It’s not uncommon to have a long layover and be wondering what to do on a one day Bangkok itinerary. Here’s how our family spent one day in Bangkok with kids!
Bangkok is an incredibly culturally rich and vibrant city. It can also be a bit overwhelming. It also tends to be a stopover for many families traveling to other parts of Southeast Asia – Thai beaches, Vietnam, and more. At least, that’s how it worked out for our family of 6.
After spending several weeks in India, we knew we wanted to stop at some Thai beaches before heading home. We didn’t have oodles of time left, so decided to keep our Bangkok itinerary brief on this particular trip in order to maximize our time in Southern Thailand. Because of this, we only had one day in Bangkok.
You know how for some places your expectations just aren’t that high, and you think you’ll just whiz through and be perfectly content with the short stop? But then the place wildly exceeds those expectations, perhaps because of them being fairly low. Bangkok with kids was like that for us. So while one day in Bangkok wasn’t nearly enough time to do the city justice, it was long enough for us to see some of the highlights and develop an itch to return.
What to Know About a One Day Bangkok Itinerary
There are a few things that were helpful for us to know on our one day Bangkok itinerary:
- Wear conservative clothing. You’ll spend much of your day visiting sacred sites such as temples, so make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Generally, this means that you should cover your shoulders and upper arms, as well as your legs. Below the knee isn’t quite as important, but pants are more respectful than shorts. If wearing a skirt, I’d go midi length or longer. When in doubt, take along a pashmina that you can drape over your shoulders or tie as a sarong.
- Carry a poncho or umbrella. Bangkok is notorious for freak showers. It’s wise to take some sort of rain shield along.
- Take along some cash. Credit cards are not widely accepted, especially in markets and smaller restaurants. Start your day by getting some cash from an ATM.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. Most of the main sites you’ll see in one day in Bangkok are concentrated within a small area. Because of this, it makes sense to mostly walk to the destinations on this Bangkok itinerary, so wear comfortable walking shoes.
Where to Stay for One Day in Bangkok with Kids
As many of the highlights are concentrated within a small area, it’s helpful to stay within the main city center, especially for brief visits. Ours was a very short stay; we arrived after midnight one night, had one day in Bangkok, then left around 4am the next morning. Because of this, we chose to stay very close to the main sites to take full advantage of our time. We also weren’t particularly concerned with a super fancy place since we knew we’d basically just be there to sleep for a few hours.
Check out this post for tips on getting over jet lag with kids.
We opted to find an Airbnb so we’d have a bit of flexibility with sleeping arrangements (you can use THIS link to get $55 off your first trip!). While we usually try to find places with at least 1-2 separate bedrooms, again, we knew it would be a very short stay and everyone would be really tired. So we figured getting all the kids to fall asleep in the same room wouldn’t be an issue (we were right; they were exhausted).
Here’s the Airbnb in which we stayed. It was basic, but clean and super convenient, and had enough beds for our whole family.
More here about finding family accommodations for travel.
If you find yourself with only one day in Bangkok, here are our recommendations for a one-day Bangkok itinerary.
This post on spending one day in Bangkok with kids contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
One Day Bangkok Itinerary with Kids
One Day Bangkok Itinerary Stop 1: Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Start your day at Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple originally constructed in the 1600s and also one of the most popular stops in Bangkok. With a beautiful main tower covered in multi-colored porcelain, the wat (temple) is a standout amongst the many found in the city.
Many go for sunrise to see the beautiful first morning light shining on the temple. We preferred going a bit later in the morning, both to avoid waking before dawn after arriving past midnight, and also to avoid some crowds. Morning was perfect for us – the light was still beautiful, but the super early risers had already left.
One Day Bangkok Itinerary Stop 2: Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Once you’ve finished admiring the sparkling porcelain at Wat Arun, head across the river to Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Though the two sites are very close to each other – just across the river, in fact – there’s no pedestrian bridge to go between them. Instead, you can hop on a short and inexpensive ferry. The ferry had a decent line when we took it, and we probably could’ve swum faster, but it worked.
There’s a small market when you disembark that has several food choices. If you’re hungry, you can stop to grab some lunch here, or continue on your short walk to Wat Pho.
The grounds of Wat Pho are really beautiful and have lots to explore in and of themselves. The complex houses one of the oldest temple sites in Bangkok. The crown jewel of the site, though, is the giant reclining Buddha statue. The whole thing is just over 150 feet long! It was pretty awe-inspiring to walk around it.
There are also 108 small bowls going around the structure into which visitors can drop 108 coins symbolizing the auspicious characters of Buddha. This was especially meaningful and great for kids when spending one day in Bangkok with kids. Especially when visiting multiple different temples in one day, it’s nice to have something tactile to help kids remember and reflect.
One Day Bangkok Itinerary Stop 3: Lunch & Grand Palace/Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)
After visiting the reclining Buddha when visiting Bangkok with kids, everyone will likely be hungry and ready for some food. There are several restaurant options nearby – feel free to grab whatever is convenient and appealing.
From there, take the short walk up to the Royal Palace, which houses the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Be sure to check times in advance – it does close earlier in the day on some days, and they are very strict about the hours (and often stop allowing in visitors half an hour in advance).
The entire complex is stunning and wonderful for wandering and taking in the intricate beauty. Definitely take some time to wander and explore while inside. The highlight, of course, is the stunning Buddha statue about two feet tall that is carved from a single piece of jade. To be honest, we were a bit surprised it wasn’t bigger (especially after coming from the reclining Buddha), but the gorgeous color makes up for it.
Expect it to be crowded in this wat, especially since it’s considered the most sacred temple in Thailand. Still, you may catch it during an afternoon lull/lunch rush. And busy or not, it’s part of the experience of visiting this important site.
One Day Bangkok Itinerary Stop 4: Your Choice
Having visited the most sacred and important sites in Bangkok with kids, you have a few options for how to spend the rest of your afternoon. Thailand is famous for its floating markets. Unfortunately, most are a full-day experience away from the city center. That said, if your heart is set on visiting one, Taling Chan floating market is a good option that isn’t too far from the city center.
To save time, you can take a relatively inexpensive taxi out there. Once at the market, you can also take a longtail boat tour around the nearby canals.
(Note: it’s always recommended to use car seats when in taxis of any sort. That said, they are very unusual in Thailand, and many vehicles will not be equipped to accommodate your seat. As we only took a couple of very short taxi rides and a couple of tuk tuks, we personally opted to not use child restraints. Please do your own research and make the best decision for your family. There’s my disclaimer for not being responsible for others’ child restraint decisions. 😉
HERE is more about our family’s travel carseat philosophy.)
Speaking of longtail boat tours, you can also catch one from many points near the city center along the river. Some will take you all the way out to floating markets if you have more time. Others will keep you close by but give a great view of waterfront homes and other sites along the river.
Another option for the afternoon on your Bangkok itinerary is to visit the Bangkok Flower Market. You’ll find much more than flowers here, too, and it’s great to get a glimpse of the hustle and bustle of Thai markets. Or you could just wander the historic city and experience it on foot before heading to dinner.
One Day Bangkok Itinerary Stop 5: Dinner
I always thought pad thai was a somewhat Westernized knockoff of an authentic Thai dish. But it turns out that “original” and authentic pad thai does exist, and can be found at some of its best at Thipsamai. The line to eat in will inevitably be impossibly long. For us, it worked much better to do takeout (which had a MUCH shorter line) and take our food back on an inexpensive 5-minute tuk tuk ride to our Airbnb. Then we enjoyed it on real dishes in comfort. I highly recommend this, especially when visiting Bangkok with kids!
Would you visit (or have you visited) Bangkok with kids? I hope this one day Bangkok itinerary is useful in narrowing down some highlights of this vibrant city!
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