Suvarnabhumi Airport (pronounced ‘Suwanapoom’, airport code BKK) is the main Bangkok International hub, located about 30km east of the capital itself.
The majority of visitors arriving by air to Thailand will land here, though the old International Airport, in the north of Bangkok at Don Mueang (airport code DMK) now takes all low cost airlines, such as Nok Air and Air Asia as well as many domestic flights.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is often incorrectly cited as the largest single terminal building in the world – it is actually only the 4th. However, the Thais do retain some global bragging rights with their control tower, which is apparently the tallest.
Orientation – Suvarnabhumi Airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport is laid out over 4 Floors, marked as 1 to 4 with the basement, home of the Airport Rail Link, ARL, an additional area marked as 1B.
For both International and domestic passengers, Departures are on Floor 4, Arrivals on Floor 2.
Immigration for departure is upstairs on Floor 4.
The Thai Tourist Police are on Floor 2, at the rear near Door 3.
Their contact number is 1155, operational 24/7.
Mobile phone operators are lined up 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. You can get 30 day deals with 4G data coverage and free minutes for around 299bt.
Free wifi is available throughout the Terminal, useful on arrival or if a local package has run out at the end of your trip. In your wifi settings, you need to select AOTFreeWiFibyTrue, then log in via your browser, enter details as requested. Please note this is a public service so best to avoid banking sites.
Money exchange is also possible on Floor 2
You will find the best rates for buying THB down at the Airport Rail Link, Floor 1B (Basement), once you step out of the Airport’s jurisdiction area.
Left Luggage is on both Floors 2 and 4, 100bt for 24 hours.
There is also the Airpotels luggage service down near the ARL on Floor 1B.
Floor 3 is home to all the restaurants and coffee shops, Starbucks, Dean & Delucca amongst others, as well as chemists such as Boots.
You will also find a food court on Floor 1 at the far end by 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 on Floor 4, there are the usual vast array of brand name shops as well as more restaurants and places to relax.
Head down to the basement (1B) for a few other snack bars and coffee shops.
Immigration at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Whether arriving or departing, always factor into your travel plans plenty of time for Thai Immigration, which all too often can be painfully slow.
At Arrivals on Floor 2, be prepared for around 45 minutes to an hour from landing to actually emerging into the Arrivals Hall. You can help yourself by ensuring you have already filled out the arrival/departure card (TM6) handed out on the plane and filled it out very clearly. Thai officials are sticklers for perfectly written letters.
In Immigration on Floor 2, Area 2 is smaller and quieter than Areas 1 and 3, which are nearer to the landing gates. Domestic arrivals of course do not require Immigration so passengers are much quicker through, emerging into the Arrivals Hall in their own area just past Door 3.
In Departures, Floor 4, allow at least 30 minutes extra to get through the scanners and then to stamp out at the actual Immigration desk.
If you have not bought a tourist visa from an embassy in your own country or a neigbouring one, the vast majority of visitors will be given a 30 day visa exemption stamp on arrival.
Some countries do only get 15 days, whilst some require a visa on arrival (VOA). Check online to see the rule which applies to your country.
The desk for VOA is clearly marked as you make your way from the landing gates to the Immigration Hall. Always carry your onward flight ticket in case requested.
If you have the Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV), Special Tourist Visa (STV) or Multiple Entry Visa (METV), then this is stamped on arrival with your date to leave 60 days hence. The SETV visa will also be marked USED as the single entry is done and dusted by you arriving into the country. This does not mean the visa is cancelled or not valid for the next 60 days, just that it cannot be re-used again on another entry.
Always check your passport as you leave the desk to see you have the right stamps and dates.
Visa Overstay is 500bt per day but you generally 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.
Since the overstay clampdown in 2016, however, the Immigration authorities are are now much stricter and so our advice is avoid overstaying unless absolutely necessary. That way, you avoid the risk.
For those who have long term visas such as marriage, business, retirement, and education, you will require a re-entry permit if travelling out of the country. These can be optained at any Immigration office beforehand, with payment of 1,000bt alongside copies of the appropriate passport pages (visa, extension, details, stamps) and a passport photo.
You can also get the permit here at Suvarnabhumi Airport just before you are stamped out of the country on your way to the departure zone. Simply follow the signs after the x-ray scanners into the main Immigration Hall, itself located upstairs on the far side of the main check-in area, Floor 4.
Once you find the Re-Entry desk, you can pay an additional 200bt at the front counter for someone to fill out the forms for you and take your photo. If not, then just fill in the form offered and hand over your passport/photo to the actual Immigration desk at the end. They will also copy the appropriate pages themselves. It takes about 10 minutes and then you pass through the final Immigration check and stamp-out as normal.
Onward Travel from Suvarnabhumi Airport
If in transit for International/Domestic and without a boarding pass, on landing, you will need to head to the Floor 2, 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 Floor 4 to go though the Check-in process.
To Don Mueang Airport (DMK)
If your onward flight leaves from Don Mueang Aiport (DMK), there is a free shuttle service between the two airports. This leaves from Door 3 Floor 2 at least hourly, sometimes more, from 5.00 to 24.00 and takes in theory about an hour depending on traffic. If possible, allow for double that in your timings, this is Bangkok.
The call centre number is +66 (0)2 132 9199.
Licensed public taxis leave from Floor 1, Doors 4 to 6. There are 3 clear lanes to help you pick your route. Once you get the ticket from the machine, look for the corresponding number above the parked taxis in the lanes opposite. Do not expect any help with bags.
Importantly, the taxis use a meter, you pay for tolls on the expressway as you go and you automatically add 50bt for the driver/Airport service. Expect to pay around 350bt with a tip to Sukhumvit Road, maybe a bit more to Khao San Road.
Other taxi services such as the Airport Limousine are found on Floor 2 Arrivals.
Airport Rail Link
Located at the very bottom of the Terminal at Level 1B (Basement), the Airport Rail Link costs a mere 35bt/45bt to take you into town. It connects with the BTS Skytrain at Phaya Thai Station, 45bt near to Victory Monument and to the MRT Underground at Makkasan, 45bt.
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 06.00 to 24.00, travel time is 30 to 40 minutes to the centre, with 4 to 5 trains an hour. If going the other way from Bangkok, you want Exit 5 at Phaya Thai to get to the ticket hall.
For DMK Don Mueang, you can also take the Airport Rail Link into Makkasan, walk to the subway/underground rail network, (MRT), Petchaburi, ride this up to Phahon Yothin (and then walk to Chatuchak Park) or ride it to Chatuchak Park. From there, exit 3 for the A1 or A2 Bus, every 30 minutes 30bt.
Lad Krabang is the stop before Suvarnabhumi Airport and one that you will see advertised as the Airport Rail Link in minibus and public bus services to and from the Koh Chang islands.
Khao San Road Bus – S1 from Suvarnabhumi Airport
The S1 Bus runs from Door 7 Floor 1 to the top and bottom ends of Khao San Road and then onto Sanam Luang (the park by The Grand Palace), with a fare of just 60bt per person.
Hourly from 06.00 to 20.00, the journey use the expressway and takes about 75 minutes+.
Shuttle Bus to Airport Bus Station
From Suvarnabhumi Airport Terminal, there is a free shuttle bus to the Airport Bus Station or Transportation Centre, as it more grandly known, from Floor 1, Door 3 Traffic Lane 3 (the white tarpaulin marquee). 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.
For budget travellers, buses that may be of interest from the Airport Bus Station are 554 and 555, both very cheap at 34bt to Rangsit with a stop at Don Mueang – every 20 minutes from 05.00 to 23.00, then every hour till 02.00.
There are plenty of public minibuses too, with the 551 to Victory Monument or the 555 to DMK, worth noting. Both are 50bt per person, every 20 minutes. The 555 does sweep by the terminal, with a stop at Door 8 Level 1 – 3rd traffic lane over, look at out for the white tarpaulin and seats.
To Koh Chang, Pattaya and Ban Phe Pier (for Koh Samet)
The ticket booths for selected onward buses to Koh Chang, Pattaya and Koh Samet are found on Floor 1, Doors 4 to 8.
On Floor 2 as you come through from baggage reclaim, you’ll also find a long line of car rental companies, including global brands such as Avis, Budget and Hertz available.
Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotels
For a good choice of Airport hotels, do please visit our partner here at Agoda.
Airport Call-Center: +66 2 132 1888 – There is an English language option. AOL Thai Airports
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