Sorting out Suvarnabhumi Airport
First published 25th September, 2006
Bangkok's brand spanking new airport officially opens September 28 and while a few airlines have already started using it, the bulk of carriers won't start flying in until the 28th. The lead-up to the airport's opening has concentrated on the hyperbolic -- tallest control tower, largest terminal building, most "expensive" luggage scanners and so on, but what about how to get there and away? Here's the nitty gritty.
Which route to Suvarnabhumi
The two most convenient routes to the airport are the north and south approaches, with the northern one being the better option. The northern route goes via the Rama 9 Expressway enroute to the Bangkok to Chonburi expressway, while the southern route goes via the Bangna-Trat expressway -- traffic can be very heavy on this route.
Transport: Taxis - getting to Suvarnabhumi
All taxis are able to drop off passengers at the outer curb on Level 4 (Departures). Note, only taxis which have registered with the new airport will be allowed to pick-up passengers. Initially this may lead some city cabs to refuse to take you to the airport as they'll not be able to get a return fare. This problem should fade over time as more taxis register. If you want to book a taxi, telephone 1681.
Transport: Taxis - departing Suvarnabhumi
Initially the plan was for no public taxis to be able to pick up at the terminal, instead arrivals would have to take a shuttle bus to a seperate "Transport Centre", with only limousines being able to pick up at the terminal itself. Thankfully that plan has gone the way of the dodo, and taxis are now permitted to pick up at the outer curb on Level 1. There is a 50B surcharge for taking a taxi from here, though there have been rumours that this fee will be increased to 100B. A typical taxi fare from the airport to downtown Bangkok should cost around 250B (before expressway tolls and the 50B surcharge).
Transport: Limousine - getting to Suvarnabhumi
There is a "Limousine Service Counter" on Level 2 (Arrivals). Fares are set at around 1,000B for central Bangkok and 2,000B for Pattaya. These rates do not include tolls.
Transport: Limousine - departing Suvarnabhumi
All limousines are able to drop off passengers at the inner curb on Level 4 (Departures).
Transport: Buses - getting to Suvarnabhumi
All buses drop off passengers at the Transport Centre, from there you'll need to get a shuttle bus (free) across to the terminal of your choice.
Transport: Buses - departing Suvarnabhumi
All buses will leave from the Transport Centre. You'll need to get a shuttle bus (free) from your arrival terminal to the transport centre. Bus fares to areas within Bangkok and Samut Prakan will cost 35B. Sample routes include:
1. Bus Number 549 - to Minburi
2. Bus Number 550 - to Happy Land
3. Bus Number 551 - to Victory Monument
4. Bus Number 552 - to On Nut BTS station
5. Bus Number 553 - to Samut Prakan
6. Bus Number 554 - to Don Muang Airport
Of the above, routes 3 and 4 are the most useful to tourists -- both dropping passengers off at skytrain stations.
Thanks to Kevin for this correction. There are also four dedicated "express hotel buses" which will that will run from 5am to 12 midnight, with a set fare of 150B. AE1, AE2 and AE4 take the expressway, so if you were planning on jumping off somewhere along the way, you'll need to rethink! The routes are:
AE1 to Silom
AE2 to Khao San Roaad
AE3 To Sukhumvit, Nana, Ploenchit, Worldtrade (now Central World Plaza) and Pratunam
AE4 to Hualamphong train station)
There will also be buses to provincial centres direct from the airport, including:
Suvarnabhumi to Chachoengsao -- departs 06:40,07:40,09:40,10:40,12:10,13:40,15:10,16:40,17:40,18:40 and 19:40.
Suvarnabhumi to Chanthaburi -- departs 08:10,15:10,16:10,16:55,18:40 and 19:40.
Suvarnabhumi to Nong Khai -- departs 21:00.
Suvarnabhumi to Pattaya -- departs 06:30,08:00,09:00,11:00,13:00,15:00,17:00,19:00 and 20:30.
Suvarnabhumi to Rayong -- departs 05:40,08:40,09:10,09:40,10:40,13:40,16:00 and 18:40.
Suvarnabhumi to Trat -- departs 06:40,08:25,10:10,10:25,11:40,13:10,16:10 and 18:10.
Plans are afoot for a train line from the airport into downtown Bangkok. While planned to be completed by 2007, don't hold your breath.
The Passenger Service Charge for international flights will be increased from Baht 500 to Baht 700, and for domestic flights from Baht 50 to Baht 100, effective as of February 1, 2007.
Inside the airport
After clearing immigration it can take 15 minutes to walk to the furthest domestic gate and 30 minutes to the furthest international gate -- bear this in mind when planning how long before departure you expect to arrive. Given the airport is a good 45 minute drive from downtown Bangkok, travel agents are advising people leave their hotel three hours before departure.
Hotels near Suvarnabhumi Airport
The closest hotel to the new airport is the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, with other nearby hotels including the Novotel Bangna and the Royal Princess Srinakarin Hotel, but unless you have some pressing need to stay near the airport, you'll be far better served by heading into downtown Bangkok.
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