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BKK layover advice

BKK layover advice

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Old Nov 27, 18, 12:15 am
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BKK layover advice

In January I have a little over 12 hour layover in Thailand between about 5AM and 5PM. I have done some reading and see there's a few tours out there you can take which apparently are available at the airport in arrivals. However, I would really appreciate if anyone has actually taken a specific one that was good - I am in First class so I would also like some time in the lounge, so I thought maybe something that was about 6 hours or so would be good.

Would anyone have any specific advice on what to do (I will be travelling on my Australian passport so assume I can get a visa on arrival of some sort) to clear immigration, find a good tour (maybe just major points of interest and some kind of local cuisine), and get to and from wherever it is from BKK? I also saw something about a river cruise - that sounds kind of interesting - does anyone have experience with that and is it hard to find / get to?

Lastly, Canadian mobile roaming charges are extortionate but I'd really like to stay in touch while there. Is there a somewhat inexpensive (ie around $20 US or less) single day (or more) option for a wifi hotspot or sim card that I could get at the airport?

Many thanks in advance.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 1:13 am
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Originally Posted by atsak View Post
In January I have a little over 12 hour layover in Thailand between about 5AM and 5PM. I have done some reading and see there's a few tours out there you can take which apparently are available at the airport in arrivals. However, I would really appreciate if anyone has actually taken a specific one that was good - I am in First class so I would also like some time in the lounge, so I thought maybe something that was about 6 hours or so would be good.

Would anyone have any specific advice on what to do (I will be travelling on my Australian passport so assume I can get a visa on arrival of some sort) to clear immigration, find a good tour (maybe just major points of interest and some kind of local cuisine), and get to and from wherever it is from BKK? I also saw something about a river cruise - that sounds kind of interesting - does anyone have experience with that and is it hard to find / get to?

Lastly, Canadian mobile roaming charges are extortionate but I'd really like to stay in touch while there. Is there a somewhat inexpensive (ie around $20 US or less) single day (or more) option for a wifi hotspot or sim card that I could get at the airport?

Many thanks in advance.
So I'm not sure how you are planning to get into town but I'm not exactly sure how much time you will have.
By the time you get through immigration you will probably be at the taxi stands by 6.30/7am at the earliest. You might still be ok with traffic but the most effective way (without luggage to get into town, in my experience) is to take the Airport Rail Link (I wrote a short description a few years back on how to use it)
Bear in mind coming back, you might have to contend with traffic. So if your flight is at 5pm, and you want 6 hours in the lounge, that would be at the airport by 11am, and to get back to the airport is about an hour on ARL so you need to start heading back at 10am. This means you would only have a couple of hours at best in town.
With this in mind, I would just stay at the airport.
However, if you are willing to forgo the 6 hour lounge experience there is still plenty to do. You might have close to six hours.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 1:32 am
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There is no shortage of half-day tours for Bangkok, a truly fascinating city in which I was fortunate to live for many years. See the Bangkok thread for ideas. My main input is that spending six hours in the lounge is a terrible waste of time, and really not worth it. Just drop in for a shower, a bite to eat, and a few glasses of champagne.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 4:14 am
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If you are travelling to Thailand on an Australian or Canadian passport you only need to hand your passport to the immigration officer who will give you a free visa exempt stamp that allows you to stay for up to 30 days.

As a first class traveller you will most likely be given a ‘priority’ pass from the airline that entitles you to go through the immigration ‘fast’ lane and be waiting for your bag(s) within a few minutes.

If you do have bags which are not checked in to your final destination, you may want to ‘dump’ them for the day in the left luggage facility at the airport https://www.bangkokairportonline.com/left-luggage/

Regarding local SIM. There are several Thai service provider’s counters located in the main land side arrival’s walkway who will gladly fix you up with whatever you need for the day. No doubt one of our local resident experts will be able to offer you detailed advice on the best deals.

As someone else has pointed out, spending 6 hours in an airport lounge at BKK is frankly a waste of time and will leave you little time to see anything much of Bangkok. Better to use your time doing some worthwhile sightseeing.

A few years ago, a couple of friends of mine were in a similar situation to you – approximately 12 hours layover. Unfortunately, I was out of the country at the time so could not show them around. They used an organisation called ‘Tours by Local Guides’ who they found were very good. They were met at the airport shown around the major attraction and returned to the airport in plenty of time to catch their connecting flight. According to the organisation’s blurb, they can tailor your visit to meet your requirements. https://www.toursbylocals.com/TBL/WebObjects/ToursByLocals.woa/1/wo/sq8h1O9QPRTxeDer6jezYg/2.43.191.0.2.0 No doubt there are other companies that offer similar services a google search may give you some comparisons.

I hope this helps and that you enjoy your brief stay here.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 5:40 am
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6 hours is the target time for the tour or whatever while still leaving time to enjoy the lounge.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 8:28 am
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Sorry yes I realize that was unclear - I mean I would like to go on a six hour tour or so to leave myself a couple hours in the lounge. Not 6 in the lounge, that's a waste.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 11:25 am
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Another option: As has been suggested, check your baggage in a left-luggage office (I have done this and it is easy and reliable) and take the train into Bangkok. Switch to BTS, go to the Saphan Taksin and get on the Hop On Hop Off Tourist Boat. Since you are going to have phone access, you can actually find self guided tourist information online. Buy a headphone splitter so the two of you can listen at the same time. I will admit I have also kinda shadowed tour groups to listen to a guide explain something at the Palace or a Wat. Taking the train avoids traffic concerns. Not being on a tour gives you more flexibility. Wherever you are when it is time to leave, find the nearest BTS station and ride back to the train that goes back to the airport. To someone who has never been to BKK this may seem daunting but the train and boats are very easy to use.
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Old Nov 27, 18, 5:07 pm
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Bear in mind that luggage can take some time to come out. Even with priority tags I've been known to wait until the last few bags.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 6:21 pm
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Originally Posted by atsak View Post

Sorry yes I realize that was unclear - I mean I would like to go on a six hour tour or so to leave myself a couple hours in the lounge. Not 6 in the lounge, that's a waste.
Departure lounge, one would think. If there is an arrival lounge, I'm not aware of it.

I did a half day tour of Thailand on my first trip over a decade ago, and that was mostly a waste of time - the worst part was, that at the end they took us to a tourist shop and "allowed" at least half hour for shopping

While I have no experience with abovementioned Tours By Locals, that does sound much better than an organized tour like the one I did (last one I ever did except when I was gifted Hop on Hop off in Boston).
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Old Nov 29, 18, 8:39 pm
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The tours by locals is looking quite appealing as it's quite customizable (is that a word?) Some of them will take you on public transport and I think I might do that just to get a feel for how hard that is to navigate in case I go again. I'm solo this time; wife and kids are not joining me until I'm on my way home via Hawaii. The only thing I think I'm worried about is a lot or even most of them are seemingly young women and I am worried they will feel a bit weird hanging with this middle aged dude for the day; I'll sort through some more to find a guy that has a few ratings (just for reliability more than anything).

I also need to try and find a way to get cleaned up on arrival in BKK ; in Thai First but not sure if you can get to the lounge with immigration etc involved. I guess I'll research that more and worst case ask on arrival I think the First class ground handling should be good enough to know and/or take me there since bags will be checked through to Sydney.
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Old Nov 29, 18, 11:06 pm
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Originally Posted by atsak View Post
...Some of them will take you on public transport and I think I might do that just to get a feel for how hard that is to navigate in case I go again...
I understand why you might want to hire a tour guide but allow me to still advocate for just going it on your own. The public transportation is very convenient and user friendly. Walk up to the window, ask for a one-day pass and just follow everyone else through the gates and up the escalators. The people line up for the train a certain way which will immediately become obvious. All signage is in English. Most of the people surrounding you while you are in Bangkok will speak English and will be very helpful in the incredibly off chance you get a few steps off in the wrong direction.

I have hired individual tour guides in many locations. My guide in Siem Reap took me to some Wats outside the city and could not have been anymore wonderful. He did ask me to go to the tourist shop a couple times but did take no for an answer. My guide in Ubud, Bali, drove me up to Ubud and took me into the neighborhood so I could see how the people live, but I did succumb to his repeated requests to see the monkey poo coffee tourist trap, where I did buy coffee. But Bangkok is one of those places that I would recommend deciding ahead of time what you want to see and just exploring on your own. As others have mentioned, I like the Hop on Hop Off boat for first time visitors, but now I use the locals boat because it is cheaper, although the tourist boat is inexpensive.

If you do take a taxi back to the airport, make sure you have looked at the associated thread here. Bangkok taxi drivers are not always looking out for a tourist's best interests.
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Old Dec 16, 18, 7:59 pm
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I see this hop-on/hop-off bus at Siam Paragon pretty much every day, finally remembered to take a photo and check the details - seemed like ~ 15 people using it, one said it was fine.

https://www.giantscitytour.com/

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Old Dec 26, 18, 7:22 pm
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Originally Posted by atsak View Post
The tours by locals is looking quite appealing as it's quite customizable (is that a word?) Some of them will take you on public transport and I think I might do that just to get a feel for how hard that is to navigate in case I go again. I'm solo this time; wife and kids are not joining me until I'm on my way home via Hawaii. The only thing I think I'm worried about is a lot or even most of them are seemingly young women and I am worried they will feel a bit weird hanging with this middle aged dude for the day; I'll sort through some more to find a guy that has a few ratings (just for reliability more than anything).

I also need to try and find a way to get cleaned up on arrival in BKK ; in Thai First but not sure if you can get to the lounge with immigration etc involved. I guess I'll research that more and worst case ask on arrival I think the First class ground handling should be good enough to know and/or take me there since bags will be checked through to Sydney.
If you have your onward BP, you can go thru the transit area and use the airside lounges to shower/change etc. You can always get your BP at the transit areas if they can't give it at check in. Then head out into the city as it won't take long to clear immigration with TG FC and 7am is a bit early to do much but look at the rush hour traffic or full BTS trains. Well, there is the flower market by the river, but seems you'll have plenty of time. Definitely, a couple hours is all you'll need in the BKK lounges as they are OK but nothing really special. The TG first lounge has a spa, but I'd suggest getting a proper massage in town, Healthland has many convenient locations near BTS stops.

And, don't worry about the young Thai women tour guides "hanging out" with a middle-aged farang dude. I've seen worse.
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Old Dec 28, 18, 7:55 am
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Originally Posted by atsak View Post
The only thing I think I'm worried about is a lot or even most of them are seemingly young women and I am worried they will feel a bit weird hanging with this middle aged dude for the day; I'll sort through some more to find a guy that has a few ratings (just for reliability more than anything).
Just an FYI, they are not hanging out with you. You are paying for a guide to lead you around town and to show you places. Not sure why gender would really matter, but I would advise you to do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
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Old Dec 28, 18, 12:25 pm
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Originally Posted by CrazyInteg View Post
Just an FYI, they are not hanging out with you. You are paying for a guide to lead you around town and to show you places. Not sure why gender would really matter, but I would advise you to do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
Without wandering into OMNI territory, I wish gender didn't matter. But it does. *I* am fine either way, but I am acutely aware that other people don't always feel that way because of some bad actors out there. I'm merely trying to be considerate of cultural norms I may not really understand very well.
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