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Getting to Bangkok
Bangkok is one of the favourite tourist cities in the World. It is centre of business and commerce not only for Thailand but a major attraction for foreign tourists too. Aeroplanes are the chief mode of transportation for foreign tourists. However, a few cruise ships also service Thai capital. Trains and buses adequately connect rest of Thailand to Bangkok.
There are 2 airports in Bangkok, viz., Don Muang Airport and Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main airport in Thailand. Except for a few, all international and domestic flights land at Suvarnabhumi. The Central Business District of Thailand is about 30 kilometres from the airport but sufficient transportation is available from the facility such as Airport Rail Link, buses, shuttle buses and taxis.
Airport Rail Link
The quickest way to reach central Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi Airport is Airport Rail Link. The train is situated is at the basement of the airport and remains operational from 6 o’clock in the morning till midnight with service at every 15 – 30 minutes. There are 2 different services – Express Line and City Line.
Express trains run non-stop from Suvarnabhumi to Phaya Thai and Makkasan stations every 20 – 30 minutes. Skytrain services are available from Phaya Thai while Makkasan has MRT connectivity. The Skytrain and MRT stations are linked by a skybridge. Express trains have ample room for luggage storage. Besides, baggage check-in facility is offered at Makkasan to passengers who arrive 3 – 13 hours before flight.
Trains are relatively slower but more frequent on City Line. They stop at every station and continue to Ratchaprarop Station and Phaya Thai Station beyond Makkasan. Trains depart at every 15 minutes.
Buses are not available directly from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Free shuttle buses ferry passengers to Public Transportation Centre, which is at a few kilometres from the airport. Several buses are available from the centre to various parts of Bangkok. Ming Buri, Bang Kapi, Victory Monument, On Nut, Sam Rong, Samut Prakan, Don Muang Airport, Rangsit, Central Rama 2 and Future Park Rangsit are destinations of various routes from Suvarnabhumi.
The frequency is usually of 20 minutes but could be as much 1 hour at night depending upon the route. The time taken by buses to reach city centre depends on traffic status and could be 1 – 2 hours on an unfavourable day. Privately owned minibuses also operate from the transportation centre to Samut Prakan, Rangsit, Don Muang Airport and Bang Kapi. They run non-stop to their destinations and charge flat 50 baht for one way service.
First class long distance bus services connect the airport to Trat, Rayong, Pattaya, Nong Khai and Chachoengsao.
Free shuttle buses are available between Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports. They depart hourly from either end and move non-stop without costing a penny.
Metered taxis can be hired right from Suvarnabhumi Airport. There is sufficient signage to lead visitors to public taxi desk, where 50 baht is surcharged on each taxi. There could be expressway tolls that have to be paid too. Taxis usually take 45 minutes to an hour to reach city centre but the overall cost could be 300 – 500 baht. If the queue for taxis at the airport is long, Public Transportation Cetnre is the best choice to get more options and more number of taxis. Limousine taxis are also available but they may charge according to distance and could easily cost double the fare for metered taxis.
Air Asia is the only company that operates international flights from Don Muang Airport while domestic flights by only Orient Thai and Nok Air takeoff/land from/at the airport.
Metered taxis are the most preferable means of transportation from Don Muang. Taxi booking system at Don Muang is same as at Suvarnabhumi. Similarly, limousine taxis are available. They are nicer and more spacious but cost almost double the fare of metered taxis. In case of long queues for metered taxis, visitors can walk to the main road to hire a taxi.
Don Muang Train Station provides the cheapest accessibility to city centre. However, trains schedule is not synchronised with flight arrival/departure. Moreover, beggars and vendors board at different halts as trains stop at every station and even give way to road traffic at certain level-crossings. However, those visitors who are ready to pass a few hours on these trains will get the opportunity to enjoy the untold Thailand.
BMTA operates 2 airport bus lines to connect the airport to MRT and BTS. Besides, several public buses touch service the airport through their course. The signage can be followed to reach at the public bus stop where buses to eastern bus terminal, Victory Monument, Sanam Luang, Siam Square, Hualamphong Train Station, Chatuchak Weekend Market, Lumpini Park, Central World, etc.
There are 4 major railway stations in Bangkok – Hualamphong, Bang Sue, Thon Buri and Wongwien Yai.
Hualamphong Train Station
Hualamphong is served by trains from all parts of Thailand and is the most significant train station in the city. It is big and convenient and has its MRT station too. Visitors can book tickets for the same day as well as for the next day and can pay by credit cards too. E-tickets can be booked as well but limited seats are reserved in its quota. All the “tour service providers” at the facility are touts and reliable information can be obtained only at information desks. Taxis are available right outside the station but the taxi zone can be chaotic especially for foreigners.
Bang Sue Train Station
Trains from north and northeast of Thailand serve Bang Sue station, which is also a metro-interchange facility. The business of the station is being increased by gradual transfer of long distance services from Hualamphong to Bang Sue.
Thon Buri Train Station
Trains to and from Kanchanaburi respectively depart from and arrive at Thon Buri station twice daily. It is a new terminal on the west of River Thonburi. The previous station is at 800 metres and has been transformed into a museum.
Wongwien Yai Train Station
Only Mae Klong commuter line serves Wongwien Yai station. Trains depart hourly to Maha Chai fishing village and offer great view of coconut groves, vegetable plantations and countryside orchards along the journey. Wongwien Yai Skytrain station is at 800 metres from the railway station.
Buses are the major means of road transportation to and from Bangkok. Else, private car is an obvious option. Northern Bus Terminal or Mo Chit, Eastern Bus Terminal or Ekkamai and Southern Bus Terminal or Sai Tai are the 3 bus termini strategically located off central Bangkok to avoid heavy traffic. They care comfortable, fast, safe and cheap. Public buses from all of these termini are better than Private bus services by travel agents in all means.
Northern Bus Terminal
Mo Chit is the busiest, largest and most modernised bus terminus. It has 2 tiers. Ground floor is for buses to northern Thailand while the 1st floor is for Isaan region in northeast of the country. There are ticketing windows with destinations written on them in blue and red for first class and second class respectively.
Northern Bus Terminal is considerably far from Chatuchak Park MRT and Mo Chit BTS. Taxi and motorcycle taxis are available to and from Mo Chit. Vvisitors can also opt for bus and tuktuk, which may charge according to their mood.
Eastern Bus Terminal
Ekkamai is a relatively compact bus terminus and has its BTS station right next to it. Buses from the stand service to Trat, Chanthaburi, Ban Phe, Rayong and Pattaya in Eastern Thailand.
Southern Bus Terminal
Sai Tai terminus has bus services not only to South but to locations to the West of Bangkok too. It is located at Phutthamonthon Sai 1 Road in northern Thonburi, which is inconvenient to access. It is a very pleasant air-conditioned facility with electronic displays, KFC and some bank offices. The destinations covered by the terminus are Kanchanaburi, Nakhom Pathom, Hat Yai, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui, Surat Thani, Phuket, Krabi, etc.
Metered taxi is the best means to reach the terminus. Buses to Sai Tai are available from Democracy Monument and Victory Monument BTS, Hualamphong and Makkasan Airport Rail Link stations and take approximately the same time as taxis but significantly inexpensive.
The cheapest and the fastest means to reach central Bangkok from suburbs is minibuses. They cover important locations such as Amphawa, Hua Hin, Phetchaburi, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Phraram 2, Kanchanaburi, Chanthburi, Ban Phe, Rayong, Pattaya, suvarnabhumi Airport, Minburi, Nava Nakhorn, Lopburi and Ayutthaya.
Getting to Bangkok by car could be a bad decision, especially when driving by self. Phahonyothin Road, Sukhumvit Road and Phetkasem Road respectively from North, East and South lead to Bangkok.
Big ships use Laem Chabang Port. Chartered taxis and minibuses are available but charge more than twice the fare towards Bangkok than the other way round. Relatively less expensive minibus or taxi can be chartered from the main road, which is at walking-distance from the port.
Laem Chabng has frequent 1st & 2nd class bus services to Eastern Bus Terminal but less frequent service to Northern Bus Terminal. Southbound buses to Pattaya are highly frequent and available from road traffic light at Sukhumvit Road.
Khlong Toei Port is closer to Bangkok and is accessed by moderate and small-sized ships. Taxis as well as tour services can be arranged at the port. However, it is relatively more expensive to reach Bangkok than Laem Chabang.