Travel in Thailand: 48 Hours in Bangkok
Leah Walker August 15, 2018

No single adjective characterizes the capital of the Kingdom of Thailand. In fact, it’s difficult to describe the sights, sounds, smells, and humidity that abruptly greet you as you step out from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Bangkok is a city that truly needs to be experienced to be appreciated, and that’s a major part of why it’s among the most visited cities in the world. Thus, when I saw an incredible airfare from Paris to Bangkok, I jumped at the opportunity to finally visit Thailand and my wonderful friend, Robert. I planned for ten days in Thailand, but only 48 hours in Bangkok. Thanks to Robert, my time in the city was meticulously and thoughtfully planned.

48 Hours in Bangkok

48 Hours in Bangkok by Leah Walker

At first glance, it’s easy to see that 48 hours in Bangkok will never be enough. The temples alone — there are more than 400 of them in the city — could occupy months of exploration. But 48 hours is all I had, and this itinerary developed by Robert made the most of these two days in the capital city.

Stay

The seeds of banyan trees germinate in cracks and crevices of their host trees. Similarly, the aptly named Banyan Tree Bangkok provides a calm and sumptuous place to rest among the amalgamation of glittering skyscrapers, ancient temples, and beeping motorcycle taxis of Bangkok. Located in the city’s Sathorn/Silom area, this urban resort is a five-star, all-suite hotel seconds from much of the eating, drinking, exploring, and of course, shopping, I wanted to do during my 48 hours in Bangkok.

48 Hours in Bangkok by Leah Walker

Banyan Tree is composed entirely of suites, and I’m assuming they’re all as elegant as the sanctuary I enjoyed. It was complete with a personal aromatherapy burner and views that let me know I was in heart of Sathorn. The on-site spa offering Thai massages, outdoor swimming pool, and rooftop bar and grill would have easily occupied a full 48 hours, but I’ll have to save that for another visit. Banyan Tree Bangkok, 21/100 South Sathorn Road, Sathorn, Bangkok

Eat & Drink

Ask Robert {or me} what they love most about Bangkok, and it’s likely they’ll mention the food. The city is known for some of the world’s swankiest rooftop bars and cheapest street eats. I prefer to sample each.

The Saffron Sky Garden is one of the most inviting outdoor sky bars in the city, combining skyline and Chao Phraya River views with casual snacks and cocktails or local Thai beers. The trees and lush greenery make this rooftop bar feel like a tropical escape amongst the concrete, which I welcome in every major city. Saffron Sky Garden, 21/100 South Sathorn Road, Sathorn, Bangkok

The Saffron restaurant originated at the Banyan Tree Phuket in 1995. It leapt from a small curry house into an award-winning signature Thai restaurant at the Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts. In Bangkok it sits on the 52nd floor.

I could smell the authentic Thai spices from dishes like the Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai — a green curry with crispy fish, salted egg, and sweet basil leaves, before even walking in the door. And the Thai barbecue curried chicken with papaya salad, Gai Yang Khrueng Gaeng, is a dish I still devour in my dreams. Sweet, spicy, and truly authentic — Saffron is as flavorful and refined as the spice for which it is named.

48 Hours in Bangkok Thailand by Leah Walker

Forty-eight hours in Bangkok wouldn’t be complete without experiencing fine dining while overlooking the cityscape. Vertigo presented me with an elegant four-course set dinner with wine atop a terrace that made the experience truly unforgettable. Bangkok is a hodgepodge of cultures, and the international cuisine at Vertigo proves that this city can provide an international fine dining experience that rivals those in Paris and New York. Leave your shorts, sleeveless shirts, and flip flops behind for this experience. Vertigo, 21/100 South Sathorn Road, Sathorn Bangkok

Many of Bangkok’s best eats aren’t found in restaurants at all. It’s arguably the best city in the world for snacking on street foods, and lunch is best eaten while standing on a sidewalk eating grilled pork on a stick (Moo Ping) or Thai Green Curry (Gang Kiew Wang Gai) at a small streetside table. I recommend the stall at Soi Na Thong, Prachasongkro Road, Bangkok, for sweet, spicy, and hot Moo Ping.

Experience

48 Hours in Bangkok by Leah Walker

Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain includes 35 stations and makes traveling from one end of the city to the other comfortable and convenient. The air conditioning will give you welcomed goosebumps. My first stop had to be the city’s newest over-the-top shopping mall, Central Embassy. The contemporary architecture and grandeur alone is worthy of a visit. The elite brands introduce you to Bangkok’s extravagant side.

48 Hours in Bangkok by Leah Walker

To counteract that major dose of exclusivity and awe, I headed to the Old City, specifically Thonburi and Rattanakosin, where temples dating back to the Chakri Dynasty sit. I spent time wandering from Wat Prayoon to Wat Kalayanamitr, Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Wat Saket, the Santa Cruz Catholic Church, and an unnamed Chinese shrine. It’s impossible for me to visit Bangkok without entering several temples and experiencing the culture and history that make this sometimes overwhelming metropolis feel so delicate.

48 Hours in Bangkok by Leah Walker

A quick SkyTrain trip to the Sala Daeng Station landed me at Lumpini Park — the oldest park in the city. The playgrounds, paths, and greenspace are frequented by locals and tourists, and it’s one of the best places to watch locals enjoy their downtime in the city. Robert suggested the Brahman Erawan Shrine, a two-minute walk from Lumpini Park, so we made the trip to see the cast and gilded image of the Brahma god Than Tao Mahaprom. A symbol of mercy, sympathy, kindness, and impartiality, the shrine closed my 48 hours in Bangkok with a truer understanding of the gentle Thai people and their culture.

Forty-eight hours is never enough time in a major city, especially one as culturally rich as Bangkok. But Robert’s vast knowledge of the city helped me to leave with a full stomach, a richer heart, and a few extra shopping bags.

48 Hours in Bangkok, Thailand by Leah Walker

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning I make a small commission if you make a purchase through my links. It costs you nothing more, but helps keep me stocked in French wine {and a roof over my head}.

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for three years, and was recently awarded another four with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

12 Comments

  1. This gives me a rough idea to what to see on a short visit to Bangkok. I am planning a trip to Thailand soon but I dont plan to stay in the capital for too long so this gives me a good idea on what to do. Cheers Leah. 🙂

  2. As you say, 48 hours is never enough in a city like Bangkok, but you certainly get a great snapshot of what the city has to offer. The street food is definitely a must for me, although I love posh restaurants I usually go for street food. And all of the temples are stunning!

  3. We had a busy few days in Bangkok too. Glad to have a friend there to really help you get around. I agree that it is hard to see it all in 2 days. Especially if it is really hot. And if you really want to explore the palace. It looks like you had some great meals. Love all the fresh vegetables that are used in Thai dishes. I agree that the street food is not to be missed. You saw enough of the temples to want to draw you back for more!

  4. So true, 48 hours in Bangkok is not enough. But still, if you have only 2 days for Bangkok then your guide offers some great recommendations to get the best of it!

    I have been to Bangkok several times and I always look forward to coming back. Bangkok is simply amazing!

  5. I think you were able to really maximize the 48 hours that you had, but I would probably book a longer trip (Im someone who hates rushing). Who knows, I might end up with a Hangover 2 experience and will need more time to find drunk buddies hahaha Great photo of the Old City, by the way!

  6. I stayed at two different parts of the city when I visited and one of them was also Sathorn. You’re lucky to have had a local guide in your friend, Robert, because Bangkok is so overwhelming. It’s so hard to know which of the street food stalls are the ones to try.

  7. Using the skyline is a good idea as the Bangkok traffic is crazy. I would too, spend a lot of time in the old city. Been there thrice and still not Had enough of it. Loved the pics

  8. Wow! 48 hours is never enough of course but BKK has just given you a sample taste! When are you coming back again? We will be in BKK this coming November and the hotel you stayed seems so interesting – will I get a discount if I tell about your website? or will you get a price if I followed the Hotel directly from your website? Any given situation is a win-win 🙂

  9. Agree 2 days is too less time for this magnificent city! Add to that the traffic woes.
    Inspite of the hassles the grand sights we get to see make us forget the minor irritants. Had ben there after reading your post I am longing to get there again.

  10. 48 hours is not enough for visiting a city like Bangkok. and my favourite thing to do in Bangkok is staying in a hotel with an outdoor swimming pool, and a rooftop bar. I should check Saffron Sky Garden next time when I am in Bangkok.

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