How Do I Take A Taxi From Bangkok Airport Into The City?
Since I see this question asked constantly online, I am going to post a response for people to find when they do a web search for the answer. If that’s how you found this site, please bookmark and drop in once a week. I try to be interesting.
If you are landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (airport code BKK), taking a taxi to your hotel in central Bangkok is relatively simple, but there are a few things you need to know. (The public taxi line is in a non-intuitive corner of the airport, and the signage leading to it is poor; I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that the airport authority operates a competing fleet of "limousines.")
After baggage claim and customs (you will rarely be stopped by customs if you are a Westerner walking through the green channel), you will walk into an arrivals hall on the second floor of the airport. You will see hotel drivers holding name cards, as well as an array of airport businesses such as money changers, newsstands, coffee shops, etc., lined up against a magnificent five-storey glass wall facing the outside.
As you emerge from the baggage and customs area, various Thais – mostly women in vaguely professional-looking dresses and suits – will say “Taxi.” Ignore them. Also ignore everybody who says “hotel” or asks you where you are going or tries to get your attention. They are touts trying to earn a commission.
In the arrivals hall, change a few hundred dollars, pounds or euros into Thai baht. You will receive most of your money in 1,000-baht notes (currently worth US$28.57 each), which are too large for day-to-day purchases at Thai prices. Have the money changer break one or two 1,000-baht notes into a stack of 100-baht notes.
(The money changers accept all the major convertible currencies as well as many East Asian currencies. All of the money changers at the airport offer the same exchange rate, with no commission. In fact, most of the money changers throughout Bangkok offer similar rates; this is not a place like Bali with wild variations. Hotels offer poor rates, as do Islamic banks.)
Stay inside the building and go down to the first floor (by which I also mean, using the European terminology, the ground floor, the bottom floor, the floor immediately above the dirt). You reach the first floor by using escalators and, for travelers pushing luggage dollies, sloped conveyor belt-style walkways spaced at intervals throughout the hall.
Once you are on the first floor/ground floor/whatever, face the giant wall of glass that looks outside. Turn left. Walk to the end of the arrivals hall, where you will see a door into a food court. Instead of walking into the food court, turn right and walk outside.
You will be slapped by the humidity. Welcome to Thailand.
You will see two or three somewhat incongruous office-type desks near the curb, probably with a line of passengers in front of them. Get in line.
At the front of the line, a Thai sitting at the desk will ask you where you are going. His or her job is to determine your destination and communicate it to the taxi driver, who will speak little if any English. An English-language map printed from your hotel’s web site will help; a Thai-language map will help more.
The person at the desk will assign you a taxi from the line of waiting hacks. He or she will give you a red-and-black form containing, among other information, your driver’s name and license plate number. Do not tip the person at the desk (or anyone else in Thailand).
The taxi driver will offer to stow your luggage in the trunk of the cab. Go right ahead. Thailand is not the type of place where the drivers hold the luggage for ransom.
The taxi will probably have a seat belt, but no buckle to click it into. Get used to it.
The cabbie may ask if you want to take the highway. Say “Up to you.” He – almost all are men – will know the route with the least traffic at that specific time. The trip into the city will take about 45 minutes.
The fare to central Bangkok will cost about 300 baht (US$8.57). You owe an additional 50 baht (US$1.43) for the services of the airport taxi desk, payable to the driver. If the driver takes the tollway, you will owe another 60 baht (US$1.71) in tolls. Approaching the first toll gate, I usually hand the driver a 100-baht note and say “tolls.”
Do not tip the driver. Thailand is not a tipping culture.
Enjoy your stay in the Kingdom.