There is no longer a direct flight from the U.S. to Thailand. Flights from major U.S. cities have layovers across the Asian continent, including Hong Kong, Tokyo, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Seoul. Depending on your origin city, expect travel from the U.S. to Thailand to take 22 to 30 hours. But with those layovers come some opportunities, since Thailand has more than one international airport. While most international flights arrive in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport (airport code BKK; tel. 02132-1888), you can also fly directly to Phuket (airport code HKT; tel. 077632-7230-7), Ko Samui (airport code USM; tel. 07742-22512-9), and Chiang Mai (airport code CNX; tel. 05327-0222-33) from certain regional destinations such as Singapore or Hong Kong. That being said, international long-haul flights into Bangkok cost an average of $200 less than flights into these other airports.
Timing is also important. Tuesday flights are statistically cheapest for those flying into and out of the country, and prices are lowest in April, May and September.
By Bus or Car
Neighboring countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malaysia have sanctioned border crossing points to exit or enter Thailand. Most busses, private cars, or shared taxis cannot cross the border point, and the onward leg of the journey is another bus, private car, or shared taxi on the other side of the border. Visa on arrival services are available at these points, but remember to bring the necessary paperwork, visa photos, and crisp U.S. dollars in the correct amount. You can change Thai baht at airports across the country or, if you’re in Bangkok, Super Rich (www.superrichthailand.com) offers the best rates. Look out for locals offering to cordinate health checks or expedite visa services—these are always a scam. At press time, these are the current visa fees: Laos charges $35 (for U.S., Europe, U.K. citizens), $42 for Canadians, and Australians. Most others pay $30. Cambodia charges $30 for most nationalities and requires a passport photo (or else pay a $2 fine and skip the photo). Myanmar charges $50 for an online e-visa ($56 for 24-hour turnaround). Visitors from most countries can enter Malaysia without a visa.
Thailand is accessible via train from Singapore and peninsular Malaysia. Malaysia's Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTM) begins in Singapore (tel. 652/6222-5165), stopping in Kuala Lumpur (tel. 603/2267-1200) and Butterworth (Penang; tel. 604/323-7962), before heading for Thailand, where it joins service with the State Railway of Thailand. Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Station is centrally located on Krung Kasem Road (tel. 02220-4334 or 1690). Taxis, tuk-tuks, and public buses wait outside the station and access to the MRT (subway) is a few steps away.
The Eastern & Oriental Express (www.orient-express.com) operates a 2-night/3-day journey between Singapore and Bangkok that makes getting there almost better than being there. The romance of 1930s colonial travel is joined with modern luxury in six Pullman cars, seven State cars, a Presidential car, plus two restaurant cars, a bar car, a saloon car, and an observation car. Along the way, stops are made in Penang (Georgetown) and Kanchanaburi (River Kwai) for light sightseeing. Current fares per person one-way are $2,900 for a Pullman superior double.
Star Clipper Cruises run leisurely cruises that stop at several picturesque Thai islands on the week-long journey from Singapore to Phuket. For more information visit www.starclippers.com.