Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport (airport code BKK; tel. 02132-1888), which opened in 2006, is the main hub for all international travelers arriving in Thailand; it also handles domestic flights (with three-digit codes) in and out of the capital. It's 30km (over 18 miles) east of the city. Suvarnabhumi offers a wide range of services, including luggage storage, currency exchange, banks, a branch of the British pharmacy Boots, ATMs, a post office, medical centers (two are 24-hr. clinics), Internet service, and telephones. All of Suvarnabhumi's restaurant and shopping outlets are infamously overpriced (up to 10 times city prices), though; budget travelers would do well to stop by a downtown convenience store to stock up on snacks and drinks. Within the airport complex, just a couple of minutes from the terminal exit, is Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport (www.novotel.com), a five-star hotel. For more detailed information on Suvarnabhumi, see www.suvarnabhumiairport.com.
Old Don Muang Airport (airport code DMG; tel. 02535-1111) is 24km (15 miles) north of the heart of the city and is currently serving nonconnecting Thai Airways domestic flights as well as all flights on One-Two-GO and Nok Air. It no longer offers the range of services it used to but still has cafes and diners as well as ATMs. Amari Don Muang Airport Hotel (www.amari.com/donmuang) is opposite the airport and is accessed via a sky bridge or a shuttle bus (book in advance). For more details on Don Muang, see www.donmuangairportonline.com.
Note: As of 2007, passengers no longer pay any departure taxes at the airport, as these are included in ticket fees. But there are no ATMs beyond Immigration (airside) at Suvarnabhumi, so all those leaving Thailand -- or those in transit -- must ensure they have enough cash for their onward destination before they enter passport control, especially those paying for visas on arrival in countries such as Myanmar and Indochina, where airside airport ATMs may not exist or may have run out of cash.
Getting To & From the Airports -- From both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang, it takes about 40 to 60 minutes to drive to the city center, depending on traffic, and over 90 minutes in heavy rain or at rush hour (or both). The city's larger hotels offer pickup services for a fee, but both airports have public taxi, limousine, and bus services to Bangkok; Suvarnabhumi also has buses to Pattaya. At the moment, taking a taxi or express bus into town is your easiest and fastest option for both airports, though that should change when the Suvarnabhumi high-speed rail link opens (it's scheduled to open in April 2010), costing about 150B and cutting the journey time to just 15 minutes.
At the Arrival Halls at either airport, don't be tempted by the many limousine or taxi touts. In both airports, simply follow signs to the public taxi or bus stands. Get some small notes (20B or 50B) in the Arrivals Hall before you leave the airport, as you'll need these for the tollbooths. Without tolls, expect to pay between 250B and 300B from either airport to reach most hotels downtown.
Private limousine services such as AOT offer air-conditioned sedans and drivers from both airports. Look for the booth in Arrivals. Trips from Suvarnabhumi start at 1,200B. Advanced booking is not necessary.
Airport Express buses, located on Suvarnabhumi Level 1 at Gate 8, are convenient and the most inexpensive way to get into the city, costing just 150B. Buses run every 30 minutes from 5am to midnight and cover four routes and most major hotels. For local and intercity buses, you will need to get on a free shuttle, located at Level 2 or 4, going to the Public Transportation Center. From there, buses costing around 35B cover 12 city routes, including major BTS stops and the Southern Bus Terminal. For intercity services, go to the relevant ticket counter (daily 6am-9pm) at the Public Transportation Center; three routes serve nearby Pattaya, Jomtien, and Chonburi.
While a few southern-bound locomotives still use Thonburi's Bangkok Noi Station (tel. 02411-3102), most intercity trains to and from the capital stop at Hua Lamphong Station (tel. 02621-8701, or the hot line at 1690), east of Yaowarat (Chinatown). Lying at a major intersection of Rama IV and Krung Kasem roads, it's notoriously gridlocked at morning and evening rush hours, so allow 40 minutes extra for traffic delays. Inside the station, clear signs point the way to the public toilets, pay phones, food court, and baggage check area. One bag costs 30B per day.
Like all major train stations, Hua Lamphong is rife with scammers, preying on foreigners and gullible out-of-towners just arrived in the metropolis. "Officials" may approach you in the station offering help. Be careful -- not all may actually be officials; proceed to the ticketing counter or information booth directly.
Metered taxis from the station cost about 50B to 100B to nearby Sala Daeng BTS on Silom Road, depending on the time of day; there is an MRT (subway) station at Hua Lamphong for connections to the BTS. For Sukhumvit Road, take the MRT to the Sukhumvit stop, and then transfer to the Asok BTS.
Bangkok has three major bus stations, each serving a different part of the country. All air-conditioned public buses to the West and the Southern Peninsula arrive and depart from the Southern Bus Terminal (tel. 02793-8111), on Putthamonthon Soi 1, west of the river, over the Phra Pinklao Bridge from the Democracy Monument. Service to the East Coast (including Pattaya) arrives and departs from the Eastern Bus Terminal, also known as Ekkamai (tel. 02391-2504), on Sukhumvit Road opposite Soi 63 (Ekkamai BTS). Buses to the north arrive and leave from the Northern Bus Terminal, aka Mo Chit (tel. 02936-2841), Kampaengphet 2 Road, near the Chatuchak Weekend Market, and a short taxi or bus ride from Mo Chit BTS or MRT stations. Affordable, long-distance VIP buses leave from various locations in town and can be booked by any of the agents along Sukhumvit or Khao San roads.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.