Transportation Options When Arriving in Thailand
Once you arrive in Bangkok, you will need to find transportation from Suvarnabhumi, the International Airport, to your hotel. If you have booked transportation ahead of time, your only chore will be finding your driver in the mass of humanity standing outside of the luggage claim area.
If you haven’t already booked your ride you have a few choices. Staying at a 5-star hotel may qualify you for free transportation to your hotel but most likely you will pay one way or the other.
If you have time and know where the heck you are going you can catch a bus to your hotel. This is not recommended for the first time traveler. Catching a taxi is the way to go.
You can book a taxi ahead of time online simply by sending an email. Most Bangkok forums can recommend a good driver at a reasonable rate. The only difficulty is finding your driver upon arrival. If you have his cell phone number and an unlocked, tri-band phone with a Thai SIM card, you can just call to find his location.
If you haven’t booked ahead, then you will face the taxi mafia right outside of the luggage area. You will be pestered by men and women with clipboards asking “where you go?” They are difficult to fight through if you have two suitcases and carry on bags. But, if you persist and ignore them you need to make your way to the down escalator.
Arrivals are on the 2nd floor of the airport, and the official taxi stand is located on the first floor. Just take the escalator down and you will see the tables set up to book your ride. These folks speak reasonable English and know most of the hotels in the city. Just tell them where you are going and they will log it and give you a receipt. You will pay 50 baht for this service, but it is worth it as the taxi drivers are registered.
Your taxi is supposed to use his meter but he may request that he doesn’t use the meter and will offer you a price. You can agree, negotiate, or insist on the meter. It is up to you. I recommend you go with the meter and give a small tip for good service. A 20 or 40 baht tip is sufficient if you got a good, safe ride and your driver helped with your bags.
Once you become familiar with Bangkok, you can ride around on the BTS. This is the Bangkok Transportation System. It is the overhead train and can save you an immense amount of time bypassing millions of cars on the Bangkok roads. There is also a subway system for you to ride around in.
Buses are the main means of transportation for the masses in Bangkok. They are cheap but they are usually packed to the gills and don’t have air conditioning. Unless you are dirt poor, I don’t recommend the bus.
There is also walking. If you are only going a short distance, walking can be a unique experience in Bangkok. You never know what is at the next street corner. A new shopping experience, a food vendor, or a new restaurant to try out. I love to walk around in Thailand and experience the sights, sounds and smells. Every corner is different.
Whatever mode of transportation you decide to use, you will see a fantastic city. Bangkok is truly the City of Angels.