Day trip in or around Bangkok
February 23, 2012 9:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm going on a business trip to Bangkok. What do I do with my two extra nights?

Extra details: I have one day after I arrive in Bangkok to bum around by myself before my colleague turns up. After the work part of my trip is done, my colleague goes home and I have one day and two nights by myself. The world (or Thailand at least) is my oyster. What do you recommend that is in or near Bangkok that I can do in one day? Any other tips or things to consider?

If it matters, I am youngish and female, so I probably won't go clubbing or exploring Bangkok's back alleys on my own.
posted by Elcee to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'd recommend seeing some of the numerous Buddhist temples. Wat Pho (home of the reclining Buddha) is cool.

I am also young-ish and female, and was recently in Bangkok. It felt pretty safe to me, so I don't think you need to worry too much about that.
posted by bearette at 9:42 PM on February 23, 2012

I'm a youngish female who has been to Bangkok a number of times and never felt anything but perfectly safe, even wandering alone at night. With such a short time to spend, I'd recommended going to the night markets (they have some great open air bars & restaurants, as well as a big food hall with live shows every night) and a one day bus tour. I went on one that included a crocodile farm & show, elephant show, the floating markets and a bunch of other stuff. It's touristy but a lot of fun and will give you a chance to see outside the city. Your hotel should be able to arrange one for you no problem. We had a great day as well when we hired a guide and driver, who took us to temples and on a boat ride around old Bangkok. It was very, very cheap and fantastic to have someone who knew where they were going and were able to give us a bit of history too.
posted by Wantok at 10:00 PM on February 23, 2012

I was also recently in Bangkok. It's relatively safe although the hotel I was staying at mentioned I shouldn't really walk around alone late (somewhere past 10/11 p.m.) at night. I'd recommend just checking with your hotel staff on the safety and security of the area before heading out.
posted by melizabeth at 10:47 PM on February 23, 2012

I would recommend spending the day in Ayutthaya, and exploring Bangkok by night. What you can see in Bangkok by day can also pretty much be done at night, as a city that never sleeps. If you ask around for the hotel or local colleagues for any recommendations on having a driver, Ayutthaya's about a one hour car ride away and just have them drive you around and stopping at the temples and ancient ruins. There are HEAPS of them and you can pretty much do it in one day. Of course, longer is always better, but for a short highlights daytrip. Then at night you can wander around the night markets, bobbing in and out of the shopping malls (they are unavoidable).

If you chose to not go to Ayutthaya for a daytrip, you can always visit the temples in Bangkok and take the commuter long-boat down the chao praya river for just a few coins. I would highly recommend going to the Chatuchak Market. They sell anything and everything, and it's just fun to wander around. Plus, nobody's trying to drag you into their shops to look at things just because you're a foreigner unlike other markets in the world... it's a nice experience.

The biggest annoyance about having been a single young female traveler in Bangkok was how no matter where you were trying to go around the tourist sites- the temples, by the river, the museums- you always had people telling you that it was closed/renovation/for local people only that day/a super far walk because you went the wrong direction, and they would try to guide you somewhere else. It was VERY convincing, but I had read up on it so avoided to respond to them. It's ALWAYS been like that the three times I've been, either alone or with visitors.
posted by peachtree at 10:48 PM on February 23, 2012

>perfectly safe

I'm also female, lived in Bangkok for years, still visit often and have friends there. I feel comfortable there, but pickpocketing is way up and purse-snatching (including one that killed a resident last year) is all too common. Don't let that keep you from going out, but DO keep your wits about you.

Others can chime in about tourist sites. Bangkok is great for medical tourism - eye and dental exams, maybe you'd like a nice new pair of glasses or a deal on contacts? Definitely go to HealthLand and treat yourself to a 2-hour Thai massage. You can get good deals on mass-produced souvenirs on the top floor of the MBK shopping mall. Fun electronics at Panthip Plaza. (ESPECIALLY watch for pickpockets at the malls.) Buy people you really love (and yourself) some silk from Jim Thompson. There's an outlet way down Sukhumvit, memail me if you want me to look it up.

Oh, and get a Nancy Chandler map before you go or as soon as you get there. Have fun!
posted by cyndigo at 10:51 PM on February 23, 2012

If during your business trip you will not have time even to properly explore Bangkok, you can do a lot without even leaving the city! During a 10-day trip with a boyfriend years ago, we thought a few days in the city, then go somewhere else. And we never left Bangkok because there was so much to do and so many places to go and things to eat.

There have been several threads here about Bangkok. Some of my favorite memories are fried chicken, roti, fresh sugar cane juice, people watching and walking in Lumphini Park, the Forensic Musuem, the Palace and seeing some of the temples (there are best-known ones to go to). My travel guide at the time was the Lonely Planet "Best of Bangkok" and I was very, very happy with it. The shopping malls are UNBELIEVABLE, whether or not you actually want to shop. Be sure to try the giant food courts, for example on the top floor of MBK.
posted by whatzit at 3:00 AM on February 24, 2012

Second Ayutthaya. You can take a bus there quite easily.

If you decide to spend the night there, you can take a night boat tour that visits several wats.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:17 AM on February 24, 2012

I really enjoyed the Erawan Museum, the official website doesn't work in English (for me at least) but you can click the various links and see what the park/museum looks like using the Thai version. The museum is inside the giant elephant.

That would take up most of a morning or afternoon, the journey is straight forward probably 45minutes actually travelling each way from central Bangkok. I'd suggest taking the Skytrain (BTS) to "On Nut" station (On Nut is labelled E8 on the green line on that map) and then either a taxi or bus. You could ask a hotel employee to write "Erawan Museum, Samut Prakan" in Thai (to show the bus conductor/taxi driver) assuming you don't speak the language: "Chang" is Thai for elephant if that's any help. But most Taxi drivers will speak a bit of English and will know where you want to go once you get to On Nut and say "Erawan".

There's a famous shrine also called Erawan (which is very central and also worth a brief visit) but Erawan museum and Erawan shrine aren't close to each other. When a Thai person has good luck (new job, baby etc.) they pay the, bored looking, dancers at the Erawan shrine to dance, the more they pay the more dancers they get: hang around for 5 minutes you'll see this happen.

There's a nice temple very centrally located between Centralworld and Paragon shopping malls. You could easily visit Erawan Shrine and that temple at once, they're very close together. The temple has gardens, statues and another temple building around the back, what you can see initially is only a small part of the temple complex. As a general note you can take photos in almost all Thai temples and if you can't they'll be a sign or someone telling you not to.

Neither the temple or Erawan Museum will have many other tourists, but I'd say they are both very safe for visitors.

There are a few scams in Thailand, I wouldn't believe anyone suggesting you visit a "lucky temple that's only open once per month/year" for example. They'll probably try to take you to a tailors or try to sell you gemstones once you got there. I'd guess the danger would be to your wallet, not your health though.
posted by selton at 5:14 AM on February 24, 2012

Also don't fall for the "This temple is closed today because of a holiday but I can drive you to a bunch of other places" scam. They tried it on me years back, and they managed to convince some friends to follow along just last year, so it seems pretty common.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:39 AM on February 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you so much for your travel tips! I fly out tomorrow. :)
posted by Elcee at 3:55 AM on March 10, 2012

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