Friday, November 30, 2012

Suvarnabhumi International Airport - Restaurants & Shops at the 3rd Level (Thailand)

Is it such a scary thought if you find yourself stuck in an airport? Not when you're in Thailand's
Suvarnabhumi ("
Suwanapoom") International Airport. It's safe, comfortable and has plenty of shops that could take your mind off long waits and immediate concerns.

The 3rd level has a row of restaurants and shops that would suit your financial capability. There are sandwiches and noodles to be had at the 2nd level at just 15 to 25B if finances are close to nil. If it's better than this, the 3rd level will have plenty of options.


China Town Restaurant, Tate Cafe, Eat.Ton Thai Food, Caffe Nero by Black Canyon Coffee (there's another Black Canyon inside the pre-departure hall), Starbucks Coffee, S&P Airport Cafe (though unlike most restaurants, this closes in the wee hours, 1-3AM), Top Ten Thai Cuisine - R burger, Kin Jap Restaurant and Ramen (pricey!), Fukuju-an & Fortune Corner (expensive - think 500B an order), Goodies Thai Restaurant and International Cuisine, and Lee Cafe East-West Cuisine.

Other Shops and Services

There's a Thai Bookstore - but even the name of the shop is in Thai characters and most reading materials from tabloids to international novels have been translated in Thai. There's a Boots Pharmacy; Family Mart (a 24-hour convenience store, there's another at the 1st level). The latter has interesting shop clerks: fully made-up katooeys (lady-boys). They also sell siomais, siopaos and sandwiches, aside from the usual convenience store stuff.

There's a Foreign Exchange in this level; a Foot Massage and Spa with 300B rates for 15-30 massages; a Miracle Lounge; a Muslim Prayer Room and a Sanghas and Samanera Lounge for robed monks. There's a Siam Commercial Bank counter which also changes currencies; an Essensuals Hair Salon.

Sangha, of course, is a collective term for all ordained monks and nuns. Samana refers to small renunciate and samanera is a term for those novice (Buddhist) monks. No special room for priests? The Miracle Lounge is a pay-lounge when you want a more comfortable place to wait for your flights.

Medical services are provided by two HMO's: AOT Medical Services by Samitivej Hospital which handles cases Mondays to Fridays at Level 1 , and during weekends and holidays in Level 3 Gate 3. Contact details are found at the last photo below.

Next time you're in a bind and has to stay at the airport for several hours, it won't be that bad. You can gallivant, explore the airport and relax.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

China Town Restaurant

Eat.Ton Thai Food

S&P Airport Cafe: restaurant, bakery, coffee. (above and below)

Thai Bookstore

Family Mart

Top Ten Thai Cuisine & R Burger

Kin Japanese Restaurant and Ramen

Fukuju-an Restaurant

Fortune Corner

Goodies Thai Restaurant & International Cuisine

Lee Cafe East-West Cafe

Foot Massage and Spa

Essentuals Beauty and Hair Salon

Sanghas and Samanera Lounge

The 3rd level

General information and a little history of Suvarnabhumi -

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Suvarnabhumi International Airport - Departures

You're not supposed to enunciate "
Suvarnabhumi" as spelled in the English language. Not when you're talking to a taxi driver. "Where?" They'd frequently ask again. "Oh, the airport!" Try "suwanapoom". I've even heard this pronunciation from other farangs. It sounds "cute" though.

Departing Thailand has never been easier. With the advent of the City Link trains, traveling away gets even better, cheaper and faster. The system is pretty straight forward too. Upon arrival at the lobby, you cross the street to get to the entrance. Head to the nearest Information Sign Board (see photo above) that has frequent updates. If your flight leaves within the next 2 to 3 hours, then you will find your flight details at the board. Otherwise, you'd have to wait. It will give your Check-in Counter, Gate number, etc. It will tell you where to go once you've checked in.

The Departure Hall is the busiest part of the airport and is located at the 4th level (4th floor). If your flight is international, make sure you have adequate time to queue for your immigration formalities which, more often than not, takes a while because the picture taking process seems to take a lot of time. From there, you get through an enormous volume of duty-free shops, one of Asia's biggest Pre-departure duty-free shops. You can partake on a meal, mail post cards, exchange money or sell unused Thai bahts, shop and shop again, get a massage, buy a book, etc. The possibilities are limitless. Just make sure that you're at your boarding gate on the appointed time.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Skyway in Bangkok en route to the airport. Suwanapoom, yes?

A taxi drops you off here, then you cross the street.

Walk towards the airport's entrance. this is already the 4th floor of the airport, the Departure Hall.

There are wrapping stations here when you need to secure a few things. They charge 120B ($3.90) per article whether it's a huge baggage (see below) or a tiny umbrella (an umbrella gets compulsively wrapped that it would seem you'd need three years to unwrap it). Cash basis only. Left luggage counter is at the 2nd level near the Tourist Police Assistance Station.

Check-in counter

This is a common sight where an array of the most colorful flowers (lots of orchids) are on display at the departure hall all year round.

Organized chaos

General information and a little history of Suvarnabhumi -

Dramatic blue interior lights is Suvarnabhumi's characteristic fixture and is accentuated at night.

Nautilus-shaped Pre-deparure Areas where your boarding gates could be found.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Suvarnabhumi International Airport - 1st Level: Train Link, Shops & Taxi Bays

Suvarnabhumi International Airport's 1st level (first floor) is located just below the arrival hall. You can get here by elevator or the walkalator if you're pushing a cart full of baggages. From here, there are counters for transportation: limousine taxis, and even buses and vans that will take you directly to places like Pattaya and Koh Samui.


If you need a taxi, go outside from the lobby and there are taxi bays outside. Just head to the nearest "meter taxi" booths. Those luminescent taxis are parked just across the lane. Though I initially thought that these "drivers" have already been duly informed that they're supposed to flag down their meters, some will try to con you otherwise. In one of my transits recently, a driver conveniently "forgot" to use the meter so I insisted he does a minute after pulling out of the taxi bay! Insist on it! Do not forget. If they try funny stuff, you have a coupon which has their details - an avenue for complaints. Remember that if you choose to use the skyway, you will be asked for money at the toll gate (two gates) so make sure you have the necessary Thai baht for this.

Walkalator from the 2nd level

From the walkalator (or an elevator), head leftwards to get to the train station. Taxis are just outside this lobby.


First Level also has the Airport Rail Link or City Link Trains. From the escalator/walkalator, turn to your left until you find a train station. This station is open daily from 6AM to 12 midnight. Tickets to the city is cheap, 40 baht to the Pratunam area station. The ticket clerk will most likely ask if you want to purchase a return, but remember that these tickets are only valid for use on the same day of purchase. If you're staying overnight or longer in the city, just get a one-way ticket. Once inside the station, you need to go a level down (elevator or escalator) to get to your platform. Getting to the city center will approximately take 15, 18 and 27 minutes, depending on which trains you're lucky to get (there's an express train). The train cars are comfortable; smells and looks new. It opened last August 23, 2010. It's a rapid transit line running a 28.6 kilometer route.

The Airport Rail Link has 8 train stops and the stations are as follows: Suvarnabhumi Airport, Lat Krabang, Ban Thap Chang, Hua Mak, Ramkhamhaeng, Makkasan, Ratchaprarop (Rajprarop) and terminates at the Phaya Thai.

The problem is, from 3PM onwards, a huge number of local commuters also use this train from Phaya Thai, Rajprarop and Makkasan making your ride back to the airport a rather uncomfortable experience. Yes, think mashed up sardines! It even gets worse when you have your baggage with you. Unlike the comfort iof riding Malaysia's KLIA Express, Airport Link is a challenge. It's a lot cheaper though than the KLIA. I had to miss two trains because i couldn't get a space inside the airport bound train at 3:30PM on a weekday. Imagine a Friday?

Construction of this Train Link was in the vicinity of 25.9 billion baht ($84.10 million).

This is the view once inside the train station, facing the ticket counter (right) and entrance. just outside are restaurants and shops which are part of the airport's first level.

From this floor, you have to take the elevator (photo below) to get to your train platform. An airport hotel is supposed to operate in this 1st floor level.

Elevator to the platform and back to the 1st level.

City Link Train at the train platform as it waits for passengers.

Airport Trains at the Rajprarop Station in Bangkok's Pratunam district.

This was late lunch at a restaurant called Twin Mix Food - stir fried noodle with vegetable and pork at 85B, plus 15B Coke. It looked absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, it was the king of blandness.

Didn't taste as good as it looked.

Twin Mix Food restaurant is located at the first level, near the lobby of the Airport Link Train Station.


General information and a little history of Suvarnabhumi -

Dunkin Donut and another Thai-language Bookstore found at the first level (floor) of Suvarnabhumi.

A view just outside the first floor of Suvarnabhumi. Nearby are taxi bays.

Taxi Counters. Queue for a taxi, state your destination, get a coupon and a driver is assigned to take you. Then you cross the street to get to your taxi. Insist that they flag down the meter!

Luminescent public taxis waiting for their customers. Why take a taxi when you can take the train to Bangkok?