This article includes links to our travel partners at Tripadvisor, where you can read traveller reviews, book tours and plan your visit to Bangkok.
If you’re flying through Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) and find yourself with a layover of over six hours, it might be worthwhile to pop into the city center for a taste of Thailand. Taxis make for an inexpensive and efficient means of reaching the city center in relatively little time. This should leave you with just enough hours to fit in a bowl of noodles, a Thai massage, a tour through a temple or a peek at a palace before returning to the airport for your onward journey. Details on what to do and how to do it follow in our Bangkok Airport Layover Sightseeing guide below.
BKK is often voted one of SleepingInAirports traveller’s favourite airports in Asia, so a layover of less than five hours is easily and happily spent here. If you cannot make the journey into the city center, you can still indulge in many of the same activities. An excellent airport spa offers classic Thai massages, while many restaurants serve several noodle dishes that will give you an idea of local cuisine. Beyond that, you’re looking at relatively standard airport amenities that will keep you busy and comfortable enough during your layover. For more information on the airport, check out our Bangkok Airport Guide.
Bangkok Sightseeing Attractions
Below are a few of the top things to do in Bangkok:
Your best (and least stressful) option will be to book one of the organized transit tours offered at the airport tour desk. If you are in transit, you can book one of 15 tours ranging from 4 to 12 hours. Tours include City & Temple Tour, Erawan Museum & Ancient City, Erawan Museum & Crocodile Farm, Grand Palace, Khlong Tour, Khlong Suan Market & Wat Sathor Wararam Worahihan, Shopping, Siam Ocean World & Siam Paragon Shopping Complex, Massage & Spa, Siam Niramit (Dinner and show), Aksara Theatre (Dinner and Puppet Show), Thai Dinner with Classical Dance, Golf Tour Kiatthani, The Rose Garden Thai Village and Cultural Learning Centre, Pom Phra Chulachomklao. Tour rates are unknown—location: Arrivals Floor at the Concourse C/D and D/E intersections.
Khao San Road
In recent years, this former rice market has been transformed into a massive backpacker hot spot which vies for the title of ‘backpacker capital of the universe.’ During the day, shopping opportunities are endless, with vendors setting up stalls that sell anything from local handicrafts and paintings to pirated CDs and DVDs. In the evening, the street transforms into a string of bars and pubs, filled with travellers discussing their adventures and misadventures. As you browse and wander, be sure to fit in a classic Thai massage and a bowl of noodles into your day’s activities – these are two of the most essential activities on the street. Tattoo parlours, insect-frying street vendors, and bars specializing in bucket-sized cocktails also sit among the street’s most notorious sites.
- Time Required: Khao San Road can be explored for any length of time, depending on your time availability and preferences. We would suggest a minimum of two hours to fully appreciate noodles, an hour-long massage and a bit of wandering. Time travelling to and from the airport is not included in this quote.
- How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options and the required time. Conveniently, Khao San Road is approximately a half-mile from the Grand Palace, described below.
- Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting the Khao San Road, to book a tour or read traveller reviews.
The Grand Palace
Bangkok’s magnificent and elaborately adorned Grand Palace is likely one of the city’s most recognized landmarks. Since its original construction in 1782, this has been the home of the Thai King, the seat of the administrative government, the home of the Thai war ministry and even the country’s mint. The Palace also houses the coveted and ancient Emerald Buddha, which can be observed (though never photographed). As you move through the complex, you will get a strong sense of Thailand’s development and spirit through the paintings that depict the country’s historical and spiritual development. These intricate and colourful pieces of art make for a stunning introduction to this sensational country. Just be sure to pay attention to the dress code – displayed shoulders, skirts, sandals and shorts are all strictly forbidden.
- Time Required: The Grand Palace is enormous. While you could get lost in it for hours, we recommend a minimum of an hour for a brief tour. Time travelling to and from the airport is not included in this quote.
- How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options and the required time.
- Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting the Grand Palace, book a tour or read traveller reviews.
Wat Pho Temple / Wat Phra Chetuphon
For many, a visit to Thailand is incomplete without a visit to a classic Buddhist temple – a wat. Wat Pho Temple is the city’s oldest and largest temple and is home to the Reclining Buddha: a 15-meter high gold leaf-coated Buddha. Moreover, it is believed to be the birthplace of Thai massage and remains one of the most prestigious massage training facilities worldwide! It remains active, with a sizeable Buddhist residency in the southern temple. While the Reclining Buddha is typically the most significant attraction, spend time wandering between the chapels, admiring the murals, attempting to count the most extensive collection of Buddha images and passing through lines of golden Buddha statues. The surrounding courtyards sprawl over eight hectares and are also worth a wander.
- Time Required: We recommend a minimum of an hour for Wat Pho. This gives you enough time to see the Reclining Buddha and, more broadly, wander areas of the compound. Note that guided tours are available for various prices and durations.
- How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on public and private transit options and the required time. It is located directly beside the Grand Palace (a 10-minute walk), making this an easy add-on for those with more time.
- Plan Your Visit: Visit Tripadvisor for more information about visiting Wat Phra Chetuphon, book a tour or read traveller reviews.
BKK is just over 30 kilometres from the city center and is connected through several private and public transit options. Taxis are generally the most efficient way of reaching the city center, and luckily, they are relatively inexpensive – provided you seek one that has a meter.
Public transit options include:
- Bus Bor Khor Sor (Passenger Terminal): Buses depart from 5:40 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., connecting the airport with various destinations throughout Bangkok. Purchase tickets at the Public Transport Center in the airport.
- Bus BMTA (Passenger Terminal): A secondary bus system with alternate routes and longer hours. Purchase tickets at the Public Transport Center in the airport.
- Public Van (Pick-Up at Arrival Terminal, Gates 1 and 8): Vans connect the airport with various destinations throughout the city throughout the day. They generally depart when the van is full.
- Airport Rail Link: Service from Phaya Thai Station to the airport, with stops at six stations en route. Express and standard routes are available, with total line travel time ranging from 15 – 30 minutes.
- Airport Transfer Bus (Departs BKK on Passenger Terminal 1st Floor): A FREE bus transfer service that connects Don Muaeng Airport with Suvarnabhumi Airport from 5:00 a.m. to midnight daily.
Private transit options include:
- Taxi (Passenger Terminal, Gates 4 and 7): A 24-hour taxi service is available for travellers on the first floor of the Passenger Terminal. Be sure to seek out taxis with meters.
- Airport Limousine Service: A private luxury transfer service operated by the Airports of Thailand Public Company Ltd.
Before You Go: Layover Tips
Now that you are motivated and excited about your mini layover vacation, check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.
- Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost, and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
- When is your next flight’s check-in time? Double-check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
- What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for extended security wait times, so research in advance and factor that into your overall time budget.
- What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, confirm whether your luggage will be checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights. Check out our Bangkok Airport Guide for information on luggage storage.
Other Useful Resources
Finally, here are a few handy resources to help you plan your layover even more thoroughly: