Transport in Thailand is exceptionally efficient and well-ordered and makes your stay in the Kingdom very convenient and relaxing, didn’t we all aiming for that? There are many choices of transportation that caters to every needs of the visitor, be it by air, road, bus, rail, and water transport and they are very competitive as well. Tourists can easily move around the country without difficulty because different islands and cities of Thailand are connected to each other. Thailand has an excellent transportation infrastructure. In fact, considering the cost, connections and convenience provided, the Kingdom of Thailand has one of the best systematic transportation in the world.
Flying is the most convenient approach for most tourists bound for Thailand.The Kingdom of Thailand has five international gateways but Bangkok is the major aviation hub and gateway to Thailand. Bangkok serves as the international focal point of Southeast Asia and also a principal entry point to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. Nearly all roads, trains and planes in Thailand lead to Bangkok. Some chartered and regional flights may land at one of the other international airports within Thailand, consisting of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Hat Yai and Phuket.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is a state-of-the art airport, opened in 2006. The name Suvarnabhumi was given by HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Suvarnabhumi means “The Golden Land” which is a traditional name for the Thailand-Cambodia-Laos-Burma region. Suvarnabhumiis pronounced as “soo-wan-na-poom”.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is located to the south-east of Bangkok in Bang Phli district, Samut Prakarn province, and approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles) from downtown Bangkok. The airport complex covers an area of 32 sq km or 8,000 acres (20,000 rais). The passenger terminal, with seven stories, a basement and 360 check-in counters, has a built-in area of more than half a million sq m.
Suvarnabhumi is the busiest airport in Southeast Asia, with two runways, 76 flights per hour and 3 million tons of cargo per year. Suvarnabhumi Airport is capable of handling 45 million passengers. The control tower is 132.2 meters high. It is the world’s tallest control tower and provides the best visual coverage of overall airside.
The long term plan of the airport is to have four runways flanking two main terminals and two satellite buildings with a combined capacity capable of handling up to 100 million passengers and 6.4 million tons of cargo a year. The combined area of the concourse buildings and the passenger terminal covers over 563,000square meters and currently the largest in the world. Facilities for both international and domestic passengers are situated in the same building. The concourse buildings are connected to the passenger terminal. There are 7 concourse buildings: A, B are for domestic passengers while C, D, E, F and G are for international passengers.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is serviced by a large number of the world’s foremost airlines including Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, and Qantas. It is a center for many tourists to South East Asia.
Airport facilities include restaurants offering fast-food and Thai specialties as well as snack bars that are opened round-the-clock. Duty-free shopping options are ample. There are shops that sell Thai products and handicrafts, and others offering clothing, jewelry, gift items, books and other reading materials. There is a Thai food court located on the mezzanine level between the departures and arrivals floors. ATMs, currency exchange are available at the airport 24 hours a day. Postal services, hotel reservations, left-luggage, medical center and internet café are available as well. The airport has one attached hotel, the 4 star Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel which is only 5 minutes away via an underground walkway.
The Suvarnabhumi Passenger Terminal Complex comprises 7 floors above ground level and 2 floors below ground level.
The 1st Floor: Bus Lobby
The 2nd floor: Arrivals Hall for both domestic and international passengers
The 3rd floor: Waiting lounges, service counters, security check points and shops.
The 4th floor: Departures Halls for both international and domestic passengers
The 5th floor: Offices for Thai Airways International and Star Alliance airlines
The 6th floor: Restaurants
The 7th floor: Observation area
The Undergrounds: ( Floor 0 & 1) Designated for Train stations
Public Transportation Services at Suvarnabhumi International Airport:
Airport Shuttle Buses
The airport provides free shuttle buses to cater both passengers and airport staff. Airport Shuttle Buses operate between the Passenger Terminal Complex and the Public Transportation Center, where limousines and public buses are parked. The shuttle buses take a while to get to the station as it picks up from all the ancillary buildings. It has two routes though, the express route connects the main terminal directly to the transport center and Ordinary route connects to other airport facilities.
- Shuttle bus (express) pick up area at the Arrivals level – 2nd Floor (inner curb).
- Shuttle Bus (ordinary) pick up area Ground level / 1st floor (inner curb)
For more luxury transportation, limousine can be availed at the Limousine Service Counter at the arrival hall (Level 2). There are six kinds of limousines with total of 380 cars on call 24 hours. The Airports of Thailand (AOT) managed the limousine operations and set up a call center for inbound reservations.
- The passenger pick-up point for limousine service is on Arrivals 2nd Floor
Airport Express Service
Comfortable air-conditioned buses that provide services direct to downtown Bangkok and the suburbs. Airport Express runs 4 bus routes to downtown. The ticket price is at 150 baht per person for the entire route and available only at the Airport Express Counter only at Level 1, near Entrance 8. The service operates from 5:00 am to 12 midnight.
- AE1: Suvarnabhumi Airport – Silom (by expressway)
- AE2: Suvarnabhumi Airport –Khao-San Road (Express Way)
- AE3: Suvarnabhumi Airport – Sukhumvit (Wireless Road)
- AE4: Suvarnahhumi Airport – Victory Monument- Hua Lamphong(train station)
- Contact pick up area at the Arrivals level – 2nd floor (inner curb).
- Drop off area at the Departures level – 4th floor (inner curb).
Car Rental Service
There are two kinds of car rental services operates at Suvarnabhumi Airport the famous international brands like the Avis and Hertz, and Local Operator like Thai rent a car. To rent a car, visit the car rental service desk at the arrival hall and take the Airport Shuttle Bus (express route) from the Main Terminal Building to pick up the car at Car Rental Centre which is located at the Public Transportation Center. The car is dropped off at the Car Rental Center.
This is usually the option used by most visitors arriving in Thailand. Public Taxis can be found on Level 2 Arrival Area, or take the free shuttle (express route) to the Transport Center taxi stand. Contact Taxi counter, also in Level 2 – Arrivals, near entrances 3, 4, 7 and 8 and tell your destination and they will issue a destination slip. Public taxis will charge a 50 baht service fee on top of the meter charges and expressway fee.
- Pick up area: taxi stand Level 2 – Arrivals
- Passenger drop-off at Departures (level 4 – outer curb).
- Public taxi drives must be certified by Airports of Thailand
The public bus service is the most affordable transportation that can take you around Bangkok City from Suvarnabhumi Airport. This 24-hour public bus service is provided from the Bus Terminal. The FREE Airport Shuttle Bus (express route) can take you to the Transport Center. The airport is well signed so finding the bus pick-up/drop off point isn’t difficult. The bus fare is 35 baht.
Public Bus Service to Bangkok and Neighboring Areas.
- 549 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Minburi
- 550 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Happy Land
- 551 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Victory Monument (Expressway)
- 552 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – On Nut BTS station
- 553 - Suvarnabhumi Airport – Samut Prakan
- 554 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Don Muang Airport (Expressway)
- 555 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Rangsit (Expressway)
- 556 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Southern Bus Terminal (Expressway)
- 557 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Wongwien Yai
- 558 - Suvarnabhumi Airport – Central Rama 2
- 559 - Suvarnabhumi Airport – Future Park Rangsit (outer ring road)
For longer journeys:
- 339 – Laem Chabang – Pattaya
- 888 – Pattaya
- 825 – Nong Khai via Khon Khaen and Udon Thani
- 9905 – Expressway bus to Pattaya and Jomtien
- 9906 – Expressway bus to Rayong
- 9908 – Trat
Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link
A rail system connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport to the planned City Air terminal in Makkasan Train Station in the heart of Bangkok is under construction. The Airport Link to Suvarnabhumi Airport will include an Express service known informally as the Pink Line and a Commuter Service as the Red Line, which connects to the city’s mass transit subway system. The Express service takes 15 minutes and the commuter service trip takes 27 minutes.
- Express Service Route
From Suvarnabhumi Airport to City Air Terminal at Makkasan connecting to MRT
Blue Line (Phetchaburi Station).
- Commuter Service Route
Commuter trips take 27 minutes from Suvarnabhumi Airport – Lad Krabang – Thub Chang – Hua Mark – Ramkhamhaeng –City Air Terminal at Makkasan and interchange with MRT Blue Line (Phetchaburi Station) to Ratchaprarop – Phaya Thai and interchange with BTS Sukhumvit Line (Phaya Thai Station).
Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX)
Located in Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai International Airport is the main gateway to the majestic natural attraction of the Northern Region of Thailand. Located less than 10 minutes by taxi from the city center, Chiang Mai International Airport is 4 kilometers southwest of downtown Chiang Mai. With the growing number of tourist visiting Chiang Mai, this airport has contributed greatly in promoting travel and tourism throughout the Northern Region of Thailand over the years and welcome two million visitors a year.
Chiang Mai International Airport consists of a domestic and international terminals accommodated in the same building and receives around 250 flights per week from Bangkok , Phuket and Samui as well as China, Singapore, Myanmar, Laos, Taiwan and Korea.
Chiang Mai International Airport has a customer service center for Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia and other budgeted airlines offering last minute tickets.
Getting from Chiang Mai Airport to the city is convenient. There are several kinds of transportation services provided for passengers including metered taxis outside (insist on the meter) limousine and car rental services. Transportation service counters are located on the 1st floor opposite domestic and international arrival lounge.
Chiang Mai International Airport has a full range of facilities to offer to its visitors, restaurants, cafeterias, internet café, travel agencies and business center. There are also a number of shops selling handicrafts silk, and souvenirs. There are several exchange bureaus and ATMs in the terminal as well.
The Chiang Mai International Airport has a capacity of handling 24 flight operations per hour. The airport is open between 6 am and 11.30 pm.
The international airlines that operate from Chiang Mai are:
- Air Asia
- Air Mandalay
- China Airlines
- Hong Kong Express
- Silk Air
- Tiger Airways
- Thai Airways International
The domestic airlines that operate from Chiang Mai are,
- Bangkok Airways
- Nok Air
- Thai AirAsia
- Thai Airways International
Phuket International Airport (HKT)
Phuket International Airport is the second busiest airport in Thailand next to Suvarnabhumi International Airport. The Phuket International Airport has welcomed millions of passengers each year, most of whom are tourists coming from countries all over the world to enjoy a wide range of tourist services, magnificent beauty of the very popular Phuket beaches and fascinating tourist attractions.
Phuket International Airport is located 32km (20 miles) to the north of the island, 40 minutes drive from Patong Beach, 15 minutes to Bang Tao beach, and an hour to Phuket City by car. Most visitors arrive at Phuket International Airport, which is a transportation center for the area and receives flights from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, Australia and Hong Kong, as well as charter flights from Europe during the peak season. The airport is served by 19 airlines such as Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Silk Air, the local budget services Air Asia, Nok and One2Go.
Phuket International airport small but comfortable with facilities like restaurant, coffee shop, snack bars, two duty-free shops, one in departures and the other in arrivals. There are also shops selling Thai handicrafts, souvenir items, books, newspapers amongst other goods. Other services of the airport include post and telegraph offices, mobile phone rental shop, a barber shop and a first aid center. Banks, ATM’s and currency exchange are also available.
Phuket International Airport has two car-for-rent counters. Hertz, Avis and Budget are among the companies that offer their services. A transportation service desk is available for visitor’s convenience and can be found in the arrival area. Taxi stand is available outside of the terminal building. There are also buses that leave for Phuket City every hour. You can also avail of a limousine service; tickets are sold at the limousine counter in the arrival hall. Arrival hall is at the first floor of the terminal building.
Information desks are located in the departure and arrival areas.
Hat Yai International Airport (HDY)
The Hat Yai International Airport is 9 kilometers from downtown Hat Yai, a southern Thailand town. Through the years, The Hat Yai International Airport is the hub for Muslims as planes from Thailand depart mostly from Hat Yai International Airport for their annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
The Hat Yai International Airport offers several types of transportation for passengers for their convenience such as limousine, taxis which can be found at the airport entrance, you can avail a car rental service by companies such as Avis, Budget and other local car rental companies at the arrival hall, minivans are also available. Visitors upon arrival can contact for limousine and car rental service at the counters in passenger hall or lounge, at the 1st floor.
The major airlines flying from the Hat Yai International Airport are Thai Airways International, Tiger Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Orient Thai and Nok Air. The airport operates from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm.
Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI)
Chiang Rai International Airport is another important international airport located in the northern part of Thailand. The airport id not only a potential center for tourists who like to visit the spectacular scenery of the north but also for business owing to its strategic spot for business of several neighboring countries in the economic quadrilateral zone giving way to the New Economic Bilateralism in Southeast Asia.
Chiang Rai International Airport is located about 8 kilometers from the city centre. It consists of a passenger terminal, with both the international and domestic arrivals and departures on the same level. Most major airline carriers and charters connect to Chiang Rai via Bangkok from Asia or Western Europe. Airlines Serving the Chiang Rai Airport are Thai Airways, AirAsia, Orient Thai Airlines and Phuket Airlines.
Transportation services in the airport include car rental and taxi service which is available for passengers who wish to travel between airport and downtown Chiang Rai and the surrounding area. Car rental and taxi counters are available on the 1st floor in the arrival hall.
Airport Tax for all international departures is 500 baht.
International Overland Border Crossing
Thailand has an extensive railway- The State Railways, its network reaching the farthest point of the kingdom, and to the borders of Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia. They can also enter Thailand and vice versa by car or bus using international roads/highways
Traveling overland is extremely well organized in Thailand. Trains and buses in Thailand are comfortable, safe, cheap and environmentally friendly.
- The rail option for Malaysia and Thailand is the Malaysian Railway and State Railway of Thailand’s Southern line service that meet at Butterworth (near Penang) 93 km south of the Thai-Malaysian Border, a transfer point to Penang or Kuala Lumpur.
- Kota Bahru (Malaysia)– Sungai Kolok (Thailand)
These crossings are from Kota Bharu to Rantau Panjang and cross the border into Sungai Kolok and proceed by train from there. Sungai Kolok is the railhead on the east coast branch of the State Railways of Thailand’s southern line.
- Poipet (Cambodia) – Aranya Prathet (Thailand)
This border connecting Phnom Penh via North-West part of Cambodia including Angkor area (Siam Reap) to Bangkok or North-East of Thailand The border opens from 7 am and closes at 5 pm.
- O’Smach(Cambodia) and Chong Jom ( Thailand)
This is a remote border crossing about 150 kilometers north and slightly west of Siem Reap to Surin via Chong Jom.
- Anlong Veng (Cambodia) and Chong Sa Ngam (Thailand)
A remote border crossing northwest of Siem Reap in Oddar Meanchey province, opposite Thailand’s Si Saket Province.
- Phsar Prom Pailin ( Cambodia) and Ban Pakard, Chantaburi ( Thailand)
This is located in Pailin, Cambodia, opposite Thailand’s Chantaburi province. Taxi available from Pailin to Battambang with 3 or 4 hours driving but road conditions change with the season
- Ban Laem, Chantaburi ( Thailand) and Daun Lem, Battambang ( Cambodia)
Located in Kamreang, Battambang province, Cambodia, opposite Thailand’s Chantaburi province
Take the new direct train between Bangkok & Laos…
It’s safe, cheap and comfortable to travel from Bangkok to Vientiane or vice versa by train through the new international rail terminal at Tha Na Leng in Laos, some 13km outside Vientiane. This train (train 69 northbound, train 70 southbound) uses the new rail link over the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River into Laos.
- A bus runs from Vientiane to Udon Thani.
- It’s also possible to cross the Mekong at Chiang Khong / Huay Xai, Nakhon Phanom / Tha Khaek, Mukdahan / Savannakhet, and elsewhere
Tourist can access Thai-Myanmar borders through;
- Mae Sai / Tachilek crossing from either side, and enter and/or exit in either country.
- The Mae/Sot Myawaddy crossing, access is possible only from Thai side, neither onward travel into Myanmar (ie beyond the border town) nor overnight stays are possible.
- The Three Pagodas Pass but only accessible to foreigners from the Thai side. It is located between Sangkhlaburi in Kanchanaburi Province (Thailand) and Payathonzu in Kayin State (Myanmar).
- A ferry from Langkawi, Malaysia to Satun, in Southern part of Thailand.
- While over in Narathiwat province, a vehicular ferry shuttles between Tak Bai and Pengkalan Kubur, near Kota Bharu in Malaysia’s Kelantan state.
- Koh Kong – Hat Lek in Trat.
Koh Kong is the most south-western province of Cambodia and Trat Province is in the eastern part of Thailand and 315 kilometers from Bangkok.
It’s legal for non-Thais to cross the Mekong River by ferry between Thailand and Laos at the following points:
- Beung Kan – Paksan)
- Nakhon Phanom – Tha Khaek
- Chiang Khong- Huay Xai
- Hundreds of longtail boats connect Ranong with Kawthoung in Myanmar.
There are also luxury cruises from Malaysia and Singapore to Phuket and Bangkok serviced by the Star Cruises and other luxury ships.