There are two airports that serve Bangkok: Don Mueang (DMK) and Suvarnabhumi (BBK). The Don Mueang Airport is about 24km away from Bangkok while the Suvarnabhumi Airport is about 31km from Bangkok. The Don Mueang Airport is one of the oldest international airports in the world and was briefly closed for renovations when the Suvarnabhumi Airport opened in 2006.
Both airports serve domestic and international flights but the Suvarnabhumi Airport is one of the largest international airports in Southeast Asia and the one most people arriving in Thailand will land in. Once you arrive, you’ll have to find transportation to get to Bangkok and your hotel. Below are several options on how to get from the Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok.
There are three options of how to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok: Taxi or private transportation, Bus, or the Airport Rail Link.
The airport rail link is the fastest and cheapest way to get from the airport to Bangkok. It will take a little research figuring out which stop you have to get off at and then getting from there to your accomodations.
Taking a bus is also another affordable option although more crowded and more stops. This will also take some research to find which stop to get off at and then finding your way to your hotel.
Taking a taxi is the most convenient, yet most expensive way to get from the airport to Bangkok. Both the bus and taxi options will also have to deal with traffic issues which could take significantly longer.
Landing at the Suvarnabhumi Airport
Like all international flights, once you land and debark the plane you’ll head to customs. This can sometimes be a long process of waiting depending on how many people are in front of you. Once you’re seen by the agent it’s a relatively quick process. You’ll hand your passport over and follow the prompts on the machine for your fingerprints and photo. The process takes roughly 2 minutes.
Behind the customs area is the baggage claim where you’ll grab your bags and then head down to transportation. BUT before you leave the baggage claim area, you might want to grab a sim card for your phone to use while in Thailand. You can read about how to do this here. You’ll also want to grab some cash at the ATM for whichever option you choose. The ATM is by the baggage claim.
Airport Rail Link
The airport rail link is my favorite option for how to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok. It’s cheap and quick. You will have to figure out which stop to get off at and from there you might be able to walk or you might have to hire a taxi or tuk tuk to take you the rest of the way. But, it is affordable and the extra work might be worth it.
Once you’ve made your way through customs and have grabbed your luggage, you’ll head towards the transportation signs. All options for getting from the airport to Bangkok are there.
Once you’re there you’ll then follow the signs for the Airport Rail Link. The Airport Rail Link is down in the Basement B of the airport. It runs from 6am to midnight every day. Follow the signs and simply purchase a ticket from the ticket booth or from the automatic machines. You’ll want to take the blue City Line Rail from the airport to Bangkok.
There are 8 stops (including the airport) and depending on where you’re staying will determine which stop you get off at. The Rail Link system connects with the Bangkok Skytrain (BTS) and the Bangkok Subway Train (MRT) so you have options for getting to your hotel.
Buying a Rail Link Ticket
There are ticket booths where you can purchase a ticket from a person but I prefer using the automated machine. It’s pretty self explanatory and easy. Either way, you have to know where you want to get off. There are maps of the different stops so just remember which one once you figure it out.
At the machine you’ll chose your language option and then which station you want to get off at. You’ll insert your money (don’t forget to stop at the ATM in baggage claim) and a token will come out.
This costs just 45 Baht per person which is roughly $1.30. Once you have your token you’ll head to the turnstile. You’ll tap your token on the designated area and walk through. Continue following the signs to the rail link platform.
Make sure you keep that token. You’ll need it when you get off the train.
Traveling on the Rail Link
Once you get to the platform you’ll likely need to wait for the train to arrive, which happens every 15 minutes. When the doors open, DO NOT immediately try to get on the train. You’ll have to wait for everyone to get off, wait for the rail link inspector to make sure it’s all clear, and then once he signals that you can get on, then you get on.
The rail link from the airport to Bangkok will be crowded but there are some seats available. You might have to stand and honestly, that might be better. You’ll need to hold on to your luggage and be prepared to get off at the right stop. Sitting means you’ll have to fight through the crowd standing around you to get off the train.
It takes about 30 minutes to get from the airport to Bangkok and the last stop on the rail link. There is an announcer who announces all the stops in both English and Thai. Just listen for which stop is next. There is also an electronic board above the doors showing which stop is next.
Once you get off the train (don’t forget your luggage), you’ll head to the turnstile to exit. This is where you’ll need that token. In order to get out, you’ll need to insert the token into the slot for it to open and let you out.
Our hotel was about 4km further from that last stop so from there we got a taxi to our hotel. Again, make sure you take out some cash at the atm at the airport. Once you clear customs there is an atm right there.
Taxis or private car
The second option of how to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok is by car. You’ll find the taxi and car options on Floor 1. When you exit the baggage claim and make your way to transportation services, you’ll see many taxi options as well as private cars or vans.
It will cost between $10 – $35 with this option. This is all based on the time and distance traveled. If there’s a lot of traffic, this will add to your fare. However, you will be in an air conditioned vehicle and it will take you directly to your hotel and drop you off. There’s no other figuring out how to get there. Be aware that if it’s rush hour you might be in traffic for a little while. Again, weigh the pros and cons of time, cost, and convenience. I like to save money and so I chose the Rail Link. Plus, it’s kind of fun to figure things out in a new city.
NOTE: There is no standard color for taxis. In the United States, we usually expect them to be yellow. In Bangkok they will be yellow, green, pink, red, blue, or orange.
You will need to be careful not to just get into any vehicle. There will be a LOT of people asking you if you want a taxi. It might even be overwhelming. Just brush them off and walk away. Take time to think about it and figure out the right option. If you’re not sure, there are transportation desks where you can make your purchase and they will point you in the right direction. In the past there were some issues with people pretending to be taxis so it’s better to just go to the transportation desk.
There is also an option to arrange for a driver before you arrive. If you do this you’ll see someone holding a sign with your name and they will take you directly to the car and you’ll be on your way.
Taking the Bus
Suvarnabhumi Airport has a public bus service. This is the cheapest way of how to get from the Suvarnabhumi airport to Bangkok at 35 baht, about $1. It’s also the slowest. Expect to take anywhere from 1-2 hours to get to your stop. But if you’re adventurous and want to save the most money then this is your way to go!
To take the bus you’ll first have to head to floor 2 and find the free shuttle bus. This will take you to the Public Transport Center where the city public buses are. Be sure not to take the “Airport Shuttle Bus” or “Airport Express Bus”. Those are different and described below in the next paragraph. However, there are two different free shuttle buses. One is called the Ordinary route which makes stops at different airport facilities before taking you to the bus terminal. The other is called the Express route. Confusing, I know! This one takes you to the bus terminal with fewer stops.
Once you get to the bus terminal you will choose between different routes that take you closest to your destination. You’ll need small bills and coins to pay to the bus operator. It’s likely they won’t have change.
Another option to get from the Suvarnabhumi Bangkok airport to Bangkok is the Airport Express Bus. This will cost 150 baht, about $4.50. The bus operates from 6am to 5pm. and makes frequent stops including Silom Road, Sukhumvit Road, and Khao San Road. You can board this bus outside Gate 8 on Floor 1 of the airport terminal. Just follow the signs to the bus stop located furthest away from the terminal.
Before you leave the airport to Bangkok, make sure you have small bills and coins because the conductor might not have change for big bills. If you’ve taken money out from the ATM and only have large bills, just buy a bottle of water at the airport before leaving so you’ll have smaller bills.
Final Thoughts on how to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok
Knowing how to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok is easy to do once you figure out your best option. A private car or taxi is the easiest and most convenient but will cost more money. The Airport Rail Link will likely be the quickest and an inexpensive option, but will require a little more planning and will probably involve a ride in a tuk-tuk after the Rail Link. That’s always fun!
Taking a bus will be the cheapest option but also the slowest. If you’re choosing the rail link or bus to get from the airport to Bangkok, the best way to figure out where to get off is to use the Google maps app and choose the train or bus option. Enjoy the experience!
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