There’s something about Bangkok that makes people want to keep going back. The capital city lives up to Thailand’s nickname of the ‘Land of Smiles’ with its warmth and inviting vibe. It has an energising fragrance, think lemongrass, that never lets you get tired of exploring.
Influenced by modern-day elements along with proud links to its age-old traditions, Bangkok’s culture can be found in every street corner; in food, in music, in language and in art. From their Buddhist temples to monasteries, one can find spirituality by opening doors to either. As for those who believe in retail therapy, like me, Bangkok is packed with Thai beauty secrets and style steals in every nook and cranny.
The city has so much to offer, you won’t run out of things to do. But if time is what’s holding you back, here’s a guide on how to spend a weekend in Bangkok without missing out on anything the Thai capital is known for.
If you want to cover the whole city in a time crunch, plan your itinerary around your hotel. You can stay at one of the many luxury properties on the Riverside. It’s the most romantic part of the city with historic landmarks, a relaxed ambience, cooling river breeze and water-taxis ferrying you to and from Downtown. Or, you can pick a hotel at one of the bustling districts and enjoy the city life up close. Given a 48-hour time limit, Sukhumvit is your best bet if you want a true Bangkok experience, and I have lots to recommend there.
Sukhumvit, an 18km stretch, is the centre of up-to-the-second shopping, eating and nightlife in Bangkok. It has a modern, cosmopolitan flavour along with touches of Thai-ness on every corner. On one such corner, I found my ideal hotel for a weekend in Bangkok.
A 40-minute drive from the Suvarnabhumi Airport, Avani Sukhumvit has 382 rooms offering creature comforts such as ultra-modern furnishings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows in bathrooms. You’ll find accents of comforting green, earthy pink and popping yellow in the form of room decor giving a glimpse of the fashion hub that is Bangkok. Not to forget the huge window in each room that offers a view of the city’s skyline.
From an exotic breakfast spread to al fresco dining, grab tasty meals at their in-house all-day restaurant, Greenhouse, or laze by the pool sampling guilty pleasures and drinks at The Deck, the pool bar. Or, just call for in-room dining while you watch a Hindi film on TV and enjoy your meal in bed. P.S. The melt-in-mattress beds at Avani have a tendency to make you miss your morning alarm.
Start your day with a workout at the fully decked AvaniFit and wash off the day’s fatigue by booking a signature massage at AvaniSpa.
Also, in your Avani itinerary, you may want to add slots for shopping because there’s a mall just an elevator ride away. You’ll also find options for street shopping, local food vendors, a Seven Eleven and a train station - all right down the hotel. Avani Sukhumvit is an ideal choice for a weekend in Bangkok because location, location, location!
Prices of Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok: Rs 6,175 upwards per night; book here
Location: 2089 Sukhumvit Rd, Prakanong Nua Watthana, Bangkok 10260, Thailand
Bangkok is not unlike Bangalore when it comes to traffic. So as much as the candy-coloured taxi cabs in bright yellow, sky blue, orange, and pink tempt you, the BTS Skytrain (Bangkok Transit System) is the most-trusted method of commute. It makes travelling incredibly easy.
That’s another reason for choosing Avani Sukhumvit. The nearest station, On Nut, is a five-minute walk from the hotel’s lobby.
Bangkok has so much to offer that missing out on one thing can lead to life-long regrets. The first time I visited the city, I barely had two days to spare in the city, and I had to sacrifice my shopping time. I still remember cribbing about it every now and then until the city called me again a year later. So, to not deprive you of any of Bangkok’s offerings, here’s a FOMO-free itinerary with a bit of everything ‘Bangkok’ for you to bring home.
The streets of Bangkok and oh-so-many night markets there make sure you don’t leave without a bite. Treat your taste buds to the culinary adventure of Thai food.
You can’t miss their fragrant jasmine rice--a staple that goes with just about anything from spicy dishes to coconutty Thai curries. Mango with sticky rice is a local dessert you don’t want to miss when in Bangkok. Same goes for their satays with rich peanut sauce. If you’re a seafood lover, this is your paradise. The dishes will have you at the sight of jumbo butter garlic shrimp. Wherever your pleasure lies, dining and drinking are sure to be one of the highlights of your Bangkok trip.
One of the many perks of staying at a location like Sukhumvit is the plethora of wholesale markets, night markets, street markets and shopping malls it has. With everything from antiquities and the latest pair of sneakers to designer jewellery and Thai beauty products available, Bangkok will not disappoint you.
If malls are your thing, go to Siam Paragon for all things luxe and branded. With MBK Centre at a walking distance, don’t forget to pack your bargaining skills along with the bahts. Central World is your ticket to the biggest and most trendy things in the fashion world. The best part is that all this is accessible by the BTS and takes no more than 30 minutes from Avani Sukhumvit!
Right across these malls are fun, cheaper alternatives. Platinum Mall is a wholesale market like Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar but six floors tall and air-conditioned. Pratunam is where street style meets unique fashion meets tomorrow’s trends. Platinum and Pratunam both offer a gamut of accessories to dress you up from head to toe - and all at bargain prices.
Newer and larger night markets are opening in Bangkok every year, and there's none bigger than the original Rot Fai Market. The train night market is great for vintage fashion fanatics or anyone looking to mix in some budget eats or evening drinks. These after-dark shopping opportunities also mean incredible bargains in the moonlight.
You’ll find multiple outlets of Watsons and Boots in Bangkok. Head to one of these pharmacies, or both, to get your fill of beauty products. Look out for local brands like Cathy Doll, Srichand, Sasi, Biore and Mistine. They offer some of the most amazing makeup and skincare products in town. Don’t forget to hoard on sheet masks there! Beauty Buffet is another store that you must check out. Pretty much everything in their Milk Plus range is an absolute delight.
Any Bangkok trip is incomplete without a relaxing massage. From an ayurvedic treatment to a cream massage, there is something for everyone. Apart from proper massage parlours, you’ll also spot a lot of masseurs in every night market and most street markets with the latter offering all kinds of foot massages. Starting from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, and at a fixed rate, you can pamper yourself into a complete state of bliss.
The nightlife in Bangkok has a reputation for having an element of awesome. If you are all about parties, you belong at one of the clubs and bars in the city. And Sukhumvit is full of some of the finest ones such as Octave Rooftop Lounge & Bar that offers a 360 degree view of Bangkok on the side of a romantic meal, and Levels Club & Lounge with three distinct party zones including a terraced bar, a classy lounge, and a clubbing room that has one of the best sound-systems in the city.
Bangkok can very well be called the ‘Temple City’ with the presence of Buddhist temples in almost every street and corner. But I suggest taking a trip east of Bangkok to the Ancient City.
Open every day from 9 am to 7 pm, Samut Prakan Ancient City or Ancient Siam is the world's largest outdoor museum park. Founded by Lek Viriyaphant, the landscaped garden occupies over 300 hundred acres of land mimicking the shape of Thailand. It features 115 structures including palaces, bell towers, pavilions, temples, floating markets, Buddha images and shrines. Some buildings are life-size replicas of prominent monuments, temples and national parks, while the others are scaled-down versions. You will be surprised to find how closely tied is Buddhism and Hindu mythology at the serene Garden of the Gods that presents a three-dimensional tableau of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva. It’s nothing like you’ve experienced before.
Give the Ancient Siam a day of yours and you’ll come back with a roll full of Instagram-worthy pictures. You can go inside all these sites to witness the beauty of Thai architecture first hand, too! The easiest way to get there is by taking the BTS to Kheha Station. From there, it's 10 minutes away by taxi.
Just down the road in Samut Prakan is Erawan Museum. It welcomes you with its giant three-headed elephant. Inside, you’ll find three storeys of antiquities and priceless collections of ancient religious objects belonging to the museum owner, Khun Lek Viriyapant. If you’re an aesthete, Erawan won’t disappoint you.
The Grand Palace, in the heart of Bangkok, is another popular attraction among tourists. It has been the official residence of all the Kings of Thailand since 1782. Though it calls for a small detour, if you can manage your time well, don’t miss out on a chance to see how the Kings live. The easiest way, obviously, is by the BTS. Take the Silom Line to Saphan Taksin Station and take Exit No. 2. The Chao Phraya Express Boat at the deck there will take you to royalty.
The world in Bangkok indeed revolves around your hotel. And BTS is just what you need to tour the city in a time as short as 48 hours. Now that you know everything, Happy Bangkok-ing!