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. Pronounced nothing like it looks, the correct way to say the same is “su-wan-na-poom”. 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.
Bangkok’s former international airport Don Muang Airport (airport code DMG; tel. 02535-1111) is 24km (15 miles) north of the heart of the city and this is where most domestic flights (but certainly not all) and regional budget flights operate in Bangkok. It got a facelift in 2016/2017, and it’s a clean, easy-to-navigate facility with cafes, and international chains like Starbucks and 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.
There is a free shuttle bus that connects the two airports available 5am to midnight.
Getting To & From the Airports -- From both Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang, it takes 30 to 90 minutes to drive to the city center, depending on traffic and if it is raining, which inexplicably doubles the commute time. Inexpensive and readily available, taxis are the best way to get to or from the city (and may be the cheapest way). Taxis only take cash, so make sure you have smaller notes, like 20B, 50B or 100B, since 1,000B bills are hard to break. At Suvarnabhumi taxi counters, there are specific lines for van taxis, so look out for those if you’re with a group or have extra baggage. Take a ticket from the automated machine, which will direct you to a corresponding number where you’ll meet your assigned cab driver. From either airport, a trip downtown should cost about 300B, plus expressway tolls. Some drivers will ask for cash at the tolls, while others will add it on to the bill upon arriving at the destination.
If arriving at Suvarnabhumi during rush hour, consider taking the Airport Rail Link to the city center. The express train takes 15 minutes to Makkasan Terminal, near the Phetchaburi MRT station, and costs 90B. A local line takes 30 minutes to cover the same journey for 45B and arrives at the Phaya Thai BTS. Trains depart every 15 minutes from 6am to midnight. At first blush, this may seem like the most appealing option considering the price and transit time. But Bangkok’s local transit systems, the BTS and MRT, are tricky to navigate with luggage and cover only a fraction of the city’s grid, so you’ll very likely need a cab to reach your hotel from the station anyway (meaning the end price could be the same).
Private limousine services such as AOT offer air-conditioned sedans and drivers from both airports. Look for the booth in arrivals. Trips start at 1,000B. Advanced booking is not necessary.
Airport Express buses were terminated when the rail link launched, and local bus services are really only for people who know their way around. For these, 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 42B cover 12 city routes, including major BTS stops and the Southern Bus Terminal.
Trains to and from the capital stop at Hua Lampong Station (tel. 02220-4334), east of Yaowarat (Chinatown). Lying at a major intersection of Rama IV and Krung Kasem roads, it’s notoriously gridlocked during morning and evening rush hours, so allow 40 minutes extra for traffic delays. Better yet, take the MRT to Hualamphong; it’s across the road from the station.
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.