TripZilla Transits: What to Do During a 12-Hour Layover in Bangkok

TripZilla Transits: What to Do During a 12-Hour Layover in Bangkok

Make the most out of your 12-hour transit and turn your layover into a holiday!

Image credit: MinimalSpace

Why hole yourself up in Suvarnabhumi Airport, when Bangkok has so much to offer in your 12-hour transit?

From popular tourist spots like the Grand Palace and the newly cashless Chatuchak market to unconventional haunts like a restaurant featuring actual condoms, you’re bound to find something to your taste in the capital of the Land of Smiles. Here’s a guide to getting you started – no longer will you fear the despised long layovers!

Read more about: 10 New Night Markets and Cafés to Visit in Bangkok.

At the Airport:

Where to Leave Your Bags: First things first; you don’t want to be lugging your bulky bag around. For those landing in Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), head over to AIRPORTELs to deposit your luggage. For a small fee, they’ll keep your baggage safe until you’re ready to check-in for your next flight! Don’t worry if you’re arriving in Don Muang Airport though! Head over to the second floor in Terminal 2 and you’ll be able to store your bags in their luggage storage facility for a cheap price.

Where to Rest: If you want to rest after your flight, you can opt to relax in one of the Miracle Lounges (available in both Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Muang Airport); for those who opted for the business or first class lounge membership looking to freshen up, these lounges come with showers too!

Alternatively, you could head to Louis Tavern Dayrooms (Suvarnabhumi Airport) on the 4th floor before passing through immigration or to Sleep Box by Miracle (Don Muang Airport) in the fourth floor of Terminal 2 and check-in for a quick nap.

Image credit: Satyendra Kumar

Other helpful tips for Suvarnabhumi Airport: If it’s too early to sleep, but the long flight has left your neck stiff and your limbs aching, make your way to Chang Massage and Spa and treat yourself to a world famous Thai massage! For souvenirs, head over to Concourse D and check out stores like Chitralada and Sai Jai Thai for high quality, authentic local products.

Other helpful tips for Don Muang Airport: Though Don Muang Airport is smaller than Suvarnabhumi Airport, it also offers foot massages and hair treatment at Orchid Spa for tired travellers. In addition, 24-hour duty-free shopping is available on the third floor of International Departures.

What to Expect at Immigration

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  • Waiting time at immigration varies due to a multitude of factors, so set aside approximately one to two hours between the plane landing and exiting the airport. Additionally, check if you require a visa to enter Thailand and apply beforehand if need be to avoid long queues and ensure a smoother immigration.
  • If you’re waiting for your domestic flight, buffer at least 30 minutes before your domestic departure time so you don’t miss it.


Image credit: Kim Seng

  • Lucky for you who would rather head to the city: The Airport Rail Link not only provides an extremely convenient way to and from the airport, but it’s also fast – allowing you to maximise your time exploring! Just to be safe, give it about two hours in total for the trip there and back.
  • You haven’t travelled in Bangkok until you’ve sat in one of their famous tuktuks – the three-wheeled motorised cousin of the rickshaw. It’s more a novelty ride than a comfortable one so just remember to avoid peak hours (7am-9am, 4pm-7pm), and stick to short rides or you’ll be choking on too much bad air.

Also check out: 5 Reasons Why We Think Bangkok’s Transport System Is Awesome.

Things to See:

Image credit: Mike Hiran

  • The Grand Palace is probably the most well-known landmark in Bangkok. Yes, it’s grand; yes, it’s got huge historical importance; and yes, it’s also really, really big (bigger than 30 football fields combined!). It’s also got a strict dress-code, so remember to dress appropriately – that means long pants, shirts with sleeves, and no bare feet!
  • Tip! If someone approaches you before you’ve even reached the gates and tells you that the Grand Palace is ‘closed’, you’re better off ignoring them and checking for yourself. Chances are, you’ve just avoided being scammed.
  • If you’re here over the weekend, you have to drop by Chatuchak. This weekend market gives a new meaning to ‘shop till you drop’; from clothing to food to art and antiques and even pets, the thousands of stands in Chatuchak are sure to take even the most avid shopaholic on a ride. Just make sure that your phone is fully-charged to take advantage of the new cashless system at Chatuchak Market.

Read more about: Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market going Cashless.

Image credit: Christopher Rose

  • Who hasn’t heard of Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha? Get your wide-angle lens ready; the giant buddha housed in the temple is 46 metres long and fully covered in gold leaves.
  • Did you know that you can also get a massage at the nearby Wat Pho Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School? Not only are the prices here cheaper than the massage parlours around the city, but Wat Pho is also considered to be the top massage school in Thailand – no doubt the massages here are gonna be great!

Treat Yourself:

  • Speaking of massage parlours, W Hotel’s AWAY Spa is well-known for its exceptional services and all-encompassing treatments. If you had only one spa to go to, we’d recommend pampering yourself at this one.
  • Here’s some good news for those who lament not being in Japan for an onsen (hot spring) dip; Kashikiri Soda Onsen and Spa offers a relaxing soak in a private hot tub. Even the water is imported from Japan – that means you’ll get the onsen experience without needing to expose yourself in a communal pool!
  • Ever imagine how a manicure session could get any better? What if I told you that you could enjoy a free mocktail during the manicure session – nail art included – all included in one cheap package? At Hugs x Kisses Nail Bar, you’ll get just that.

Things to Eat:

  • Bypass the usual cup of Thai milk tea and make a beeline for Audrey Cafe & Bistro for the next step of milk tea evolution: a slice of Thai milk tea crepe! This charming cafe specialises in unique mille crepe cakes – that’s layers of thin crepes stacked on top of each other with cream slathered between each layer, resulting in a softer, fluffier slice of ‘cake’. Yum!
  • If you’re looking for something more filling, check out Cabbages & Condoms. We must warn you: don’t take the name lightly. With that said, make your way past the mannequins covered in colourful condoms and tuck into some mouth-watering Thai dishes in the open-air courtyard. Don’t worry about the heat – the fans here spray cooling mist at you as you dine!
  • The phrase is ‘dinner and drinks’, not ‘just dinner’. Bangkok is packed with countless watering holes for you to wash down your meal. Octave, Above Eleven and The Speakeasy are all gorgeous rooftop bars in the midst of the cosmopolitan cityscape, each presenting their own charm and signature drinks for you to toast your holiday to as you enjoy the panoramic view.

Other Useful Tips to Remember!

Image credit: Axel Drainville

  • Be wary of scams. As great as Bangkok is and as kind as people can be, scams do happen. So remember to do your research before embarking on your adventure to prevent falling prey to these tourist traps. Common scams include locals claiming that ‘the Grand Palace is closed for a private function’ or tuktuk drivers charging anything more than 150THB for a short trip or – even worse – taking you somewhere you didn’t ask to be brought to!
  • Be kind, but firm. If your tuktuk driver is being difficult, don’t be afraid to walk-away. There are plenty of other tuktuks around to hitch a ride from; as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Walking away is a powerful tactic in haggling too! Start your haggling price 10-40% off the labelled price, bargain, and watch as they make last-ditch offers when you start leaving the store.
  • When taking a taxi, always insist on metered fare and ensure that the driver activates the meter at the start of the ride to avoid paying more than you need to. Again, walking away is a mighty tool; countless other taxis will vy for your patronage.
  • Alternatively, you could also use ride apps such as Grab to secure your transportation at a fair price.

Also check out: Top 5 Ways to Get Scammed in Bangkok.

With all that is said, as long as you prepare well and remain a mindful traveller, it’ll be easy for you to turn that long dreaded layover into a bonus Bangkok holiday. So book your flights… perhaps even intentionally including a layover in Bangkok?

About Author

Chan U-Jane
Chan U-Jane

U-Jane is non-stop, a lover of all things Disney, and may or may not be slightly obsessed with musicals. When she's not off gallivanting, she's probably binge-watching some show on Netflix. That, or she's meticulously planning her next adventure.