Tag - suvarnabhumi airport

Airport Rail Link to Khao San Road

Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link
Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu - the Airport Rail Link

It seemed like a project destined never to see completion, but it got there in the end. After endless setbacks and delays, the train line linking downtown now cuts the cost of the journey by about two thirds.

Construction on the project, estimated to have cost 25.9 billion Baht, began more than five years ago in July 2005. Due to be completed the following year, what followed instead was delay after delay, caused partly by the fact that old pillars from 1997’s failed Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System stood in the way of the new system. In the face of debate over their suitability for re-use and demands for compensation from the constructors of that old system, the State Railway of Thailand decided to ditch them and put up new ones. Legal wranglings with landowners who had encroached on the SRT’s land delayed things further, but the line – which now runs largely on a viaduct over the SRT’s main eastern railway – eventually began initial tests in October 2009. After a free trial service that began for passengers in April 2010, full operations finally got underway at the end of August 2011.
 
The train station isn’t the easiest thing to find in the sprawling complex that is Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. From the arrivals area on the second floor, it’s a further two-storey drop on the escalators before you’re deposited near the train. And while it’s well signposted to begin with, alongside signs for the shuttle bus, public taxi stand and so on, the closer you get, the thinner on the ground these signs become, until you just have to hope you’re going in the right direction. This isn’t helped by the fact that the area near the train station is so eerily quiet; you can really tell just how new the rail line is, and that it’s not yet being given much use – at least from this main station. As a result, it’s a bit of a funny set up down there; there’s a 7-11, a Mister Donut and a couple of other shops, but hardly anyone there to use them. When we passed through the station, our train was already ready to leave and yet was almost empty on departure – even when it arrived, full, at Phaya Thai, we spotted just five western tourists amidst the river of Thai commuters. It is inevitably going to take time for word to get out to travellers about the new service.

Two services connect Suvarnabhumi with the city – the fifteen-minute Express Line aimed at tourists, leaving the airport every half an hour and running directly to the City Air Terminal transport hub at Makkasan, and the commuter-targeted City Line, which departs every fifteen minutes and runs further than the Express, down to Phaya Thai, taking in eight stations along the way and doing the journey in half an hour. The City Line can also work well for tourists, save for the lack of space for luggage, particularly at rush hour when the train is packed to the rafters with Bangkokians on their way to and from work. And while these are new trains, the bench seats on the City Line are also rather narrow and less than comfortable – perfectly manageable for a thirty-minute journey if that’s all you’re doing, but perhaps not what you might be looking for if you’ve already endured a fifteen-hour donkey-class flight. The Express Line, meanwhile, offers just a little more comfort and has space for luggage. Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways passengers travelling to the airport on the Express Line can now check in their luggage at Makkasan before before continuing themselves, far less weighed-down, by train to the airport itself. The service is available daily between 8am and 9pm and requires check-in between 3 and 12 hours before flight departure.

As the train snakes its way out of the airport and hurtles across the city’s skyline, you get the gift of a perfect view of Bangkok and its weaving maze of ground-level roads and elevated flyovers and tollways, cars inching along them like ants. The change from the green fields distantly bordering the roads near the airport, to the gradual build-up of chaotic development and ever glitzier high-rise buildings as the train approaches the city’s commercial centre, makes for an equally buzzy lookout, worth the journey in itself.

For most, though, the real benefit of the opening of the Airport Rail Link will be just how much this new transport option simultaneously speeds up and cuts the cost of the almost thirty kilometre trek out to the airport. Since Suvarnabhumi opened, for most travellers a metered taxi has been the only reliable way to get to the city – now there’s an alternative. The travellers’ ghetto of Banglamphu, including the famous Khaosan Road, can now be reached by train for a third of the price of the equivalent taxi. The relative lack of public transport in the old city, including Banglamphu, means a journey here from the airport still isn’t as direct as it is to other parts of Bangkok – or as direct as it ought to be. Indeed, there was talk of improved transport connections from Suvarnabhumi to Banglamphu, as part of the Airport Rail Link, but these don’t appear to be showing any sign of materialising any time soon. Until the proposed subway link to the area is completed, a short taxi ride will still figure as part of any Khaosan Road-bound traveller’s journey, even if the rest of it can be done by train. 

Introductory fares were on offer while the Airport Rail Link was still in its infancy – until the end of last year, a journey anywhere on the City Line cost just 15B; since the start of January 2011 it has risen and the cost, anywhere between 15 and 45B, depends on the distance travelled – if you’re going the whole hog to Khaosan, figure on 45B for this leg of the journey. The one-hop journey from Suvarnabhumi to Makkasan has also risen from 100 to 150B. Both lines run between 6am and midnight, seven days a week. Coming from the airport, tickets are purchased from the machines and booths at the entrance to the station; on our visit, the ticket machines were all out of service, presumably because of the relative lack of use of the station at the time. After you’ve bought your ticket, a guard will check it (despite the purchase having been made fully in his sight) and you can then proceed down to the train.

Our test journey took us on the 45B City Line ride from Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai, where for 20B we connected with the Sky Train (BTS) to National Stadium station, near the MBK shopping centre. A 63B taxi (as ever, ironically more than both far longer-distance train journeys put together) then got us from National Stadium down to Khaosan Road, backpacker hub extraordinaire. Total journey cost: 128B. Compare that to a taxi that would set you back at least 250 to 350B – more if Bangkok’s notoriously gridlocked traffic is up to its old tricks. Plus you get to avoid tollway fees, which taxi passengers are responsible for in addition to the fare and which would otherwise set you back a total of an extra 70B.

The train, or at least the City Line, is admittedly slower than a direct taxi, though this is mainly because the journey time is bumped up more by the interchanges between the Airport Rail Link, BTS and then a taxi for the final leg – we set out from the Suvarnabhumi train terminal at 8am, and the City Line had us at Phaya Thai by half past the hour. It’s then about another fifteen minutes on the Sky Train from Phaya Thai to National Stadium, and our overall journey came in at just over an hour – not helped by the bumper traffic on the roads. That of course doesn’t compare overly favourably to the usual taxi journey time of around forty-five minutes, but take the Express Line and you stand far more chance of beating it. You’ll be at Makkasan in fifteen minutes, from where your best bet for minimising your taxi journey is to connect with the MRT underground subway system to Hua Lamphong, and then continue by road to the public transport desert that’s Banglamphu.

Whether by City or Express Line, you’ll get to Khaosan Road and its surrounds for a fraction of the cost of a taxi. Of course, if you favour the comfort of a door-to-door journey, or if you’re travelling with others and splitting the cost, then a taxi may well still win hands down. But, for Bangkok, a city world-renowned for its congestion, it’s a win either way – a new transport option on the scene can surely only be a good thing. 

CHRIS WOTTON is a twenty-something crazy about Thailand. After a first visit in 2008, he fell in love with the country and has since travelled its length and breadth, searching out local life – and local food! – while writing and researching for SE Asia travel guides and magazines. When not discovering and writing about Thailand, Chris studies French and German in his native UK, and runs an online shop selling authentic Japanese and Thai cooking ingredients.

Suvarnabhumi Airport Questions and Answers

Suvarnabhumi Airport Questions and AnswersQ: Kemal writes: If i come to thailand…how can i go from airport for to khaosanroad,airport-khaosan if there bus which number? And nearist which railway station to khaosan road…

A: Taxi, bus, airport pickup – nearest railway station is Hualumpong.

Q: Andreas writes: “Hi, I need the cheapest way from Bankok Airport to Khao San Road?”

A: By airport bus – 150 Baht per person – 05.30 to 24.00 hours daily. It takes from there around 1 and half hour, getting off at the last bus stop near Khaosan Road.

Q: Mike writes: “Hello, what are the options for getting to Hua Lamphong Train station from Suvarnabhumi airport, please.”

A: AE4 Suvarnabhumi-Hua Lamphong (by expressway) – taxi to Morchit MRT and MRT to Hua Lamphong.

Q: Gwyn Jones writes: “Dear Sir, travelling from UK to Phuket on 2nd Jan 07. Best case scenario is that luggage will be checked through to hkt from Manchester. On arrival in the new airport will I be able to remain in ‘transit’/collect boarding pass from Thai Airways desk and eventually clear immigration in Phuket, or will I have to clear immigration on arrival and check in again at domestic? Any advice you have will be appreciated. Thank you in advance.”

A: We presume you can go directly to domestic and your luggae will be transfered to your on flight. Again, we are looking to hear from people who can confirm this…

Q: Cheryl writes: “I’ll be flying from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok on Oct 13 using Air Asia. Will it be at the same terminal as all international flights. I’ll be staying at Mandarin Hotel. What is the taxi fare from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Mandarin Hotel. My departure time is very early in the morning around 7am. Will your taxi stop at the proper arrival area or to a certain place whereby I need to use your shuttle bus. Is it easy to get a cab early in the morning let’s say 4am.”

A: Sorry – again we don’t know… has anyone been to Mandarin Hotel from the new airport? If so please let Cheryl know…

Q: Bbaker writes: “I am trying to find hotels/guesthouses near the NEW airport and am having trouble as all tour books and sites still list places near the old airport. Please advise.” We have had a number of people asking this question…

A: We don’t know much about about discount accommodation and if anyone has details let us know. However, there’s Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, Royal Princess Srinakarin, Grand Inn Come Hotel, and Novotel Bangna amongst others.

Q: Larry writes: “I used to take the airport bus from the old airport all the way to Tower Inn. Will I be able to take the same bus from the new airport?”

A: We don’t know for sure, but it’s pretty unlikely – the old aiport and the new airport are opposite ends of Bangkok!

Q: Ocean writes: “Where is the taxi stand for taxis into the city at the new airport?”

A: Public taxis taxi stands are located on level four of the departures concourse.

Q: Han s. Chen writes: “Hi; I will be in BKK on Oct.3 at 11;45 PM , this is a scaring time to arrive of a new airport, I don\’t know the latest airport bus to Khaosan Rd is what time and is Rte 551 bus directly going to Khaosan Rd also if not which bus is?! Would you please tell me this urgent and confusion questions.Thanks in advance for your helps of this anxious awaiting questions. Best Regards Han Chen”

A: We don’t know about the 551 – can anyone help? The AE2 goes directly to Khaosan Road and costs 150 Baht. the journey takes an hour and gets to KSR by expressway.

Q: Wim writes: “Do the bus services from Khao Sarn Road to the new airport (556 and AE2) have 24 hour service?”

A: Sadly – we can’t find the answer… anyone?.

Q: Tony writes: “Hi. I’m flying into Bangkok from Samui on Monday and on to Bahrain on Tuesday. Is the old airport totally gone or is it still being used for domestic fligts? “

A: Our understanding is that the new airport will deal with both domestic flights and international flights… the old airport will be used for charter flights and some domestic routes, althoughn not key routes.

Q: L.Mogan Muniandy writes: “What is the taxi (meter) fare from Airport (New) to Grande Ville Hotel?”

A: Sorry, no idea… anyone?

Q: Mike writes: “There is an airport bus advertised from Suvarnabhumi airport to the On Nut BTS Station – does this come off the Expressway down Sukhumvit Road from Nana ie past the Landmark Hotel or does it come to On Nut for passengers to get the BTS up towards Nana. It is very difficult to find this out. Thanks,”

A: We don’t know the answer to this one…. Anyone?

To contact the person asking the question click on his/her name. Please CC your answers and comments to us here: info@khaosanroad.com. Contact us with more information.

Suvarnabhumi Airport – Insights

Suvarnabhumi Airport Questions and AnswersRyan writes: “John, something for travelers who want to take a less expensive way to go to the airport. From Khaosan to the airport by taxi is about 400 baht. I did it for 340 baht last night. Brought my parents to the airport. On the meter… no ‘special deals’. 65 for the toll ways – (40 for the first one, 25 for the second) and 50 for the airport surcharge. We left at 23.00u and 35 min. later we were at the airport. Fast and not to expensive. Back was different. As my friend came with me, we decided to split up. He takes a taxi and i took the bus, number 556. He took a taxi at the departures level, were the taxi’s drop off people. It is not allowed to pick up people there but at 00.30 there are no security guards…

So he made it back, 35 min. back to Khaosan – 240 on the meter and 65 for the toll ways. No 50 baht !!! I went with the bus, had to wait 1 hour for it. So at 01.30u I left from the airport and 35 min. later I was at Khaosan. For 35 baht, this was ok. If your not in a rush or carrying to much luggage, the bus is a fine alternative. If you are in a rush and don\’t mind the money, take a taxi. Note: the busses don’t drive on a schedule.

It might be possible that you have to wait a while to get a bus. However, the information counter at the public transport terminal is very useful and gives you all kinds of alternative routes to the city. You can take the 552 bus to and get out on Sukhumvit. From there bus 511 to Khaosan… And so on. Just ask them, they speak good English and were very helpful at 01.00 in the morning! Regards Ryan”

Shai Pinto has been to the new airport twice already so he should have a few insights… here’s what he has to say…

The bottom line for the new airport is – it’s big, it’s easy if you know your way around airports,and it isn’t such a big change as expected. As I have managed to go through the new airport twice in it’s first 3 days of operation here is the lowdown for you to update everyone.

Basically, once you get out of the baggage claim you are still on the arrivals floor 2, and you have a few options:

1- Go down 1 level and get an airport authority taxi – it will cost you a flat rate and it is expensive

2- Walk out the doors of the terminal – there are 3 curbs or sidewaks ahead off you. The first one has a big stop for the shuttle bus – this bus will take you to the transport centre, a seperate building 10 min drive away. From there you can take regular taxis, buit they add at least 50 baht rack rate surcharge. You will also have to wait for the bus a bit. BGy the way – make sure you get the express one, or you will end up stopping at all kinds of buildings along the way (usefull if you have a special fettish for new airport buildings, hangars or storage rooms..)

3 – As you exit the doors – just flag down the first taxi you see. They will all stop even though they are not supposed to, and they all seem just as lost as you do, so they will hurry up to take you before the funny man with the whistle and the uniform chases them away. It also helps with bargaining..

4 – As in the old airport – go up to departures and grab a taxi that just dropped off passengers. it still works…

By the way – only go meter!!! it is exactly 220 baht to KSR (3 journeys, same price), and if you pay the tollway fees add another 65 Baht.

In summary – new airport or not, just walk out the door, hail the first taxi to drive by, say meter, pay for tollway, and in exactly 45 min you will be at KSR.

Suvarnabhumi Airport


Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand
Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand

The Thai authorities wanted to sell Suvarnabhumi (pronounced su-wan-na-poom) Airport as Asia’s new international hub and gateway to the region. They wanted to make an impression and they succeeded, despite over-running and a few difficulties. Located 25km east of Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi, from an old Sanskrit word meaning ‘Golden Land’, is grand. It’s not the biggest nor will it be the busiest airport in the world but it is a grand gesture from a country keen to be a serious global player in the transport sector.

It boasts the tallest control tower and the biggest single terminal in the world. Maximum capacity runs to 45 million passengers a year – less than Heathrow, with almost 70 million international passengers, but with room to grow. There are plans for a further two runways and another terminal which, combined, would take total capacity to around 100 million.

The airport is built on an 8000 acre site formally known as ‘Cobra Swamp’ that took five years of land reclaiming in order to get ready for construction, which finally started in early 2002.

So what’s it like?

The architects (Murphy/Jahn) have really created a great atmosphere with Suvarnabhumi and you get a great feeling of openness and space the moment you enter. It’s light, spacious and feels relaxing; a breath of fresh air compared to the previous airport interntational airport, Don Muang. It’s definitely conducive to a calming travel experience.

On entering the airport it’s worth a look around and upwards. The structure is a maze of steel and glass, and enormous concrete pillars.

One point worth mentioning is the arrivals areas. They are smaller than I imagined given the amount of people coming through the arrivals gates at any one time and the amount of family and friends that usually gather.

Getting There and Away

Of interest to inhabitants of Khao San Road will be transport to and from Suvarnabhumi. Fast forward five or more years and the options will be plentiful; high speed underground train, specialised bus links etc. But for now the options are limited.

Leaving aside the expensive limousine service and transport provided by/for first class hotels there are two options at present; bus and taxi. The former being convoluted and the latter being pricey.

Getting the taxi from the airport is clearly cheaper than getting to the airport. Having checked with several taxi drivers at the airport the cost breaks down thus: 50 baht service charge (rumoured to be increased to 100 baht soon), about 65 baht expressway fees and between 300 and 400 baht on the meter, depending on time of day and traffic.

Basically they’re talking 500 baht all in. Traffic permitting it should be possible to do the journey to KSR in less than an hour There’s been some confusion concerning the amount of taxis licensed to enter the airport. Originally they were greatly limited but now the authorities have increased the number of licenses. They’ve also added a restriction on the age of taxis so only reasonably new taxis will be operating out of the airport; up to five years old is the figure being touted.

When I checked with the taxi drivers in KSR it was a different story. They are refusing to use the meter and asking 700 baht plus the expressway charge, and presumably a tip on top. Basically it’s going to cost you for around 800 baht. It might be better trying for a taxi off KSR, there’s more chance of the meter being used then.

Suvarnabhumi Airport, ThailandI asked around a few travel agents and it seems that no one is offering any kind of airport bus from KSR yet, but it’s surely only a matter of time before someone sets this up. It might be worth asking around all the same as I didn’t go to every one in the area and there might some enterprising guy already on the case.

A cheaper option is the bus. The BMTA say that the best way from KSR is to get the number 503 air-con from Rajdamnern Avenue to Victory Monument and then take the 551 air-con to the airport. Total cost for this option is less than 70 baht (just the bus fee).

Route details are below:

Public Bus Service to Bangkok and area

Bus Number 549 – Suvarnabhumi – Minburi
Bus Number 550 – Suvarnabhumi – Happy Land
Bus Number 551 – Suvarnabhumi – Victory Monument (Expressway)
Bus Number 552 – Suvarnabhumi – On Nut BTS station
Bus Number 553 – Suvarnabhumi – Samut Prakan
Bus Number 554 – Suvarnabhumi – Don Muang Airport (Expressway)

Public Bus Service to other provinces

Bus Number 389 – Suvarnabhumi – Pattaya
Bus Number 390 – Suvarnabhumi – Talad Rong Kluea
Bus Number 825 – Suvarnabhumi – NongKhai

Buses aren’t allowed to the passenger terminal, they drop you at the Public Transportation Centre and there’s a free shuttle bus which will drop you outside the airport, and make the return journey on arrival. The airport is well signed so finding the bus pick-up/drop off point isn’t difficult.

Whilst the bus is pleasantly cheap it does have the disadvantage of taking a lot longer, being much more inconvenient and a real pain, especially if you have a lot of luggage to carry.

There is also the option of a combo of bus and taxi. Take a bus down to Sukhumvit, perhaps the no.11 air-con, and then grab a taxi. This might work out a hundred baht or so cheaper. Then there is cab sharing. If you find a few other guys heading out to the airport pitch in together and lessen the cost.

Try to avoid the ‘hey, what’s 800 baht in dollars/pounds/euros/shekels etc anyway’ attitude. These guys are taking advantage pure and simple and giving in to them hurts locals as well as other travellers. Once they set a figure as a norm then it sticks and everyone has to pay the price.

If, on arrival, you’re feeling particularly flush you could opt for the limousine service operated by Airports of Thailand. They have nearly 400 cars operating 24/7 from the limousine pick up area on the arrivals level.

Another expense worth mentioning is departure tax. At present it is 700 baht.

In a few years time the high speed underground train will link the airport to the existing sky train and underground networks making travel to and from the airport considerably easier and cheaper. But until then, unless you’re lucky enough to have someone meet you or take you, it’s the options listed above.

Suvarnabhumi definitely makes entering and leaving Thailand a pleasurable experience.

Suvarnabhumi Airport Map