In previous trips to Bangkok, I would either take the taxi or the Airport Express Bus to wherever I’m staying. Both option has its pros and cons: taxis are more comfortable and convenient, but it can be quite expensive if you’re shouldering the cost on your own. The bus, on the other hand, is a cheap alternative if you’re traveling solo, but you’d also have to deal with the terrible Bangkok traffic. About a month before we flew to Bangkok for the Thailand Open, I stumbled upon this article on CNNGo: Bangkok Airport Rail Link vs. city taxi. I was elated at the news of this new airport transport option that promises to be cheap, fast and relatively comfortable.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is huge, but despite its size, it’s virtually impossible to get lost because there are plenty of signs to point you to the right direction. As soon as we exit the arrival hall, we only had to look a couple of times to see signs to the Airport Link station. Located at the airport’s basement, this station serves both the Express and City lines of the SARL. There’s a ticket booth right in the middle of the huge station, the right side for tickets on the City line, the left for the Express.
The Suvarnabhumi Airport Express serves only two stations: the airport and Makkasan, which connects you to Bangkok’s MRT system. The train is similar to that of Hong Kong’s and Kuala Lumpur’s airport express trains: comfortable plush seats with racks for your luggage. The ride takes only 15 minutes and costs THB 100 (THB 150 starting January 1, 2011).
The Suvarnabhumi Airport City Line terminates at Phaya Thai, stopping at 6 stations, including Makkasan. The train for this line is similar to the BTS, and as stated in the article above, can get crowded during peak hours. The ride from Phaya Thai to Suvarnabhumi takes 30 minutes and costs THB 15 (THB 45 starting January 1, 2011).
Cla and I rode the Express line when we arrived on Friday night. We were staying at Old Charm Guesthouse, which happens to be just one station away from Phaya Thai, so taking the train would be our best airport transfer option. The ride to Makkasan was smooth and fast. The train’s waiting time was longer than the entire ride. We alighted at Makkasan, and were impressed at how the train station looked like an extension of the Suvarnabhumi airport. On the ground level, check-in counters are waiting for future airlines to set up shop. The City Line station is at the 3rd floor of the station. Since the Express line terminates at Makkasan, we had to transfer to go all the way to Phaya Thai (at no additional cost). The ride from Makkasan to Phayathai on the City Line only took about 5 minutes, even with the stop at Rajprarop Station.
I took the City Line all the way back to the airport on my last day. From the Old Charm, I rode the BTS from Ratchatewi to Phaya Thai, going out through Exit 5 of the Phaya Thai station to connect to the Airport Link station. I queue up to buy a ticket, and was surprised that a trip to Suvarnabhumi would only cost me THB 15. Definitely the cheapest I’ve ever paid for airport transfer. Though the distance between Phaya Thai, Rajprarop and Makkasan were covered in 2 minutes or less, the stations gets farther apart past Makkasan. The ride took only 30 minutes, as promised.
As written in the CNNGo article, the airport link be cheap and fast, but it can pose some inconvenient problems for some travelers. This option is not really recommended for those traveling with plenty of luggage if you’re taking the City Line. There are no lifts in the City Line’s stations, only escalators. There’s also that added inconvenience if you’re connecting via the BTS or MRT, since they usually don’t have lifts either.
Still, the Bangkok Airport Link is a very much welcome addition to Thailand’s extensive rail line. For solo travelers like me, this is currently the best option for traveling to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport.