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Boats on Bangkok's Chao Phraya River | © Ninara / Flickr
Boats on Bangkok's Chao Phraya River | © Ninara / Flickr

How to Spend One Week in Bangkok, Thailand

Picture of Sarah Williams
Updated: 20 February 2018

Thailand’s capital of Bangkok has a plethora of things to see and do and it can be tough deciding where to start. With historical sites, bustling markets, glitzy malls, myriad museums, shows, and more, there’s never a dull moment in the City of Angles! Have the perfect trip with this one-week itinerary for Bangkok.

Day One

After a long flight you’re sure to want a fairly relaxing day while still getting out and exploring Bangkok. Start your day by discovering a calmer side of the city with a boat trip around the Thonburi canals. Known as khlongs in Thai, canals were once an important part of the local infrastructure and essential for trade. While many canals have now been filled in, this side of the city lets you step back in time and see how Thailand was in times gone by. Admire the views as you cruise past local homes and other buildings.

Highlights include the charming Khlong Mon with several small temples dotted among old wooden houses, rickety lean-to dwellings, and modern homes. See people fishing, washing clothes in the river, and relaxing on small decks. Khlong Noi leads past factories, temples, and homes, showing how the residential, industrial, and spiritual meet. Make a stop at the Royal Barges National Museum and see many ceremonial vessels.

While you’re on the Thonburi side of the river visit Wat Arun, a grand temple that is also known as the Temple of the Dawn. The views across the river are beautiful and there are plenty of food carts where you can get your first taste of a Thai lunch on the go.

Catch a ferry across the river and visit Wat Pho, home to an exquisite reclining Buddha image and the birthplace of Thai massage. Take time to wander the temple grounds; there are plenty of benches to sit and rest if you start to feel weary. After enjoying the temple, have your first traditional Thai massage right within the temple’s grounds.

When you’re finished at Wat Pho catch a river ferry from the nearby Tha Thien Pier to Saphan Taksin Pier. Catch the free shuttle to Asiatique, a large open-air riverside mall that is open from 5pm to midnight each day. With tons of shops, restaurants, and other attractions, whether you want to take it easy or explore, you can. Be sure to take a ride on the Ferris wheel for terrific views.

Day Two

Make your way to the Grand Palace for opening time to beat the crowds and spend the morning exploring one of Bangkok’s most significant cultural sites. See the revered Emerald Buddha and admire beautiful architecture. The palace is located in Bangkok’s historic area and is surrounded by numerous places of interest. There are numerous restaurants and food carts where you can enjoy lunch before moving on to the next attraction.

Visit Bangkok National Museum to learn more about Thailand’s history, culture and people; the museum is home to Thailand’s biggest collection of art and artefacts. Next, make your way to the Giant Swing, a curious sight that was once used in ancient Brahmin rituals. The nearby Wat Suthat is well worth a peek too. It sees fewer visitors than Bangkok’s headline temples and is a great place to take pictures and appreciate the local beliefs.

Walk or catch a tuk tuk to Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount. A gleaming pagoda sits atop a small man-made hill, and animals from the Chinese zodiac line the walkway.

After a packed day of sightseeing, experience the buzz at Khao San Road, Bangkok’s infamous backpacker hub. There are plenty of bars and restaurants as well as stalls selling clothes and souvenirs. If you want a slightly calmer experience, visit the nearby Rambuttri Village instead.

Day Three

Fight off your hangover from the night before with a refreshing fruit smoothie and make your way to Siam Square to see Bangkok’s modern side. Shop till you drop in huge mega malls like Siam Paragon, the Siam Centre, MBK, Gaysorn Village, and CentralWorld. Shopping not quite your thing? Worry not — have a quick look at the impressive shopping centres (most have brilliant displays inside) and check out the area’s other places of interest. Plan to spend most of the day in this area, hopping between malls and attractions. There’s no shortage of places to eat when hunger strikes.

Within Siam Discovery you’ll find Madame Tussauds, a fabulous waxwork museum. The fascinating Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World is located in the nearby Siam Paragon. Combination tickets are available if you want to visit the two attractions and they are ideal places to take the kids.

Stop by the Erawan Shrine to inject a little culture into your day and, if you’re a fan of strange and unusual attractions, the Human Body Museum and the Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute, famous for its snake farm, are in this part of the city too.

Alternatively, The Jim Thompson House provides interesting insights into the country’s silk industry. You can also learn more about the mysterious disappearance of the American silk magnate while walking in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Art lovers shouldn’t miss Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and it’s worth taking a quick peek at the glorious interiors of the historic Scala Cinema.

Return to your hotel to freshen up before visiting the Sky Bar at Labua, the city’s tallest sky bar, for incredible views and a drink in a fancy atmosphere.

Day Four

Take a day trip out of Bangkok to see even more of Amazing Thailand. There are so many options to choose from!

History lovers are sure to enjoy the ancient city of Ayutthaya, filled with atmospheric ruins and whispers from the past. Highlights include Wat Mahathat, with its famous stone head in a tree, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Yai Chai Mongkorn, and Wat Phra Si Sanphet. There’s a touristy floating market and several small museums too.

If you’re craving a taste of Thailand’s beaches, Pattaya and Hua Hin can be accessed on a day trip from Bangkok. While they may not be the most beautiful beaches in Thailand, you can still enjoy sun, sea, and sand, as well as heaps of tasty seafood and plenty of local attractions.

Kanchanaburi is the best place in Thailand for war history. Home to the famous Bridge Over the River Kwai and the Death Railway, there are museums, markets, and more for an interesting day trip. Erawan National Park is within easy reach of the town, allowing you to combine history and nature on a day trip.

If you don’t want to travel too far, the charming river island of Koh Kret in neighbouring Nonthaburi province boasts temples, kilns, and a large market. Traditionally home to a Mon pottery-making community, the lovely island has retained a rustic vibe.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a popular excursion from Bangkok, with trips often including villages, local temples and gardens as well as the well-known market.

Day Five

After breakfast, it’s time to experience the hustle and bustle of Bangkok’s Chinatown. Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Centre is the ideal place to learn more about Bangkok’s Chinese population. The narrow lanes are filled with stalls, shops, tea houses, and restaurants. The shrine of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, and Wat Traimit with its enormous solid gold Buddha statue are also well worth visiting. There’s a huge assortment of street food, including traditional Thai and Chinese dishes, snacks, fruit, and even fried bugs!

After lunch in Chinatown, cross the city to Silom to relax and gather your thoughts in the verdant Lumpini Park. Chill on the grass, ride in a swan boat, and enjoy time outdoors away from the crowds.

There’s plenty to discover in the local area too, including Thailand’s main Hindu temple, the ornate and colourful Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, and the unusual boat-shaped temple of Wat Yannawa. If you’re up for another museum visit, the Bangkokian Museum is highly recommended.

As evening falls, make your way to Patpong, one of Bangkok’s red light areas. Despite its many adult bars, the area is also home to a large evening market where you can pick up an array of souvenirs and gifts and taste plentiful street food.

Day Six

Visit the enormous Chatuchak Weekend Market for a shopping extravaganza. One of the world’s biggest weekend markets, it’s worth a visit even if you don’t plan on buying anything. Do note that the market only operates on weekends, so you may need to adjust this itinerary so you don’t miss out. If you visit on a Sunday you can also catch a free Muay Thai fight at the nearby Channel 7 Boxing Stadium. Fights start at 2pm.

Spend the morning hunting for bargains and sampling a huge assortment of tasty food. In the afternoon, watch a Muay Thai match and tick off some more attractions in the Chatuchak area. Local attractions include the unusual Elephant Tower, Chatuchak Park, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In the evening, visit the unique Cabbages and Condoms restaurant and enjoy drinks in swanky bars in Thonglor.

Day Seven

It’s your last day in Bangkok! Rather than trying to add heaps of new things to this list, why not visit those attractions that you just didn’t have time to see during the week? You may want to return to your favourite markets or malls for some last-minute shopping. Perhaps a particular street food stand has been calling your name. Today would be a great time to enjoy one last Thai massage before leaving the city. To really add some bliss to the experience, book a session at one of Bangkok’s high-class spas for the ultimate in pampering.

If you do feel that you’ve already done everything you wanted to, how about another trip out of the city? See Day Four for ideas! Alternatively, a cooking class is a great way for foodies to learn how to recreate their favourite Thai dishes at home.

Finish your day on a high note with one of Thailand’s fabulous shows. Siam Niramit is a top-class cultural show, with stunning costumes, evocative music, and captivating performances, or there are several ladyboy cabaret shows for an evening a bit different to the norm.

If you’re still not ready to call it a night, head to Royal City Avenue (RCA) in Sukhumvit for dancing and drinking until the wee small hours.

There’s so much to see and do in Bangkok — enjoy!