Positioned 30 km east of central Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi International Airport (pronounced like ‘su-wan-na-poom’) started commercial international and domestic service in 2006. It acquired the airport code BKK earlier held by the old airport at Don Mueang. Suvarnabhumi, meaning the golden land in Thai, was named by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Visitors often mispronounce its English spelling. Suvarnabhumi has only one large terminal, unlike Don Mueang Airport, which had three terminals, which handles all international and domestic flights. It boasts of a size of 5,63,000 sq. metres, making the terminal building second largest in the world.
Suvarnabhumi is known to have had a questionable past of extensive delays, fraud allegations, political snooping, stories of flawed planning and massive funds overruns. All this was before the airport even opened.
In spite of a large budget, several issues were ranging from cracks on the runway to complaints from passengers of weak signs, exhaustive queues and poor services. These problems became the reason for reopening the Don Muang Airport to serve international and domestic flights by the budget airlines. This has enormously improved the situation since then.
Lots of tourists go to Bangkok for their vacation or people even go on business trips. Talking about India, Bangalore sees a significant number of passengers travelling to Bangkok followed by Mumbai and Delhi.
While there are many Bangalore to Bangkok flights, Thai Air Asia, Indigo and THAI are the major non-stop flights. The other Bangalore to Bangkok flights are connected and usually take more time to reach the airport. These flights are cheap and usually take eight hours to reach the destination. The direct Bangalore to Bangkok flight takes three and a half hours to reach the airport.
Suvarnabhumi is arranged into four levels:
At level one, there is the bus and taxi lobby where you can go to get downtown.
At level two, there is the arrivals’ area.
Level three is the Meeting Centre level, where the majority of Suvarnabhumi's facilities are available.
Level four is the departures’ area.
There's a Public Transportation Center (PTC) building which is about a 10 minutes’ walk from the Suvarnabhumi terminal. Free shuttle buses are regularly available. If you wish to get a public bus downtown or go to a stop apart from Bangkok, you need to first go to the Public Transportation Center, whereas if you are taking a taxi, you can either get it from the terminal building or from the Public Transportation Center.
Getting downtown is inexpensive with plenty of options, such as taxis, airport buses, regular buses, boats, limousine, trains, etc.
You could catch a taxi directly from the terminal or first take a complimentary shuttle bus to the PTC and then catch a cab ahead. If you want to get one from the terminal, after clearing customs and walking into the Arrivals’ area, you need to go one floor down and wait at the taxi counter, and they will handle it for you. Shuttle buses to the PTC also depart from the first floor near the taxi stand, so if the line is too long at the terminal and you have not got too much baggage, then it is worth the ten-minute trip to the PTC where there are plenty of taxis waiting. The taxi drivers are English speaking. Taxis always use the metre, though some will try and demand a fixed price.
The trip to downtown will take approximately 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the traffic. Though the heavy traffic can make this trip a lot longer, you have the choice of using the expressway downtown. The extra charge is paid by the passenger. The expressway is considerably faster at any time during the day. The passenger also needs to spend a fixed amount as airport tax on top of the metre fee.
It is recommended to keep some change handy. Although less seen, the unlicensed taxis are not a safe choice. Opt for the licensed taxi in Bangkok which carries a standard yellow and black number plate.
The popular BTS Skytrain and MRT metro lines do not go to the airport. An alternative option is the Airport Rail Link system that takes about forty minutes for a trip into central Bangkok. Almost all guests will want to get off at either Makkasan or Phaya Thai stations, which have connections with the BTS and MRT systems onwards. If you are taking small luggage, this is a comfortable and easy way to get downtown. If you have a lot of baggage, making onward connections at these stations will require you to walk a little more. Remember, passengers heavily use the airport link line for moving to and from work in central Bangkok, so it gets very congested during office hours.
Suvarnabhumi has a bus terminal at its Transportation Center with loads of services both within Bangkok and to regions in Thailand's north-eastern and eastern areas.
The local buses to downtown Bangkok are unquestionably cheap. These are the public bus routes available from Suvarnabhumi:
Bus no. 549: Bang Kapi to Minburi - Suvarnabhumi
Bus no. 550: Happyland to Suvarnabhumi
Bus no. 551: Victory Monument to Suvarnabhumi (via Pratunam)
Bus no. 554: Rangsit to Suvarnabhumi
Bus no. 552: Onnut Skytrain Station to Suvarnabhumi
Bus no. 553: Samut Prakan to Suvarnabhumi
You could book from a taxi booth within the terminal when you are leaving arrivals. Limousine is a just a description; these are just somewhat newer and more spacious taxis. Prices vary depending on your stop. There are only two official limousine services licensed to operate within the terminal.
The airport buses are the most popular with single travellers for being hassle-free and because they are very cheap. These buses are likely to serve well than a taxi if you are travelling alone. If you are in a group, a taxi is going to be faster, more convenient, and cheaper. The airport buses run from around 5 am to midnight.