image courtesy www.hello-thailand.net

If you're used to an airport that directly link's to the city's public transport system, you'll find Bangkok's airport-city connection system really really inconvenient. 

Most, if not all international airports have a direct connection to the city's main public transport system as these metros stop at the main locations of the city. Suppose you don't want to drive your car because overnight airport parking drains your money, or that traffic jams make taxi's useless. Maybe you're in a city or town that you're unfamiliar with & you need to get to your hotel in the city center.

And because of those reasons, it's obvious that the subway(or overhead train depending on where you are)is going to be your only option unless if you can endure the trip on foot or if you grabbed a taxi. In order to maximize convenience getting into & out of the city, we need to "connect" the metro system to the airport & important landmarks that is. 

But what about Suvarnabhumi International Airport's system? 

Sadly, a -5 out of 10 to me. Why? Why is it that I find the system flawed?

I've been to several international airports over the course of my life. I've been to LAX, Denver International,Kansai, Narita, Sydney, Portland Intl, and recently, London-Heathrow. And all of those airports have one thing in common: they have a direct link to the city's public transport Systems underground & above ground. It's obvious that both travelers departing & arriving rely heavily on public transport as an alternative to their own cars. 

But once you arrive in Bangkok, you'll notice that as of recent, Suvarnabhumi Intl  has added a public transport link: the Airport Link. Whilst it's okay at first glance, things will change once you head for the platform. There are two lines: the "normal" city line(blue) & the express line. Firstly, the express line is the cheaper option for those trying go cheap or go frugal- it's only 15-45 baht($0.52 - $1.04) for a token, and the train leaves every some 15 minutes. But there are it's downsides: the train will stop at 4 stations along the way( these stations are basically in the middle of nowhere, really). Then there's the express line costing a whopping 150 baht, which stops only at 2 stations: Suvarnabhumi Airport & Makkasan Station( Airport Link's main terminal station).  But in the contrary, only one train leaves the station every half-hour. 

Now comes the bad bit: the main terminal station is Makkasan Station, which is no more than a cosmic joke.  To make matters worse, the station is NOT in downtown Bangkok. 

And the real flaw of the station? No direct connection to the MRT subway or the BTS- you have to walk half the length of the station underneath, cross the street that runs parallel with the station, and then enter theMRT subway! Seriously? Crossing the street with your hands full of stuff? Though it's okay during the day, I can't at all picture of doing this in the middle of the night! Did the architects & engineers ever think of ways to keep tourists' safe?!

Those who take the cityline may have to put up with the extra stops. But luckily, you'll be able to make it to downtown Bangkok, thanks to the cityline going all the way to Phya Tai station, which directly connects to the BTS. Though not perfect, but at least you make it into the city center(or close).

In case you're wondering, I'm Thai, and have lived in Bangkok for the past 22 years. I've known the news about the airport link for years, seen the over-head tracks built when I went on vacation, and even saw the main terminal, Makkasaan when it was just bare structure. So whilst I was optimistic over the years, I ended up getting a mixed bag just like many tourists who used the airport link. 

In retrospect, Suvarnabhimi Airport's public transport system is not as perfect as one can expect it. It still has its own flaws that need to be addressed & fixed. I did however, witness a footbridge in construction, one that connects to the pavement on the other side of the street. If complete, the bridge will help a lot in convenience, especially in the rain or at night.

And my advice when coming to visit Bangkok? Travel light! Don't bother with those huge suitcases! It may not sound so good to travel light, but it'll be worth it if you happen to travel to a place where public transport has such limitations.

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