What to do in Bangkok on a 12-hours Layover
Bangkok receives a large number of tourists and that’s why it has two international airports: Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi. It’s also the world’s most visited city and an incredibly enjoyable tourist paradise. It’s not very rare that you get a considerably long period of layover at Bangkok’s two airports during one of your many international flights. What should you do if you have a 12-hour layover at either the Don Mueang airport or the Suvarnabhumi airport? Should you venture out of the airport, and if yes, where exactly should you go keeping in mind that you should return to the airport in time to catch your next flight?
If it's your first visit to Bangkok, you would not like to miss out on the city’s biggest tourist attractions. However, if you have already visited some of the most important places in the Thai capital, you may want to use the opportunity to savor something special. In the 12 hours of layover, if you account for the time that it will take to clear the immigration and come out of the airport, and also the time that it will take to return to the airport from your last destination, we can safely assume that you have about eight hours time to spend on sight-seeing or whatever else you want to do in this beautiful city.
If it is your first trip to Bangkok, let’s focus on visiting some iconic sites that remain etched in your mind long after you have left the city.
1. Royal Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The Royal Grand Palace is a must-see that you must squeeze into your itinerary. It is absolutely awe-inspiring and stunning. Within its premises, youcanalso find the Temple of Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Kaew. Getting there early canhelp yousave some time as the crowd of visitors swells as the day progresses. The Royal Garden Palace is about 36 kmawayfrom the Suvarnabhumi airport and 25 km from the Don Mueang airport. From the Suvarnabhumi airport, you can take the Airport Rail Link to get to central Bangkok. You can alsoget ataxiorashared private van to go around the city. The travel time to Royal Garden Palace as well as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha from either of the two airports is roughly an hour.
Ticket Price: 500 baht (about USD$15)
Timing: 9:00amto 3:30pm daily
If you plan onvisiting The Royal Garden Place, a very strict dress code has to be maintained. This spot actually demands more discretion than simply covering the knees, shoulders, or cleavages.
2. Wat Arun
This is yet another very famous temple in the Thai capital. It offers a beautiful overview of boats and tugboats moving down the Chao Phraya River. You can also watch the temple from the opposite bank of the river. The evening sun setting behind the temple is a mesmerizing experience. It is about 39 kmawayfrom Suvarnabhumi airport. In order to reach here in a time-efficient manner, you need to use the Airport Rail Link, sky train, and taxi–all three.
Ticket Price: 50 baht (about USD$1)
Timing: 8:00am to 6:00pm daily
If you’ve already visited these famous sites in Bangkok on previous occasions, you may like to visit something less touristy during this 12-hour layover.
You can take a stroll down some of the popular markets in Thailand and savor the ethnic flavors of real Thai cuisine as well as local wares and handicrafts. There is no entrance fee for any of these markets and they are open seven days a week. So there is no chance of missing outonthe charm of local markets.
3. Chinatown Talat Noi & Sampeng Lane
Chinatown is too big an area and slightly confusing if you don’t know where exactly to go. Otherwise, you will end up wasting your precious time walking down the streets while nothing much may be going on there. You should try Sampeng Lane and Talat Noi. To reach here without getting caught in the traffic, you may avail a boat ride. Travel time from either of the airports would be about an hour one way.
Talat Noi offers you a glimpse of pre-skyscraper days of old Bangkok. Small workshops have their machinery spilling out of their doorways into the small streets. Sampeng Lane is simply breathtaking with all the myriad merchandise and products spread over the street. It’s like walking through an offline Alibaba or Amazon incarnate. And while you are taking a walk, noting down the interesting and colorful aspect of Bangkok life, you can’t avoid noticing the hot sun over your head. The funny part is that the shops here have their air-conditioners turned on even if it is a fully open-air market.
4. Soi Rambuttri
Soi Rambuttri and Khao San Road run parallel to each other. While Soi Rambuttri has restaurants, boutique cafes, small eclectic shops, and numerous foot massage centers, Khao San Road is considered the center of backpacking universe. It’s an extremely charming place that must figure in your itinerary.
5. Floating Market
Bangkok has quite a few floating markets, but the two most popular and largest such markets are roughly 100km away from the city center.These markets can be covered in a 12-hour layover if you really consider visiting them worthwhile. However, you can catch up with a smaller and lesser-known but a close-by floating market at Taling Chan. It will take about an hour from the city center, but if you are short on time, you should undertake this journey only if you are familiar with the location andyoufeel sure of returning to the airport on time for your flight.
If you’re able toreach this floating market, youwillsee vendors selling fresh farm produce and snacks being grilled on the boat itself. Here, you can enjoy a foot massage under a shade of a tree or can go for a short boat ride in the canal like the vendors of the floating market do. A ride in a longtail boat costs 100 baht per person.
Depending on your liking and preference, you can choose some of these sites and markets in Bangkok during your 12-hour layover. Make sure that you use the Airport Rail Link, Skytrain, and boat services wherever these facilities are available. This willkeep you from getting caught in lengthy and slow road traffic.
Before you wrap up your day, let’s have a quick visit to a few among the most famous eating squares in the city to savor the world famous Thai cuisine right in the capital of Thailand.
6. Klongsan Plaza
When in Bangkok, who would not want to try enough of Thai street food? At Klongsan Plaza, you will find a large army of street food vendors churning out snacks and quick hot meals. Nothing stops you to have your fill with delectable and authentic Bangkok street food. You can expect a great variety of steaming noodle bowls, Thai fried chicken, sticky rice and mango based sweet snacks, andmany more equally delectable and scrumptious food.
7. Food Republic
If you think you have had enough of Thai street food on the Bangkok streets, it’stime to turn to some food courts where Thai street food is served in a cleaner and more relaxed setting. Try out the Food Republic. It can be found on the third floor of Siam Center Mall. It offers a good selection of street food items that will cater to all types of tastes. This place is frequented by expats, tourists, and locals alike. The best part of thisplaceis thateach food stall offers amenu that describes the ingredients in English. So perhaps it will be more comfortable for you toeat street food when you know what’s in it.