Bangkok Airport, Suvarnabhumi

Officially opened on the 28th September 2006 to replace the aging Don Muang airport, Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi international airport is actually in the nearby Samut Prakan province about 25km to the east of Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi was named by King Bhumibol Adulyadej and means "the golden land" in Thai, although it's English spelling is certain to lead to mispronunciations by visitors as it's actually pronounced like 'su-wan-na-poom'. Though Don Muang airport had three terminals, Suvarnabhumi has only one (very large) one that handles all international and domestic flights. At a size of 563,000sq m, Suvarnabhumi's terminal building is the second largest in the world.

Over 40 years in construction and eventually opened shortly Thailand's 2006 coup that removed Thaksin Shinawatra from power, Suvarnabhumi has had a controversial history of extensive delays, corruption allegations, political meddling, media reports of flawed construction and massive budget overruns - and that was all before the airport even opened.

The final bill for Suvarnabhumi stands at over US$3 billion and while it's undoubtedly a very impressive and modern structure, the Thai newpapers report new problems with the airport with embarrassing regularity. Issues range from the most serious of cracks on the runway and other construction problems to complaints from passengers of poor signage, long queues and inadequate facilities. In the initial period after opening these problems were compounded by up to 100,000 Thais coming to visit and picnic in the airport each day and putting strain on the airports facilities, but with waning public interest this is thankfully no longer a problem.

The root cause of the problems appears to be a rush to open the airport before it was really ready, and several senior Airports Authority of Thailand officials have been removed from their posts as a result of the mess. Latest (February 2007) reports are that Don Muang airport is to be re-opened for both international and domestic flights, to relieve some of the pressure from Suvarnabhumi and to allow the much needed repairs to take place. How this will work in practice is unclear at this point, but it could well mean passengers needing to travel between the two airports (a one hour or longer journey) in order to board a connecting flight. If you think this could affect you, you're well advised to check with your airline as soon as possible for the latest news.

If you've previously used Bangkok's Don Muang airport, note that it's no longer necessary to pay the 500 baht per person Passenger Service Charge at Suvarnabhumi. From February 2007, the charge was increased to 700B but it's now included in the price of your ticket. The departure tax for domestic flights is 60B, collected at check in.

Suvarnabhumi is organised into 4 separate levels:

Level one is the bus and taxi lobby where you can go to get downtown.
Level two is the arrivals area.
Level three is the "Meeting Center" level, where the majority of Suvarnabhumi's facilities are.
Level four is departures.

In addition, there's the separate Public Transportation Center (PTC) building which is about 10 minutes from Suvarnabhumi terminal. Free shuttle buses regularly ply the route back and forth between them leading from level one. If you want to get a public bus downtown or to a destination other than Bangkok, you need to head to the PTC first while if you're getting a taxi you can get one either from the terminal building itself or the PTC. More details are on the taxi and other ways downtown pages.

ATMs (with Cirrus/Maestro, Visa, Mastercard, Plus and others) and currency exchange are available at the airport 24 hours a day. The exchange rates available at the airport are generally not that much worse than in the city itself, and so you you won't lose out too much by changing money here. Internet access is available, but at a cost of 500B an hour it's up to 20 times (!) the price of internet cafes in Bangkok itself.

Other facilities at the airport include bars, restaurants (mostly fast food with Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King etc... but there's a good and cheap Thai foodcourt on the walkway between the International and domestic terminals), a couple of decent 24 hour bars, duty free and normal shops, a small branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Hotels Association, and car hire. Trolleys are available but can't be taken past immigration. The THA can get you better rates at mid-range and expensive hotels than you would get as a walk-in, but you still pay more than the going rate. Make sure you have some idea about where you want to stay and what kind of prices you should be paying for it. Different hotels pay them different rates of commission so don't be surprised if they suggest other hotels to one you decided on - they aren't impartial by any means.

The airport has one attached hotel, the 4 star Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel which is only 5 minutes away via an underground walkway. It has all the facilities you'd expect and rates start at around $90 a night.

Getting downtown is cheap and not too much of a problem, and there's no lack of options either: Taxis, airport buses, normal buses, limousines, boats, the train and even a helicopter are all available. When you book hotels in Thailand, your travel agent will likely offer airport transfers as an extra which may well be very overpriced - don't bother if it costs any more than US$15 or so (in total, not per person).

When leaving it is also possible to claim back VAT on certain goods you have bought in Thailand - the forms for this can be got at shops displaying "Vat Refund for Tourists" signs in the city. Take the forms, the goods themselves and your passport to the tax refund counter (which is in the departure hall), pay the 100B service fee, and you will be given the refund. Note they require to see the goods bought, which can be very inconvenient if they are packed away in your baggage. You must have spent a minimum of 5000B, and 2000B in each transaction, to qualify for this. It's a bit of a cumbersome procedure overall, which discourages many from taking advantage of it.
If you've got any comments on this page, or can add to or correct it, then we'd love to hear from you.
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Comments

Comments may be edited for content or clarity.

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Bangkok airport taxi
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I have a flight with Thai and there is a 1.4hr delay to Melbourne do I have to collect my luggage or is it transferred for me.
' ANNA SCOTT
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Dear Sirs, What are the opening hours of the VAT Refund at Suvarnabhumi airport? Thanks you Martin
' martin
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Yeah, I was ripped off by a taxi driver at the airport today. Unfortunately, he took my slip of paper and lied to me about the price. The last time I ever trust a Thai taxi driver!
'
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I am interested in a thai interper when i get to thailand and maybe use for the whole trip that im there, whats the cost and how am i support to find one? thanks
' mai
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Taxi service at counter out door of 2 floor must give you the taxi ticket. This ticket have name and phone of taxi driver. You must keep it with you. Taxi driver like to asking it back from you. Don't turn to them because you maybe forget the thing in the car or they cheating you, then you can call the public transportation center.
' bute
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Really Suvarnabhumi terminal Bangkok is a very beautiful and nice airport in the world I think its second largest airport terminal in the world,i have been two time arrived there . very hugs very nice and easy to find every one flight lounges ......... Jalil Baloch Gwadar
' jalilbaloch
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Please improve on Immigration area. Passengers have to line up for too long before they are through especially arriving passengers, some carrying small children. Make the process a bit faster.
' SALLY
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What about transportation(bus and train service) from dowtown bangkok to Suvarnabhumi international airport
' liang
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i am so thankful for you web site. i got some knowledge about bangkok. i going to bangkok first time with myself. so thanks again
' Amga
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Can you confirm domestic flights to Khon Kaen leave from Suvarnabbhumi airport and not Don Mueang as before.
' Lilian Lynch
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we have a 7hour wait for our connection are there airport lounges we can book to relax in away from the hustle and bussle if so how do we go about it and how much, many thanks
' MR J F SMITH
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We are passing thru Bangkok to Bhutan in October and wonder if by chance we have to go thru customs to claim our bags, can we get back into the main airport at midnight or 1:00AM so we can stay at the Louis Tavern day rooms for a few hours? I think at the other airport they were not open all night to allow people in. We are hoping we can check our bags all the way to Bhutan but this may not be the case. Thank you.
' Irene Kotula
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i was wondering if there are any activities or shopping centres near Bangkok airport. We only are in Bangkok for 5 hours, do we have enough time to go even for an hour or so? Thanks!
' yael makal
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I have just left the Suvarnabhumi airport from a 2 week vacation to my country (Thailand) and wanted to say its a marvelous facility, everything was easy to get to and it looks great, definately a great job by all those who are involved. Flight was on time and the facility was very clean. I see it going a long way in the future.
' Adam
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how do i connect from suvarnabhumi airport to dmk airport thank your help will be appreciated
' walter jaeger
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I have to fly to Udonthani when I alnd in the new airport. How long does taxi take to get to Don Maung airport and how much fare.
' richard
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We would like to book a flight from Bangkok to Phuket is it better to go to the airport and book it personally or should we book it prior to arriving in Thailand? Please advise...Also is there weight restriction on how much you luggage you can take on a flight from Bangkok to Phuket? Please advise... Sincerly, Nancy
' nancy gill
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I arrive in Bangkok on Sunday 4th March @22.40 hrs. Could you please let me know if airport buses are still traveling to Pattaya around that time of night, if so can you let me know of prices and of the cost to pattaya by taxi or any othermeans Thank you.
' Robert Turner
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Is it possible to exchange 50 pond notes sterling at the airport,,and how much can you exchange in total.
' dennis newman
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I know the old Bkk airport had day rooms to rent. 2 hours, 4hours, 6hours and maybe up to 8 hours. I would like to know if the new Bkk airport has day rooms? I connect thru Bkk, so I would rent a day room to shower and sleep for a few hours. Thanks Paul Schofield
' Paul Schofield
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thanx heaps guys for a very honest and informaitve view of bangkok. this my first time out of australia u have turned it from a very nervous time to exciting !! much thanx brett :)
' brett
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Dear Sirs PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF LOCKERS FOR TWO WEEK ARE AVAILABLE IN THR SUVARNABHUMI INTERNATIOANAL AIRPORT, AND WHEW ARE THEY . THANKS David
' David Weinberger
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An excellent guide- your info on the new airport is the most accurate and up-to-date on the web- truly helpful. One wonders, however, why you've totally neglected the excellent subway system that's been operational for several years now.
' Joel Greene
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can you tell me if there is any place at the airport we can store our baggage (mostly scuba gear) ?
' Shiva
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Hi, does Thai Air have a First Class lounge operating at Suvarnabhumi Airport? Thanks, David Travel Concepts Travel Agency West Vancouver, BC Canada
' David
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Hi I am about to travel from Washington DC to Bangkok for transit only. Eight hrs layover in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport and take another International flight. My Question is whether if there are any transit hotels or just the airport lounges. I would like to rest and take a shower before I take another flight. I am a member of Thai airways frequent flyer (Royal Orchrid plus silver). Please be advised.
' OLIVER D CHARLES
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I need a telephone number for the lost and found office - I can't find it on your web-site - could you please help me with that? Best regards Ove
' Ove Schleisner
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I would like to know if the new airport has any lockers available, as I'm staying in Bangkok for 4 days then flying to Phuket for 10 days on Air Asia and then returning to Bangkok to get my return flight to Sydney. It would be convienent if I didn't have to take all my shopping to Phuket and collect it on my return trip.
' Lorraine Smith
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Are there any facilities for transit passengers to have a sleep if they have to wait for 10 hours until the next flight?. Regards, Michael Hobbs
' Michael Hobbs
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Please can you tell me if there is or has been any interuption in the handling of freight ( due to change of airport,or coup ) in the last month,if so is it back to normal now ? Thank you
' Mr P White
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How can I make reservations for the Louis Tavern Transit Hotel Day rooms? I need to make reservations for 6 hours while we wait for an early morning flight. However, I've tried booking online with several websites, travel agencies, etc. and was told that the dayrooms weren't represented by them. Then, I tried calling the phone number, but the girl who answered could not speak English. Do you think if we just showed up, there would be a room available? Or, can you tell me how to make my reservation!
' jan mills
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can i buy thai bahts from a currency exchange in the airport with a debit card or do i have to pay with cash?
' lynn
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Dear shall i ask you a question?. I would like to travel with my family from oman(muscat) to malaysia (penang) by Thai airway, and i will be in transition in bangkok for 8 hurs. I must pay you 500B as airport departure tax? Note: I will be waitting in asia airpot hotel for 6 hurs.
' Alghadani Yahya
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is it possible to reserve a hotel in bangkok airport at arrival time by money in cash?how? and is it cheaper thandirectly from hotel?
' feri
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The 60 bht airport tax for internal flights, is included in the price of the airplane ticket, not collected at check in.
'
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Thank you for your advice, it is well written and very easy to understand but most of all it is such good advice. We nearly booked the airport transfer from our agent and it was going to cost us per person and much more than the US$15. Cheers,
' Judi
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just wondering how long it will take to get to the white orchid hotel in chinatown from the airport and how much it will cost. thank you
' aqndrew
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1)i'd like to know how many people can travel in a single taxi in Bangkok since there are four of us. 2)How much does it cost from bangkok airport to pattaya in a taxi. Thank you
' anil sahgal
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Dear whoever you are -----you're an angel. Thank you so much. The wife and I will treasure this information well before and after our trip to Bangkok. Cheers, Anand.
' Anand K Nair
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