48 Hours in Thailand: A Quick Travel Guide

The good old Thailand. Despite the growing popularity of other destinations around them, Thailand is here to stay. From the hyped Thai cuisine, so-so beaches, endless shopping, to its history and culture that most Thai raved about, Thailand certainly has that good old vibe that makes it shine amid the other emerging tourist spots in the region.

We visit Thailand and check out the spots beyond its capital Bangkok: to the resort city of Pattaya with its noisy and sometimes scandalous bars, to it’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya to inspect its temples and learn its history and lastly, experiencing the much raved about night life in Bangkok. So say “Sawadee ka, Thailand,” and let’s go!

Travel Budget Breakdown

hotel Hotel $50 (per day)

Transport

van Grab $12 (group of 6)
Tuk-Tuk $2 (group of 6)
Bus $2.5 (from Bangkok to Pattaya)

Food

dinner Lunch/ Dinner $2 to $3.5
Street Food 20 to 50 cents
Coffee 20 to 50 cents
Fruit Shakes $1.50
Thai Milk Tea 75 cents

Tour Fees

Buddha-god-Buddhism-statue-india-china0A-512 Entrance Fees $1 (per temple)
Vehicle Fee $30 ( 1 day tour/ group of 6)

Shopping

shopping Souvenirs $1 to $5
Clothes $7 to $10

Let’s Begin!

Hour 1 Bangkok Touchdown: The adventure begins here! Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is huge with a lot of foot traffic so you need to hurry up and dash to the immigration before you could lose your luggage. If you have time, try their airport coffee, it’s one of the best. (0530 GMT+7)

Hour 2 Bus to Pattaya: The airport in Bangkok is located at the outskirts of the capital, around 1 hour and 30 minutes ride to the resort city of Pattaya. You could take a flight straight to Pattaya if you want. For the bus going there, go to Level 1 Gate 8, near their food court. A ticket will cost around 130 Baht ($4.25). The bus schedule is between 5:30 AM to 10:00 PM. The ticket seller will lead you to the parked bus so stay around the area. Don’t take a pee. (0630 GMT+7)

Hour 4 Pattaya Ride to Hotel: Upon arriving in Pattaya, take a tuk-tuk or a motorcycle ride. The drivers know your hotel, just show them the address. (0830 GMT+7)

Hour 6: Pattaya Tour

After checking in and some breakfast, you can now start the tour. Ride a songthaew to take you around the place. (1030 GMT+7)

Sanctuary of Truth

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

Made entirely of intricately carved wood (without any metal nails) and commanding a stellar view of the ocean, this religious construction is dedicated to Thai, Khmer, Chinese, and Indian religious iconography. The place is huge and the details inside the building is cool. There’s also a cultural dance around noon so stick around.

Nong Nooch Tropical Garden

Geek Rate: Aeolus Worthy (1 out of 5 stars)

This very popular tourist attraction is a huge area consisting of a tropical garden of ornamental flowers and plants. The garden was turned into a tourist attraction fully equipped with accommodation, a swimming pool, restaurants, a banquet and seminar halls. This is a tourist trap with sad-looking elephants used to entice tourists.

Silverlake Vineyard

Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars)

This is a beautiful vineyard but not worth the price. You could opt for a tour of the place, riding an open vehicle that would take you around. Plus have some wine tasting. Their grapefruit juice is amazing.

Buddha Mountain

Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars)

This mountain depicts a 130-meter high Buddha Mountain, a huge golden Buddha image, which is also called Khao Cheejan and can be seen from miles away. The Buddha image is officially called Phra Phuttha Maha Wachira Uttamopat Satsada. The name is long, like that of Mojacko, but the place is just normal, no wow factor whatsoever.

Hour 10: Thai Food Experience

Check out the streets of Pattaya and try out some of those famous Thai cuisine. (1430 GMT+7)


Geek Rate: Sky god worthy (5/5). First Thai food lunch: pineapple fried rice, fried squid with salted egg, tom yum shrimp and that pork thing with an amazing sauce. Now I know why Thai food is famous. The amount of ingredients used in each food is mind blowing. All tastes good. 

Hour 12 Hotel Chill: Time to freshen up and check out the hotel’s amenities. (1630 GMT+7)

Hour 14: Bar Sightseeing and Dinner

Pattaya is famous for its bars all round the city, not just in one street (though the most famous is the one called “Walking Street”) which are open until the wake of dawn. Rowdy foreigners, prostitutes seeking rowdy foreigners with money and noisy music filled the night air. If this is not your vibe, head on to the quieter parts of the city and have some peaceful dinner with some of their cool (or not so cool) fruit shakes or maybe try some of their street foods. (1830 GMT+7)

Hour 18 Pattaya Shopping: After dinner, head to some of the city’s shops and check out the items for sale from local herbs to instant noodles to souvenirs. (2230 GMT+7)

Hour 21 Grab Some Sleep: Finally! (0130 GMT+7)

Hour 27 Bus to Bangkok: We leave Pattaya for Bangkok which is roughly 3-hour ride via bus (due to traffic). Use the time to catch some sleep. (0730 GMT+7)

Hour 30 Bangkok Arrival: At the bus station in Bangkok, get some Grab (the local Uber) to the hotel to check in, leave your luggage and freshen up. (1030 GMT+7)

Hour 31: Lunch in Bangkok

Finally, some Thai food in Bangkok! Try Laap Paak Dining Room with its cozy interior and artsy vibe. The restaurant is just near Bangkok central railway station (Hua Lamphong station). (1130 GMT+7)

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars). Featured here is Pad Thai stir-fried noodles with chicken bits and stuff.  The taste is fine, nothing special.

Hour 32: Train to Ayutthaya

There are many ways to go to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand. A bus or a van (if you’re a group) would be much more convenient but to feel how the local transportation works in the country, and for an authentic Thailand ride, we tried their good old railroad system to reach Ayutthaya (approximately 2-hour ride) . Choose from different types of trains from the cheapest one which is 15 Baht (50 Cents) to as much as 300 Baht ($10). The cheapest is the one which is annoying at first due to its slowness (it will stop multiple times in between stations for boarding passengers and the seats are mostly in bad shape) but the vibe is legit: locals boarding with you, the noise of vendors plying their goods, and the noise of the locals speaking in their dialect. It’s the ultimate Thailand experience. (1230 GMT+7)

Hour 34: Ayutthaya Tour

To be honest, I thought Ayutthaya would be much awesome than the Angkor complex in Cambodia, but turns out, this former capital city is a bit of a downer. The ancient vibe in the place is gone replaced by a park-like atmosphere with paved pathways which do not jibe with the place, restored Buddhas, hastily cemented walls and parts of the temples, and annoying entrance fees every step of the way. Still, without further ado, here are some of the temples in the ancient city that are worth visiting. (1430 GMT+7)

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon in Ayutthaya was constructed by King U-Thong in 1357 to accommodate ordained monks. There’s a giant reclining Buddha at the side of the temple, as well as, a pathway filled with restored Buddhas at either side. This is one of the places in Ayutthaya with a temple that you can actually enter and check what’s inside.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

One of Ayutthaya’s best known temples, Wat Chaiwatthanaram resembles the temples found in Angkor Wat with cool walkways and interior wall paintings. This was royal temple where the king and his successors performed religious ceremonies. Members of the royal family were cremated here.

Wat Mahathat 

Geek Rate: Thief Worthy (2 out of 5 stars)

The site of the famous Buddha head in tree roots, this temple complex was expanded by King Ramesuan while he was here as a monk (and attending to his kingly duties). The attraction is a rip-off of the much more impressive ones in Cambodia. I mean, honestly, this place is a downer, and a tourist trap. Still, the surrounding area which is huge, is a good place to visit, with temple ruins all around.

Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit houses one of Thailand’s largest bronze Buddhas, the Buddha of the Holy and Supremely Auspicious Reverence was sculpted in 1538 in the reign of King Chairacha. The image is impressive and there is a bit of grandeur in the new temple which sits beside the one where the giant Buddha originally stood.

Wat Lokayasutharam

Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

The important feature in Wat Lokayasutharam is a huge reclining Buddha image called “Phra Bhuddhasaiyart,” which faces to the east. The image is 37 meters long and 8 meters high and was constructed of bricks and cement in the art style of the Middle Ayutthaya Period. This one is much more impressive than the other reclining Buddhas but the lack of temples at the background makes it feel like its inauthentic.

Before leaving Ayutthaya, try their surprisingly good Roti, a cotton candy-like treat which is only available in this city. It tastes awesome especially when wrapped in that thin pancake-like wrapper with pandan flavor.

Hour 39: Train Back to Bangkok (1930 GMT+7)

Hour 42: Bangkok Night Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market is the place to be when it comes to shopping. The market is located in Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok, and is the largest market in Thailand. Also known as JJ Market, it has more than 15,000 stalls and 11,505 vendors, divided into 27 sections. This night market is so huge that you couldn’t tour the entire area in one go. The place sells any imaginable items and there are awesome food stalls too. Try some legit Thai milk tea while roaming around the place. If there is a Muggle version of Diagon Alley, this is it. (1030 GMT+7)

Hour 45: Grab to Bangkok Airport (0130 GMT+7)

Hour 48: Kapunkap, Thailand! (0430 GMT+7)

Geek Guide Data

vector-sign-of-people-icon
People – Generally our interactions with Thai people are quiet okay. Majority of them don’t mind tourists that much, so don’t expect much interactions from them, or any warmth. Just a lot of vacant expressions, and mind-your-own-business look. Staff in hotels and vendors in stores generally have bad manners towards tourists especially Southeast Asians, boarding to being racists (weird because we’re their neighbors), except if they know you have money. But some of the people, especially older ones in the not so touristy spots, are really friendly.
IMMIGRATION
Immigration – Stern officers but efficient nonetheless, the line in the immigration counters in Bangkok airport is long, but not as long as say in Bali and Manila (for foreigners at least). There machines are slightly problematic though, but generally tourists will sail smoothly out of the place. Their ASEAN lane does not work. Also, be quick in checking out of the immigration counter because their luggage conveyors are limited and you might find your belongings shoved in the corner as another airline might use it. Check their flight info screen.
van
Transport – In Bangkok, you could take the trains or get some Grab (especially if you’re a group) in touring the city. Also try the famous local transport tuk-tuk if you can. In Pattaya and Ayutthaya, there’s this famous local ride called “songthaew” that you can rent for hours. Buses, trains and vans can take you from one place to another.
wifi
WiFi and power plugs – The WiFi connection in Thailand is dependable, just choose a good service provider for your router or sim card. Places and restaurants have good free WiFi too. Thailand uses 220V AC electricity. Power outlets most commonly feature two-prong round or flat sockets.
shopping
Shopping and English – English in this place is almost non-existent , as is the case on most countries in Southeast Asia (except The Philippines and Singapore). Trying to communicate with your tour guide will be a challenge but most staff in hotels and vendors understand basic English for transaction and shopping purposes.
weather
Weather – Thailand is divided into three seasons. The first is the rainy or southwest monsoon season (mid–May to mid–October) which prevails over most of the country. Winter or the northeast monsoon starts from mid–October until mid–February. Summer or the pre-monsoon season runs from mid–February until mid–May and is characterized by warmer weather.

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