Getting there and away
Bangkok's new Suvanabhumi Airport opened in late 2007 and is already operating at close to capacity. After initially closing, the old airport at Don Muang reopened and handles some (though not all) domestic flights.
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:
1. Bus Number 389 - to Pattaya
2. Bus Number 825 - to Nong Khai
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.
Don Muang Airport
Don Muang was reopened not all that long after being shut down when it became evident Bangkok's new airport wasn't up to scratch. Don Muang primarily handles non-connecting domestic flights. Check with your travel agent to find out which airport you'll be using.
There are four airport buses that run from Don Muang to various parts of Bangkok. AB1 heads to the Silom Road area, AB2 goes to Khao San Rd, AB3 to Sukhumvit and AB4 to Hualamphong. The fare is 100B one way and buses leave roughly every 30 minutes.
When you exit immigration and customs you'll come to a bunch of limousine kiosks and a handful of limousine touts selling limousine transfers into downtown Bangkok. Rates start at around 600-700B depending on the company and the destination, which is about a 300% increase on a metered taxi. Be sure to get a clear answer on who pays the tolls. Unless the taxi queue is three miles long we see little reason to use this service and the Airport Authorities could do everyone a favour and kick the wandering touts out of the airport (or at least back into their kiosks).
Both terminals have official metered taxi stands. These are OUTSIDE. Just before the exit at both terminals there are kiosks that pretend to be metered taxi stands but are in fact flogging overpriced "limousines" -- why the Airport Authority hasn't kicked these shysters out beggars belief, but just ignore them and walk out of the terminal and follow the signs for the official taxi stand. Each terminal has one, and there will be a kiosk with a queue. There is a 50B surcharge to use this service and you are expected to pay all tolls. The attendant will give you a chit -- you keep the large part of the chit (it contains information on how to complain about the driver should the need arise) and give only the small section to the driver.
Don Muang Railway Station is a short walk from Don Muang International Airport and provides service straight into Bangkok, or heading northwards to Ayutthaya and so on. We wouldn't recommend this as a means to get into Bangkok, but if you are planning on heading away from Bangkok then consider catching the train from this station.
If you're on a tight budget local buses also pass by Don Muang International Airport, but bear in mind they are not really designed for passengers with large amounts of baggage. If you are heavily laden down, following the local bus route can be a bad idea. These buses are definitely the slowest way to get into town. Convenient bus routes include:
Non air-con buses
29 Airport to Hualamphong
59 Airport to Sanam Luang (for Khao San Rd)
4 Airport to Silom
10 Airport to Sai Tai Mai (Southern bus station)
13 Airport to Sukhumvit Rd (including Ekkamai bus station)
29 Airport to Hualamphong via Victory Monument
Updates from Travelfish readers
In summer 2010 new BTS line has been opened. The line provides as an airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport, via Makkasan city air terminal, to Phaya Thai station in central Bangkok.
Update by fala (1)
Written on 18th January, 2011
Have an update or correction?
Hualamphong is the Bangkok's central train station. Bangkok Noi is across the river in Thonburi (used only for trains to Kanchanaburi). Full timetable information can be found at the State Railway of Thailand's website. Hualamphong can be reached by subway, bus and taxi. Bangkok Noi can be reached by cross river ferry.
The Skytrain has two lines, one that runs from the north to the southeast and the other which loops around from the west to the south west. Of the two mass transit systems, it is the skytrain that is more useful for foreign travellers. The two lines intersect at Siam. Fares depend on distance travelled, but the maximum fare is 40B and there are a range of passes available for frequent users. Common stations that are of use to foreigners include:
Mo Chit (for weekend market), Victory Monument (for bars and restaurants and shopping), Ratchathewi (for Panthip Plaza) Siam (for entertainment and shopping), Chidlom, Phloenchit, Nana, Asoke and Phrom Phong (all for guesthouses, hotels, entertainment and shopping. Asoke also interchanges with the subway.), Ekkamai (for the eastern bus station).
National Stadium (for guesthouses, hotels, entertainment and shopping), Ratchadamri (for hotels and shopping), Sala Daeng (for hotels, entertainment and shopping. Also interchanges with the subway here.) and Saphan Taksin (for hotels and connection to the river express boats).
Explore Bangkok by BTS
For information on points of interest near some of Bangkok's skytrain stations, check the following stories written by a Bangkok resident.
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Ari
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Chid Lom
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Chong Nonsi
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Phaya Thai
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Phloen Chit
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Phrom Phong
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Ratchadamri
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Ratchathewi
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Sala Daeng
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Sanam Pao
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Saphan Taksin
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Surasak
Exploring Bangkok by skytrain -- Thong Lo
Bangkok's newest mass transit plan, the subway runs in an eastern arc from Bang Sue in the far north to Hualamphong train station downtown. It interfaces with the skytrain at three points -- Chatuchak Park in the north, Sukhumvit in the middle and Silom towards the end. For travellers, the most useful stops are the aforementioned three along with Lumpini (for Lumpini Park and Soi Ngam Dupli) and Hualamphong which will deposit you right at the railway station. To travel from top to tail costs 36 Baht and takes about 25 minutes.
Have an update or correction?
The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) has a comprehensive bus system that covers the entire city. Fares are very low, so if you plan on exploring the city, invest in a bus map that marks all the main routes. Not all buses have the destinations marked in English, so it is best to go by the numbers as conductors often will not be able to speak English.
Long distance bus stations
Bangkok has three main inter-provincial bus stations. Morchit to the north of the city serves northern and northeastern destinations, Sai Tai Mai to the west serves all southern and western destinations, and Ekkamai to the east serves eastern destinations. Bus timetables are available from the Transport Company website. http://www.transport.co.th/
Morchit (North and Northeastern bus station): Phahonyothin Rd, Bangkok. T: (02) 272 0299
Sai Tai Mai (Southern bus station): Boromrat Chonnani Rd, Bangkok 10700. T: (02) 435 1199; (02)434 5558
Ekkamai (Eastern bus station): Sukhumvit Road Soi Ekkamai, Bangkok 10110. T: (02) 391 2504; (02) 392 2521
Have an update or correction?
For the money, Bangkok has some of the best taxis in the world. Affordable and comfortable, your biggest concern is likely to be the high speeds a Bangkok taxi driver will accelerate to should the chance arise. There are a bunch of different taxi companies each with their own distinctive and very bright colour scheme -- sometimes Sukhumvit Road can look like it is awash with smarties as bright red, yellow, purple and blue, red and green and crimson taxis fly past.
Flag fall is 35B and the price goes up in 3B increments by either time of distance (depending on the traffic situation). If you use expressways, the passenger (that's you) is expected to pay all tolls. If you pick up a taxi from the official taxi stand at either airport, there is a 50B surcharge.
Telephone bookings can be made by calling 1681 (there are other companies, but that is our favourite). There is a 20B surcharge for a telephone booking.
Taxis can also be hired for longer trips -- Bangkok to Ko Samet, Hua Hin and Pattaya are all common routes. In these cases there is a fixed price for the ride.
If there's a single sensation that sums up Bangkok, it's sitting in the back of a tuk tuk at about three in the morning as the driver tries his hardest to finally reach terminal velocity while tearing down Ratchadaphisek Rd. The high pitched scream of the vehicle's buzz-saw engine, the thrashing fairy lights hanging off the side, the oversized, perpetually flashing yet always ignored indicators and the frantic hunted-down look on your driver's face are all too common sights throughout Bangkok.
Mainly working the Bangkok markets and the tourist areas, tuk tuks are something that most visitors to Bangkok try at least once, but few expats choose to use regularly. They can be cheap -- if you know where you're going and know the right fare. If you know neither, tuk tuk drivers are notorious for overcharging and dragging passengers off to jewellery stores -- we'd say try one for novelty value, then go back to taxis.
They are handy for those with oversized bags or oodles of shopping. Of course if you're travelling around with a few wash pans full of live eels and a bag of freshly slaughtered chickens, then tuk tuks are certainly the way to go -- tuk tuks carry anything and everything -- including most things a cab driver wouldn't dream of letting into their taxi.
The number of people who can be fitted into a single tuk tuk is up for debate. Just remember the more people you cram in the more top-heavy it will become -- tuk tuks are pretty unstable when empty -- adding six drunk westerners tends not to help matters.
Motorcycle taxis are easily the fastest and most dangerous mode of public transport in Bangkok. As with tuk tuks, they are un metered -- unless you know the correct fare, it is a good idea to agree on a fare beforehand. Always wear a helmet -- your driver should have a spare (normally of appalling quality) which he'll offer to you. There is a fine for not wearing a helmet.
Motorcycle taxis are fast -- very fast. They'll ride between cars, on the footpaths and on the wrong side of the road. There are a lot of accidents (and knee re constructions) attributed to these guys. Buyer beware. Fares over longer distances tend to be comparable to metered taxi fares.
Have an update or correction?
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