Bangkok and the Beach
While Bangkok has a lot to offer, one of Thailand’s biggest draws is its amazing beaches, and there’s no reason you can’t hit some of the most important tourist sights in the city and still have a couple of days for fun in the sun.
This itinerary will take you from the bustling streets of Bangkok to laid-back Hua Hin, where you’ll spend a few days exploring this beach town. You’ll pack a lot into your time in Bangkok, but don’t worry: You’ll get to lounge on the beach and recover.
Plan to spend your first day in Bangkok, shaking off jet lag and enjoying some of the more relaxing diversions in Old City. Head to the Grand Palace and adjacent Wat Pho to see a bit of the Chakri Dynasty’s glory up close.
After touring these two sights, linger in the Old City area for an invigorating Thai massage at Wat Pho Thai Massage School. Next, head to one of the nearby restaurants on the river to dine and watch the sunset. If you have some energy left after dinner, take a walk around Phra Athit Road to enjoy some casual live music and the local college bar scene.
Take a river ferry to the Old City, and spend a few hours at The National Museum, then walk over to Wat Phra Kaew to view one of the country’s most important Buddhist figures, the Emerald Buddha. Hop in a taxi and head for Siam Square to do a little shopping and some people-watching.
When you’ve had your fill of both, head back to your hotel for a bit of rest, then to Chinatown for dinner at one of the hundreds of street-side stalls. If you want to sample some of the city’s nightlife, head to RCA, where you can choose from a dozen nightclubs and live-music venues and witness how local kids like to party. Then head to Khao Mun Gai Pratunam on Petchaburi Road for hit-the-spot post-party chicken and rice before calling it a night.
Wake up early and take a bus or taxi to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Spend an hour or two on a small wooden boat witnessing the scenic, if not totally historically authentic, spectacle. If you didn’t hire a taxi for the day, you can take a public bus from there to Hua Hin.
After arriving in this beach town and checking into your hotel, spend the afternoon riding horses on the beach or climbing up Khao Takiab. Have dinner at one of the many seaside restaurants.
Spend the day lounging on the beach or, if you’re looking for something more active, rent a motorbike or hire a taxi to take you to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, where you can hike and bird watch.
Leave for Bangkok in the morning so you’ll be back by midday. If your flight isn’t until late, you’ll have time to take an afternoon cooking class at one of the city’s many cooking schools. You’ll get to sample your creations at the end of class, but save room for a last meal in the city. Pick one of the city’s new, hip Thai restaurants—Bo.Lan or Soul Food Mahanakorn are both great choices.
© Suzanne Nam from Moon Bangkok, 5th Edition