Skip to main content
The view of Wat Arun in Bangkok at night from the opposite side of the river.

What you can do in and around Bangkok in 5 days

Like 33 million other people, you too will be spending some time in Bangkok as you explore what Thailand has to offer. You might already have some bucket-list items to complete, such as visiting the Grand Palace, temples or Chatuchak market. However do not be too quick to seal off that list! Here is my suggestion of a 5 day itinerary in and around Bangkok:

Day 1: Bangkok

Morning:

Now is the best time of the day to visit your bucket-list places! Start early before the hoard of tourists arrives and you will have a peaceful and atmospheric experience. Most places open between 8am and 8:30am.

Afternoon:

Inside one of the 9 main exhibition halls of the Rattanakosin Museum in Bangkok.

Rattanakosin museum (10am to 7pm)

This is an immerse museum experience that explores the Thai way of life through high-tech exhibits and interactive media. Viewing all the nine exhibition halls will take you four hours. Go on a shorter route and you can complete the experience in two hours. This is one of the most professionally curated museums in Bangkok and is definitely time well spent.

Evening:

A famous street food vendor near Ratchetawi BTS in Bangkok that sells roti prata, also known as fried flatbread.

Have dinner at Jae Koy Somdam near Ratchetawi BTS. This small place is brimming with locals, which is testimony of the good and cheap food it has to offer. After dinner at Jae Koy, head to Phetchaburi Soi 7 (7th alley) across the street and look out for the famous street stall selling roti prata (fried flatbread). Do not miss the chance to squeeze with the locals on the little stools on the street! These street snacks make a perfect conclusion to your dinner experience.

Stay:

Mid-range – Evergreen Place by Urban Hospitality

Budget – Monomer Hostel Bangkok

Day 2: Kanchanaburi

Morning:

Take the 7:45am train from Bangkok’s Thonburi station to Kanchanaburi and arrive at 10:45am. You can also take the bus from Bangkok’s Southern or Northern Terminal and expect to arrive in about three hours.

Early afternoon:

7th tier of the Erawan waterfalls.

Option 1: Erawan waterfall (7am to 4:30pm)

Head over to the bus station and look out for bus 8170, which is plastered with a huge sign on the windscreen that reads “Erawan Waterfall”. This bus leaves every 50 minutes and you can expect to be at the national park in about an hour. Alternatively, for the brave-hearted, you can stand along the main road that passes through town and flag down the bus (extremely convenient). Make sure you are on the right side of the road though!

Once in the national park, walk a short distance towards the waterfalls and explore all seven tiers. Choose the tier you like best and spend the afternoon relaxing, swimming and enjoying a free exfoliating fish massage.

This is one of the 7 tiers of the Huay Mae Khamin Waterfall.

Option 2: Huay Mae Khamin waterfall (8am to 6pm)

Hidden 45km north of the Erawan waterfall is the elusive Huay Mae Khamin waterfall. As there are no public transportation options, hire a songthaew for a comfortable return trip or rent a scooter for a day.

The Huay Mae Khamin waterfall is a seven-tiered waterfall that is a lot less crowded than the Erawan waterfall. This waterfall is truly an off the beaten track spot that is immensely rewarding. Walk through a bamboo forest to get there and enjoy the beautiful sounds of nature. If you are lucky, you may even have the entire emerald-coloured pool to yourself!

Late afternoon:

Oncoming train over the death railway bridge at Kanchanaburi.

Death Railway over river Kwai

Take the bus 8170 back to Kanchanaburi but stop at the turning towards the death railway bridge over the Kwai river. Tell the attendant you want to stop at the death railway bridge. The bus ride should take you an hour.

Take a short walk towards the bridge. Be sure to be at the bridge by 5:15pm! There will be a train crossing the bridge at about 5:30pm and you will not want to miss it. Stick around on the bridge; once you hear the whistles from the train, head to one of the safety platforms along the bridge and watch the train go by you.

Evening:

Enjoy a beautiful sunset over the Kwai river and consider having your dinner at one of the floating restaurants. If not, flag down any passing bus or songthaew and head back to Kanchanaburi. From the bus station, walk towards the Kwai river. There are many restaurants along the river on Songkwai road, where you can have a hearty meal.

Stay:

Mid-range – The Bridge Residence Hotel

Budget – No. 25 Cafe and Hostel

Day 3: Kanchanaburi

Morning:

A section of the disused death railway track along the Hellfire Pass Museum trail.

Hellfire Pass Museum (9am to 4pm)

Head over to the bus station at 10am and look out for bus 8203, which leaves every hour. Tell the attendant that you wish to get off at the Hellfire Pass Museum. If you are confident, you can even flag down the bus down along the main road that passes through Kanchanaburi. Get a local to spot the Thai numbers though! It takes two hours to reach the museum. Alternatively, charter a songthaew for a comfortable return trip.

Register for a free audio guide and follow the recommended route through the indoor exhibitions first, followed by the outdoor trail. Give yourself about two to three hours to complete the entire experience.

As there are few lunch options at the museum, I recommend that you pack some lunch for yourself to eat while trekking.

Late afternoon:

Train from Nam Tok approaching River Kwai Bridge station.

Train from Nam Tok to Kanchanaburi

Aim to finish your Hellfire Pass experience by 2:30pm. Flag down a passing bus or songthaew across the museum and head to Nam Tok train station.

At this point, you may be curious about the story of the death railway. A great way to wrap up your experience is to ride the train from Nam Tok to Kanchanaburi. This is the last section of the death railway that is still operational in Thailand. You not only pass through beautiful scenery, but also on the tracks that were once put in place by thousands of prisoners-of-war. This train ride will be a surreal experience for you.

The last train leaves Nam Tok at 3:15pm. Plan about 45min to travel from the Hellfire Pass Museum to Nam Tok. You will pass through the death railway bridge that you were once on and arrive in Kanchanaburi at 5:41pm.

Evening:

A short stroll from the train station leads you to Maenamkwai road. You can have dinner at one of the many eateries or restaurants there. Alternatively, grab a street snack at the night market in front of the train station. Later in the evening, have a beer at one of the bars along Maenamkwai road. Relax and enjoy the rest of the night. You deserved it!

Stay:

Mid-range – The Bridge Residence Hotel

Budget – No. 25 Cafe and Hostel

Day 4: Ayutthaya

Morning:

While you may leave Kanchanaburi with a heavy heart, stay optimistic as your exciting itinerary is not quite done yet! Head to the bus station and take a bus to Suphan Buri bus station, which leaves frequently. At Suphan Buri, buy a minivan ticket to Ayutthaya. Expect to be on the roads for three to four hours.

Afternoon:

One of the large temple compounds in Ayutthaya.

Rent a bicycle for the day and explore the ruins. Cycling is a great way to uncover interesting enclaves around the city. If you are lucky, you may discover a street in the city that specialises in making a traditional Ayutthaya sweet, known as Roti Sai Mai. Do go to the temples that are located outside the island – you are bound to chance upon many interesting experiences there!

Evening:

Visit the night market on the northeastern tip of the island, opposite the Chantharakasem Museum. Few tourists come here so you can savour a very local food experience. Spot the famous papaya salad (som dam) stall that is always surrounded by people, or have a plate of stir-fried Thai goodness.

Stay:

Mid-range – Baan Luang Harn Guesthouse

Budget – Hostel Goodmorning by Tamarind

Day 5: Bang Pa In and Bangkok

Morning:

View of the Siam and European styled halls from across the main lake in the Bang Pa In Summer Palace.

Bang Pa In Summer Palace (8am to 4pm)

From the Ayutthaya train station, take a 15min train ride to Bang Pa In station. Morning trains leave at 8:26am, 9:01am, 9:41am and 10:27am. From Bang Pa In, either walk 2km or take a tuk-tuk to the palace entrance.

Take about 1.5 to 2 hours to walk through the palace compound. This is an interesting place as the buildings are a mix of various architectural styles. For a moment, you would forget that you are in Thailand, but in China or neo-classical Europe.

Early afternoon:

The interior of one of the European-styled temple halls at Wat Niwet Thammaprawat, which is beside Bang Pa In Summer Palace

Wat Niwet Thammaprawat

Take the free cable car (with a cute-looking roof) across the river near the exit of the Bang Pa In summer palace. This is a fascinating island to explore. Walk around the temple compound to see various Gothic-style Buddhist temples. Imagine a beautiful church with Buddha instead of a cross; this is definitely unlike any other temple you will see in Thailand.

The island is not big and you can complete your tour within 30min.

Late afternoon:

Head back to the train station and catch the 1:22pm train to Bangkok. You will arrive at Hua Lamphong station at 2:20pm. Note that the next train to Bangkok leaves at 4:16pm.

Wang Lang Market

From Hua Lamphong station, take bus 1, 25, 53 or 207 to Thammasat University. Walk towards the Chao Phraya river and take the boat to Wang Lang, which is directly across the river. Wang Lang is a large local market that has many interesting food and shopping stalls. It is crowded, but instead of jostling with other tourists, at Wang Lang you will have to jostle with the locals.

Chao Phraya Express to Yodpiman River Walk

Bangkok looks different when you admire it from the river. Take the Chao Phraya Express boat from Wang Lang and head to Yodpiman on the red or unlabelled boats. You can also go further on the boat to enjoy the scenery and then return to Yodpiman. Walk alongside the river or relax with a cup of coffee in hand.

Evening:

Looking at the Yodpiman River Walk at night from one of the restaurants along the river.

Yodpiman is a great spot to watch the sunset. If you stick around longer, you will also witness the lighting up of Wat Arun on the opposite bank. Enjoy a lovely dinner along the river and celebrate the five wonderful days you have had in and around Bangkok!

Stay:

Mid-range – Evergreen Place by Urban Hospitality

Budget – Monomer Hostel Bangkok

Was this 5 day itinerary in and around Bangkok useful for you? Share it with your friends on social media using the icons below. Now is the time to convince your travel partners (or yourself) to be brave and explore the areas around Bangkok! Drop me a comment with your recommendations of what we can do in and around Bangkok.

Image credits: Cover – Bangkok.com; (1) – Le Minh Khai; (2) – Pin Plengpai; (4) – Raya Buri Resort; (11) – Happycloud2013

One thought to “What you can do in and around Bangkok in 5 days”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *