After a long, arduous flight to your holiday destination in the Land of Smiles, the last thing you need is the added stress of trying to find the best way to get from Bangkok Airport to the city centre.
Two main airports serve the capital city of Thailand. Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) generally serves cities within Thailand and other Asian countries. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is the leading international airport servicing long-haul flights from the UK, Europe, USA and Australia.
From most European cities, flying time (direct flight) to Bangkok is around 12 hours. Add to that the time you have to arrive at the airport before your flight and the time it takes to get from home to the airport, and you’re looking at 16 to 18 hours travelling.
A long time for adults, let alone pre-teenage children who might have to drag heavy cases from one platform to another.
To help make your transfer from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city centre as easy and problem-free as possible, in this article I cover the best ways to get you, your luggage and the kids from Suvarnabhumi Airport to your hotel.
One word of advice before you start your journey. Convert a little of your local currency to low denomination Thai baht. Around £50, €50 or $50 should suffice, unless of course, you’re happy to accept a lousy exchange rate from the airport ATMs.
This local currency will be needed for your fare on trains, public and shuttle buses, or airport taxis.
How to get from Bangkok airport to the city centre
1. From Suvarnabhumi airport to the city centre – by Train (Airport Rail Link)
Although the cheapest transfer option from the airport to hotel, the train wouldn’t be our first choice if you’re travelling fully loaded, with cases and kids.
Especially so, as you have to change from the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link to the BTS Skytrain at Phayathai station, or alight at Makkasan station to use the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT Blue Line) subway or Hua Mak Station to use the MRT Yellow Line to get from Bangkok Airport to the city centre, depending on your hotel’s location.
Nonetheless, for younger adults, singles, couples and those travelling light, the train is a fast, safe, reliable and convenient option.
At the airport, the train concourse is well-signposted from the baggage claim hall in both Thai and English. The station sits on the basement level B.
Tickets can be purchased from ticket booths and automatic machines on the station concourse. Single-use tickets come in the shape of tokens and the machines are easy to use.
Just tap in your details, the number in your party and destination, and a total cost will be displayed. Ticket Vending Machines only accept coins and banknotes.
Children under twelve years or below 90cm in height travel free.
Tap your token on the scanner when entering the train and drop it into the turnstile slot at the station when you leave. Costs per one-way journey are 35 (Makkasan) or 45 baht (Phayathai) and take about 30 minutes, depending on your destination.
Airport Rail Link Services out of the airport operate every ten minutes from 05.30am to midnight 365 days a year.
2. How to get from Bangkok airport to Khao San Road – by Airport Shuttle Bus S1
Probably not the best option for families with young children due to the travelling time.
For backpackers and those travelling light, using a Shuttle Bus to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Khao San Road is a great way to get a feel for the culture and personality of this vibrant city.
Along the route, it picks up and drops off travellers and local workers at five bus stops, on its journey to Khao San Road in the heart of town.
From Khao San Road terminus you can grab a cab, or begin your sightseeing with a leisurely stroll along the bustling Bangkok streets to your hotel.
As you leave Level 1 of the airport terminal, head for Gate 7 to board the Khao San Road Shuttle Bus. The airport’s modern, air-con shuttle bus fleet serves other areas of Bangkok and beyond, so ensure you have the right gate and check departure boards.
Journey times from Bangkok airport to Khao San road with stops are around one hour, depending on traffic and time of day. Shuttle buses run every 30 minutes to Khao San Road from 06.00 am until 8.00 pm and cost 60 baht.
3. Getting from Bangkok Airport to the city centre – by Public Bus
For those with a mindset of ‘do it like a native’, there is a public bus option you can choose to get from Suvarnabhumi airport to the city centre.
However, Public Buses do not run directly from the airport but from the bus terminal (Transportation Centre), located just over 4 km outside the airport and reached via a dedicated shuttle running directly from the airport to the terminal.
The buses are also busy most of the day, especially during rush-hour and have little space for large cases and buggies.
Head out of the airport arrivals on Level 2 and search for the shuttle heading to the Public Transportation Centre.
At the transportation terminus, there are different routes to various areas of greater Bangkok and other destinations such as Pattaya.
Buses heading to the city centre are numbers 551, 552 and 556.
- Line 551: Suvarnabhumi Airport, Asoke, Din Daeng Road, Ratchathewi Road, Victory Monument
- Line 552: Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangna-Bangpakong Road, Sukhumvit Road, On Nut BTS Station
- Line 556: Suvarnabhumi Airport, Yommara, Democracy Monument, Thammasat University, Pata Department Store, Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal
Buses operate 24 h. Journey time varies from one hour to two hours, depending on time, traffic conditions and destination.
A one-way ticket costs 35 baht, which can be purchased from the driver using local currency of a small denomination.
4. Getting from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city centre – by Airport Taxi
For peace of mind and airport-to-hotel service, there’s a lot to be said for paying a little more and doing it by taxi, whatever time of the day or night you arrive.
Like International airports the world over, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is awash with airport taxis 24/7, and very well organised compared to many others.
After clearing baggage reclamation, make your way to the ground floor (level 1) and look for one of the automatic taxi kiosks along the concourse. The machine will spit out a numbered ticket which is your ticket to the taxi ranks.
Taxis will be found in lanes outside doors 3, 4, 7 and 8.
All airport taxis are fitted with a charge meter, and fares are based on time and distance. It also includes a small airport surcharge (50 Baht), 20 Baht per large bag, and a small charge for using the quicker toll Sirat Expressway (75 Baht), to circumvent several of the city’s most congested roads.
Credit cards are not accepted, and local currency must be used.
Depending on your hotel location, the total cost will be around 350 to 600 Baht, and the journey time from Bangkok Airport to your hotel will be approximately 35 to 50 minutes.
Some taxi drivers will offer a flat rate to take you to your hotel. Insist on the meter or don’t accept a flat rate above 500 bahts.
5. Getting from Bangkok Airport to the city centre – by Private Hire
Do you want to do it in style on a special occasion holiday? Want to treat yourself to a bit of holiday pampering, or just like to have everything ordered, organised and paid for?
Then consider booking a 24/7 private hire vehicle with an English-speaking driver. He will meet you at arrivals and whisk you from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city centre and your chosen hotel in a luxurious high-end car or people carrier, depending on the size of your party.
A standard two or four-person pick-up will appear more expensive than an equivalent taxi, but you are paying for a totally personal service, and the quoted price is fixed. No add-ons for traffic hold-ups or detours.
On the plus side, if travelling in a party of six or eight, the cost per person will often be less than a standard airport taxi. The average cost using private hire will be around 800 to 1400 baht, with a journey time door to door of around 30 to 45 minutes.
6. Getting from Bangkok Airport to the city centre by – Hire Car
It has to be said that booking a hire car purely to get you from the local airport to your chosen hotel in any city of the world is bad planning and very costly compared to other transport options.
Nowadays, most big cities in the world are heavily congested, and a hire car should only be considered if your itinerary calls for it.
Always remember, your costs don’t stop with the hire fee. You also need to factor in fuel costs and parking fees if the car is sat idle for long periods of time.
However, staying on the outskirts of a city or town with plans to day trip to attractions in the country or coast are the kind of scenarios where a hire car would be a good option.
If you intend to spend the first few days of your holiday touring, and the last few days of your vacation exploring inner city Buddhas and temples, return the hire car first, and explore the city on foot, by public transport or using guided tours.
If you do need a hire car, Suvarnabhumi Airport has several car hire desks on the arrivals concourse but pre-booking online is by far the better alternative.
You can see which companies are offering the more attractive deals, sort out any financial add-ons, and ensure the correct type of vehicle you need is waiting for you on arrival.
In conclusion, the best transport from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city centre will depend on the number of heavy cases you have, the number of young children in tow and your personal preferences.
If you’re a holiday adventurer, holiday minimalist or backpacker with time on your hands, you have all the choices, with train, shuttle bus and public buses being the cheapest, if not the fastest options.
For seniors or those with a young family or large amounts of luggage, choosing from airport taxis or private hire companies is probably the more straightforward, less stressful option.