Bangkok has long been a magnet for back packers and luxury travellers alike. However, the lack of a coordinated transport system and a language barrier makes getting around quite difficult for westerners and many jet-lagged holiday makers fall prey to touts.

Most visitors arrive in Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi airport and want to get to the city centre. You have four choices:

Rent a car

Most of the international rental companies have desks at the airport. I recommend that you book in advance, which you can do as part of a holiday package. Driving in Bangkok however is not the quickest way to get around, because of the infamous traffic jams and poor driving ability of the natives. Outside Bangkok public transportation is limited, so if you are planning exploring other provinces renting a car is a good idea.

Public Taxi

The taxi counters are located on the ground floor of the airport, outside entrances 3, 4, 7 and 8. At the counter the assistant will ask you where you want to go, she will then tell the next available driver and give you a receipt. When you get into the taxi, make sure that the driver turns on his meter. If he doesn’t I advise you to get out and ask for another taxi. The taxi pattaya is currently 35 Baht for the first kilometre and 5 Baht per km after that. There is an airport surcharge of 50 Baht and you have to pay expressway tolls.

Public Bus

City buses and buses to nearby cities such as Pattaya can be found at the bus terminal; to get there take the express shuttle bus from the ground floor of the airport. Buses in Bangkok are either air-condoned, the fare depends on distance travelled, or non-air-conditioned, which have a fixed fare of 8 baht. If you wish to travel by this inexpensive mode of transportation you should buy a bus guide, available at English language book shops.

Airport Rail Link

The new airport rail link is a good option if you don’t have a lot of luggage. The station is below the airport; take the escalators or elevators down. The rail link has two service routes: an express line that only stops at Makkasan station and the city line which makes eight stops. The stops that are the most useful for tourists are Makkasan, for Phetchaburi MRT station and Phayathai station, which links to the Sukhumvit BTS line. If you take the express rail link from Makkasan station to the airport, and you are flying with Thai or Bangkok airways you can check-in your baggage at the station.

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