Ultimate Itinerary - 1 Week in Bangkok and Phuket
Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand offers an exciting array of ancient temples, royal palaces, and tropical beaches. With so many great places to explore, one week isn't really enough time to get the full "Thailand experience," but it's a great amount of time to experience many of the top attractions! Below is my recommended itinerary for a one week trip to Thailand, which includes a visit to the capital Bangkok and the island of Phuket.
Day 1 - Bangkok
- Walk around the the Grand Palace. Beginning in 1782, the Grand Palace served as the official residence for the Kings of Siam. It's now largely used for official events like royal ceremonies and state functions. It's also one of the most popular tourist attractions! The entry fee is 500 baht ($14) which includes access to Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. There's a strict dress code for both men and women, so make sure you wear long pants and shirts with sleeves.
- Visit the Reclining Buddha. About a 10-minute walk from the Grand Palace is Wat Po, home to the famous Reclining Buddha. Built by Rama III in 1832, the Reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana. Note: There are thousands of buddhist temples throughout Thailand beginning with the word "wat," which translates to "temple."
- Eat pad thai for dinner at Thip Samai. Widely known for its amazing pad thai, this restaurant has an assembly line of workers, each responsible for one component of the dish. For 90 baht (~$3), you can get a steaming dish of pad thai with shrimp. There's usually a long line out front, but don't be discouraged as it moves quickly. Note: The restaurant only offers pad thai, water, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Day 2 - Bangkok
- Visit Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn. Situated along the Chao Phraya River and directly across from the Grand Palace is Wat Arun. The easiest way to get there is by taking a short ferry ride from the Tha Thien Pier.
- Walk around Khao San Road. This street is regarded as the "backpacker's haven," offering a large array of cheap souvenirs, massages, fish pedicures, henna tattoos, and scorpion snacks. The area is very touristy, but worth a visit!
- Take a boat ride through the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. There are several vendors at Khao San Road that offer trips to the floating market, a 100-year old market in the outskirts of Bangkok. Hire a boat through any of the piers, travel through the canals, and buy delectable snacks and souvenirs directly off other boats.
- Eat dinner at Cabbages and Condoms. The slogan of this restaurant is "our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy." This unique restaurant seeks to promote family planning, with some of the profits supporting various development projects. Many of the lamps and artwork throughout the restaurant are constructed from condoms. Cabbages and Condoms also has an on-site shop that offers a variety of handicrafts made from local villagers.
Day 3 - Bangkok
- Climb to the top of Wat Saket. Popularly known as the Golden Mount, this buddhist temple was built during the reign of King Rama I. The view from the top offers sweeping 360-degree views of the city.
- Visit Wat Suthat. This buddhist temple is only a 10-minute walk from the Golden Mount. Construction of the temple also occurred during the reign of King Rama I and it's best known for the giant red swing at the entrance.
- Eat dinner at Lan Na Thai. This restaurant offers a delicious mix of Thai, Indian, and Japanese cuisines. The interior and ambience of the restaurant is amazing, with its traditional Thai artwork and architectural style.
- Enjoy a VIP movie experience at the Paragon Cineplex. Located near the Siam BTS Station, this theater offers a lavish movie watching experience, complete with large reclining seats, complimentary alcoholic drinks, and snacks. Tickets are not cheap by Thai standards, costing around $30. As with all movie theaters in Thailand, make sure you stand during the King's national anthem, which plays before the movie, out of respect for the King of Thailand.
Day 4 - Bangkok
- Tour the Jim Thompson House. Built by American entrepreneur Jim Thompson, this traditional Thai-style teak house is a well-known landmark in Bangkok. Take a guided tour to learn more about his extensive art collection and architectural achievements.
- Visit the Caturday Cat Cafe. About a 10-minute walk from the Jim Thompson House is one of Bangkok's most popular cat cafes. Play with the cats and enjoy some tea, coffee, and delicious cakes.
- Explore the Chatuchak Weekend Market. With 27 unique sections, this market offers a massive array of items ranging from clothes, souvenirs, pets, jewelry, art, handbags, and much more!
- Hang out on a rooftop and swim in an infinity pool. Many of the hotels and fancier apartment buildings in Bangkok have infinity pools and outdoor decks on the roof. I stayed at a 2-bedroom Airbnb at an apartment building called "The Address Asoke," which had an amazing infinity pool, as seen below!
- Eat dinner at Masala Art. If you don't want to stick only with Thai food during your trip, this restaurant offers a variety of delicious Indian dishes.
Day 5 - Phuket/Bangkok
- Take a 1.5 hour flight from Bangkok to Phuket. One-way tickets generally cost about $55. I recommend staying at this 2-bedroom villa along Friendship Beach in Rawai, Phuket which has its own personal lap pool and outdoor pool.
- Relax on Nai Harn Beach. This relatively secluded beach is particularly popular with the locals.
- Explore the diverse bar scene in Patong. Take a taxi to the Patong Beach area - about 30 minutes from Rawai - and begin your bar crawl along the many go-go bars and nightclubs.
Day 6 - Phuket
- Rent a boat and go snorkeling at Banana Beach. Along with its pristine clear waters and white sand, Banana Beach is home to a large variety of colorful fish, sea urchins, and starfish! I brought my own swim goggles with me when I went snorkeling, but there are plenty of vendors offering them for rent at a reasonable price.
- Watch the sunset at the Phuket Big Buddha. One of the most iconic sites in Phuket, the Big Buddha sits at the top of a large hill and offers sweeping 360-degree views of the entire island.
- Grab dinner at the Rum Jungle. This local restaurant in Rawai, Phuket offers a delicious mix of Mediterranean and Italian cuisine.
Day 7 - Phuket/Bangkok
- Fly back to Bangkok! If you're able to continue your journey, I highly recommend either heading to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand or flying to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Check out my post on Siem Reap to learn more!