First time visiting Bangkok? Check out this guide for 24 hours in Bangkok and tick off the main sights and hit the city's culinary highlights!
8am: Visit Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha
The best times for visiting the temples are either early in the morning to beat the heat or late at night (for the same reason) with each offering different views. And there are a couple of temple must visits when in Bangkok. Wat Pho was built before Bangkok was founded as a private temple for King Rama I.
Visitors can watch saffron robed monks chant every day at 5am and 5pm. The reclining buddha measures 466 metres long and 15 metres high and was built during the reign of King Rama III who expanded the temple. Photos are allowed all through Wat Pho although guests must dress covering their shoulders and knees as a mark of respect.
9am: Cross The River in a Longtail
Chao Praya river splits Bangkok in half from East to West. The longtail is a traditional way of crossing the city's river used by both locals and tourists. It can be tricky to get onto and off (just avail yourself of their help) but the waterways are a quick way of getting to the other side that avoids Bangkok's notorious traffic jams. If you need a coffee on your way from Wat Pho to Wat Arun stop by Blue Whale cafe down a little alleyway that is rapidly becoming a spot to stop at.
9:15am: Visit Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn
Wat Arun is a resplendent white temple famous for its 99 stupas or pagodas. Intricately carved, look closer at the mosaics to reveal tiny elephants and other motifs. It is a photographer's dream with its beautiful patterns-the challenge will be to find a patch of space without a crowd.
For a donation of around 20THB you can receive a small red beaded bracelet for good luck and be anointed with water.
10:15am: Go Shopping
After visiting the temples, you may be in need of some air conditioning and a little retail therapy. Bangkok has countless malls, all offering luxury brands (tip: there are no real bargains for luxury brands unless at sale time) or local brands.
The brand new Icon riverside shopping centre has been open since November 2018 and has 525,000 m2 of retail floor space. It is split into IconSiam and IconLuxe. SOOK Siam on the ground level is where you can find a recreation of a floating market. That is to say that they've recreated an atmosphere of a floating market but with just a small section of boats on water (the rest are on the ground).
Food stalls predominate SOOK Siam from sit down eateries channelling Phuket's Sino Portuguese architecture to plenty of "street" vendors for takeaway. One key feature here is that the food is broken up into specific Thai regions offering up food from all over Thailand. Prices are the same as in the streets to attract local Thai patrons who want to eat street food but want to enjoy a cooler environment.
Tip: Leave plenty of time to get to your next destination (lunch at Paste) if you are travelling by car because traffic in Bangkok is crazy. We sat at a traffic light for 20 minutes.
1pm: Eat Lunch at Paste (1 Michelin star)
While Bangkok has no shortage of great street food, fine dining Thai style is well worth trying during a visit to Bangkok especially if upmarket Thai is scarce where you live. At Paste, chef Bee Satongun weaves her magic combining historical Thai dishes with modern technique and complex flavour combinations that will have you thinking long and hard after each mouthful. The tasting menus are the best way to try her food as they allow you to try a bit of everything from six categories of steamed, soup, fried, curry, salad, relish with rice. A separate review is to come of Paste.
Tip: Book ahead as Paste is very popular. I suggest going for lunch because the dishes are so beautiful you'll want to photograph them in daylight (ask for a window facing booth). Also during the day you may need a cool break.
5:30pm: Drinks at a Rooftop Bar
Bangkok has no shortage of rooftop bars and on a clear day the sparkling views of Bangkok beckon below. The view from the So Sofitel's Hi-So bar overlooks Lumpini Park.
With a range of signature Thai flavoured cocktails, live DJ and bar snacks, it's a good spot to see sunset from. My Lumpini's Pride cocktail is a gorgeous mixture of fresh rosemary, grapefruit syrup, Campari, Martini Rosso, vodka and tonic water.
7:00pm Dinner At Yellowtail Sushi
If you're in the mood for sushi, try YellowTail Sushi at the Vie Hotel, regarded as one of the best sushi restaurants in the city. Omakase is the way to go and there are three omakase menus to choose from depending on the number of sushi pieces and or wagyu beef. Or if you're in the mood for something more Thai then take a peek at this story with six amazing Thai restaurants in Bangkok.
We tried the 16 course Omakase menu for 5000THB/$225AUD that starts with fish livers, melt in the mouth king crab with pickled vegetables and yuzu as well as a divine raw plate with Hokkaido scallops, yellowtail (the namesake fish is a highlight), ark shell and tuna.
This segues into grilled black cod miso and then 8 types of sashimi including yuzu and anago eel, a fabulous hamachi yellowtail with miso powder, raw red shrimp with sea urchin as well as sea bream with smoked caviar.
The highlights were the raw mackerel and the melt in the mouth otoro tuna belly given one last broil with the blowtorch that melts in the like high grade wagyu. And if you're looking for wagyu the menu also has a serve of Kagoshima wagyu beef A5+ and a mini don bowl with otoro jaw, sea urchin and roe. And to finish, the juiciest Hokkaido melon with sesame pudding.
Tip: the torched otoro (tuna belly) is amazing. Grab a seat in front of the sushi chefs
9:30pm: Tour Late Night Bangkok by Tuk Tuk
Thais are becoming more environmentally aware and electric tuk tuks are now available. If pollution is high (it was a bit of an issue while we were there) bring a mask and cruise down Ratchadamnoen, the road whose design was based on the Champs Elysee. See the sights at night like the Giant Swing. Later at night you can avoid some of the traffic that plagues Bangkok.
10:30pm Late Night Street Food
And if you're keen, try a bit more late night street food at Pad Thai at Thip Samai (I think it's good but a bit sweet) or the famous crab omelette at Jay Fai in the old Chinatown area. Both are located right near each other.
Where to stay:
The SO Sofitel is the younger version of the established Sofitel brand. The hotel is located in central Bangkok on the corner of North Sathron and Rama IV roads and overlooks Lumpini park. The rooms are a collaboration between the hotel and 5 local designers along with Christian Lacroix. There are five room themes, each occupying different floors of the hotel. The five themes are water, earth, wood, metal and fire.
We have the Earth theme rooms, the signature ones. While all room types are modern rooms the blue themed earth rooms are the most visually arresting.
The rooms opens up to the bathroom with its curves and enormous tub. There is a comprehensive set of his and hers robes and toiletries (the only real difference is the razor for him and makeup remover wipes for her.
The bed is enormous and divinely comfortable from a good range of pillows and super soft smooth sheets, all of which provide a great night's sleep.
Turndown is done every evening where they place a flower on the pillow and slippers and a mat near one side of the bed. There are plenty of charging points near the desk and bed too. There is also a comprehensive pillow menu as well as a sleep mask and ear plugs available for guests.
One of my favourite features of this hotel is that all rooms have a large tub as well as a separate rain shower. The mini bar with soft drinks, water, sparkling water and snacks is also complimentary. The rooms also include free wifi in all areas.
Breakfast is also very comprehensive with a really wide range of food from many different countries. The pool also features a lovely view as does the Hi-So rooftop bar.
Tip: I tested an Earth room and a Wood room and I preferred the Earth room (and blue isn't even my favourite colour). The earth rooms are newer and have a few more features and are higher in the building (we didn't get to look at or stay in the Water rooms but these are the top level rooms). Make sure to walk around the breakfast area because it is expansive with some areas a bit hidden away.
NQN visited Thailand as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand but all opinions remain her own.
Take Me Tours
999 Phloen Chit Road Level 3 Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Open 7 days 12–2pm, 6:30–11pm
Phone: +66 2 656 1003
Vie Hotel Bangkok Mgallery By Sofitel
117 39-40 Phayathai Rd, แขวง ราชเทวี Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, Thailand
Phone: +66 2 309 3839
2 N Sathon Rd, Khwaeng Bang Rak, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500, Thailand
Phone: +66 2 624 0000