Bangkok is the biggest city in Thailand, and it’s also absolutely wild. If you are lucky enough to find yourself in this exciting, edgy city, this 4 day Bangkok itinerary will help you make the most of your time. I think 4 days is just enough time to both see all its more tourist-y (but still, wonderful) highlights, and get a little lost.
The first step, therefore, in planning you 4 day Bangkok itinerary, is figuring out a place to stay. This place should be close enough to the aforementioned highlights, as well as being in an area where you’ll enjoy the aforementioned getting lost.
*If you’re spending 10 days in Thailand, check out my full 10 day Thailand itinerary!*
Where to Stay in Bangkok
I’ve spent anywhere from 1 to 15 to 4 days in Bangkok on various trips, so I’ll make my recommendations based on what’s worked well for me. That is, the Khao San area. Yes, the infamous Khao San Road (AKA drunk backpacker central) is in this area.
You don’t need to stay on Khao San Road, though, to reap the benefits of its central location! I mean, if you’re looking for an absolutely crazy time, it’s definitely a unique experience… I did it when I was 22 and could keep up with all the Aussies who’d been drinking since infancy. Now, though, I think the Khao San Road hangover may actually kill me.
Hostels in the Khao San Road Area:
- Jam Hostel Bangkok: Chill atmosphere in a nice location. The tours they organize around Bangkok have great reviews, as does their security. Dorm beds from $8.96, private rooms from $38.40. Breakfast included.
- Vivit Hostel Bangkok: Great security in a historic building with comfy beds. Dorm beds from $13.28, private rooms from $37.09. Breakfast included.
- Bed Station KhaoSan: Has a pool (“the best pool in Khao San,” according to their site), pool table, gym, bar, and restaurant! Hosts a ton of activities, like walking tours, pool days, and bar crawls. Highest rated for location. Dorm beds from $11.52. Breakfast not included.
If you want to stay in one of Bangkok’s other fascinating neighborhoods (or the idea of being anywhere near drunk backpackers horrifies you), I can’t recommend this guide by Nerd Nomads enough. They’ve spent far more time in Bangkok than I have, and give such a great explanation of every district.
If you’re still stumped, I created a map of Bangkok accommodation (thanks, Booking.com!) and inserted it below. It is centered on Khao San, but you can see the options and prices in the surrounding area. Anything along the Chao Phraya river, or on the West side of it (Khao San is on the East side) would also be a great choice!
How much will this 4 day Bangkok itinerary actually cost?
Short answer: It depends.
Medium answer: Most backpackers in Southeast Asia average $35-$45/day (not including their round-trip flights). That said, Bangkok is going to be one of the locations that could bring that average up, so I would guess $40-$50/day.
Long answer: How much shopping are you planning on doing? How much drinking are you planning on doing? Will do you all the activities on this itinerary, or only a few? Will you stay in a hostel (dorm? Private room?) or opt for classy accommodations? Answer all these questions, and then do some math! To make that easier, I’ve included the USD prices for everything on this itinerary below*.
Rough budget for backpacking in Bangkok:
- Hostel dorm=~$10/night
- Street food meal=50-100 baht/$1.60-$3.19
- Beer=70/$2.23 baht happy hour or 90/$2.87 baht regular
- Water taxi rides=15 baht/$0.50 per ride
- Round-trip to Chatachuk weekend market (tuk-tuk + SkyTrain)=300 baht/$9.58 or much less if you split the tuk-tuk
- The Grand Palace entrance fee=500 baht/$15.96
- Wat Pho entrance fee=200 baht/$6.39
- Wat Arun entrance fee=100 baht/$3.19
- Wat Traimit entrance fee=40 baht/$1.28
- Meditation class donation=Up to you, but at least 50 baht/$1.60
- Bangkok National Museum entrance fee=200 baht/$6.39
All told, assuming you eat the free hostel breakfast, don’t shop, don’t do any paid tours, and don’t drink, the bottom end of what you’d spend is about $80 total. I think that’s a little extreme, tbh. Let’s say you’re drinking a few beers a day, doing a bit of shopping, and what the hell, throw in a few more meals just for fun. That’ll bring you up to $180-$200, which is much more reasonable and closer to the estimated daily average we talked about above.
*I try to update these prices frequently! Tourist activities tend to get more expensive by the year in Thailand. Let me know if you find any of the entrance fees to be incorrect and I will correct it immediately.
4 Day Bangkok Itinerary: The Breakdown
- Day 1: The Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew
- Day 2: Chinatown & Wat Traimit
- Day 3: Chatachuk Weekend Market & Meditation Class
- Day 4: Wat Pho, Wat Arun, & the Bangkok National Museum
Day 1: The Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is a quintessential stop on your 4 day Bangkok itinerary. It is a massive home to ancient kings. The intricate decorations at every turn will captivate you for however long you choose to explore here.
And, because this is the most expensive activity on this 4 day Bangkok itinerary, you should spend as long as you can! It would be easy to explore for 2 or 3 hours, at least. There’s not a lot on today’s itinerary, though, so sleep in a bit if you’re tired from your flight, take your time at breakfast, and head on over. It’s an easy walk from most of the Khao San area, or you can take the water taxi (I go into more detail on that for Day 2’s Chinatown adventures)!
The history of the Grand Palace is super interesting—first, a home to Thai kings, then a seat of government. As a sacred, historical, important place to the Buddhist culture, there’s a strict dress code. That is, absolutely no sleeveless shirts, socks must be worn with flip flops, and long pants required.
Entrance to Wat Phra Kaew is included in the price of your Grand Palace ticket. You might’ve heard of Wat Phra Kaew by another name—the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha is the most sacred Buddha statue in Thailand (which is saying a lot). The Buddha dates back to the 1300s, while the Temple which holds it today dates back to the 1700s. Don’t expect some massive statue; the Emerald Buddha is quite small! Kind of like the Mona Lisa, when you finally see it in person. Still, it is super important to the Thai people. Seeing it in person is such a sacred experience.
Also, for you Cambodia travelers out there, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha has a model of Angkor Wat!
By the time you’re done with the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, you might be hungry. Or, if you’re me, you’re straight up ravenous. Walk North along the river for a bit on Maha Rat Road until you hit Tha Prachan. The food around here is SO GOOD, OMG.
From Tha Prachan, you’re close to Khao San again (sorry for anyone not staying in that area, I’m totally operating under that assumption even though I swore to myself I wouldn’t). At this point, ball’s in your court. You can be ambitious and try to see some more temples or monuments or museums, if they’re still open.
You could also just spend the rest of the day wandering around, getting to know the area you’re staying in. Whatever you do, get you some street Pad Thai, stat.
Day 2: Chinatown & Wat Traimit
This is the farthest South you’ll go on this itinerary, probably! It’s also a fun introduction to the water taxis of Bangkok. Don’t worry, they’re super duper easy.
Head to Phra Arthit water station, just a bit Northwest of the Khao San area, and board the orange line Expressway boat heading South. Look for the orange flag, and make sure you have your 15 baht! Ride that bad boy until Rajchawongse station. Boom! Chinatown! You’ll take this exact route back home, except backwards.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is a super fun neighborhood, and the food (like in most Chinatowns) is amazing.
You could stroll around the area for hours, walking up and down Chinatown’s Yaowarat road. Wat Traimit (also called Wat Trimit or the Temple of the Golden Buddha) is a must-see stop in the area.
The Golden Buddha statue in Wat Traimit is the largest seated Golden Buddha in the world, weighing over 5 tons!
For shopping in the Chinatown area, definitely check out the hectic and entertaining Sampeng Lane. As always, get your bartering hat on! I think it’s a bit easier to barter here than in the more touristy Chatachuk Market.
Some other can’t-miss sights in Chinatown include the classic Chinese gate, of course. Every Chinatown has one, and Bangkok’s is grand. If you felt the Golden Buddha was too tame, you can see giant crocodiles at Chinatown’s Wat Chakrawat (AKA the Crocodile Temple).
If you plan on hitting up a rooftop bar in Bangkok, there’s a sweet one in Chinatown. The Grand China Princess Hotel has a revolving rooftop bar! Drinks and meals at these rooftop bars are always spendy, but nursing a drink and enjoying the view is worth it.
Day 3: Chatachuk Weekend Market & Meditation Class
Chatachuk Weekend Market is the most famous in Bangkok, and the largest in Thailand. It’s absolutely awesome to explore, though you can easily get lost in the stalls. The food is good here, too, so by all means sample as much Thai market food as you can.
You’ll get to the market by taking a tuk-tuk or bus to the Victory Monument SkyTrain stop. This ride really shouldn’t be more than 150 Baht one way, less if you’re a skilled negotiator. The SkyTrain to Mo Chit Station (where Chatachuk is) is 25 Baht (here is a table of SkyTrain fares).
There is tourist information once you arrive at the Mo Chit station, but typically you can just follow the crowds and stalls to the market itself.
My advice for the Chatachuk Market is this: barter hard. The more tourists in an area, the less vendors need to really offer deals. Or at least, the more they’ll try to take advantage of tourists who don’t know any better.
Also, while I’ve never had issues with this nor met anyone who did, look out for pickpockets. This is always good practice, but especially in a place known for lots of tourists with money to spend.
Explore the market for as long as you like, try some new dishes, buy yourself some cute hippie pants, whatever floats your boat. Depending on how long you want to spend there, you could head to the nearby Bangkok Butterfly Garden or back to the Khaosan are for your meditation class.
I love, love, loved the free (donations suggested) 3-hour meditation class at Wat Mahathat. I have a detailed write-up here, but basically just get there by 1PM or 6PM for the classes. There’s also one at 7AM, if you’re an early bird and wanted to go before Chatachuk. It’s a short walk from Khao San.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat tonight after all that shopping and meditating, Wang Lang Market on the West side of the Chao Phraya river from Khao San is great.
Day 4: Wat Pho, Wat Arun, & the Bangkok National Museum
It doesn’t really matter what order you see these in, since they’re all open for roughly the same time (the temples open a bit earlier and close a bit later than the National Museum).
If you start with the temples, you can either take a stroll South along the Chao Phraya or take the orange line water bus again. It’s a very doable walk, though.
Wat Pho, on the East side of the river, is known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. There are a lot of cool Buddha statues to see in Bangkok, what can I say? Besides the SUPER impressive ginormous lounging Buddha, the temple itself is real pretty. Like every other temple on this list, dress appropriately. I can’t imagine Wat Pho taking much more than an hour, but you do you!
Wat Arun, directly opposite Wat Pho on the West side of the river (just grab a ferry across), will probably take a bit less time to see. Some of the best angles of Wat Arun are actually from the river/from across the river. It’s just a very, very pretty temple, some say one of the prettiest in Thailand. If you can swing seeing it at sunset or sunrise, it’s even more stunning. You can actually climb one of the towers and get an awesome view of Wat Pho and the Grand Palace across the river.
The Bangkok National Museum is just farther North up the Chao Phraya, closer to Khao San. You can take the orange line water bus up, or simply walk. You’ll pass Tha Prachan again if you walk, a nice opportunity for baller street food.
If you want to see one museum in Bangkok, the National Museum is an all-around good choice. It provides neat historical context for a lot of what you’ve seen on your 4 day Bangkok itinerary. The museum is also on the grounds of an ancient palace, so besides all the art and artifacts inside, it’s impressive on the outside, too.
Optional Bonus Activities
I tried not to make this itinerary too jam-packed, as I am a wanderer and not a big scheduler. I think it includes all the absolute highlights, without planning down to the minute.
That said, if you want to add a couple more stops onto the itinerary, I have some suggestions below! Maybe one of these things sounds even cooler than something on the itinerary above, in which case swap ’em out! If you’re just an overachiever and want to see more areas of Bangkok, here are my additional suggestions (some more enthusiastic than others):
- Siam Paragon: Essentially Bangkok’s high-end version of the Mall of America. It is one of the most luxe, bonkers shopping malls you’ll ever visit. I am pretty sure I wasn’t allowed to touch half the shoes and purses in this place without showering first (and even then, the salespeople were not thrilled with me). Siam Paragon contains Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium, a sick cinema, and even luxury car showrooms. Yeah. It’s wild.
- Jim Thompson House: So, I have not been here, but it’s apparently A Very Cool Thing to Do in Bangkok. Jim Thompson started the now world-famous Thai silk industry after WWII (thanks for the info, Wikipedia) and I guess you can tour his house? The house is GORGEOUS and apparently the museum is a lot more interesting than it sounds. I’m such a hater. But really, the Jim Thompson house has impressive reviews on literally every travel site so it must be awesome.
- Muay Thai Kickboxing: If you are at all into wrestling or boxing or are just curious about Thailand’s savage sport, you should catch a Muay Thai match. I went and thought it was super cool, actually, though if I was strapped for cash or my itinerary was tight I don’t think it’s necessarily the coolest thing I did in Bangkok. God, I’m being such a hater again! I think that’s partly because the tickets aren’t cheap and it’s a somewhat long affair. Anyway, if you do find yourself with a free evening,, ask your hostel or Google Muay Thai matches happening that night!
- Nana Plaza: If the saucy nightlife in and around Khaosan was just too PG for you, Nana plaza is the seedy red light district you’ve been waiting for. SOLO TRAVELERS, REGARDLESS OF GENDER, DO YOU NOT GO TO NANA PLAZA ALONE. You might want to start at the slightly less sketchy Soi Cowboy, also known for its naughty nightlife, nearby. It’s definitely… an experience. There’s some great people watching, for sure. This would be the part of Bangkok to catch a sex show or buy saucy souvenirs. It’s kind of near Siam Paragon, so these two could be paired together.
4 Day Bangkok Itinerary Final Thoughts
Bangkok is a bustling, diverse, fascinating city.
It’s the kind of city you can just tell has so many nooks and crannies. It is simultaneously loud and boisterous, while clearly keeping millions of secrets and oozing mystery around every turn (especially if that turn is in Nana Plaza…).
I hope you were awed by the temples, the flashy nightlife, and the out-of-this-world street food.
I also hope you found time to wander, and make your Bangkok experience your own in some way.
As always, if you think I’ve forgotten something AMAZING, or if you followed this itinerary, I’d love to hear about it!
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I’ve never been to Thailand, but this definitely makes it sound exciting!! Got to love how relatively cheap SE Asia is – thanks for the recommendations 🙂
Right?! Bangkok is really affordable for a big city, too! As are most big cities in Southeast Asia I spose 😛
Great guide! I haven’t been to Bangkok yet but posts like this makes me so excited to go haha!
Aw I’m glad!! Bangkok is such a cool city! Even writing the post made me feel the same hahah, now I can’t WAIT TO GO BACK!
Great tips here! Ive been to Bangkok a few times and its a fav city of mine. I actually love staying near the business district, as its much quieter and close to shopping centres!
Oooh, nice! I’ve stayed in that area once and it was super chill!
It looks like you ate some pretty great food in Bangkok! I didn’t stay near Khao San Road, but I do like that area because there are some awesome vegetarian restaurants on the street immediately behind it (by the Burger King, in case anyone is looking for great vegan or vegetarian food). When I visited I stayed in Ari, which isn’t super-central but is really laid back and trendy.
Good tip!! I’m always looking to explore new areas so I’ll try Ari next time. Also good tip re: Bangkok vegan food, hehe. Who knew it’d be near a Burger King 😛
I love Bangkok! I’ve been there so many times and I still feel like I want to go back for more! Great guide 🙂
Thanks!! I know, just talking about it makes me want to go back desperately!
Great itinerary! I honestly didn’t know there was so much to do in Bangkok. Loved it!
Thanks! Yeah, it’s such a cool city!
I went to Bangkok last year and this guide made me really miss it! This a wonderful itinerary and really captures everything first-timer should visit. I only had 2 full days so didn’t get to see everything on your list but I definitely will next time.
Fair enough, it’s so tricky! Plus if you’re jet lagged motivation is soooo hard… I had a whole list of things to do in Bangkok the first time I went, and ended up in bed hahaha
Oooh you have so many great tips!
I have to admit, I always assumed when I go to Thailand that i’ll want to head straight out into the countryside and spend as little time in Bangkok as I can…this post makes me think I should actually add a few days to explore this madness. 😀
p.s. I love that you threw Hilary in there to show the scale of a giant golden Buddha!
I am the SAME. 4 days is about as long as I like in cities 😛 and heck yeah, had to shout out to my girl!
I visited Bangkok a few years back and covered almost all you recommended. I highly recommend visiting Ayutthaya.
I have heard such wonderful things! I must go there. I’ve been to Bangkok several times but never went!
Love love Bangkok and you’ve put together an amazing itinerary. I’ve spent about three months in Bangkok and you’ve covered all the highlights. I didn’t watch a Muay Thai match, but I did take a class. Fun though, though harder than it looks. Love the pic of the reclining Buddha with Obama, Hillary and the Monk. Great recommendations.
Thanks! It’s a relief to hear from someone who has spent so much time there! I actually would’ve LOVED to take a class, almost more than watching the Muay Thai itself 😛
This is a fantastic indepth guide! We went to Bangkok a few years ago but would love to go back again 🙂
Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, Bangkok is great; writing this guide really made me wanna go back.
I have been wanting to go here forever! Thanks for all the detailed information, I love how delicious the food looks and The Grand Palace has been on my list!
Aw thanks, glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, some of my favorite meals EVER were in Bangkok! Ugh, I’ve tried to replicate them at home so many times… just not the same!
This post will come in so handy for planning our time in Bangkok. We are finally visiting later this year and I didn’t know where to start. So thanks!
Yay, I’m so glad! Have fun! I wish I was going with!