Bangkok has two airports. Suvarnabhumi International Airport, 30km east of Bangkok, began commercial international and domestic service in September 2006 after several years of delay. The airport's name is pronounced sii-wan-nd-poom, and it inherited the airport code (BKK) previously used by the old airport at Don Muang. The unofficial airport website www.bangkokairportonline.com has practical information in English, as well as real-time details of arrivals and departures.
Bangkok's former international and domestic Don Muang Airport, 25km north of central Bangkok, was retired from commercial service in September 2006, only to be partially reopened five months later to handle overflow from Suvarnabhumi. At the time of writing rumours of the airport's imminent closure had been circulating, but for now it's still serving some domestic flights. The unofficial airport website www.donmuangairportonline .com has real-time details of arrivals and departures.
For hotels near either airport, see the boxed text. For details on getting to and from the airports, see opposite.
The following carriers service domestic destinations; a few also fly routes to international destinations. For a list of international carriers.
Air Asia : Suvarnabhumi to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Narathiwat, Phuket, Ranong, Surat Thani, Ubon Ratchathani and Udon Thani.
Bangkok Airways : Suvarnabhumi to Chiang Mai, Phuket, Ko Samui, Sukhothai and Trat. Branch at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Nok Air : This subsidiary of Thai flies from Don Muang to Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phuket, Trang and Udon Thani. Nok Air also operates code-share flights with PB Air from Suvarnabhumi to Buriram, Lampang, Nakhon Pnanom, Nan, Roi Et and Sakon Nakhon. Branches at both airports.
One-Two-Go : Domestic arm of Orient Thai; flies from Don Muang to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phuket. Branch at Don Muang Airport.
PB Air : Suvarnabhumi to Buriram, Chumphon, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Nakhon Phanom, Roi Et and Sakon Nakhon. Branch at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
SGA Airlines : A subsidiary of Nok Air (making the airline a subsidiary of a subsidiary), SGA flies tiny prop planes from Suvarnabhumi to Hua Hin, and from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and Pai. Branch at Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Thai Airways International : Silom; Banglamphu; Operates domestic air services to many provincial capitals. Branches at both airports.
Bangkok is the centre for bus services that fan out all over the kingdom. For longdistance journeys to popular tourist desti-nations, it is advisable to buy tickets directly from the bus companies located at the bus stations, rather than through travel agents in tourist centres such as Th Khao San. See the boxed text p!09 for common transport scams to keep an eye open for.
There are three main public bus terminals, two of which .are located an inconvenient distance from the centre of the city. Allow an hour to reach all terminals from most parts of Bangkok.
Eastern bus terminal : is the departure point for buses to Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and other points east. Most people call it sa-tahmce ek-ga-mai (Ekamai station).
Northern & Northeastern bus terminal : is just north of Chatuchak Park. It's also commonly called kon song mor chit (Mo Chit station) - not to be cqpfused with Mor Chit BTS station. Buses depart from here for all northern and northeastern destinations. Buses to Aranya Prathet (near the Cambodian border) also leave from here, not from the Eastern bus terminal as you might expect. To reach the bus station, take Skytrain to Mo Chit and transfer onto city bus 3 or hop on a motorcycle taxi.
The city's new Southern bus terminal : lies quite far from the centre of Bangkok. Commonly called sai dai rnai, it's among the more pleasant and orderly in the country. Besides serving as the departure point for all buses south of Bangkok, transport to Kanchanaburi and western Thailand also departs from here. To reach the station, take bus 503 from Th Phra Athit, or hop on a river-bound taxi at Th Ratchadamnoen.
Bangkok's Hualamphong station : is the terminus for the main rail services to the south, north, northeast and east. Bookings can be made in person at the advance booking office (just follow the signs; open from 8.30am to 4pm). The other ticket ' windows are for same-day purchases, mostly 3rd class. From Sam to 8.30am and 4pm to 10pm, advance bookings can also be made at windows 2 to 11. You can obtain a train timetable from the information window. Avoid smiling 'information' staff who try to direct all arrivals to a travel agency in the mezzanine level.
Hualamphong has the following services: shower room, mailing centre, luggage storage, cafes and food courts. To get to the station from Sukhumvit take the Metro to the Hualamphong stop. From western points (Banglamphu, Thewet), take bus 53.
Bangkok Noi station : handles infrequent (and overpriced for foreigners) services to Nakhon Pathom, Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok. The station can be reached by river ferry to Tha Rot Fai. Tickets can be bought at the station.
Although Bangkok's rush-hour traffic is the stuff of nightmares, seemingly random acts of embouteillage can impede even the shortest trip, any day, any time. If it's an option, going by river, canal or Skytrain is always the. best choice; otherwise assume a 45-minute journey for most outings.
To/From the Airport
At the time of writing there were still two functioning airports in Bangkok; the vast majority of flights are relegated to shiny new Suvarnabhumi, bul some domestic flights still fly in and out of the old Don Muang Airport. It you need to transfer between the two, pencil in at least an hour, as the two airports are at polar opposite ends of town.
The following ground transport options are allowed to leave directly from the airport terminal to in-town destinations: metered taxis, hotel limousines, the airport express bus, private vehicles and private buses. If there are no metered taxis available kerbside or if the line is too long, you can take the airport shuttle to the taxi stand at the public transport centre.
The public transport centre is 3km from the airport terminal and includes a public bus terminal, metered taxi stand, car rental and long-term parking. A free airport shuttle running both an ordinary and express route connects the transport centre with the passenger terminals.
SUVARNABHUMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Airport Express runs four useful routes between Suvarnabhumi and Bangkok. They operate from Sam to midnight and cost 150B, meaning a taxi will be a comparable price if there are two of you heading to central Bangkok, but slightly more expensive it you're going to Banglamphu.
The Airport Express counter is near entrance 8 on level 1. Routes stop at Skytrain stations, major hotels and other landmarks. AE-1 to Silom (by expressway) Via Pratunam, Central World Plaza, Ratchadamri Skytrain, Lumphini Park, Th Sala Daeng, Patpong, Plaza Hotel and others, finishing at Sala Daeng Skytrain.
AE-2 to Banglamphu (by expressway) Via Th Petchaburi Soi 30, Democracy Monument, Royal Hotel, Th Phra Athit, Th Phra Sumen and Th Khao San. AE-3 to Sukhumvit Via Soi 52, Eastern bus terminal, Soi 34,24,20,18,10,6, Central Chit Lom, Central World Plaza and Soi Nana.
AE-4 to Hualamphong train station Via Victory Monument, Phayathai Skytrain, Siam Square, M6K and Chulalongkorn University.
With more time and less money, you could take the Skytrain to On Nut (40B), then from near the market entrance opposite Tesco take the BTS minivan (25B, about 40 minutes; look for the yellow BTS 522 Suvarnabhurhi on the window) to the airport.
Several other air-con local buses serve the airport's public transport centre, a 3km ride on a free shuttle bus from Suvarnabhumi, charging a flat 35B fare. The most useful routes: Bus 551 Siam Paragon Via Victory Monument. Bus 552 Klong Toei Via Sukumvit 101 and On Nut Skytrain.
Buses 554 & 555 Don Muang Airport Bus 556 Southern bus terminal Via Democracy Monument (for Th Khao San) and Thammasat University.
Intercity buses to destinations east including Pattaya, Rayong and Trat stop at the public transport centre, reached via a free shuttle from the airport.
If you are heading to the airport from Banglamphu, the hotels and guesthouses can book you on air-con minivans. These pick up from hotels and guesthouses, and cost about 180B per person (you're better off using the Airport Express bus).
From late 2009 a new Skytrain line will run from downstairs at the airport to a huge new City Air Terminal in central Bangkok, near Soi Asoke/21 and Th Petchaburi. There wil be an express service (pink line) that will tad 15 minutes, and a local service (red line) takeing 27 minutes.
As you exit the terminal, ignore the touts and all the yellow signs pointing you to 'official airport taxis' (which cost 700B flat). Instead, walk! outside on the arrivals level and join the fast-; moving queue for a public taxi. Cabs bookedi through this desk should always use their] meter, but they often try their luck so insisM by saying, 'Meter, please'. You must also pay j a SOB official airport surcharge and reimburse 3 drivers for any toll charges (usually about 60B); drivers will always ask your permission to use] the tollway. Depending on traffic, a taxi to 1 Asoke should cost 200B to 250B, to Silom 300B to 350B and to Banglamphu 350B to 425B Fares are per vehicle, not per person.
DON MUANG AIRPORT
There are no longer any express airport buses to/from Don Muang.
Slow, crowded public bus 59 stops on the highway in front of the airport and carries on to Banglamphu, passing Th Khao San and the Democracy Monument; luggage is not allowed. Air-con buses are faster, and you might actually get a seat. Useful air con routes: Bus 510 Victory Monument and Southern bus terminal. Bus 513 Th Sukhumvit and Eastern bus terminal. Bus 29 Northern bus terminal, Victory Monument, Siam Square and Hualamphong train station.
As at Suvarnabhumi, public taxis leave from outside the arrivals hall and there is a SOB airport charge added to the meter fare. A trip to Banglamphu, including airport change and tollway fees, will set you back about 400B. The fare will be slightly less for a trip to Sukhumvit or Silom.
The walkway that crosses from Terminal 1 to the Amari Airport Hotel also provides access to Don Muang train station, which has trains to Hualamphong train station every one to the hours from 4am to 11.30am and then roughly every hour from 2pm to 9.30pm (3rd-class ordinary/express 5/10B, one hour).
Once the city s dominant torm ot transport, public boats still survive along the mighty Mae Nam Chao Phraya and on a few interior klorng.
Chao Phraya Express : provides one of the city-'s most scenic (and efficient) transport options, running passenger boats along Mac Nam Chao Phraya to destinations both south and north of Bangkok. The central pier is known varyingly as Tha Sathon and Saphan Taksin, and connects to the Saphan Taksin Skytrain station, at the southern end of the city. Visitors are most likely to go northwards, to the stops designated with an N prefix.
Tickets range from 13B to 34B and are generally purchased on board the boat, although some larger stations have ticket booths. Either way, hold on to your ticket as pro of purchase.
The company operates express (indicated by an orange, yellow or yellow and green flag), local (without a flag) and tourist boat (larger boat) services. During rush hour, pay close attention to the flag colours to avoid an unwanted journey to a foreign province. See the map on pi 86 for routes and piers, or ask for one of the maps provided at some of the larger piers.
Local : The local line (no flag) serves all company piers between Wat Ratch-asingkhon, in south-central Bangkok, north to Nonthaburi, stopping frequently.
Tourist : The more expensive tourist boat offers heaps of seating and English-language commentary (some of it actually comprehensible); it operates from Tha Sathon to 10 major sightseeing piers, only going as far north as Tha Phra Athit (Banglamphu).
Orange Express : This, the most frequent line, operates between Wat Ratchasingkhon and Nonthaburi with frequent stops.
Yellow Express : The yellow express line operates between Ratburana to Konthaburi with stops at major piers.
Green-Yellow Express : This rush-hour-only boat takes commuters to the Pakkret Pier, far north of Bangkok.
Blue Express : Another rush-hour-only boat takes commuters directly to Nonthaburi.
There are also flat-bottomed cross-river ferries that connect Thonburi and Bangkok. These piers are usually next door to the Chao Phraya Express piers and cost 3B per crossing.
Over the years boat services along Bangkok and Thonburi's klorng have diminished, but with mounting traffic woes there may be plans to revive these water networks. For now, canal taxi boats run along Khlong Saen Saeb (Banglamphu to Kamkhamhaeng) and are an easy way to get from Banglamphu to Jim Thompson's House, the Siam Square shopping centres (get off at Tha Hua Chang for both), and other points further east along Sukhumvit - after a mandatory change of boat at Tha Pratunam. These boats are mostly used by daily commuters and pull into the piers for just a few seconds - jump straight on or you'll be left behind. Fares range from 7B to 20B.
The city's public bus system is operated by Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (; the website is a great source of information on all bus routes. Air-con bus fares typically start at 12B and ordinary (fan) buses start at 7.SB. Smaller privately operated green buses cost 5B.
Most of the bus lines run between Sam and 10pm or llpm, except for the 'all-night' buses, which run from 3am or 4am to midmorning.
Bangkok Bus Map by Roadway, available at Asia Books, is the most up-to-date route map available. The following bus lines are useful for tourists travelling between Banglamphu and the Siam Square area: Bus 15 From Tha Phra, on the Thonburi side of the river, to Sanam Luang (accessible to Wat Phra Kaew) with stops at MBK Center (connect to Skytrain) and Th Ratchadam-noen Klang (accessible to Th Khao San). Bus 47 Khlong Toei Port to Department of Lands, along Th Phahonyothin, in northern Bangkok, with stops along Th Phra Ram IV, MBK Center, Th Ratchadamnoen and Sanam Luang.
Bus 73 Huay Khwang to Saphan Phut (connect to Chao Phraya Express) with stops at MBK Center, Hualamphong (connect to train or Metro) and Chinatown.
For short-term visitors, you will find parking and driving a car in Bangkok more trouble than it is worth. If you need private transport consider hiring a car and driver through your hotel or hire a taxi driver that you find trust-orthy-the reputable operator is Julie Taxi, which offers variety of vehicles and excellent service. If vou're not dissuaded, cars and motorycles can he rented throughout town, including through such international chains as Avis or local chains such as Thai Rent A Car, which has a hranch at Suvarnabhumi International Airport. Rates start at around IOOOB per day, excluding insurance. An International Driving Permit and passport are required for all rentals.
Bangkok's first subway line opened in 2004 and is operated by the Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority. Thais call the metro rot fui fiih dai din.
The 20km Blue Line goes from Hualamphong train station to Bang Sue, stopping at 18 stations, including four that link up with the Skytrain, and one that connects with the airport link. Pares cost 15B to 39B; child and con-cession fares can be bought at ticket windows. The trains run every seven minutes from 6am to midnight, except during peak hours - 6am to 9am and 4.30pm to 7.30pm - when frequency is less than five minutes. The main advantage for visitors is that the Sukhumvit hotel area is now easily connected to Hualamphong train station and Chinatown at one end, and Chatuchak weekend market and the Northern bus terminal at the Bang Sue end.
There are ambitious plans to extend the MRT by more than four times its present length with stabs into northern Bangkok, Samut Prakan and Th Ramkhamhaeng, al-though if the airport link is anything to judge by, it could be a very long wait indeed.
Forming the backdrop of modern Bangkok, teams of cheeky, numbered and vested mo-torcycle taxi drivers can be found at the end of just about every long street. A ride to the end (siif soy) or mouth ("batik soy) of an average soi usually costs I OB to-15B. Longer journeys should be negotiated in advance, and can range from 20B to 100B.
Helmets are occasionally available upon request, although considering the way some of these guys drive, any body part is at risk. In particular, keep your legs tucked in -the drivers are used to carrying passengers with shorter legs than those of the average Westerner. Women wearing skirts should sit side-saddle and gather any extra cloth to avoid it catching in the wheel or drive chain.
The most comfortable option for travelling in 'new' Bangkok (Silom, Sukhumvit and Siam Square) is the ratfaifdh (Skytrain), an elevated rail network that sails over the city's notorious traffic jams. The Skytrain has revolutionised travel in the modern parts of Bangkok. Trips that would have taken an hour now take 15 minutes. Another advantage of the Skytrain is that it offers a pleasant bird's-eye view of the city, allowing glimpses of greenery and his-toric architecture not visible at street level.
So far two lines have been built by the Bangkok Mass Transit System Skytrain - the Sukhumvit and Silom lines.
The Sukhumvit Line terminates in the .north of the city at the Mo Chit Skytrain station, next to Chatuchak Park, and follows Th Phayathai south to the Siam interchange station at Th Phra Ram I and then swings east along Th Ploenchit and Th Sukhumvit to terminate at the On Nut station, near Soi 81. Construction has already begun on an extension that will lengthen the line an additional 5.2km, terminating at Soi 107, Th Sukhumvit.
The Silom Line runs from the National Stadium station, near Siam Square, and soon after makes an abrupt turn to the southwest, continuing above Th Ratchadamri, down Th Silom to Th Narathiwat Ratchanakharin, then out Th Sathon until it terminates next to the foot of Saphan Taksin on the banks of Mae Nam Chao Phraya. Construction has already begun on a project to extend this line an addi-tional 2km, crossing over the Mae Nam Chao Phraya and terminating in Thonburi.
Trains run frequently from 6am to midnight along both lines. Fares vary from 10B to 40B, depending on your destination. Most ticket machines accept 5B and 10B coins only, but change is available from the information booths. The staffed booths are also where you buy value-stored tickets. Brochures available at the information booths detail the various commuter and tourist passes.
Ttlak-SL'e mee'deu (metered taxis) were in-troduced in Bangkok in 1993 and the cur-rent (lag fare of 35B is only a slight increase from that time, making us wonder how these guys (and there are a lot of them) earn any money. Although many first-time visitors are hesitant to use them, in general Bangkok's taxis are new and spacious, and the drivers are courteous and helpful, making them an excellent way to get around, fares to most places within central Bangkok cost 60B to SOB, and freeway tolls - 20B to 45B de-pending where you start - must be paid by the passenger.
Taxi Radio : and other 24-hour 'phone-a-cab' services are avatfable for 20B above the metered fare. Taxis are usually plentiful except during peak commute hours, when bars are closing (lam to 2am), or when it is raining and your destination requires sitting in too much traffic.
Taxis that hang around tourist centres typically refuse to use the meter and will quote an exorbitantly high rate. You are more likely to find an honest driver if you walk out to a main thoroughfare.
A ride on Thailand's most emblematic three-wheeled vehicle is an experience particularly sought after by new arrivals, but it only takes a few seconds to realise that most foreigners are too tall to see anything beyond the low-slung root.
Tuk-tuk drivers also have a knack for smelling crisp bills and can potentially take you and your wallet far beyond your desired destination. In particular, beware of drivers who offer to take you on a sightseeing tour for 10B or 20B - it's a touting scheme designed to pressure you into purchasing overpriced goods. A short trip on a tuk-tuk should cost at least 40B.
Although it seems unlikely, tuk-tuk do serve a very useful purpose besides hassling tourists. Locals use the three-wheelers when their destination is closer and cheaper than a metered-taxi flag fall or when gridlock requires a more nimble vehicle. Unfortunately, the recent rise in petrol prices means that tuk-tuk quotes often start at 100B, sometimes even 200B, making it difficult to negotiate a fair price.
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