Updated: Mar 30
Guest post by Alice Ross at For Travelista
Many travelers have to change aircraft at the airport in Bangkok and end up with some free time in the city.
Most flights going through the Bangkok airport have connecting flights scheduled pretty close together, so you don’t need to wait too long for your next flight. But what if your layover is longer than a few hours? Or maybe you’ve got 24 hours to spend in the city before you fly out? You don’t want to wait at the airport for too long! We all know lounges can be expensive and massage chairs are not always enough to keep you comfortable. One of the best ways to use your free time is to explore Thailand’s capital city.
It’s easy to get to the main city of Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Not only is the Airport Rail Link fast, but it’s also affordable. For only 150 Baht, you can take the 30-minute ride from the airport to Makkasan Station. As the closest station to the main city, it will be your starting point.
Another option is riding in a taxi. They easily are available from the airport’s ground floor. While not as cheap as taking the train, taxis are a more convenient way to get around. However, you have to know that rush hour and rainy days are not the best times to take a taxi as you might spend hours sitting in it. Also, ask your driver to turn on the meter before hopping in it, unless you want to get ripped off, of course.
So, where should you go? It’s best to make the attraction you want to see first your direct destination from the airport. Note that some places, especially temples, may refuse your entry if you’re not wearing proper clothing. Do not wear flip-flops, sleeveless shirts, or shorts. This strict rule applies to both genders. If you happen to forget to wear the right clothing, there are many shops targeting tourists that will allow you to buy or rent a sarong or shoes.
You can start by soaking up some of the local culture. The Grand Palace is an amazing example of Thai culture and probably the most iconic landmark in Bangkok. This complex is where you will find Wat Phra Kaew that houses the famous 14th-century Emerald Buddha. The small architectural details and Buddhist shrines make the Grand Palace a tourist attraction that no foreign visitors should miss. The city’s cultural heart is a fascinating attraction that offers unique insight into the country’s history.
If the weather and time allow, you may want to take a tour from the River City complex on the Chao Phraya’s riverbank for an opportunity to see quickly see some of the city’s historical monuments. Weaving between the houses along the waterways of Bangkok and passing by the remarkable temples, such as the majestic Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn, you get a feel of authentic life in Bangkok. The tour will bring you up the river by longtail boat, and you’ll get to the calmer rice barge, where you’ll you can try some of the delectable cuisines.
Your trip to Bangkok is not complete if you haven’t experience exploring some of its many shopping markets. Considered as a shopper’s paradise, you can find anything you can think of here. Make sure to bargain for the best price for the products you want to take home with you.
Siam is the ultimate shopping district in Bangkok. Here, you will find rows of mega malls sitting that house some of the biggest brands in fashion. You can spend your whole day walking around the malls and still not see them all. So, if you have limited time in Siam Paragon, you may want to check out Siam Center and Central World first, as they offer the best combination of designers, high street brands, and boutiques. While MBK is infamous among travelers, it is the best place to go if you’re looking for cheap trinkets.
Another place you may want to go is in Platinum Fashion Mall located in Pratunam. Platinum is a one-stop shop for those who are looking wholesale finds that specializes in fashion brands. The many options available might be intimidating for some, but if you’re looking for something special, it is a worthwhile stop.
And of course, you cannot truly experience Bangkok unless you see its nightlife. If you have a low to mid-range budget, you can find a lot of affordable bars that target tourists. Khao San Road is probably the most popular street in Bangkok, if not, in all of Thailand – partly for having the most bars per square foot in the whole country.
Another popular area for lowball partygoers is Silom Soi 4. In this area is where you will find Langsuan, which is popular for its live music. Sukhumvit Road, on the other hand, has a lot of Irish, British, German, and American-style pubs. You can enjoy live DJ music here as well.
If you are looking for bigger, more upscale clubs, then you must check out RCA. You will find six big clubs located close to one another. While many bars don’t have a dress code, you might still want to dress well, just in case.
As the main hub of Thailand, Bangkok offers travelers plenty of opportunities to have a lot of fun even in a short amount of time. If you have a flight connection in this exciting city, be sure to check out the many things to do in Bangkok during a 24-hour layover.
Alice Ross is a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. You can read about her travels at For Travelista.