The perfect 48 hours in Bangkok, Thailand


Relentlessly busy, noisy, smelly and stiflingly hot: it's easy to see why Bangkok for many is little more than a place for a short stop.

But dig a little deeper and you will find a growing art scene, a number of new restaurants and elegant galleries.

Here you can spend 48 hours in the Thai capital …

Main attraction: The beautiful Temple of the Dawn


Morning time

We arrive in the Thai capital on the idyllic island of Koh Lanta for a week. If luggage is not overloaded, the sparkly new Airport Rail Link City Line turns every 15 minutes from inside the terminal, costs 45 baht (about £ 1) and only takes 25 minutes to the city's central stations.

As a rule, Bangkok is less difficult to use public transport than taxis, which are notorious for scams. Our first stop is the Mandarin Oriental, the 140-year-old flagship property of & # 39; chain, affectionately known as La Grande Dame. It is on & # 39; the edge of the bustling Silom district, an oddity in colonial times in a city filled with concrete blocks of & # 39; 1970s and glass skyscrapers.

Even if you do not check in, it is worth taking high tea in & # 39; e Authors & # 39; Lounge. The hotel is famous for its writers, from Dame Barbara Cartland to Somerset Maugham and Gore Vidal.


Golden Glow: Wat Arun, one of Bangkok's most iconic temples

Golden Glow: Wat Arun, one of Bangkok's most iconic temples

We go for a late lunch at the art complex The Jam Factory (, part of & # 39; the new Creative District of & # 39; e city. The Jam Factory is a converted factory – a collection of low-rise, industrial-style glass and steel buildings located around a central garden courtyard.

In our restaurant, The Never Ending Summer, a Buddhist ceremony is held in the garden. Monks wrap silk ribbons around enormous trees, adding to the peaceful atmosphere.

The food is stop-stop: grilled catfish with sweet sauce and roasted glass noodles are musts.

Afterwards, we descend on Santi Chai Prakan Park, the site of a blindly white 18th-century fort, where there are common aerobics, yoga or dance lessons at 5pm every day.

Even if you do not feel very energetic, it is brilliant to see.


Morning time

After a late breakfast, we head to the Artist's House – otherwise known as Baan Silapin ( – in the trendy Thonburi district. This is 'old Bangkok': dormant, wooden buildings and winding stones that run along the canals. It's a little out of the battle, but worth the look.

The Artists House is a 200 year old teak building. As you walk along the canyon through small cafes that serve roasted dishes, every now and then an elderly lady will get on a boat to sell skewers of barbecued meat.

You probably won't see too many tourists in this part of the city, unless the boatload is located along a canal.

The House itself is built around a 700 year old Buddhist stupa, and at 14:00 you can watch a traditional Thai puppet show. Children are invited to paint paper masks and take part in the event.


Fully prepared to get a little lost, we head east across a pedestrian bridge and into the bustling streets around Soi Charan Sanitwong, where street vendors sell baked fish balls, noodles and sweet treats.

Relax: Visitors enjoy a foot massage on the side, which is perfect after a long flight

Relax: Visitors enjoy a foot massage on the side, which is perfect after a long flight

When the sun goes down, we stumble across a nightmare – food, toys, electric goods and clothing are all for sale and cost next to nothing – then head east to Wat Arun, one of Bangkok's most iconic ancient temples, overlooking the Chao Phraya River. From there, a river taxi will take you back to the other side, where we're immersed in The H Gallery (, which displays Thai art in a beautiful 125-year-old house.

Tonight we head to Maggie Choo & # 39; s (, an underground bar, restaurant and live music venue under the Novotel, famous for its must-see drag shows. Later, if you feel brave, try a foot massage at one of the spa's located on the streets.

Finally, it's time for a night's rest at the cozy Bamboo Bar of our hotel, where a live jazz band is in full swing. If you can survive the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, there are many reasons to make this city more than just a one-night stand.


Jonathan Neal was a guest of the Mandarin Oriental, where double rooms cost £ 385. Visit for more information.

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