Bangkok Airport carries the official name Suvarnabhumi which is pronounced Soo-Wa-Na-Poom or suwanaboom. It opened in late 2006 and is the pride and joy of Thailand. The old International airport was Don Muang but this is now used for domestic flights with the exception of a few such as Thai Airlines, which flies from the new Bangkok International Airport. Suvarnabhumi is used for all international flights.
The new Bangkok airport is roughly 30 minutes from the center of Bangkok by taxi or limousine although a dedicated airport rail link is being built and is due to open in late 2009.
The rail link will provide a fast connection to the center of Bangkok as well as providing the ability to check in before getting to the airport
FIND HOTELS NEAR AIRPORT HERE
The New Bangkok International Airport is slightly further out of town than the old Dan Muang Airport but the roads getting you into town are much improved and so the average journey time is roughly the same if not a little faster than before and there will soon be a direct sky train link from the airport to the center of Bangkok. This International Airport link to the center of bangkok will take you to a central terminal where you can then take the sky train, underground or taxi to your hotel. This airport link will also allow you to check in for your flights before you get to the main International airport. This will function is very much the same way that the Hong Kong airport express rail link works, so if you are familiar with that system, The International Airport Express link will function in very much the same way.
Check in counters
Airline check-in counters
Plenty of Currency Exchange booths
Check your departure gate and time
Make your way through to passport control
Passport control when leaving Thailand
Gate directions after going through passport control
The Old International Airport Is Still Open but only for domestic flights and not for much longer. Don Muang airport is due to close and all flights will leave from Suvanabhumi airport. If you are flying a domestic route, be sure you know from which airport you will leave as they are very far from each other and arriving at one will almost undoubtedly mean you'll miss your flight if you are supposed to be leaving from the other. This will not last for much longer because it was recently announced that Don Muang will close and all flights, domestic and international will depart and land at Bangkok's new international airport, Suvarnabhumi.
Checking In At Bangkok Airport
For International flights, check in two hours before departure. In the case of domestic flights, only one hour is necessary.
Suvarnabhumi airport is very large but also well organised. On arrival at the airport, each entrance is marked by a number and the International carriers are marked so you can see which gate you should be dropped off at. However, even if you drop off at the wrong gate, you'll only need to enter any gate and push your trolley to the correct check in point.
There are plenty of security staff but no baggage scanners. Put your luggage of a trolley, find your check in counter and your luggage is checked in and scanned behind the scenes. What happens if they find anything we don't know, but don't spend time looking for luggage scanners as there are none
Hand luggage will be scanned before you make it to your departure gate and you will be asked if you are carrying certain disallowed items such as liquids over 100ml. Don't carry anything that can be construed as a weapon and this includes nail files, small pen knives and so on. If you have expensive lotions pack them in your main luggage. Bottled water will not be allowed either.
Passport Control Departures
The passport control officers at Bangkok Airport must be the slowest on the planet, the least friendly and trained not to smile or speak. After you've checked in, you have to make your way to passport control which can be an extremely time consuming part of the process of leaving Thailand and so be prepared for a long wait and slow queues.
We don't often fly business class but on the times we do, we enjoy the business class lounges but at Suvanabhumi Airport the time you have to enjoy the lounge will be greatly shortened by the long and slow queues at passport control. If you want to sit and read, enjoy a free drink and snack etc, we seriously suggest you arrive 3 hours before departure.
On the one recent occasion that we flew business class we arrived at least two hours before boarding. The check-in process was swift and yet we ended up queuing for 50 minutes at passport control leaving us 15 minutes in the lounge at most. This also happened on a recent flight to Hong Kong even at 6.30 in the morning. The queues for passport control at Bangkok Airport was overflowing so that the queue extended outside the passport control area.
Even with about 20 lanes, it took nearly an hour to get through.
Passport Control Arrivals
the departures, passport control
for arrivals at Bangkok Airport is very slow; painfully slow in fact, so when you get off the plane, try to get in front of the crowd and then you'll not have the agonising wait.
We are not sure if this happens at other airports, but it seems that at Suvanabhumi, all flights land at similar times. On our return from Hong Kong, even though we landed at mid-night, there must have been at least three other flights arriving at the same time so when we got off the plane, there were hundreds of other passengers getting off their flights and all heading towards the slowest passport control system on the planet.
Duty Free Items Allowed
If you buy any liquid items from duty free such as perfume, alcohol, make-up / cleansers or even sun block, they will be placed into a special duty free bag that will be sealed and you are not allowed to open that bag until you have boarded the plane.
Otherwise, all standard duty free items are on sale but many are probably MORE EXPENSIVE than buying them outside the airport. Chocolate is certainly expensive. A medium bag of Cadbury's mini milk chocolate bars now costs a staggering 650 Baht !! That's 12.50 UK Pounds or 18 US Dollars.
Duty free is available on arriving as well as departing.
Places To Eat At The Airport
There are a couple of restaurants on the second floor of departures section before you go through passport control but there are many more once you've gone through.
The variety of food is quite decent and ranges from Thai, Chinese and Japanese to Burger King and sandwiches but as with all airports, the mark up is very high; especially for soft drinks and bottled water.
A small bottle of local water generally sells for about 7 - 10 Baht a bottle, but at the airport we've seen it being sold for 70 Baht.
Even Burger King is more expensive with an estimated mark up of about 50% or more. A burger in town will cost about 129 Baht, but the same burger at the airport will cost 229 Baht ( approximately ).
There are a couple of sandwich bars situated in the middle of the up market duty free shops. These bars, as shown above, serve tea, coffee, alcoholic drinks as well as sandwiches and snacks. They must be fairly expensive because there are generally few people sitting there enjoying what is on offer. Most people tend to head towards their departure gates where, just before the security checks, there are a number of restaurants and coffee bars including Coffee World, Cafe Nero & Cafe De Suvarnabhumi as well as Whittards
Cafe De Suvarnabhumi
Coffee World & The Cream Fudge Factory
Cafe Nero for good, reasonably priced coffee
Plenty of seating at Bangkok Cafe & Bar
Healthy fruit and vegetable drinks readily available
Duty Free Shopping
There are plenty of duty free shops at Bangkok's International Airport with many expensive brand named shops such as:
DUTY FREE SHOPS
Taxis and Limousines
Getting to the airport will be down to where you are staying. Some hotels offer airport transfers or can arrange them for you, but when arriving at Suvanabhumi Airport in Bangkok, you might not know what is available>
If you have not already arranged for transportation, it's possible to get a taxi or a limousine.
At the baggage claims section of the airport, there is a limousine service counter where you can book your limousine. There are various cars / vans available with prices starting at 1,100 Baht for anywhere in Bangkok. 1,100 Baht will get you either a Nissan Teanna or a Toyota Camry. Both are comfortable cars but low on baggage space and suitable for two people as long as you don't have two large bags and hand luggage as large (standard large that is) luggage will not fit in the boot. It will have to sit on the front passenger seat.
The limousine fee covers all toll / express way fees.
If you do not book your limousine at the baggage claim area, you can do this once you've passed through the Nothing To Declare section.
If a limousine is more than you want to pay, you can catch a regular metered taxi which can be found as soon as you walk outside. However, there is a 50 Baht surcharge just for taking one if you catch the taxi from the meter taxi booth which is outside. Why there is a surcharge we have no idea as it doesn't cover anything at all. You still have to pay any tolls and you don't always get a nice taxi !
If you want to save as much money as possible, you could try catching a taxi by going down to arrivals and catching a taxi that has just dropped someone off.
Some Useful Airport Numbers
If calling these numbers from outside Thailand, please add 66 and remove the 0
Example: ( outside of Thailand ) + 66 2 132-1888 ..... ( inside Thailand ) 02 132-1888