Jan 25 2012
Suvarnabhumi Airport is celebrating it’s fifth anniversary; love it or hate it, it’s one of Southeast Asia’s largest hubs. Suvarnabhumi serves around 100 different airlines and almost 45 million passengers a year, all of whom are ready to get the airport behind them and onto the beaches or mountains they came for. Suvarnabhumi is around 30 kilometres from the centre of Bangkok. With the opening of a rail link last year, many of the services originally providing transport from the airport were reconfigured — we’ve got a comprehensive guide to get you from Suvarnabhumi to where you want to be. (If that’s giving Bangkok a miss all together, check out our guide to skipping the Big Mango). This post covers rail and taxi while Part II deals with buses, vans, and the cheapest option to Khao San Road. Need a place to stay near the airport? Check out our airport accommodation guide.
Considering the traffic that can choke Bangkok, it’s hard to beat the Airport Rail Link. Local trains make the journey in 24 minutes from the airport station to Makkasan (transfer to the MRT) or 28 minutes to Phaya Thai (transfer to the BTS) for a maximum fare of 45 baht. Local trains depart every 10 to 20 minutes. Express trains shave off a few minutes and go directly to either Makkasan (every 20 minutes, 15-minute journey) or Phaya Thai (every hour, 18-minute journey) and cost 90 baht each way or 150 baht round trip (two-week validity).
If you are going somewhere not convenient to one of the Airport Rail Link stations (or the MRT/BTS system), it can still be faster to take the train into the city during rush hour (07:30-09:30 and 16:30-20:30) and then catch a cab in the city centre.
Metered taxis are found on the first floor of the arrivals area. Line up behind the taxi stand and tell the dispatcher where you are going — they will note your destination on a receipt and assign you to a driver. If the driver asks for a flat fare, politely refuse and ask for the meter (chai meter, in Thai). If they refuse, get out and go back to the dispatcher. Passengers pay a 50 baht surcharge on top of the meter rate, as well as any expressway charges (45-70 baht depending on where you are going).
Eastern Bangkok is around 200 baht, central Bangkok closer to 300-350 baht, and Khao San Road 350 to 400 baht. If the lines are long, taxis can often be caught (technically this is illegal for the driver) from the fourth floor departures area after they drop off passengers. It’s not really fair to the other drivers who have waited and followed the rules, but it’s an option if there is a massive line up downstairs.
You can now read part II of our series here.
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