The original Bangkok Airport, Don Muang, was located to the north of Bangkok and became too small. It is still used for domestic flights. The new Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) opened in 2006.
Suvarnabhumi (meaning ‘Golden Land’) is located about 30 kilometres east of Bangkok in Racha Thewa in the Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan province, Thailand. It is an airport we test often, as we use Thai International Airways as a main carrier for eGuide. It is a big airport with one terminal and four levels.
Overall Bangkok Airport is disappointing. When it opened, we were expecting something truly magnificent. The authorities are aware of the faults and Suvarnabhumi has improved over recent years and we can expect more to be done.
Long queues are the norm at immigration, both for entry and leaving, and seem to become worse each visit. If you are lucky, and travelling business or first class, this in an airport where the fast-track is well worth it.
Distances to some gates are enormous and take significant time to reach. Do check out which concourse, or zone, your flight goes from and stay in that area, as moving between concourses is a long walk. There are seven concourses which use the first seven letters of the alphabet, A to G. Concourse D is the main entry way and includes bus stops, airline lounges, shops and eateries over the four levels. Concourses A to C are used for domestic travel and Concourses E to G are for international travel.
Don’t think it is a nuisance if you find a bus meets your flight, that is an advantage at Bangkok and they will drop you much closer to the immigration counters.
Seating is limited and mostly consists of hard metal chairs. The lighting is poor and, with so much glass, tends to be fairly hot.
All of the airport lounges are below the main shopping floor and a little hidden. Thai Airways, the main operator out of Suvarnabhumi, has four lounges and they are spread between the concourses.
The airport feels like a bit like a second-class shopping mall. However, that does mean that there are many shops and places to eat. One good thing is the prices and it is possible to eat well for a reasonable price, unlike many airports.
It is possible to have a reasonable massage, which is a plus that we recommend as way to reduce jet lag and strained muscles.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main hub for Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Orient Thai Airlines and Thai AirAsia. The airport has the world’s tallest, free-standing control tower and is one of the largest single-building airport terminals in the world.
Wireless internet is available for periods of 15 minutes. You can collect a code from the airport information kiosks. There are quite a few computer terminals as well, but they always seem to be slow.
The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel is a short walk from the airport and they have a meeting point in the arrivals area and regular shuttle buses. Close by, but not connected, is the Best Western Hotel that has an airport shuttle.
The left luggage office is on the second floor in the arrivals hall. For children there are play areas in Concourses B and D.
The cheapest way to reach Bangkok is via the Airport Rail Link to the main terminal at Makkasan, which also links to the Phetchaburi station of the MRT Blue Line. A second station is Phaya Thai for the BTS Green Line. The Express Line trains run between Suvarnabhumi and Makkasan only and cost more than the frequently stopping trains. These are called the City Line and run between Suvarnabhumi and Phaya Thai. Taxis are available at Makkasan.
The airport is connected to the airport via the Bangkok Chon Buri Motorway and has tolls that you will need to pay if you use a taxi.
Taxis are available on the ground level of the airport. Each taxi is recorded for your safety and an additional fee is added to the fare to cover this service. The taxi driver must run the meter and if you see that it is not on, then do ask.
Airport limousines are available and managed by a number of operators. They are more expensive than taxis, but do offer a fixed price.
Overall Bangkok Airport is disappointing considering that it is still ‘new’. It does not match other Asian airports in the region. The three we rate best are Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Many of the faults are being addressed and it is hoped that, over the next few years. the airport will improve.
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