Cities don’t come much more vibrant and exciting than Bangkok. And if you find yourself on a layover in Bangkok Airport, the temptation to get out and explore can be overwhelming.
Suvarnabhumi Airport, as Bangkok’s airport is officially known, lies around 30 km or 18.5 miles from the city it serves. However, the airport is connected to the city by Airport Rail Link, making it easy to reach Bangkok from the airport. The Express Line used to be able to reach the city in as little as 18 minutes, but service on this line has been suspended. The remaining City Link takes around an hour to reach Makkasan Station, and from there, you may need to take a Metro a couple of stops to really reach the heart of the city.
With that in mind, you’ll need to plan carefully how best to spend your Bangkok layover. Still, if you have the time, you can get at least a glimpse of what the city has to offer before making your next connection. Don’t forget to drop off your bags at a Bangkok luggage storage to make your trip easier.
6 hour layover in Bangkok
Short layovers can be challenging, given the difficulties of reaching the city. To maximize your time, it might be best to splurge on a taxi that can get you into central Bangkok in half an hour rather than trying to take the train which could take more than an hour. Even if you choose a taxi, you’ll need to be selective in what you want to see.
As far as the sights of the city go, it’s hard to beat the Grand Palace. This stunning complex was the official residence of the King of Siam as far back as the 18th century. The palace is still used for state functions of the Thai royal family, but also houses a museum exploring the history of the country and the monarchy that rule it. It’s also an incredible place for photos.
- On a short stopover, it may be best to take a taxi into the city.
- Visit the Grand Palace to see the center of Thailand’s power.
- Enjoy the informative museum and incredible architecture of this impressive royal residence.
8 hour layover in Bangkok
An eight-hour layover gives you a little more time to explore. After dropping off your bags in a Bangkok luggage locker, you could see a grimy but more vibrant side of the city on Khaosan Road. This shopping and entertainment street is known around the world, and is legendary in the backpacking community. You’re bound to meet other travelers in the bars and restaurants of the area, and it’s a fun place to grab lunch or dinner and swap stories and tips with other travelers.
- Head to Khaosan Road to interact with Bangkok’s traveler community.
- Grab lunch or dinner in one of the many bars and restaurants in the area.
- Shop for souvenirs in the many shops along Khaosan Road.
10 hour layover in Bangkok
With a couple more hours to spend in Bangkok, you can add another attraction to your itinerary. Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan is a Buddhist temple that has to be seen to be believed. Dating back to the 17th century, this highly ornamented temple is a truly stunning sight, especially in the morning when its central tower catches the rising sun. But it’s worth a visit at any time to explore the spiritual side of the country and get incredible photos of this architectural marvel.
- Visit Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchaworamahawihan to see one of Bangkok’s most jaw-dropping landmarks.
- Get stunning photos of this impressive temple.
12 hour layover in Bangkok
The temples and palaces of Bangkok are enough to fill even a much longer visit. But it would be a shame to spend a layover in Bangkok and not enjoy the city’s incredible food scene. Just about everywhere you go, you’ll find excellent food. One place you shouldn’t miss on a 12-hour long layover is Rattanakoskin Island. Yes, the island holds the Grand Palace. But it’s also known for its massive variety of street food eateries. Feast on barbecue pork or Pad Thai in and around Phraeng Phuton Square, where many of the city’s best restaurants are located. If you really want to delve into this side of Bangkok, you could even take a street food tour which will take you to some of the best places to eat and fill you in on the culture behind Bangkok’s incredible food.
- Visit Phraeng Phuton Square to sample some of the best food in the city.
- Try delicious Thai food from some of Bangkok’s most exciting vendors.
- Take a food tour to explore more of Bangkok’s culinary scene.
24 hour layover in Bangkok
An overnight layover in Bangkok means you can really enjoy a city that comes alive at night. Once you’ve found a hotel and dropped off your bags at a Bangkok luggage storage, you’ll be free to enjoy another side of the city. You could head back to Khaosan Road to party with the backpackers, but for a different experience, head to Palladium Night Market close to the city's center. Bangkok’s markets are always a feast for the senses, and this is especially true at night, when you can browse the stalls and enjoy the city the way the locals do.
Alternatively, you could spend the evening cruising the river on a dinner cruise that allows you to watch the city lighting up at night. It’s a beautiful experience you won’t soon forget.
Before heading to the airport for your flight the next day, swing by the National Museum Bangkok. The sprawling museum contains many of the country’s greatest cultural and artistic treasures, and traces the history of Thailand from the Neolithic age up to the present day. You’ll leave with a far greater understanding of the forces that have shaped the country along with some great memories of your time in Thailand.
- Party on Khaosan Road or visit a night market.
- Take a river cruise to enjoy dinner with a spectacular view.
- Visit the National Museum to see some of Thailand’s cultural treasures.