After spending your first day in Bangkok exploring the temples and traditional markets of the old town, start day two in Bangkok with a visit to Lumphini Park to exercise with the locals or enjoy the green space in the cool of the morning. After breakfast, escape the midday heat inside downtown’s excellent art museums. In the afternoon, head to the vibrant Chinatown and explore the numerous shrines, temples, and markets before indulging in street food and having a nightcap at a funky neighborhood bar.
Join the locals for morning exercises in Lumpini Park
In the morning, the people of Bangkok congregate in parks to exercise. In Lumpini Park, rows of line-dancers take over the squares, dancing to Thai rock or EDM blasted out crackling speakers. In the quieter plazas and lawns, people practice yoga, Tai Chi, and fan-dancing. In the outdoor gyms, sweaty body-builders lift rusty weights, and the network of trails fill up with joggers. These morning workouts are as much about socializing as exercise, and if you join in, you’ll be sure to make several new friends. If you aren’t in the mood to work out, it is worth waking up early to see the spectacle and enjoy the park before it gets hot.
Grab a delicious breakfast and visit the Bangkok Art and Culture Center
After a morning in the park, retreat indoors to avoid the heat and get a dose of Thai art and culture. But first, you’ll need to eat. For a traditional Thai breakfast, grab a table at Polo Fried Chicken near Lumphini Park and eat like the locals. Polo Fried Chicken serves some of the best crispy-skinned chicken with garlic you’ll eat in Thailand, but if fried chicken sounds too heavy in the morning, order a bowl of hot and sour beef soup and a plate of Isaan sausage. For an even lighter meal, ride the sky train to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center and visit the on-site Gallery Drip Cafe for a breakfast of homemade pastries and organic coffee. Once fortified with calories and caffeine, meander through the sprawling art gallery to see the collection of paintings, sculptures, photography, and cinema exhibitions.
Tour the Jim Thompson House Museum and eat lunch at the on-site restaurants
A short walk from the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center is the Jim Thompson House Museum, the beautiful former home of the American silk merchant who helped revitalize the Thai silk trade after World War II. Take a tour of his home, then check out the gallery and museum to learn about the silk-making process and see the extensive collection of paintings and carvings. Before you leave, eat lunch at one of the superb restaurants located at the Jim Thompson complex. Cafe 93 is a casual restaurant serving Thai dishes and western fare. The curries and soups, such as the delicious tom kha gai, come in a bowl heated by a flaming candle to keep it hot as you eat. For a more upscale dining experience, try the Jim Thompson Restaurant and Wine Bar inside a traditional wooden building on a leafy canal. The signature dish is the yellow curry cooked with vegetables, egg, and crab meat.
Spend the afternoon wandering through Chinatown
The afternoon is the best time to visit Bangkok’s vibrant Chinatown. Start your tour of the area at Wat Traimit, a stunning modern temple that houses a solid-gold Buddha weighing over 10,000 pounds. Behind the temple, you’ll find Yaowarat Street, the beating heart of Chinatown, known for its iconic signs. Walk west along Yaowarat, meandering through the neighborhood’s side streets to check out the bustling street markets, ancient shrines, and lively temples.
Eat Dinner at the Yaowarat Night Market or the upscale Red Rose
One lane of Yaowarat Street closes in the evening and becomes a night market with rows upon rows of food stalls. Many street chefs put on a show by throwing shrimp into hot woks, causing flames to leap into the sky, or flipping noodles and catching them in pans. The best dining option in the market is Fi Keaw, an outdoor restaurant known for its excellent seafood. Fi Keaw is always busy with locals and tourists, and you’ll likely have to wait for a table, which is fine — grab a beer and people-watch in the meantime. Once you get a table, order the grilled giant prawns with a side of stir-fried morning glory. Alternatively, have dinner at the upscale Red Rose restaurant at the Shanghai Hotel. Treat yourself to the dinner set menu, featuring crispy wasabi prawns wrapped in duck skin and Australian beef in pepper sauce.
Enjoy a nightcap at a hip watering Hole
A ten-minute walk from the Yaowarat Night Market leads to Nana Street, a neighborhood with several cozy pubs. Have a nightcap at TEP Bar, a venue famous for its live band playing traditional instruments, or get a drink at 23 Bar and Gallery, a dive bar with quirky artwork and loud rock music.