Bangkok international airport is a key transit point for travellers en route to other destinations and some passengers find themselves stuck with hours to wait for onward connections. For those passengers with a lengthy stop-over at Suvarnabhumi there are a few suggestions below to get you out of the airport. Please keep in mind how much time you have to play with in between flights and whether you want to risk getting caught in the Bangkok traffic.
Journey Time From Suvarnabhumi Airport to Central Bangkok
Until the rail link is complete, passengers wanting to travel into the centre of the Thai capital are at the mercy of Bangkok’s roads. On a good day, a taxi from Bangkok airport can take around 45 minutes to reach popular downtown areas such as Silom or Sukhumvit. With a little bit of traffic congestion a 45-minute journey can take 2 hours. Obviously, you will need to factor in return time to the airport too.
There are a number of hotels within a 20-minute taxi ride from Bangkok international airport. They all provide a chance for travellers to sleep, shower and relax in between flights. Some of these hotels provide special day rates or packages for short stays of around 4 to 6 hours. Check the hotel websites listed here for full details. Most of these hotels will also provide an airport pick-up and drop-off service for an extra charge.
Suan Luang Rama IX Park
This beautiful park is conveniently located for Bangkok international airport and can make for a welcome alternative to the airport lounge. The landscaped gardens are dedicated to HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the ninth king of the Chakri Dynasty also known as Rama IX. The park was dedicated to the king in honour of his 60th birthday in 1987. Covering an area of over 200 acres the park features pavilions, botanical gardens, a water garden and a lake.
Practicalities: The park is in the eastern suburbs close to the airport and a taxi ride should take around 20 to 30 minutes. You should have no problems catching a taxi back to the airport although some drivers may be reluctant to put on the meter and ask instead for a flat rate. There are two shopping centres close by, Seacon Square and the Seri Centre, as well as two hotels, King Park Avenue and Novotel Bangna, so finding a cab should be easy.
Location: Sukhumvit 103 (just off Bang Na Trat Highway that leads to the airport)
Opening times: daily from 06.00 to 18.00
Entrance Fee: 10 or 15 Baht.
Website: Suan Luang Rama IX Park
10 Hours Between Flights
With this amount of time between flights you could, in theory, opt to travel into Bangkok and see a few tourist attractions. However, don’t be too ambitious about what you can see in the allotted time and don’t risk being late for your next flight. To give you an indication of how quickly time can go, I’ll give you a typical scenario where your flight arrives at 06.00 and your next flight is 16.00.
By the time you get off the plane, clear immigration and get into a taxi it could easily be 07.00. You could head for Siam Square which many people would describe as ‘central Bangkok’ and is at the heart of the Skytrain network. Traffic around the airport may be light, but if it is a weekday you will almost certainly hit rush-hour traffic delays at some stage as you enter the city.
OK, so you arrive at Siam Square around 09.00. With a return flight at 16.00 you will probably want to be back at the airport at 14.00 at the latest. The trip back to Suvarnabhumi may take only 45 minutes from Siam Square, but I would personally still allow 2 hours just to be on the safe side. Assuming you want to be back at the airport no later than 14.00 this means getting in a taxi at 12.00. So, with this scenario you only have 3 hours free time. You could visit the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha, but realistically by the time you get there and back it wouldn’t give you much time inside. Consider visiting somewhere like Jim Thompson’s House which is a relaxing oasis of calm in Bangkok and is easy to get to by public transport. Alternatively, you could head for the air-conditioned shopping malls,have something to eat and drink or relax and get a massage before you head back to the airport.
Please don’t underestimate the heat and humidity in Bangkok. As much as you may want to cram in as much sight-seeing as you can, arriving hot and sweaty back at the airport isn’t the best way to start the next leg of your journey.