Suvarnabhumi transport - Bangkok airport train

The Bangkok airport train can be a real time-saver

The Bangkok airport train can be a real time-saver

There are several options to get to and from Bangkok airport, none of them particularly expensive. In general it should take no more than an hour to get to your destination in the city, or even as far as Pattaya. Metered taxis, limousine services, buses and a high-speed train from Bangkok airport are all available.

Bangkok airport train

The high-speed train from Bangkok airport is the most sensible option and can whisk you into the city in 20 minutes - if your timing is right. Fast trains (17-minute journey) leave every half an hour (usually on the hour or half hour) and terminate at Phaya Thai BTS (skytrain) station, costing 100 baht (US$3), with a similar return service. There is also a 'local' service that runs along the same line, stopping at several stations and taking 25 minutes, with less comfortable seating (its a commuter service), costing 50 baht.

The trains depart on an unconventional schedule and the best advice is to take the escalators down to the rail terminal (Level A - Basement), and hop on the first departing train. Whichever one you take, the journey time to your hotel will be equal, and lugging lots of luggage through Makkasan terminal, or onto the Skytrain, isn’t recommended. The Makkasan terminal connects to the Metro (BTS) system though the walkway between the two can be a challenge with heavy bags. From here, it's still a 15-minute (70 baht) taxi ride to a Sukhumwit Road hotel.

Note! Since taxis in Bangkok are good value, first timers to Bangkok are advised to use these directly from the airport for a door-to-door service, costing about 400 baht (US$12).

Bangkok airport taxis and buses

Inexpensive metered taxis are by far the easiest, most popular and convenient option for getting into Bangkok, costing 300-400 baht per journey. These can be caught from Level A in the basement. We don’t recommend the heavily-advertised AOT limousine service, which is marginally more comfortable and safer but costs three times more. An organised queuing system that ensures the taxis use their meters is in place; for which you pay a 50 baht levy.

Scam alert! Since its opening, the airport has been plagued with poor management issues and a lack of will to deal with scammers and corrupt officials, resulting in some horrid experiences for selected visitors. The moment you step out of arrivals you might be confronted with a barrage of ‘freelance’ taxi guides, who are unregistered, and often overcharge. The metered taxis one level down are safe and cost 300-400 baht all inclusive.

There is also the slow option of airport buses - and four buses a day to Pattaya - or a valet service from your hotel. The time it takes to transfer to the airport bus stop and then into town hardly justifies the saving, especially now that the rail link is operating. The airport is located 30kms southeast of the centre of Bangkok, and several major highways and expressways link the airport with the rest of the country.

Car hire at Bangkok airport

This is provided by many of the major car rental companies - Hertz, National, Avis, Sixt - at prices similar to Europe. You’ll need a bit of nerve to drive into Bangkok, but for those travelling upcountry, a hire car is a good idea for freedom of travel. The road network is good, even if the local drivers are a little ill-disciplined. It’s advisable to reserve a car rental in advance by using an online comparator to book a hire car from Bangkok airport.

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