Skipping Bangkok: How to go east or west from Suvarnabhumi Airport

Daydreaming of Thailand involves images of mountains and elephants and beaches. No one loses their train of thought in a business meeting imagining lugging their bag into Bangkok from the airport on a local bus. In the words of a Friend-of-Travelfish who lives in Shanghai, “Yes, yes, cultural melange and city-in-transition and all that — how fast can we be in the ocean once I get out of the airport?” Touché, good sir.

More like this, please.

We love it here, but Bangkok is not everyone’s tropical paradise/lovable-rats’-nest. Skipping a trip into Bangkok is relatively easy, actually — with some advanced planning. For this post we’ll focus on ground transportation — if you are flying check out Air Asia, Bangkok Airways or Nok Air.

If you are headed west or south, Bangkok is unfortunately unavoidable. It’s right in your way, so roll up your trousers and wade in.

If you’re headed to the east, to Ko Chang or Cambodia, or north to Laos, you’re in luck. Take a shuttle bus from the 1st floor arrivals area to the Airport Bus Station (free, every 10-15 minutes).

To the Ko Chang archipelago:
Direct buses leave hourly between 07:30 and 12:30, and again at 16:00, from the Airport Bus Station and will drop you directly at the ferry pier for Ko Chang (308 baht, takes around 5 hours). Buses for Trat town also leave regularly until 18:00 (250 baht, takes around 5 hours). From Trat you can catch a songthaew to the Laem Ngob pier for 50 baht. Ferries run at least every hour from Laem Ngob pier from 07:00 to 17:00.

To Cambodia:
If headed to the beaches in the south of Cambodia, take a bus from the Airport Bus Station to Trat, and then take a songthaew to the Cambodian border at Baan Haad Lek or one of the minibuses departing at 09:00 and 13:30, which take you all the way to Sihanoukville for 650 baht (border open 07:00-20:00, daily). From Baan Haad Lek it takes four hours to Sihanoukville by local bus (departure 8:00, daily) or shared taxi.

If going to Angkor Wat, take the bus to Sa Kaeo/Aranyaprathet (departs the Airport Bus Station at 07:40, 12:10 and 17:10, 225 bath, 5 hours) and change to a tuk tuk for the border at Poipet. Read about need-to-know border crossing information here. From Poipet to Siem Reap it’s a 2.5-hour shared taxi ride.

To Laos:
A bus departs the Airport Bus Terminal every evening at 20.30, making the trip to Nong Khai (on the border with Vientiane) in a little over 12 hours for 454 baht.

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