The Best Things to Do in 12 to 24 Hours in Bangkok

12 Hours in Bangkok Itinerary, The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun

What to do if you have only 12 to 24 hours in Bangkok? I have itineraries that covers The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Arun at sunset and Yaowarat Road within a realistic time frame. You can enjoy them to the fullest without hurry.

12 Hours in Bangkok Itinerary

It actually takes around 7-9 hours for this trip. If you need to reach the station for a plane, bus, or train, you still have around 4-5 hours to get there.

Click to see their locations on Google Maps.
• 10.00 hrs. The Grand Palace
• 13.00 hrs. Lunch at Saranjit restaurant (optional)
• 14.00 hrs. Wat Arun
• 16.00 hrs. Wat Pho
• 18.00 hrs. Wat Arun at sunset

I put Wat Pho in the late afternoon because it is not too hot, it is less crowded and the light and the atmosphere in the temple is beautiful. After that, you don’t have to wait for too long to see Wat Arun at sunset.

But if your time doesn’t allow, start at 08.30 hrs., when the Grand Palace opens is a better option.

After The Grand Palace you can visit almost everything by walking, but feel free to ride a Tuk Tuk, if you want.

24 Hours in Bangkok Itinerary

It takes around 12-16 hours for this trip. There is plenty of time to rest before continuing your journey.  

Click to see their locations on Google Maps.
• 08.00 hrs. Wat Mangkon Kamalawat
• 10.00 hrs. The Grand Palace
• 13.00 hrs. Lunch at Saranjit restaurant (optional)
• 14.00 hrs. Wat Arun
• 16.00 hrs. Wat Pho
• 18.00 hrs. Wat Arun at sunset
• 19.30 hrs. Yaowarat Road
• 21.00 hrs. Khaosan Road (optional)

We can squeeze in Wat Mangkon Kamalawat in the morning and Yaowarat Road at night. And if you have energy left or you truly love night life, you may want to take a look at Khao San Road as well.

Before You Start

Dress Code

The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha have the strictest dress code. If you dress for them, you can enter any temples with no problem.

In case you want to wear traditional Thai dresses, you need to do it properly.

Taking Photo and Video

You can take photos and video in The Grand Palace and other temples.

But you can’t use the following equipments in the Grand Palace.
• Microphones of all sorts, both wired and wireless
• Gimbal, including a small gimbal for a mobile phone
• Selfie stick
• Tripod
• Long telephoto lenses
• Drone

We took photos with Nikon Z6 with 24-70 mm and 14-30 mm lenses and recorded videos with handheld Osmo Action 3 without attaching microphone. It was no problem at all.

You can use your phone for both taking photos and videos, but remember, without selfie stick, gimbal and microphones.

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat

Wat Mangkon Kamalawat or “Wat Leng Nei Yi” was built in a classic Chinese architecture in 1871 during the reign of King Rama V by his officers and the Chinese community.

This is a Mahayana Buddhist temple (the majority of temples in Thailand are Hinayana Buddhist).

At the entrance you will see Budai statue (the fat Buddha with a laughing face) and the Four Heavenly Kings, they are believed to protect 4 cardinal directions from the evils.

Inside enshrines three principal Buddha statues, or The Trikaya Buddha, which are Sri Sakyamuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama Buddha) in the middle. On your left side is Amitabha Buddha, and on your right side is Phra Phaisachaya Guru Buddha.

There are also a lot of statues of important Chinese monks and Chinese deities enshrined in the temple.

How Much Time Do You Need at Wat Mangkon

• It is a small temple. You only need 30-60 minutes.

How to Get to Wat Mangkon

By MRT
• The best way to get to this temple is get on an MRT and get off at Wat Mangkon MRT station

Opening Hours

• Daily 08.00-16.00 hrs.

Entrance Fee

• Free

The Grand Palace

It is hot, it is crowded, but it is absolutely worth it.

The Grand Palace was built in 1782 during the reign of King Rama I. After that, successor kings helped renovating, maintaining, and building more structures, until the palace is as it is today.

The major attraction in the palace is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is not big but packed with beautiful buildings.

As soon as you enter the temple, you’ll see paintings of Ramakien covering a long cloister.

If you have keen eyes, you will find funny drawings hidden in those paintings.

At the center of the temple, there are four distinctive buildings, which are Phra Siratana Chedi, Phra Mondop, Model of Angor Wat and Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn.

Phra Siratana Chedi, the golden tiled pagoda that enshrines relic of the Buddha inside.
Phra Mondop, the middle building is used to enshrine the Tripitaka from the reign of King Rama I.
Model of Angor Wat, this sits next to Phra Mondop. It is here because King Rama IV wanted Thai people to see how beautiful Khmer temples are, and it was impossible to move one of the real temples to Bangkok. So, he ordered the building of this model.

Prasat Phra Dhepbidorn, or the Royal Pantheon, this is a memorial of predecessor kings in Chakri dynasty. It is open to the public once a year on 6 April for Chakri Memorial Day

The Chapel of the Emerald Buddha, if you can visit only one building in the Grand Palace, you must visit this chapel. Photography is not allowed inside, but you can take photos of the Buddha image from the outside.

The Emerald Buddha is enshrined on the tall pedestal and is surrounded by gorgeous gold decoration.

The statue is not big but just looking at it brought peace to my mind. I was so impressed to the point I got watery eyes and a goosebump.

If you happen to be Thai and a Buddhism, this is definitely a place you should visit at least once in your life.

Giants, there are several giant statues in the temple. We believe they are protecting the temple from evil spirits.

Also, according to the myth, these giants stopped the fight between giants from Wat Pho and giants from Wat Arun.

After you exit the temple, you will see several royal halls which are sadly not open to the public.

But the last building in this area is a small, air-conditioned museum. If you are interested in antiquities, you may want to take a look.

How Much Time Do You Need at the Grand Palace

• You can walk around it in 1 hour, but I strongly recommend spending at least 2 hours.

How to Get to the Grand Palace

By boat
• Get on Chao Phraya Express Boat and get off at Tha Chang pier, then walk about 400 m to the palace.

By MRT
• Get off a train at Sanam Chai MRT station, then walk about 1 km to the palace.

Opening Hours

• Daily 08.30-15.30 hrs.
• You can check opening hours of a certain date from the official website.
• It is rarely closed. Do not trust scammers.

Entrance Fee

• Children under 120 cm: free
• Foreigners: 500 baht per person. You can see Thai traditional dance and a few more museums for free. You can buy it from the official website or at the entrance of the temple.
• Thais: free but you need to show your ID card

Lunch at Saranjit Restaurant (Optional)

There are a lot of restaurants and cafes near the grand palace. If you don’t know where to have lunch, Golden Place is a good place. They have a lot of unique snacks, pastries, nice coffee and are reasonably priced.

However, I would like to take you to Saranjit Restaurant, it is quite far from the Grand Palace. But it is near Wat Arun, our next destination. They have authentic delicious and affordable Thai food.

Below are my recommended menu items:
• Crispy noodles (หมี่กรอบ)
• Crispy catfish with basil (ปลาดุกฟูกระเพรากรอบ)
• Fried cha-om sour curry (แกงส้มชะอมทอด)
• Salted Egg Chili and Ginger (พริกขิงไข่เค็ม)
• Winged bean salad (ยำถั่วพู)
• Pad Thai with fresh shrimp (ผัดไทยกุ้งสด)

Location

Google Maps

Opening Hours

• Daily 10.00-17.00 hrs.
• Sunday closed

Pricing

• $-$$

Wat Arun

Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn is well known for the 80 meters high main pagoda***. Its white lime and colorful decoration make a perfect spot for photography and selfie.

Normally, pagodas of this level of importance enshrine some sacred relics inside, but no one knows whether anything is inside this pagoda at all.

Other than the main pagoda, there are a few buildings worth checking out. And if you feel fancy, you can rent traditional Thai dress from shops around the temple for taking picture within the complex.

*** The height ranges between 66.8-86 meters, according to different sources.

King Rama II Statue, the first major renovation and the foundation of Wat Arun was laid during his reign, so this temple is considered to be his temple.

Phra Ubosot, the head of the principal Buddha image inside this building was designed by King Rama II himself.

Wat Arun Giants, they are guarding the entrance to Phra Ubosot from evil spirits.

Little Vihara, this building is believed to have housed the Emerald Buddha before King Rama I moved the statue to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Little Ubosot, you may have heard the name of King Taksin during your research before visiting Thailand and you may wander what is he looks like. Fortunately, you can see his statue in this building.

There is also his bed that he used to sit and meditated. It is believed to be able to clean cursed and bring fortune to you if you crawl under it.

How to Get to Wat Arun

• Get on a boat at Tah Tian pier.
• The boat will take you across the river to Wat Arun pier.

Opening Hours

Temple complex
• Daily 08.00-18.00 hrs.

Little Vihara and Little Ubosot
• Daily 08.00-17.00 hrs.

Entrance Fee

• Foreigners: 100 baht per person
• Thais: free

Wat Pho

Wat Pho is famous for the Reclining Buddha and Thai massage. But apart from them, there are a lot more to see here.

The Reclining Buddha was built by King Rama III in 1832. It has 15 meters high and 46 meters long and is enshrined in the chapel of the Reclining Buddha.

Misakawan Park, this small park has a bodhi tree that is believed to come from the same origin as the bodhi tree the Buddha had been sitting under while he awoke.

Phra Mondop, this building is used to keep old Buddhist scriptures from the reign of King Rama I. It is beautiful, especially at the entrance.

Wat Pho Giants, despite the name “giant”, the real giants here are small, and they are guarding the entrance of Phra Mondop. The myth said they fought with giants from Wat Arun, then the giants from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha stopped the fight.

Collection of Buddha Images, Wat Pho has the largest collection of Buddha images. You can see them in cloisters around the temple. 

Phra Maha Chedi Si Rajakarn, these four pagodas represented the first four kings in Chakri dynasty

Phra Ubosot, this is considered to be the most sacred building in the temple. Inside enshrined the principal Buddha image in the posture of concentration.

During the day, this temple is quite hot, but you can find bottled water vending machines near the chapel of the Reclining Buddha. The price is not overcharged, so that is a plus.

How Much Time Do You Need at Wat Pho?

• You can walk around the complex in 1 hour, but I recommend spending least 2 hours.

How to Get to Wat Pho

• If you follow this itinerary, get on a boat at Wat Arun pier.
• The boat will take you across the river to Tah Tian pier.
• Walk a few meters to Wat Pho.

Opening Hours

• Daily 08.00-18.00

Entrance Fee

• Foreigners: 200 baht per person, it will be increased to 300 baht at the beginning of 2024.
• Thais: free

Watching Wat Arun at Sunset

When the sky is getting darker and the pagoda shines bright with yellow light (occasionally it has other colors too). This could be the most magical moment of the day.

You can see this sight from dining in the restaurant on the other side of the river. Or you can see it at this location, sometimes it is crowed, so you may need to go there earlier to secure your spot.

Yaowarat Road

When King Rama I decided to build the Grand Palace in 1782, Chinese people lived in that area had to find a new place to settle. They then moved to this area, and it has been their home for more than 240 years.

But the road itself comes later, as it was built at the end of 1891 by the order of King Rama V and becomes one of the oldest roads in Bangkok.

Yaowarat has two different personalities.

During the day, it is calmer. Many legendary restaurants scattered around the area are open, temples are open, and it has a feeling of the good old days in the air.

At night, another set of restaurants are open, food stalls are open alongside the main road, it is livelier and has a bit more touristy atmosphere.

Khao Moo Daeng Si Morakot

Below are some of the famous restaurants at Yaowarat , click to see their location on Google Maps

Nai Ek Roll Noodle
Xie Lao Yee Hor BBQ Pork
Pae Sia Dimsum (recommend)
Khao Moo Daeng Si Morakot (recommend)
Chong Kee Moo Satay (recommend)
Tae Lao Chin Seng (recommend)
The Seafood Cafe & Restaurant (recommend)
T & K Seafood
And the list goes on…

How Much Time Do You Need at Yaowarat

• If you are not interested in any food at all, it takes about 20 minutes to walk through the road.
• If you come for food, you can easily spend 1-2 hours here.

How to Get to Yaowarat

By MRT
• The best way is to get on an MRT and get off the train at Wat Mangkon MRT station

By Boat
• You can get on Chao Phraya Express Boat and get off the boat at Ratchawong pier
• Then walk to Yaowarat

Opening Hours

• Temples are open daily around 08.00-16.00 hrs.
• Daytime restaurants are typically open around 08.00-16.00 hrs.
• Nighttime restaurants are typically open around 17.00-23.00 hrs.

Honorable Mention

Hia Mug Chinese Dessert (Optional)

There is a food stall behind Museum Siam not far from Wat Pho that has been selling bean junket eaten hot with ginger sirup and grass jelly for over 60 years.

Sometime there are a lot of customers waiting to buy his dessert, it may take some time to get your order.

Location

Google Maps

Opening Hours

• 10.00-14.30 hrs
• Monday closed

Pricing

• $

This is the end of the trip. Thank you for reading and I wish you a safe journey wherever you may be going.