The Perfect Day in Bangkok

Thanks to Bangkok’s extraordinary number of things to do and restaurants to try and photos to snap, figuring out how to spend just one day in the city can be ... overwhelming. Consider this your essential one day travel guide. From the Chao Phraya River to the Grand Palace and a shopping mall or two, you’ll take tuk tuks and the train for a sampler platter of Bangkok that will have you reconsidering your decision to leave.

Na Phra Lan Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
Bangkok’s most iconic site is a massive palace complex that served as the royal residence until 1925. Of its many buildings, the one with the most architectural interest is Chakri Mahaprasat. It was designed in 1882 by British architects, in a style that could be described as traditional Thai meets Italian Renaissance. Nearby is the 1784 Wat Phra Kaeo, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist place of worship. Go inside to see the Emerald Buddha, carved not of emerald but of semiprecious green stone, robed in gold and just 66 centimeters (26 inches) high.

2 Sanam Chai Rd, Khwaeng Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Khet Phra Nakhon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10200, Thailand
Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is revered as the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. The temple is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace at the historic center of Bangkok, and it is a highly important site to the Thai national identity. The Emerald Buddha itself is a 26-inch-high statue hewn from a single piece of deep-green jade stone, and no one but the Thai King is allowed to touch it. Visit the shrine to understand an intimate piece of Thai culture, but be sure to exercise the utmost respect!
85 ถนน เยาวพานิช Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand
One of the longest-standing restaurants in Chinatown’s Yaowarat Road area, Tang Jai Yoo fits the template of many of the dining venues in this part of town. The decor is faded and the harsh lighting would cast a sickly glow on even the most glamorous diner. Unlike glitzy restaurants elsewhere in the city, people come here solely to eat. Superstar TV chef Anthony Bourdain is among those to have lauded its signature whole roast suckling pig. Other choice items on the Thai-Chinese menu include steamed crab with black olives and ground pork, and deep-fried mantis prawns with chili and salt.
2 Phiphat, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
One of Thailand’s most loved dishes, som tam (green papaya salad) is ubiquitous in Bangkok, with vendors across the capital pounding together the essential components of shredded fruit, garlic, fish sauce, palm sugar, and lots and lots of chili. One of the best places to sample a truly delicious version is this friendly venue tucked away in the backstreets of Silom. Besides serving their versions of som tam, a gargantuan barbecue produces beautifully smoky grilled chicken wings. While these are the stars of the show, the restaurant also does a winning line in other classics from northeast Thailand such as kor moo yang (grilled pork neck).
All kinds of antique, art and retro items can be found in Bangkok’s huge array of vintage stores where shoppers can pick up anything from old-fashioned cameras to lovingly reproduced Thai movie posters from the 1950s and 1960s. Prime browsing locations include Papaya Vintage, a treasure trove of vintage items that has become a favoured shooting location for professional photographers.
991 Rama I Road
Considered by many as Bangkok’s de facto city centre due to its location by the teeming Siam skytrain station, Siam Paragon has established itself as one of the most popular of the city’s temples of consumerism. With its easily navigable layout and tremendous range of shops, its elevated status comes as no surprise. Premium brands to be found here include Jimmy Choo, Versace, Hermes and Rolex while high street fashion is represented by the likes of Uniqlo, Gap and Zara.
999 Phloen Chit Road, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Head chef Bee Satongun and co-owner Jason Bailey, a husband-and-wife team, are dedicated to bringing back lost recipes and techniques of heirloom Thai cooking. Paste is one of Bangkok’s most exciting Thai restaurants, and the Michelin judges have duly noted that fact by gracing it with a star. The cuisine is based on century-old family recipes served with innovative twists and an attention to detail that make it as aesthetically pleasing as it is delicious. Signature dishes include black cod poached in duck lard and larb salad with pheasant, hog plum leaves, and edible flowers, but really everything is good.
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