The Bangkok First Timer’s Travel Guide

Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)

Welcome to Bangkok! Your first time here could be a bit daunting, but don’t worry! ShopJJ’s guide will make getting around this amazing city easy peasy, even for utter newbies!

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Touch Down @ The Airport

First Time in Bangkok

In a nutshell:

  • Bangkok has two International Airports:
    • Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK); and
    • Don Mueang International Airport (DMK).
  • Suvarnabhumi International Airport is very new, modern and world-class.
  • The first thing you should do upon touch down is get mobile data (see below)

Most international flights land at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), so do a couple of budget airlines like Tigerair, Jetstar and AirAsia. It is the newest airport in Bangkok and is a great place to arrive at and depart from.

DMK was the original international airport in Bangkok until BKK took over as the main airport. DMK now mostly caters to low-cost carriers in the region. While older than Suvarnabhumi, it is still a respectable airport.

That said, we prefer Suvarnabhumi for the extra comfort and ‘newness’ that’s always a welcome feeling after any flight.

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Stay Connected with Data SIM Cards

First Time in Bangkok - Tourist Data SIM Cards

First Time in Bangkok - Tourist Data SIM Cards

In a nutshell:

  • 4G Internet speeds in Bangkok available.
  • 299 Baht (8.50 USD) for a 7-day package of 1.5GB 4G data.
  • ShopJJ highly recommends using the TRUE network. Other networks are available too, such as AIS and DTAC.
  • Easy top-up at local 7-11 stores found everywhere.
  • Friendly telco service staff will set it all up for you in-store, only at the airports!

 

Metered Taxis to the City (from both Airports)

First Time in Bangkok - Metered Taxis from Airport

Bangkok Metered Taxis from Airport

In a nutshell:

  • You can take taxis at designated taxi stands at the airport.
  • Booth officers at taxi stands facilitate your taxi ride to the city to ensure safety
  • How to take a taxi from the airport taxi stand:
    • Tell the booth officer your destination
    • The booth officer will give you a receipt with your destination written on it.
    • Show this receipt to the taxi driver when directed to a taxi at the taxi stand.
    • Keep this receipt with you until you reach your destination. It also contains the taxi service hotline which you can call for assistance.
    • This entire process and procedure are put in place to safeguard tourists against fraud.
    • A 50 baht (1.50 USD) surcharge is levied for this service on top of the metered fare.
  • Do not accept ‘touted fixed fees’ offered from random drivers. For your safety, we strongly recommend using the taxi stand services for only 50 baht extra.
  • Metered fare to the city should cost around 300-400 Baht (8.00 to 12.00 USD).

Express Train to the City (Only at Suvarnabhumi Airport)

In a nutshell:

  • Only available at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
  • Operates from 6:00 am to 12:00 midnight.
  • Usually takes less than 30 minutes to reach the city.
  • 15 Baht to 45 Baht per ride, depending on destination.
  • Trains are packed during peak hours. Expect to skip a couple of trains during this time.
  • Taxis are more economical if you are travelling in a group of 3 or more (see above).

 

Money Exchange

First Time in Bangkok - Money Exchange

In a nutshell:

  • Money exchange counters are easily found all over Bangkok, at the airport arrival halls. Change your currencies here for convenience.
  • If you need cash urgently, all shopping malls in Bangkok have bank outlets and cash exchange shops.
  • In general, all banks have their own exchange counters, and rates are roughly the same across all banks.
  • ATMs all over Bangkok accept international cards for Overseas Cash Withdrawals and have English language options. A service fee of 180 baht (5 USD) will be charged for each transaction.
  • The best exchange rates are found at the Super Rich chain of money changers. They are highly recommended when changing large amounts of money and if you have the time to spare.

First Time in Bangkok - Super Rich Thailand

Let’s take a moment to talk about Super Rich money exchangers. There are in fact two different Super Rich companies, one green (Super Rich Thailand) and one orange (SuperRich International Exchange). Both offer better exchange rates than the banks, but the Super Rich Thailand (Green) company has the best rates of all.

Both Super Rich companies are large and respected brands in Bangkok and are trustworthy. They have several branches all over Bangkok, and you can naturally expect queues there. Most locals change their currency at Super Rich Thailand (Green).

Drinking Water

In a nutshell:

  • Water in Bangkok is generally safe and clean.
  • We recommend NOT drinking directly from the tap.
  • Bottled water is easily available at all convenience shops, and offered at all restaurants.

 

Getting Around in Bangkok

Bangkok City Trains

In a nutshell:

  • Bangkok has many public transportation options.
    • City Trains
    • Taxis
    • Tuk Tuks
    • Motorcycles
  • City Trains:
    • City Subway: the Bangkok MRT
    • City Skytrain: the Bangkok BTS
  • City Trains use different payment methods, but we recommend purchasing their Stored Value Cards for convenience and for return trips to Bangkok.

Check out our in-depth guide to Bangkok’s many public transportation services for lots more information, tips and tricks to get around like a pro!

Taxi Tips
– Don’t take taxi waiting at the roadside (or when driver is outside the taxi waiting for you)
– Flag those that are cruising. It is common for drivers to refuse customers during peak hours. Customers are required to pay the toll (cost/tariff) UPFRONT when travelling on the highway (expressway).
– It is common for drivers to offer a fixed rate to your destination, it is totally up to you, you can always bargain for a lower price or flag another taxi which is okay with using the meter.

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