Discover the Best of Bangkok During Your Layover
Created by Colleen Sims * 15 March 2023 * Updated 15 August 2023
Our flight from Siem Reap was cancelled and instead, we had one night in Bangkok. We arrived in the afternoon so we really wanted to make the very most of our visit.
Take a Tour to Make the Most of Your Bangkok Layover
Bangkok, also known as the ‘City of Angels’, boasts a plethora of awe-inspiring sights that left us yearning for more. The bustling Thai capital is packed with so many amazing places to visit that we realise it should be a must-visit destination and we’ve added it to our growing bucket list.
We only had a few hours but even this short layover left us with an unforgettable evening. If like us you only have an evening, taking a tuk-tuk tour of the city is a fabulous way to spend your time. So, fasten your seatbelts, and we’ll tell you about our incredible evening!
Transport from Bangkok Airport
Bangkok is a crazy busy bustling international hub and as such, there are many different transport options from Bangkok Airport into the city.
Airport Rail Link
One of the most popular choices for the budget-conscious traveller is to take the Airport Rail Link which connects Suvarnabhumi Airport with downtown Bangkok. The train leaves every 15 minutes and takes approximately 30 minutes to reach Makkasan Station in the city centre.
Usually, we’d use this option but as time was very short for us we decided to take a taxi.
Taxis are a great choice if you want an easy journey to your hotel; be aware though of the crazy city traffic which can slow you down.
We bought a SIM card at the airport when we arrived and then used our GRAB app to book the taxi. You can also pre-book a taxi with booking.com.
There is also a taxi stand outside of the arrivals hall and all taxis at the airport do have meters. It takes around 45 minutes to get into central Bangkok, depending on traffic.
Taking the Airport bus is another option. Two different lines travel from the airport to Bangkok, the A1 and A2 lines. However, the journey takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes and they stop frequently, and traffic can slow them down even more. If you have time then it’s an option but for us we needed speed
A shuttle service exists between the airport and some downtown hotels. This service operates daily and can be pre-booked. Check with your hotel to see if it’s an option for you.
Exploring the city at Night with a Tuk-Tuk tour: A one-of-a-kind experience
The iconic three-wheeled tuk-tuk is synonymous with Bangkok and is an exhilarating way to zip through the city’s streets. We only had an evening and we booked a tuk-tuk tour. What an amazing way to experience the city’s vibrant energy. And it’s a great way to dodge the notorious Bangkok traffic.
Tuk-tuks offer an affordable option but make sure you negotiate fares in advance or use the GRAB app to avoid having to haggle at the end of your journey.
We Started the Tour on the Chao Phraya River Ferry
We met our guide and fellow travellers at the exit of Bangkok’s Metro and our first stop was the ferry on the mighty Chao Phraya river. After a 20 minute cruise, we hopped off at Wat Arun.
Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is a stunning 17th century Buddhist temple located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Named after the Indian God of Dawn, Aruna, the Wat Arun temple compound contains a collection of impressive structures that are decorated with porcelain and ceramic tiles. The most prominent structure is the 80-meter-tall central prang, surrounded by four smaller prangs, which are adorned with delicate figures of Chinese soldiers and animals.
The buildings and temples were closed when we visited but we did have time to explore this beautiful site and watch the sunset over Bangkok.
Bring on the Tuk-Tuks
We hopped back on the ferry to cross the river and after a short walk met our tuk-tuks and drivers for the night.
Without doubt, our tuk-tuk tour offered us a unique opportunity to see Bangkok city life up close. There were six people on the tour and we shared three tuk-tuks, and the drivers took great pleasure in racing each other around the city!
We stopped to take a closer look at the famous Wat Phra Chetputhon Bhuda, the Grand Palace and the Giant Swing and we whizzed our way around downtown districts at night before arriving at the Flower Market.
Bangkok Flower Market
Wow! The flower market in Bangkok is a sight to behold. So many flowers! Bright colours, fragrant aromas and a bustling atmosphere, we loved it. Apparently it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions, drawing both locals and tourists alike… it’s easy to see why!
Our guide taught us how to shape the lotus flower bud into a flower with petals and he walked us around the most popular stalls. There’s a small shrine in the centre of the market and we each left our newly formed lotus flowers as an offering to the gods.
Next Stop Chinatown!
Our tour ends in Chinatown but before the night was over we first enjoyed a meal at one of the street-food eateries. Our guide had arranged this in advance and prewarned them that I can’t eat gluten. There were noodles and Chinese chicken for everyone else but vegetarian rice for me, soy sauce contains gluten so it was important to make that distinction; having the guide to translate is another reason why tours are great for street food.
Bangkok’s Chinatown is a loud, busy, vibrant, bustling area filled with shops and restaurants and tourists and street-food vendors and tuk-tuks and lights! Here you’ll find some of the best street food in the city. It’s also home to many traditional Chinese temples, like Wat Traimit temple which holds the world’s biggest solid gold Buddha statue!
After our meal we walked the streets up and down with the guide. Be warned that pickpockets are here so keep an eye on your bag and pockets! Thankfully the only scary thing that we experienced was the vendor selling the deep-fried bugs and scorpions; and of course, Gerry had to try a few!
Book your Tuk-Tuk with the GRAB App
And that was it; our whistle-stop tour of Bangkok. We absolutely loved this tour and we know we’ll come back to Bangkok one day!
We took a tuk-tuk home. But we let our guard down and just stopped one on the street. Big mistake! We only had a large note to pay when we arrived but the driver insisted it was his tip! This a timely reminder to use the GRAB app (like we did in Cambodia) because the price is agreed upon before you even start your ride.
Tips to Help you Make the Most of your Tuk-tuk Tour
While tuk-tuks might be a thrilling mode of transport, safety and convenience are still paramount.
- Ensure that you negotiate your fare with the driver before starting your journey or take a tour like we did (and use GRAB if going solo)
- Always wear your seatbelt if there is one!
- Be mindful of your belongings, and keep an eye on your bags
- Keep your hands (and head) inside the tuk-tuk, the vehicles get very very close to passing walls, cars and buildings!
- Opt for a guided tuk-tuk tour with great reviews to ensure you have reliable, pre-screened drivers who possess a wealth of knowledge about the city
The Last Word : Discover the Best of Bangkok During Your Layover
We LOVED this tour! We only really had one evening to spare and this tuk-tuk tour was a fantastic way to make the very most of our Bangkok layover.
It was a thrilling and unforgettable journey and we got to experience the city’s magic on a whole new level and sample a little of its famous cuisine and stunning landmarks.
Embrace the opportunity to join in the vibrant tapestry that is Bangkok, even if just for a few hours. On your next layover, don’t hesitate to jump into a tuk-tuk and let the City of Angels regale you with its charm and hospitality.