Suvarnabhumi Airport, the main Bangkok international hub, opened in 2007 after the usual delays and inevitable corruption scandals one would expect of such a major infrastructure project. About 30km east of the capital, it is built on reclaimed swamp land, hence its derogatory nickname of Swampy, but despite all those doomsayers, it has never flooded and in fact, apart from some yellow shirted protestors who briefly occupied it in 2008, has led a happily trouble free existence. Pretty much everyone flying into Thailand will land here, though the old International Airport, in the north of Bangkok at Don Mueang, has now been coaxed back to life after its initial closure and takes the low cost airlines, such as Nok Air and Air Asia. Suvarnabhumi Airport is often incorrectly cited as the largest single terminal building in the world, but it is actually only the 4th, pedants can stand down. Its control tower, though is apparently the tallest, so plane spotters do stand back up.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – Lay-Out
Departures are on the 4th Floor, Arrivals on the 2nd. Restaurants and coffee shops (Starbucks) and chemists such as Boots are on the 3rd Floor. If you are more adventurous, the food court, is all the way down on Floor 1 at the far end near Door 8. This is a bustling and busy place, where you buy coupons to the value of say 100bt and then exchange them for your choices from one of the counters, with any unused at the end simply converted back to cash as you leave. The food is quick, tasty and very cheap.
Once you clear Immigration as you depart, there are the usual vast array of brand name shops as well as more restaurants and places to relax, spend or waste money.
Mobile phone operators are conveniently positioned at Arrivals, Floor 2 as you come though to the main hall. They can set you up to use your phone in Thailand, depending of course on your existing contract, locked, unlocked, sim free and so on.
Money exchange is also possible on Floor 2, though you will find the best rates for buying baht down at the Airport Rail Link, Floor 1B (Basement), once you step out of the airport’s jurisdiction area.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – Onward Travel
If in transit for International/Domestic and without a boarding pass, on landing, you will need to head to the 2nd Floor, Transfer Check-in Counter to get one. If you already have the boarding pass, then go through Immigration, Baggage Reclaim as normal and then head to the 4th Floor to go though the Check-in process.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – Flights to Trat Airport for Koh Chang
Luckily for us, Bangkok Airways has not moved its operations to Don Mueang, but flies out from here, Suvarnabhumi. Trat Airport (TDX) is 20 to 30 minutes from the Koh Chang Piers (Ao Thammachat and Centrepoint) and Laem Ngop Pier for Koh Mak, an hour from Laem Sok Pier for Koh Kood. Trat has recently acquired CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) status, which in theory means you can now check your baggage all the way through from your first airport.
Bangkok Airways has 3 flights per day at 08.20am, 11.20am and 17.00. The morning and mid morning flights will make the connections to Koh Mak and Koh Kood, not the evening one. With those morning flights, you will still need to reserve a private transfer by either car or minibus to the piers at Laem Ngop and Laem Sok respectively. All three daily flights will make the ferry crossings for Koh Chang. Share minibuses are on hand at Trat Airport to take you to Koh Chang, 500bt per person all-in to your resort or of course, private transfers, car or minibus, if you prefer a bit of style. Prices from 1,900bt.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – To Don Mueang Airport
If your onward flight leaves from Don Mueang Aiport, there is a free shuttle service between the two airports. This leaves from Floor 2, Gate 3 at least hourly, sometimes more, from 5.00am to 24.00 and takes about an hour depending on traffic. Allow more, this is Bangkok.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – Into Bangkok
Leaving from Floor 1, Doors 4 to 6, these are licensed, legitimate and safe. They use a meter, you pay for tolls on the expressway as you go and you automatically add 50bt for the driver. Expect to pay around 300bt with a tip to Sukhumvit Road, maybe a bit more to Khao San Road.
Airport Rail Link
Located at the very bottom of the Terminal at Level 1B (Basement), the somewhat underused very new rail link costs a mere 45bt to take you into town. It connects with the BTS Skytrain at Phaya Thai Station near to Victory Monument and to the MRT Underground at Makkasan. It’s a great service if you only have a little baggage, a bit more of a pain with lots of cases because of the walkways and exits at the other end. Open from 06.00am to 24.00, travel time of 30 minutes to the centre, with 4 to 5 trains an hour. Lad Krabang is the stop before the Airport and one that you will see advertised as the Airport Rail Link in minibus and public bus services to and from the islands. If you have an evening flight out, with check in around 17.00 onwards, it’s a very handy connection to know.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – To Koh Chang
These will meet you at Door 3, Floor 2 Arrivals. Journey time to the piers is around 4.5 hours with a stop along the way for gas, coffee, something to eat. All details are here or Contact Us for a quotation.
Suvarnabhumi Burapa Company:
With departures at 07.50am (Bus), 09.30am (Minibus), 11.00am (Minibus), 14.00 (Minibus), this operates from Floor 1, Door 8 and goes all the way to Klong Son, the first local town on Koh Chang, with transfer then possible to your resort. Prices are 600bt, including ferry and resort transfer, 900bt return (though you do need to pay 100bt for the transfer back from the resort). It takes 5.5 to 6 hours to the ferry. Coming back the other way, times from Klong Son are 07.00am, 09.00am, 13.00 and 17.00, with a 19.00 if demand exists.
Originating from Ekamai Bus Station (07.45am, 09.45am), the 999 reaches the Airport Bus Station at 08.20am and 10.20am. It is 263bt to the ferry piers for Koh Chang, takes 5.5 to 6 hours with a stop for fuel and calls in at Chantaburi Bus Station on the way. The 10.20am also goes to Trat (in theory).
The 08.20am will arrive at about 13.30 to Ao Thammachat Pier. If travelling to Koh Mak and Koh Wai, they will usually run on to Laem Ngop, otherwise hop in a taxi (40bt). You will probably miss the 14.00 boat to Koh Mak, but there is another one at 15.00 and then 16.00. The 16.00 is also the one you want for Koh Wai. The 10.20am arrives at 15.30 to 15.45 so it is cutting it very fine for the 16.00 last connection of the day, not impossible but tight.
Coming back the other way, there is 14.00 service only from Centrepoint, so you need to be on the 12.30pm ferry. With an ultimate destination of Ekamai Bus Station, it reaches the Airport Bus Station at 18.30 to 19.00.
There is also an 11.40am Trat only service that might be of interest to those going to Koh Mak and Koh Kood. It arrives at 18.00 to 18.30 at Trat Bus Station, meaning you can stay a night and travel to the boats the next morning.
From the Airport Terminal, there is a free shuttle bus to the Airport Bus Station or Transportation Centre, as it more grandly known, from either Arrivals, Floor 2, Door 5 or Departures, Floor 4, Door 5. This goes every ten minutes, use the Express route A (4,2), travel time 5 to 7 minutes, rather than the ordinary route A, which takes you on a fascinating tour of the airport complex.
There is no longer a direct public minibus from the Airport Bus Station to Trat (March 2015) or indeed the ferry piers.
If you flight arrives after 14.00, you will not make any of the islands that day by public transport, with nothing eastbound out of the Airport after that Suvarnabhumi Burapa Company minibus at 14.00. If you don’t want to stay in Bangkok, you must instead take a taxi back to Ekamai Bus Station (250bt) and then travel out on a public bus (Cherdchai are the best, 265bt) or a minibus (300bt) to Trat and overnight there.
Coming from Koh Chang, the Koh Chang Express Express share minibus does call at the Airport, as well as the Srinakarin Intersection, Victory Monument and Khao San Road (650bt with ferry ticket). It leaves two times a day at around 10.30 and 15.00 from Ao Thammachat Pier (mainland), with collection from Lonely Beach at 08.30am and 13.30, times staggered accordingly for all other beaches back towards the ferry.
Suvarnabhumi Airport – Visa Overstays
Visa Overstay is 500bt per day but you are not fined if it is only one day. If you overstay for 2 days, it is 1,000bt as the first day’s fine gets reinstated, 3 days, 1,500bt and so on, with a maximum fine of 20,000bt. This is collected at Immigration as you leave the country, Floor 4.
Airport Call-Center: 00 66 2 132 1888 – There is an English language option. www.suvarnabhumiairport.com