Getting There – Bangkok, Thailand
Although getting to Thailand involves hours crammed in an airplane, booking tickets shouldn’t be a pain. Check online for cheap fares, either through BnA or airline consolidators. We flew Philippine Airlines roundtrip from Los Angeles (LAX) to Bangkok International Airport (BKK) for $915, including taxes. Our flight went from L.A. to Manila, Philippines (13 hours), and then to Bangkok (3½ hours).
Also, consider the weather before you go. I was there in June and July, and Thailand was very hot and muggy. Despite monsoon season warnings (usually occurring mid May-October), it only rained a few days we were there. Travel guides tout November-February as the best time to travel, when the days aren’t as scorching as March-June. The hot season has average high temperatures in the mid 90s F/32-35°C.
When you finally arrive at BKK, also known as Don Muang International Airport, look for travel brochures in the terminal. While waiting in line for customs, we found a pamphlet about shopping that had a surprisingly good map of Bangkok, which helped us give directions to numerous taxi drivers. Also, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has help desks to provide information in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
As you get ready to leave the airport, be wary of taxi touts. One man ambushed us as we stepped off an escalator, saying his taxis were the best deal, the safest, the only ones with A/C. It cost 650 baht and purported to include most tolls, but we soon discovered that the only two tolls from the airport to central Bangkok were NOT included. Taxi fare from the airport adds a 50 baht surcharge to metered fare, but still, riding to Khao San Road should really cost no more than 300 baht. If you want to be extra cautious, don’t tell taxi drivers at airports or bus stations exactly where you’re staying. Find a street or landmark nearby because some less reputable drivers will try to talk you out of your choice and push you toward staying somewhere they get a commission.
Buses from the airport run to Silom Road (No. 1 bus), Sanam Luang Road (No. 2) and Sukhumvit Road 55 (No. 3) every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight for 100 baht per person.
Fast facts about Thailand (from www.travel.yahoo.com, Thailand guide):
Capital city: Bangkok
Economy: Agriculture, industry, tourism
Language Description: Thai
Passport/Visa: Passports, proof of onward passage and sufficient funds are required of Australian, Canadian, U.K. and U.S. citizens. Visas are required for stays longer than 30 days.
Telephone Codes: 66, country code
Time Zone: 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. Daylight Saving Time is not observed.
Electricity: 220 volts AC (so bring a transformer and adapter for items like hair dryers, electric shavers or phone chargers).