaya you can also participate in an Ayutthaya day tour from Bangkok. I recommend checking out the From Bangkok: Ayutthaya Day Tour by Bus & Boat on Get Your Guide.
DAY 3 – AYUTTHAYA AND KHAO SAN STREET
I spent the morning of my third day exploring more of Ayutthaya and headed back to Bangkok at around noon. I arrived back at my hostel in the afternoon. Enough time to explore a little bit more of Bangkok if you aren’t too tired.
KHAO SAN STREET
Not far from my hostel was Khao San Street. The famous backpacker mile where you can buy clothing, exotic food like grilled crocodile and roasted worms, and cheap beer.
The street is lined with bars, and party hostels and everything is loud, flashing, and in my opinion just a little bit too crazy. Surprisingly, everything is also a little bit more expensive than in other parts of the city, so there was really no good reason for me to linger. It was enough to have seen it once. If you are a party backpacker, this is the place to be. If you aren’t, about 15 minutes on Khao San Street will probably be enough for you.
DINNER AT THE FAMILY
What I needed was a quiet place to relax that evening, and The Family is the perfect place to do that. Directly at one of Bangkok’s canals with cozy seating inside and outside and the cutest cats roaming around it was great to end the day here.
DAY 4 – GRAND PALACE AND TEMPLES
On day 4 it is time to explore some of Thailand’s culture which can be found abundantly in Bangkok. A visit to the Grand Palace and the most famous temples in Bangkok are all possible in one day. These are must-see places on any Bangkok itinerary.
THAI BREAKFAST AT HIA TAI KEE
I started my day at a typical Thai style cafe with some real Thai breakfast. Hia Tai Kee is where the locals have their morning coffee. They do have pictures of their menu, and therefore it was very foreigner-friendly. The iced mocha was delicious and abundant. It fit perfectly with the breakfast a plate filled with sausages, toast, an egg, and a small salad.
After this rich breakfast, I was ready to explore the Grand Palace. As I already mentioned above, I took a taxi to the Grand Palace and the first person who talked to me already wanted to scam me. I ignored him and went to the Grand Palace, which was open to visitors. At least to those who were willing to pay 500 bahts. I was shocked at the price, at least at first. But the ticket includes not only the entrance fee to the Grand Palace but also a 30-minute classical dance performance at the Thai National Theater, which I decided also to attend that day.
The Grand Palace was, well, grand. There is no other word for it. It is an impressive area of buildings, temples, and roofed over corridors with beautiful paintings, mosaics, and carvings. You can spend hours walking around the area and finding new things to discover around every corner. Unfortunately, you are not alone in doing so. Even in the heat, it was crowded like crazy.
By the way, the dress code is strict, and men and women are advised to wear long trousers and shirts that cover the shoulders (no shorts or tank tops). This is enforced at the entrance, and you will be turned away or given clothing to change into if your dress isn’t deemed appropriate. Don’t let that stop you from putting the Grand Palace on your Bangkok itinerary list.
THE FERRY ACROSS CHAO PHRAYA RIVER
From the Grand Palace, I walked the way to the ferry crossing over the Chao Phraya River to Wat Arun. You can also take a tuk-tuk if you don’t feel like walking, just make sure you agree on a price before you get on.
The public ferry crossing over the river cost a total of 4 bahts (13 cents), and it was quite lovely to see the city from the river.
Wat Arun, the temple of the dawn, is worth a visit not only because of its location directly at the river but also because of its unique and stunning design. Unfortunately, on the day of my visit, it was closed for some kind of ceremony at which many monks were attending. I got to snap some pictures from outside, at least. Also, if you want to dress up in typical Thai clothing called Chut Thai to take some pictures with Wat Arun in the background you can.
My visit to Wat Arun was shorter than expected, and I was back on the other side of the river in no time. That left me enough time to visit Wat Pho where you can see the golden reclining Buddha. At 46 meters long it is an imposing statue. Don’t forget to take a picture of its feet. Trust me.
The entrance fee to Wat Pho cost 100 bahts (a little over 3 dollars) and included a small bottle of water. If you asked me, I think every entrance fee in Bangkok should include a small bottle of water. In the heat, you really need it to avoid a heat stroke.
THAI NATIONAL THEATER
From Wat Pho, I walked to the Thai National Theater to watch a performance of Kohn, the masked dance-drama. Or at least a 30-minute adaptation with English explanations in the form of subtitles displayed over the stage. It was quite entertaining with the exotic dance, bright costumes, and interesting music.
Unfortunately, the temperature in the theater felt like it was below the freezing point. Even though I always wear long trousers and I had a cardigan with me I was frozen solid after 30 minutes. If the Thai National Theater is on your Bangkok itinerary, make sure you take a sweater with you.
DINNER AT SUPANNIGA EATING ROOM
The last highlight of the day was a delicious dinner at Supanniga Eating Room. From the rooftop, you can see the party and dinner cruises floating by on the river and the beautifully lit up Wat Arun.
The dinner was high class but surprisingly more affordable than I had expected. For two people we paid 1200 bahts (40 USD). Even on a budget, I want to splurge sometimes. Dinner was a very lovely luxury. Is it strange to return to a 3 dollar a night bed after a 20 dollar dinner? Maybe. But that’s totally what I did.
DAY 5 – GOODBYE BANGKOK
Really I didn’t actually do anything on my last day in Bangkok. I slept in, checked out, and made my way to the airport. I used a regular metered taxi and paid almost the same price as I did using Grab.
If you still have more time on your last day here are a couple of additional things to see in Bangkok.
How about a ride in the air-conditioned, high-speed trains zipping over Bangkok, called Sky Trains. From the train, you have fantastic views of the city from above. It is also a convenient way to get from a to b.
I did mention the dinner and party cruises on the Chao Phraya River, right? You could participate in one of them as a memorable last evening.
There are also other boat trips up and down the river. You could, for example, simply take a ferry to another part of Bangkok to get a glimpse of the city from the water.
No matter where you go in Thailand you will find Thai kickboxing called Muay Thai. But the biggest fights happen in Bangkok. If you are into these kinds of sports you shouldn’t miss watching a fight in Bangkok.
If you don’t want the violence of a match but still want to experience Muay Thai as an art form, then you should watch a Muay Thai show that combines acrobatics, sword fights, and Muay Thai.
BANGKOK DAY TOURS AND BANGKOK CITY TOUR
Get your Guide offers different kinds of tours for your time in Bangkok. Here are a couple of different ideas.
You could do a tour of the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun with a local tour guide. That way you will learn much more about the history and culture of Bangkok than on your own.
Or how about a food tour by e-scooter? You can try local foods while taking in the city by night. An unforgettable experience for sure.
The Verdict – Ultimate Bangkok Itinerary
This ultimate Bangkok itinerary is a great place to start any trip around Thailand or even Asia. It is an effortless place to visit for travelers, but only if you are aware of scams and not too trusting of people trying to sell you something.
Bangkok is also an excellent place if you are on a budget. Accommodation, transport, and food can be found for the lowest prices I have ever seen. However, just because it is a backpacker paradise doesn’t mean it doesn’t have lots of cultural value and great activities to offer. Should Bangkok really be too much for you, maybe you should extend your day trip to Ayutthaya to be a 2 or 3-day trip. Just to recover.
We hope you enjoyed this Bangkok Itinerary 5 days. If you want more information on traveling to Thailand, take a look at some of our other Thailand posts.
Below are some of our favorite Thailand guidebooks. These are super useful when planning your Thailand or Bangkok itinerary. Click each one for current prices on Amazon.
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