Bangkok has two airports operating. Allow at least three hours to connect between them.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is located about 20 kilometers East of Bangkok City and covers an area of about 8,000 acres. It can easily be reached via either Bangna-Trat Highway or from the Southern Bangna area, depending on the origin of the trip to the airport. A rail link connecting the airport's main building to the city center is being developed and due to open in 2010, in order to facilitate the access to and from the airport to town.
Don Mueang Airport
Don Mueang Airport was Bangkok's former airport and it has been reassigned to some point to point domestic flights which are not connecting to international ones as well as charter operated flights. The airport code has been amended to DMK and it is very easily accessible expressway from downtown as well as if needed a connection to the New International Airport can be done easily via the elevated expressways. Since the numbers of flights is very limited, the airport has become very user friendly, and aside of Thai public holidays, is not too crowded. In addition, a Train station is available in short walking distance of the terminal allowing an easy commute to Hua Lomphong main station.
An Airport Express rail link between Suvarnabhumi Airport and Makkasan (red line) is a very quick way to get from the airport to town, but the link also extends past Makkasan to the Phaya Thai station (blue line) as well, taking an additional fifteen minutes . The trains link to the BTS Sktrain network, but a transfer will be needed. Travelling times estimated at 15-20 minutes on the express and 30 or so minutes from end to end on the blue line, with very reasonable fares.
See the map below.
The Skytrain is an efficient and convenient way to navigate around the inner city, at a cost low enough to relax and enjoy the ride, though not cheap -- short distances are about one dollar or slightly less, while longer distances are the equivalent of $1.50. It is a very high tech, modern and smooth elevated train that runs through the main business districts, but doesn’t go ’everywhere’ (i.e taxis and tuk tuk rides may still be needed depending upon your itinerary). Train stations are well marked and well tended and trains run very often, with little or no wait times. Many hotels are just a short walk away from a stop so check your map to see if the Skytrain is your best option for returning to your hotel, or better yet -- book a hotel near the Skytrain in order to avoid the horrible Bangkok traffic. You can take the Skytrain to the river and then use the river boats to visit the Grand Palace and other major sites. It may be worth buying a ticket that you can charge up by adding more money to it and recharge when you like so as to save queueing for tickets or for change for the machines, though it may be difficult to figure out how to do this. Skytrain does not cater well for disabled people, being elevated and access generally being by steps and escalators. Elevators for disabled people are available at many stations though so it is possible to take these if you check in advance which stations have them. The service ends at midnight. Skytrain was recently extended further west, on the west side of the river for several stops. If you stay near Siam Center, an interchange between the two Skytrain lines, using Skytrain as transportation to many places becomes easy and very quick.
See the map below.
The Subway (MRT) is a welcome addition to the Skytrain and gives access to more areas than the Skytrain already does. There are interchange stations at Silom and at Asoke where you have the possibility to change from the subway to the Skytrain and the other way around, but the systems are independent of each other and not very handy to use in tandem. Magnetic chips and cards can be bought at the counter or the available machines. Cards can be recharged at the counter with any amount once they are used up.
See the map above.
There are three main stations in Bangkok.
Hualamphong Train Station
The main station and the terminus of the Bangkok Metro line. Located right in the middle of downtown Bangkok, it is a huge and surprisingly nice station, built during the reign of King Rama VI and spared bombing in World War II at the request of the Free Thai underground. The station has a good tourist office. Only listen to the people at the Info desk - anyone walking around offering to help you "find" a hotel or taxi is just a tout, even if they are wearing very official looking badges. Likewise, the second floor shops offering "Tourist Information" are just agents in disguise.
Tickets for trains leaving the same or next day can be bought on the counters under the red/orange/green screens. The Advance Booking Office is located to the right of the platforms as you walk towards them and is quite well organized. You can select your seat/berth from a plan of the train, and payments by credit card are accepted.
Bang Sue Train Station
If coming from the north or north-east, connecting to the Metro here can save the last half-hour off your train trip. This is not a very good place to board trains though, as there is practically no information or signage in English. However, this situation will doubtless improve as more and more long-distance departures are switched to here from Hualamphong.
Thonburi Train Station
Also known as Bangkok Noi, this station is on the "wrong" side of the river in Thonburi District and is the starting point for services to Kanchanaburi (via Nakhon Pathom), River Kwae Bridge and Nam Tok.
Local buses, mostly operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), are the cheapest but also the most challenging way of getting around, as there is a bewildering plethora of routes, usually marked only in Thai. If you can speak Thai you can call 184 Bus Route Hotline. Bus stops usually list only the bus numbers that stop there and nothing more. They are also subject to Bangkok's notorious traffic, often terribly crowded, and many are not air-conditioned. If you want to get somewhere quickly and are not prepared to get lost, the buses should be avoided (remember that taxis are cheaper than most local buses in the west). However, they make for a good adventure if you're not in a rush and you don't mind being the centre of attention.
Buses stop only when needed, so wave them down (arm out, palm down) when you see one barreling your way. Pay the roaming collector after you board and keep the ticket as there are occasional spot-checks. Press the signal buzzer (usually near the door) when you want to get off.
Taxis are a quick and comfortable way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way. All taxis are now metered and air-conditioned: the hailing fee is 35 baht and most trips within Bangkok cost less than 100 baht. There are no surcharges (except from the airport), even at night. A red lit sign on the front window means that the taxi is available.
Be sure to either know the correct pronunciation of your destination, or have it written in Thai. Most hotels and guesthouses will happily write out addresses in Thai for you. While most drivers will recognize the names of tourist hot spots, even if grossly mispronounced, it is often difficult to properly pronounce addresses in Thai, a tonal language. If your mobile phone works in Thailand, it is sometimes useful to phone your hotel and ask the staff to speak to your driver in Thai. Tips are not necessary, but are certainly welcome; most local passengers will round up, or leave any coin change as tip.
When traffic slows to a crawl and there are no mass-transit alternatives for your destination, by far the fastest mode of transport is a motorbike taxi. They typically wear colorful fluorescent yellow-orange vests and wait for passengers at busy places. Prices are negotiable; negotiate before you ride.
Chao Phrya River Express Boat
The Chao Phraya Express Boat is a transportation service in Thailand that operates on the Chao Phraya River. It provides riverine express transportation between stops in the capital city of Bangkok and to Nonthaburi, the province immediately to the north. Established in 1971, the Chao Phraya Express Boat Company serves both local commuters and tourists. It also offers special tourists boats and a weekend river tour boat, as well as making boats available for charter. Among the world's great commuter boats, it holds a particular place. Not only for its success in moving large numbers of passengers in a city whose roads are generally criticized for their traffic jams (These boats, along with BTS Skytrain and Bangkok Metro are only methods that can absolutely avoid traffic jam in peak hours on weekdays when people go in and out of city for their workings.), but also for the beauty of the fleet of graceful wooden boats, which is rarely found in today's world of water transportation.
Some may believe that your Bangkok trip is incomplete if you do not ride just once in a Tuk Tuk, but you may want to save this experience for a less congested city where the fumes are not so bad, and the danger less. This is a motorized three wheeler which is seen all over the city. Since it does not have a meter, all the price has to be negotiated. its not recommended to use them as a normal form of transport as for tourists a taxi is cheaper, safer, and has air-conditioning!