Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
This Airport is huge and may be daunting at first.
To collect your luggage, go to where the 20 carousels are. Here there is a Television screen with the names of the flights that have landed and the number of the carousel that your luggage will be on.
After you have found your luggage, then I found a cheap way to reach my destination, was the AIRPORT EXPRESS BUS, it cost 150 t/baht compared to 300-400 for a taxi.
There are 4 different routes that the Buses service. They run from 5am to 12pm. Be prepared to put your luggage on the Bus yourself as they do not give you help and it goes on the Bus with you.
It is located at Level 1, near doorway 8.
If you are in a hurry, then you are better off to take a taxi, as by the Bus, you may be the last person to be dropped off, but if like me, and not in a hurry, I had a free tour as well as reaching my destination.
You can also catch the Express Bus for your return trip. I only have the details for the area I stayed which was near Khaosan road.
To get this bus (AE2), the ticket is only available at booth infront of the Sawadee Hotel, which is situated between Khaosan road and Rachdamnoen Klang road on Charkophong Road, nearly opposite Wat Chanasongkram.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is the new international airport in Bangkok and one of the largest and busiest in the world. (i think its world-number two busiest !). Also you need to walk a lot from the airplane to go outside the airport (the last time i walk about 7-10 minutes).
First Photo: Thai Airways
Second photo: Suvarnabhumi Airport
Third photo: Suvarnabhumi Airport
Forth photo: Suvarnabhumi Airport
Fifth photo: On the way to Thailand
The new Bangkok airport opened early in 2007 – and promptly ran into major problems when major construction faults led to calls for the old airport to be re-opened while repairs were made. We passed through the new terminal in late May and everything appeared to be functioning properly by then. The terminal is absolutely huge, though as we saw it at night, gaining a clear impression was difficult. The construction of boarding lounge areas appears similar to other new airports, such as Hong Kong, with extensive use of “plastic canvas” roofing. There are vast long concourses connecting different areas, fortunately equipped with moving walkways, and shops grouped at what I would call “nodes”.
Unsurprisingly, it was largely empty when we arrived late at night, local time! We found our way from our arrival lounge through the corridors with fairly few problems, then entered the boarding lounge (go out at the top level, then downstairs to the lounge – see photo). What soon became apparent was that no catering options existed in the boarding lounge area – to obtain some drinks, it was necessary to return to the shopping node.
So, getting to the point, if you are travelling from Bangkok Airport and are looking for catering, I would suggest you shop for nutrition prior to entering the boarding lounge area. Maybe later something will be provided in these areas as the terminal ‘beds in’.
As of August 2007, this is the system in place for those who wish to use public taxis to the city from the airport. When you emerge in the Greeters area, take the escalator down to the "Public Taxis" area. There is a stand or table there where you tell the person-in-charge your destination and he shall issue you a ticket (see photo) and on it the fare-- in Baht-- to be paid the driver will be written. The fare includes the airport surcharge and expressway toll.
The ticket would also indicate the plate no. of the cab plus a phone no. to call in case you left something in the cab when after you get off.
One of the worst things that I find about Suvarnabhumi airport is the long queues that you inevitably find to clear immigration. At best, I have waited 20-30 minutes, at times I have been queuing for over an hour.
One of my diving colleagues tipped me off about buying a Fast Track voucher that enables you to bypass the lengthy queues and instead use the Priority Lanes. I decided to give it a go and purchased a voucher for 400baht plus a further 100 baht to have the voucher delivered by registered mail. An added bonus was being able to pay using PayPal. My voucher arrived in less than a week and upon landing at Suvarnabhumi I showed my voucher and was directed to the Priority Lanes. I cleared immigration in less than 5 minutes, collected my luggage and was on my way out of the airport after a very short wait for my luggage.
This is definitely something I will buy again as I found that the bonus of not having that interminable wait to clear immigration was well worth the cost of the voucher.
The website that I made my purchase from is below:
If your international flight is on time you should be OK, but remember your flight from London will land at the new airport, Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and your Nokair flight will leave from the old airport, Don Mueang (DMK). I would suggest a cab to get you from one to the other. So even if it takes an hour (unlikely) to clear customs etc at BKK you still have an hour for the cab ride (about twice the usual journey time) to get to DMK more than an hour before your flight to Phuket.
The **new** departure tax is B700, hoewever, it's now build into your tickets and NOT paid individually in cash before departure (as was the old system)...
One notable exception:
Non-Revenue passengers.. You must pay the tax either thru your airline's system (you just get billed) or IN CASH.. This is most common when you are a "guest" on another airline (who cannot bill you for your travel and associated taxes)... so, if you're a non-revenue passenger, I'd keep B700 in hand (cash) just in case you need to pay the fee before departure!
I first came to Bangkok about 22 years ago, on leaving the airport you were greeted by hoards of taxi drivers clamering for your business, bargening was a must. Then they brought in the airport limo, simple set price within the arrival hall, no hasle.
Now arriving at the spanking new airport what are you greeted with......yep hoards of airport limo touts trying to grab you (lots of "very cheap"). Then go to the "official" airport limo to be told that they can't give you a 700 baht limo as they don't have one, I had to take a 900baht one. Not sure why I am charged more depending on what type of car you have, thought petrol was pretty standard price.
Hopefully someone at TTA will read this and try to ensure that the first impression of Thailand improves
Update 2008: first counter said "1000 Baht" outside first tout asked 800 baht, kept walking, second tout asked 600 baht, kept walking to meter taxi - total cost 250 baht.
Had the opportunity to try out this airport while it was in its second day of operation. The airport is huge, one of the biggest if not the biggest in the world. Everything was not completed yet, touch ups was still ongoing. Getting there by metered taxi cost about slightly less than THB290 from Silom area including a toll fee of THB40. Most taxi drivers should know how to get there, however, make sure you alight at the right check in row, otherwise it could be quite a walk. There was no jam on a Saturday, the journey took less than 45 minutes. Given the hotel staff's advice of 2 hours' allowance to reach the airport, I reached there too early for checkin. But prepare 2 hours for your trip to the airport if a jam is expected. If you are claiming VAT Refund, make sure you proceed to the customs for inspection BEFORE checking in your luggage, otherwise you may not get your refund. The refund is done after the immigration process just before the boarding security checks and the counter requires a custom stamp on the VAT invoices before they can give u the refund. Immigration counters are aplenty here, so expect a shorter wait. Security check is very thorough, every cm of your body is scanned carefully - maybe they have plenty of time cos there are not many flights operating out of this airport while I was there. Shops were not ready yet, though it is claimed that there will be a kilometre stretch of shops (u can imagine the size of the airport). Judging from the state of completion, I expect the airport to be fully functional earliest in November 2006, though most airlines will start using the airport from 26 Sept onwards. This airport is supposed to challenge Singapore's Changi Airport as a hub for air travel and I strongly suspect that the Thai planners took quite a no. of learning trips down to Changi cos I see lots of similarity to Changi Airport.
I spent quite a bit of time in the new airport as I had a 5 hour layover on my way to Beijing. There are some pros and cons of this airport, but mostly I found the experience favourable.
The only bad thing I could see was that there are no ATM's in the transit area. I came with no money (only cards) and was unable to buy anything (including water). I soon found that everyone took credit cards so I could buy things that way. There are heaps of shops (including duty free and boots) and eating areas as well as internet to keep you busy for a few hours. The quality of the food is quite good, but expensive.
The whole place is ultra modern and they have decorated the halls with traditional Thai statues and provillions making it a little different from other airports.
There is a transit waiting lounge for economy passengers which is actually very comfortable, although I found the whole airport was too cold due to excessive use of airconditioning - bring a jumper!!
I find the easiest way to the new airport is taking the Bangkok Airport Train which leaves every 15 minutes from Phaya Thai, and takes only 30 minutes. Just in case you are feeling hungry after you have checked in at the airport there is a store on the extreme left of the departure floor that sells snacks and drinks at the normal street price, makes a change from the normal airport inflated prices.
(Aug 2007) Traveller's guide to Suvarnabhumi:
Taxis to town =
Head down to the 1st floor to the public taxi line and get a metered taxi into town.
Don't agree to a fixed rate, the metered rate is better (some dishonest dispatchers will ask).
Pay the tollway/highway fare.
Passport control =
The queue at passport control upon arrival is not so bad ~10 minutes.
Upon departure, it gets worse. I have flown out 3 times, queued 10-30 minutes. Leave some time for this !
The airport is huge. To walk from passport control to your gate may take 15 minutes.
There is a massage place in the public area (level 2) and one after passport control (see attached picture) - your best bet is to get a massage in town ...
The new airport is aimed at the mid-range traveller. The options that I have seen are as follows:
* The floor above departures houses a Thai/western restuarant, main dishes ~ 300B.
* The second floor has a few quasi-fast food restaurants, with mains for ~ 200B.
* Also on the second floor, there is the "Thai village" - a few small kiosks selling Thai takeaway food - not amazing, or fresh, but cheap and filling (also added a shawarma grill last time I was there)
* There is a food court on the bottom floor, not far from the public taxi rank. Patrons are mainly airport employees. No western food, but a reasonable selection of Thai food (~ 10 different stalls) with mains at ~ 50B or less - and English translations on most of the food signs..
* There is a family mart on every floor. The departures floor one is smallest, the other 2 are larger. You can get a large variety of drinks and snacks, as well as (Thai) cup-a-soups and frozen meals, which they can microwave for you.
* After passport control, prices increase (see pic) - 200B for a small piece of pie ??
From Suvarnabhumi Airport the only way to get to the old airport at Don Muang (distance about 30 kilometres) is by road.
BUS: The cheapest way to do it is by bus. First you take the free bus-shuttle from the Suvarnabhumi passenger terminal to the Bus Station (also called Travel Center) which is within the airport compound but too far to walk. The shuttle goes every 5 minutes and takes about 5 minutes to get to the Bus Station.
Once you are at the Bus Station look for bus number 554 (colour orange). It is air-conditioned, comfortable and goes directly to Don Muang airport. It’s quite a fast service because it bypasses central Bangkok and goes along the expressway. The fare is about Bt35 (US$1) and buses go about every 30 minutes. Allow from 45 to 90 minutes depending on the time of day. Rush hour in Bangkok (the Big Mango) is: mornings 7am -9.30am and evenings 5pm to 8pm. For more details about which buses go where from Suvarnabhumi, click : www.bangkokairportonline.com/node/14
TAXI: If for some reason the buses aren't running or you are short of time, you can take a taxi. The taxis have metres (make sure they turn the metre on when you start off !!! it should read Bt35). The fare to Don Muang will be about Bt250 (US$7) plus highway toll charges of about Bt100 payable as you go.
LIMOUSINE: If you are a high-roller you could go to Don Muang by limousine service. If you want to pay through the nose you can pick one of these up immediately after going through customs. Alternatively, pick and choose when you get outside the terminal. Limousines are not metred, you have to negotiate the fare yourself. Most of them want Bt800 (US$23) to go to Don Muang.
When I reached the Suvarnabhumi Airport, I went straight to Level 1 to take the bus. I was quite apprehensive about taking the limo/taxi because I've heard a lot of horror stories of people being cheated up to 900THB when the actual fare is only 250-300THB. The aiport bus fare was 150THB per person but I had to wait for about 40 minutes for the next bus to come by. When the bus came, we were caught in the middle of the notorious Bangkok jam and it took me about 2 hours to reach my hotel at Soi 5, Sukhumvit. The bus stops at most big and popular hotels along the Sukhumvit Road so there is no problem if you book hotels around this area. If your hotel is lesser-known like mine, just find a well-known hotel and use it as a landmark for where you want to stop.
Bangkok's main airport, Suvarnabhumi, is as chaotic as the city itself. Incorrect and out of date signs lead you in the wrong direction, to end up in baffling immigration systems where nobody speaks English and nobody knows what's going on. We ended up stuck in a long queue only to discover we didn't need to be there - they'd just forgotten to remove my wife's nationality from the list outside even though they'd changed the visa rules for her the previous year. To top it all we almost missed our hotel transfer, and had to stand around getting stressed and making expensive international phone calls, because the sign saying advertising which door our plane's passengers were exiting from was also wrong, and our pick-up was waiting a hundred meters away.
Taxis from the airport are reportedly running some kind of mafia too, so if you arrive late expect to be ripped off. It's probably worth paying for a transfer, as at least then you'll get a nice car and not have to stress about getting out of the airport any more than you have to.