Laying Over in Bangkok – What to Do & Where to Eat

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Bangkok is the largest city in Thailand by far, with several million more inhabitants than the entire nation-state of Singapore. It’s a dynamic place that’s always on the move. Thanks to its fortuitous location at the head of the Gulf of Thailand, Bangkok is also a major hub for international air travel. If you’re heading from Singapore to points farther north in Asia or making connections to Europe or North America, you may well lay over at BKK in the near future.

On longer layovers — say, six hours or more — you’ll have time to leave the airport and explore the city. Here’s how to ensure your time in Bangkok is successful.

First Things: Planning for a Successful Layover

Before you arrive, plan for a successful layover by:

  • Setting Aside Funds for a Memorable Day (And Ensure You’ll Have Access). Make sure your travel budget has room for a memorable day in Bangkok, particularly if you plan to eat at one of the fine restaurants listed below. If you’re not sure your bank can accommodate, consider switching to a financial partner that does business throughout the Asia Pacific region, such as a Singapore based trust and corporate services provider.
  • Evaluating Local Guide Options. Bangkok is a bit rougher around the edges than Singapore, and many of its top sights are off the beaten path. Consider hiring a local guide to show you around.
  • Packing a Day Bag. This should include all the essentials you’ll need on a day of sightseeing. Make sure it’s lightweight and fits inside your carry-on (or is your carry-on).
  • Becoming Familiar With Local Transportation and Transit. If you don’t plan to hire a local guide, become familiar with Bangkok’s road and transit systems. The best way to get into the city from the airport is the modern Skytrain, an elevated rapid transit line. Once downtown, you can walk or taxi to where you need to go.

Sights to See on Your Bangkok Layover 

Don’t miss these world-class sights on your Bangkok layover: 

  • Lumpini Park. This is the crown jewel of Bangkok’s park system — perfect for a morning or evening stroll.
  • Grand Palace. Words can’t do this place justice. You must see the historic Thai royal court for yourself.
  • Wat Pho. Not far from the Grand Palace is Wat Pho, arguably the city’s most extravagant temple. Remember to dress modestly (full-length trousers or dresses) as is custom.
  • Wat Arun. The so-called Temple of the Dawn, on the far side of the Chao Praya River, is well worth the journey. Again, remember the dress code (that’s what your day bag is for).
  • Khaosan Road. If you’d like to experience Bangkok’s slightly seedy underside in safety and comfort, this is the place to visit. You’ll find amazing deals on tailored clothing and high-end luggage here, too.
  • Chatuchak Market. Seeking more bargains? If you’re around at the weekend, hit Chatuchak Market, on the city’s north side. 

Where to Eat on Your Bangkok Layover

Bangkok is renowned for fantastic street food. If all you crave is a perfectly spiced noodle plate finished off with a decadent bowl of mango sticky rice, you’ll barely have to look — both Khaosan Road and Chatuchak Market have dozens of vendors selling one or both, as do most other main thoroughfares and tourist districts in Bangkok.

If you’re seeking a more memorable culinary experience, consider:

  • Housed at the COMO Metropolitans Bangkok Hotel, Nahm serves Thai and global fusion dishes in a refined but unstuffy atmosphere. The tasting menu is one of the best bargains in town.
  • Lan. Bo.Lan is a farm-to-table homage to traditional Thai cooking — and decor, set as it is in a lovingly renovated old home.
  • This hotspot for “progressive Indian cuisine” ranks among the best restaurants in Asia, and it’s not hard to see why. Just be prepared to eat: The 25-course (give or take) tasting menu satisfies even the most gargantuan appetites.
  • Err is a lower-key establishment best described as “street food, elevated.” Come for the unpretentious atmosphere (complete with mismatched furniture) and stay for the unforgettable takes on Thai classics. 

Make the Most of Your Time in Bangkok

There’s plenty more to do in Bangkok, of course, even if you have just 12 hours to do it in. Wherever you go and whatever you happen to see and experience in Thailand’s capital city, resolve to make the most of it. Who knows when you’ll be here again?

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