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What to do in Bangkok in half a day

Thailand is definitely a wonderful travel destination - EVERYONE would agree! But what do you do if you had only a couple of hours to explore the capital Bangkok?

 

Did you know that the 'Ramayana' is the most important epic in Thailand? 

 

A lot of flights into South East Asia transit through Thailand, more so if you are flying in from the west (and undeniably so in the morning hours, if you are flying Air Asia TH). That means either some boring wait-time at the Airport or your ONE chance to get out and explore the neighbourhood. We've got you covered on the latter!

 

1. The Grand Palace:

Although the entrance fee isn't the cheapest, there's a whole load of buildings and temples to see inside the Royal compounds - something so very remnant of the Siam architecture of the late 1700s. It is easy to spend a couple of hours here alone! 

 

The white walls of the Grand Palace, Bangkok

 

 

2. The Bangkok City Pillar Shrine:

Built as the first temple in the official capital Bangkok, the Pillar Shrine is said to represent stability and prosperity. The shrine is right by the Grand Palace - very easy to get to. Expect to spend about 30 minutes here. 

 

The Bangkok City Pillar Shrine

 

 

3. Wat Phra: 

The Temple of Wat Phra was built in the 18th century and houses one of the most sacred idols in the whole country - the Emerald Buddha! Expect to spend between 30 mins and an hour admiring the beautiful temple and its courtyards.

 

The Indo-chinese heritage that became the basis for architecture in South East Asia is very evident everywhere

 

 

4. Wat Pho:

The Reclining Buddha statue is something that can only be marvelled in person - it is THAT long (and quite difficult to fit on a camera frame)! But its definitely worth the visit - expect to spend about 45 minutes here and your ticket includes a free water bottle. It is also home to some fine Siamese architecture, see:

 

Each of these "Phra Maha Chedi" is a stupa bearing the remnant of a Royal Family member

 

 

5. Wat Arun:

Undeniably the greatest temple in the city, this Buddhist shrine is absolutely majestic. The "Temple of Dawn" was built to represent the sacred Hindu mountain "Meru" and the pronged tip of the tower is considered as God Shiva's trident - reaffirming its concept as a Hindu-Buddhist monument, which was built in Khmer style (what a mix of cultures)!

Expect to easily spend 1.5 hours in the temple and its surrounding gardens. 

 

The very first sight of it from across the river Chao Phraya is enough to captivate your senses.

 

Such intricate details on the ceramic tiles

 

 

Here are some useful pointers for you to keep in mind when planning your transit-temple-run:

 

  • Cost of tickets: 
    The ticket prices are fairly reasonable - usually THB 50 to THB 100 per temple (which is about USD 5 or less, thats under INR 300)
    The tickets to the Grand Palace is over THB 500 (thats USD 15 or INR 1,100)
    All of these places are within walking distance of each other, so there's no need to really take a cab/tuktuk, except to the Wat Arun which is on the other side of the river

 

  • Transport:
    There is a very good bus service in Bangkok from the airports, both DMK and Suvarnabhumi, to the city centre
    The bus stops are very close to the Grand Palace and tickets are very reasonably priced (THB 100 or less)
    Alternatively, getting a GRAB taxi is also a good option (prices are much like Uber) - expect to spend about THB 350 or more for a ride to/from the airport

 

  • Ferry service:
    The ferry is the best option if you want to go to the Wat Arun, from the eastern city side (where you visit the Palace, Wat Phra, Wat Pho, etc.)
    At THB 4 per person - thats INR 10 (or 12 cents in USD) - and the views are totally worth it!
    Take the ferry from the Tha Tien station at the local market near Wat Pho: MAP Marker

 

  • Exchanging money:
    Foreign currencies are mostly not accepted at these sites, so carry Thai Baht (THB)
    Exchanging USD or INR or any other major currency is easily doable at the airport - the rates are fine, but not great
    Considering that you're getting out of the airport for a couple of hours, exchange about THB 1,500 per person - that should be sufficient to cover tickets for a few of the attractions, taxi and bus and some food

 

  • Food and drinks:
    Street food is easily available near all of these temples - besides the innumerable cafes that dot the city
    Vegetarian food is not as easy to find, but you will definitely get Tender Coconuts at many of the street vendors - familiar Subway outlets are a relief

 

  • VISA for Thailand:
    Thailand offers Visa on arrival for many nationalities (including India)
    The visa fee is THB 2,000 (INR 4,400 or about USD 60) - it is quite expensive!
    You can also get a transit Visa from your home country (apply through Embassy) which is cheaper, but it consumes more effort
    Occasionally, Thailand offers a visa fee waiver for some nationalities - for instance, Indian tourists get a visa fee waiver in December 2018 and January 2019!

 

 

 

 

Such incredible places to see, even if you've got only 5 hours!

 

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