Working for an airline taught me how to organise my trips into 24-hour blocks, making sure I see absolutely everything that a city can offer. I’ve done the Bangkok, Thailand layover 3 times during my work at Emirates so decided to do a stopover on the way from Australia to Europe and show Sean around this bustling Asian city.
We got a hotel in the Asok Station area (hotels in Thailand are pretty cheap but don’t expect too much luxury) to make sure we can easily get around to the most lively parts of Bangkok. Travelling around the city is generally pretty difficult due to their insane traffic. The cheapest option is to take the BTS Skytrain or a taxi (for an hour drive you will pay around 200 baht = $5) but a REAL trip through Bangkok wouldn’t be complete without taking a tuk-tuk everywhere!
Bangkok Tuk Tuk Scams
Thailand is slowly picking up it’s prices, which you will notice when you try and hire a tuk tuk off the street. A short ride from Asok to the Wats should be around 180-220 Baht but when you talk to the first driver on the street he’ll usually ask 500-600 – a price many unschooled tourists will pay (which they know!). There’s an unlimited amount of tuk tuk’s around if you are in a busy area so keep trying the next guy along until someone matches the price you want to pay. Another trick they like to use on tourists is the ‘cheap price with 1 stop’ scam. This is where they take you for your cheap price, but make a stop at a jewellery or gem shop (usually owned by their cousin) and make you buy something before they will continue. At the best you’ll end up with a piece of coloured glass!
Wat Phra Kaew & Wat Pho
A must see in Bangkok are the numerous Wats (temples). We started our trip with Wat Phra Kaew complex, which includes the grounds of the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This is the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. No short pants or skirts can be worn inside but you can hire pants and sarongs at the front door for a refundable deposit. Tickets in to the Palace grounds are 500 Baht ($15) and are well worth it. Incredible ancient artworks on all surrounding walls, breathtaking traditional sculptures and Buddha statues and well as the iconic architecture of the Wats themselves; just amazing!
Right next door we moved on to Wat Pho, which is home to the incredible Reclining Buddha. This particular pose of Buddha represents the entry into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations. Surrounding the Buddha are 108 bronze bowls, where visitors can drop coins in to the bowls – believed to bring good luck!
For both of the Wats you should give yourself at least 2 hours to explore.
Pad Thai on Khao San Road
15 minutes by tuk tuk (100 Baht) down from Wat Phra Kheo is Khao San Road. This Bangkok street is a world famous backpacker ghetto, with cheap accommodation, thousands of souvenir stores, bars, restaurants, massage parlours and the one and only “30 Baht Pad Thai guy” (
arguably definitely the best pad thai you will eat in Thailand). If you have time, spoil yourself with one-hour thai massage followed by a 30-minute foot massage at one of the numerous massage parlours along the street. If you’re up for a big night you can order yourself a ‘bucket’ at one of the bars along the street – basically a 1L plastic bucket filled with alcohol and some straws.
In the evening your best bet is to head to China Town; not so far from Khao San Road it offers a multitude of Chinese restaurants, both on the street and indoors as well as unique Chinese street vendors selling everything from coconut gelato to banana pancakes. You can even find shark-fin soup (if you’re in to that).
Late evening, on the way back home, it’s interesting to take a peek in to the Nana area; Bangkok’s 3-storey red light district. It’s considered to be one of the largest sex complexes in the world; even if you’re not willing to enter one of the various shows on offer, it’s still interesting to have a cheap beer and people watch the chaos around you. You can find Nana by taking a tuk tuk to Sukhumvit Road Soi 4 (walking distance from the BTS Skytrain’s Nana Station).
If you have longer than 24-hours in Thailand it’s worth exploring further than Bangkok and seeing some of the islands or northern Thailand.