Suvarnabhumi International Airport (pronounced su-wan-na-poom) is 25 km southeast of the city. It opened in September 2006, much later than originally promised. Controversy clung to the project from the start with allegations of backhanders involving the contracts for construction and ground services, and the troubled airport is still in the headlines. Thai newspapers are forever uncovering scandals involving cracked runways sinking into the swamp and the creaking infrastructure. Many complain about the labyrinthine layout, paucity of toilets and inadequacy of the air conditioning. Travellers should also be aware that crime has spiralled at the airport since it opened, the number of thefts has rocketed. The Thai police report that pickpockets journey across Asia to descend on distracted passengers.
A new 28-km overhead city rail link between downtown Bangkok and the airport was completed in 2010 (http://www.bangkokairporttrain.com, trains run every 15-30 mins 0600-2400) with a journey time of 30 minutes from Phaya Thai to the airport, with six stops inbetween.
The old airport, Don Muang, 25 km north of the city, is presently serving a few domestic routes due to the many problems at Suvarnabhumi, including runway cracks and lack of working facilities. If you have a connecting flight make sure you know which airport it is departing to/from.
The new and old airports are relatively equidistant from Central Bangkok and although the travel links are considerably improved, it can still take well over an hour to get to the city centre by car. Taking the expressway cuts the travel time down significantly and outside of rush hour the transit time to Central Bangkok should be 35-45 minutes.
Bangkok is Thailand’s domestic transport hub with flights to around 25 towns and cities; trains head south to the Malaysian border (and onward to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore), north to Chiang Mai and northeast to Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani; and buses of every kind make their way to all corners of the country. It is often necessary to transit through Bangkok if working your way north to south by whatever means of transport.
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