Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Surviving Suvanrabhumi

Suvanrabhumi International Airport in Bangkok is one of the newest airports to be built. It replaced the old Don Muang Airport after it put in about 50 years of service.

Don Muang (or Mueang under the current, new spelling) is still operational and handles primarily domestic flights in and around Thailand. It isn't maintained as well as it used to be, but it is still functional. The airline code changed for Don Muang from BKK to DMK.

Suvanrabhumi International Airport (BKK) is a marvelous architectural work of glass and steel. It is absolutely enormous and stunning. When you arrive and head for Immigration, you will be amazed at the structure and the beautiful works of art that grace the hallways.

You will also be amazed at how far it is from your gate until you finally reach the Immigration officers. You will walk and walk, or take the horizontal escalator, and it will seem like miles and miles until you finally reach the booth where you can show your passport and be allowed into the country. Don't forget to smile for the camera.

Once you clear Immigration the next step is to locate your luggage. Immediately after you get through Immigration, you will see a big sign that displays all of the airline logos, flight numbers, and what carousel your bags are on.

You need to check this, as there are about 30 different places your suitcases could be. Find the correct carousel first and then look for your bags.

Your bags should be waiting for you, since it took so long to hike from the arrival gate to Immigration. Usually they are spinning around and waiting for you.

Once you claim your bags, find the "Nothing to Declare" line and exit into a sea of arrival signs and taxi mafia personnel with clipboards touting fares to any city or location in the country.

Fight your way through the horde and make a right turn and head for the down escalator. Once you are on the first floor, exit and head for the official taxi stand. This is a good place to grab a cigarette if you are a smoker.

Tell the girl where you are going and you will have a taxi in a matter of seconds and be on your way to your hotel in Bangkok or Pattaya or wherever else it is that you are going.

Depending on where you are going and the time of day, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to get to a hotel in Bangkok. Usually, I plan for an hour and hope for the best.

Suvarnabhumi can be a bit daunting to the first time arrival in Bangkok and even for old hands who have been to Don Muang numerous times. The good thing is that there are signs easily visible and in English that will guide you right along. The bad thing is that you will walk and walk and walk. But, who cares? You have finally arrived in Bangkok.