Bangkok has an undeserved reputation. It’s often seen as a sleaze and heavy traffic, a necessary evil on route to Southeast Asia’s more enticing destinations. But a Bangkok layover is brilliant, for the whole family.
Movie Hangover Part II is the stereotype: ladyboys, chain-smoking monkeys dealing drugs, Russian mobsters, filthy hotel rooms. The popular perception is that Bangkok is a city that deserves trashing by disrespectful tourists, like Bradley Cooper and his mates.
The reality is that Bangkok is a city we should all cherish, a city with treasures for the respectful explorer.
Thailand has reopened to vaccinated travelers from the Czech Republic and almost all European countries (there’s more detailed entry info at the end of this article). Here’s what can go into your layover.
Take a Private Wooden Boat on Chao Phraya River
The stereotype about Bangkok’s heavy traffic is unfortunately true. But many important cultural highlights are located along the Chao Phraya River. So explore on a stylish wooden speedboat. This is an easy introduction to Thailand’s sights and sounds, ideal when you want to wow but not overwhelm your kids on the first day of a holiday.
Explore Bangkok’s Art Scene
Bangkok has Asia’s most vibrant art scene, a multi-hued palette of different movements with their own local personality. Expressionism, Abstract, Conceptual, Pop Art: a local art guru and columnist will take you to galleries, workshops, and the private homes of artists. It’s an experience that changes every day, as you meet the people changing Bangkok’s art scene every day.
Home-Hosted Dinner with a Descendant of Thailand’s Royal Family
The best Thai food is home cooked. Your host is a descendent of the royal Chakri Dynasty and Thai history was written in her home.
Personal Shopper in Bangkok
Like any regional capital city, Bangkok is a haven for shopping. In Paris it’s easy to wander down the famous shopping streets. Bangkok is more complicated as the best shops are widely spread. A personal shopper is the way to go, especially if you love fabrics.
Michelin-Starred Street Food
[eThailand is famous for its street food. It has street stalls included in the Michelin guide. There is Michelin-starred crab omelette, dozens of bib gourmand backstreet stops, and then the food only locals know about. A guide will show you around. Queues? No problem, the tour comes with helpers, who do the queuing for you.
Bangkok’s best bars are definitely not on the famous Khao San Road. They are hidden on rooftops and behind closed doors, especially in the “Beverly Hills” district of Bangkok. You need a local guide to visit them, especially as bars open and close as often as Covid restrictions change. On Hangover they visited the tourist bars. These Speakeasy bars are the real deal.
Bangkok by Helicopter
We’d recommend this for the end of a holiday, after you’ve already got a feel for Bangkok. To then experience the city’s scale on a 50-minute flight is really eye opening.
Thailand Reopening Requirements
As of December 16th Thailand has reopened to vaccinated travellers from over 60 countries. Due to the omicron variant, the country’s Test & Go scheme continues.
This requires all vaccinated travellers to:
Have a negative PCR test dated within 72 hours of arrival
Travel direct to their Bangkok hotel upon arrival and do a PCR test at the hotel
Travellers are free to explore as soon as their negative test results are received, usually within 12 hours, but up to 24.
So fly in, relax at the hotel and sleep after the flight. Spend two to three days casually exploring this fascinating city. Then travel onwards to another destination in Southeast Asia.