Exploring Bangkok in Thailand with my family is one of my earliest travel memories. I remember hopping on my first ever tuk tuk ride in the city, eating plenty of Thai food at the food court in MBK Center and wandering through night markets. Since July 2018, I’ve been back a handful of times and gotten reacquainted with Thailand’s capital city.
Bangkok is a staple on most Thailand itineraries, and is best explored over the course of 2 to 3 days. However, if you only have a 24 hour layover in Bangkok or 1 day then you’ll want to take it easy – don’t try to check off every single thing there is to do in the city! Instead, get your fill of delicious food, indulge in a Thai massage and do a little sightseeing to top it all off. If that sounds like your kind of jam, keep reading for a lazy 1 day layover guide to Bangkok.
Important things to know before visiting Bangkok, Thailand
- You are exempted from visa requirements or can get a visa on arrival if you hold a passport from one of these countries.
- To get into Bangkok you can either fly into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang International Airport (DMK). To get to the city centre you have several options including airport shuttles or hopping into a taxi, which is the fastest and easiest way to get to your hotel. At BBK airport, there are taxi stands and flat rates to specific areas, you just have to pay a little extra for highway tolls. At DMK airport, make sure you do not book a taxi with the “taxi” counter in the arrivals area – these are actually private transfers. Instead, head to the end of the terminal to catch a proper metered taxi for half the price!
- The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht. The exchange rate is approximately US$1 to approximately 32-35 Baht. Cash is king in Bangkok so exchange some money when you arrive at the airport or withdraw cash from an ATM.
- Stay connected and buy a local SIM card at the airport. I usually go with DTAC and get excellent connectivity not just in Bangkok but throughout Thailand. You can purchase your DTAC SIM card ahead of time and pick it up at BKK or DMK airports, or in town at Siam Center. Get your 8-day DTAC SIM card for just 131 Baht (4 USD) here!
- Click here for more deals in Bangkok – get discounted attraction tickets, transportation services and more!
Click here for even more Thailand travel guides and tips or head on over here for 10 essential Southeast Asia travel tips.
Where to stay in Bangkok, Thailand
Wondering where to stay for a layover in Bangkok? Ask around for Bangkok boutique hotel recommendations and you’ll hear the same list of usual suspects over and over again. If you’ve read some of my hotel recommendations in the past, you’ll know that I look for cozy, stylish and unique hotels that offer something more than the typical cookie-cutter hotel experience.
If you only have 1 or 2 days in Bangkok, check out the Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20, a new hotel in Bangkok with a rooftop bar as well as a rooftop pool. Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 is part of the AccorHotels group and offers extremely spacious and modern rooms stocked with high quality furnishings and amenities. The service is exceptional and the staff are always happy to help with recommendations.
I’m a sucker for a good rooftop bar, and Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20’s very own Sky on 20 is one of the best rooftop bars in Bangkok. The drinks are delicious (try the ginger mojito), and the view is spectacular. Make sure you call ahead to get one of the window-side tables, and try their homemade sweet potato fries. Click here to book direct and see exclusive advance purchase rates and deals with AccorHotels or click here to check current rates on Booking.com.
Alternatively, check out the funky design at Ad Lib, a hidden gem tucked away in the Sukhumvit Soi 1 district. If you’re looking for an amazing boutique hotel in Bangkok away from the crowds, look no further than Ad Lib.
The rooms are stylish and comfortable, the food is delicious, the common areas are warm and lush and there’s even a rooftop pool! Click here for my full review of Ad Lib Hotel in Bangkok.
A cab from BKK or DMK airport to Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 or Ad Lib costs approximately 350-400 Baht (approx. US$10-12) and takes just over half an hour from door-to-door if you take the highway.
Ready to book your stay in Bangkok? Click here to check current rates at Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20, head on over here to check current rates and availability at Ad Lib or click here to check out some other highly rated hotels in Bangkok!
Don’t have a full 24 hour layover in Bangkok? Read this if you’re not sure whether you have enough time to leave the airport during your layover!
If you only have a short layover and are looking for a clean, modern transit hotel in Bangkok to stay near the airport, check out Vismaya Suvarnabhumi. It is a 10-minute taxi ride away from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport and was the perfect place to stay when we only had 8 hours or so before catching our flight to Bhutan (at the start of the trip). They also have hourly airport shuttles to take you to and from the airport. Click here to check current rates and availability at Vismaya Suvarnabhumi.
How to get around Bangkok, Thailand
Getting around Bangkok is a breeze and you have tons of options to get from A to B.
- GrabTaxi (similar to Uber), though usage is limited in some places and drivers aren’t allowed to pick up passengers in certain areas.
- Tuk tuk / 3 wheelers are available everywhere, but make sure you agree on a price before you hop in. A 15-minute ride will cost you 1-200 Baht.
- Metered taxis are great for those rainy and stinking hot days, but traffic can be a real problem in Bangkok.
- The Bangkok Sky Train (BTS) is an overland railway system and is extremely easy to navigate and very clean. This is a great option if you’re trying to avoid the traffic. You can buy a discounted 1-day pass for the BTS here or purchase a rechargeable multi-day Rabbit card with 200 Baht of stored value here!
- One of the most scenic ways to see the city is by the Chao Praya tourist ferry – you can hop on and off to get where you need to go. Tickets are 50 Baht per person per trip, or 180 Baht for a 1-day pass.
What to see in Bangkok in 24 hours
If you don’t have a ton of time/only have a quick layover in Bangkok and want to do a little sightseeing without going overboard, here is a leisurely Bangkok itinerary so you make the most of your time in the city without having to rush around!
1. Wat Pho
Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is a big Buddhist temple complex dating back to the 16th century. There are a number of stunning stupas or chedis throughout the complex and it is home to a 46 metre-long reclining Buddha statue. You’ll have to remove your shoes to get into the temple that houses this statue.
Photo credit: strecosa / Pixabay
The entrance fee is 100 Baht and you have to cover your shoulders to enter. Long shorts are allowed, but super short shorts are not permitted. You may want to wear long, loose-fitting pants just to be safe. It’s also frowned upon to take photos with your back facing the Buddha.
2. Wat Arun
If you only have 24 hours in Bangkok, don’t skip Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn. It is a beautiful Buddhist temple on the opposite bank of the Chao Praya River from Wat Pho. To get there, walk towards the river after exploring Wat Pho and hop on the cross-river ferry for just 4 Baht. This ferry will take you to the other bank in a minute or so, just make sure you don’t hop on a “tourist boat” that takes you on a river cruise instead.
The facade of the temple is a beautiful shade of cream, with intricate coloured carvings throughout. The current temple sits atop of an older temple dating back to the Ayutthaya Kingdom, and has been made even more popular by Instagram.
When you do end up visiting Wat Arun, I would recommend spending a few moments appreciating the sheer beauty of the temple before snapping away. Entry will cost 100 Baht and the same dress code applies.
3. Chao Praya River
Ready for your river cruise? The pier is on the right hand side of Wat Arun as you exit, and you can sail up the river to see Bangkok from a slightly different angle and cool down from the typical Bangkok heat.
4. Food courts galore
You can’t really go to Bangkok without eating at a food court. Before you turn your nose up the idea of eating in a food court, the ones in Bangkok are outrageous. You can eat whatever your heart desires from different hawkers at dirt cheap prices. It’s an experience in and of itself! Head to MBK Center, Siam Paragon or Central World. Read more about shopping malls in Bangkok here.
5. Get a massage
So your day probably hasn’t been too strenuous so far, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage anyway. After reading through tons of iffy reviews, we decided to head to Myth Massage near Ploenchit BTS station. My boyfriend and I both opted for a “Royal Thai Massage” and paid 650 Baht ($20 bucks!) for 80 minutes.
The massage rooms are clean, and you lie down on a mattress with curtains as dividers. My masseuse was incredible – she got out all the kinks and knots that had built up after our epic 6-hour trek to Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan.
6. Sunset cocktails on a rooftop bar
End your lazy 24 hours in Bangkok with some sunset drinks on a rooftop bar. Go on, you deserve it! There are plenty of rooftop bars in Bangkok, my favorites include The Speakeasy rooftop bar in the Muse Hotel as you can book a table online and they serve nibbles. Make sure you try their mojitos and truffle fries (not in the same mouthful).
I also love Sky on 20 at the Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20, they have a big cocktail menu and offers a breathtaking view of Bangkok from above. There are also private lounge areas so call ahead to reserve a table!
But the most jaw-dropping views across Bangkok are found at the King Power Mahanakhon. This is the highest rooftop bar in Bangkok located on the 78th floor of the building, and you’ll need to purchase rooftop tickets for the King Power Mahanakohn’s SkyWalk. The SkyWalk and bar opened in late 2018 and quickly made its way onto the list of the top 10 rooftop bars in Bangkok.
Bonus: If you’re feeling up to the challenge, take a not-so-leisurely walk on the building’s transparent glass tray (you might need to work up the courage with a stiff drink), or simply sip on a cocktail and take in the 360-degree views. Click here to purchase the King Power Mahanakhon rooftop ticket at a special introductory price of 30% off.
You might also like: 10 Day Thailand Itinerary for First Time Visitors (Beyond the Beaches)
What to do if you have 2 or more days in Bangkok
If you have more time in Bangkok, you may want to visit the Grand Palace (though it is notoriously crowded) or venture to one of the many floating markets around the city. The Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is a hidden gem in Bangkok and much less crowded than some of the other tourist-heavy ones. If you want to head out of Bangkok for a day trip, visit the archaeological site of Ayutthaya or chase waterfalls at Erawan National Park.
Need a fantastic place to stay for a couple of nights in Bangkok? Click here to check current rates at Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20, head on over here to check current rates and availability at Ad Lib or click here to check out some other highly rated hotels in Bangkok!
Does that sound like your idea of a perfect lazy day in Bangkok? Let me know if you’ve been to Bangkok before in the comments section below!
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I was a media guest of Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 as part of a press trip to Thailand organized by TakeMeTour and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and my visit to King Power Mahanakhon was sponsored as part of a separate press trip organized by the Tourism Authority. However, no compensation was received for this review, and as always, the opinions on Yogawinetravel.com are (and always will be) my own! I only recommend products, services and hotels that I have had positive personal experiences with.
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