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Archive for September 30th, 2010

Testing the new Bangkok Airport train link Sep 30

photo%201[1]I have stopped by Bangkok many times over the last few years (you can check out this trip report) and we have normally used taxi to get to and from town. A taxi from Bangkok airport Suvarnabhumi to town (e.g. Sukhumvit road) does not cost that much – maybe like 400 Baht with the toll stations on the express road into the city. This is still only like 13 US Dollars so the transportation has been quite affordable if you compare it with other big cities around the world. But with skytrain, subway and a new airport added to Bangkok, I guess it was only natural to also add a airport train. On the last trips we have seen the train track (looking a lot like the skytrain I guess) reaching further and further out towards the airport and on the last trips the train has been in a test mode. But when we got to Bangkok in the end of September 2010 the airport train was finally open and it was time to test it out.

photo%202[1]After immigration and customs we followed the train signs to get to the lower levels and there we found a new connection to the train station itself. There are two options that you can take: the express train into town or a local train stopping on each of the stations. The express train leaves the airport every 30 minutes if I’m not mistaken but we went for the local train that cost us 15 Baht…only 50 US Cents in other words! The station at the airport is all new and shiny but it did not seem like everything was working yet (e.g. the entrance gates). photo%203[1]After taking the escalator down, we had to wait a few minutes for the train. The train itself looks like the regular skytrain (BTS) with air-con and with hard, plastic seating. The train ride was comfortable and there was only about 5 stops until we reached Makkasan after about 20 minutes. And I guess this is where the problem started! The Makkasan station seems to be a copy of the airport (at least seen inside) but only in a smaller version. When we got out it was pretty empty and naked as it was just opened and I don’t even think the escalators were working (or were there escalators at all?) – this is a bit of a let down when you are carrying a huge, 20 kg Samsonite suitcase.

photo%204[1]When we got out of the station there were taxi available but we decided to be environmental friendly and go for the subway (MRT) instead as the information said that Makkasan was connected to the Phetchaburi MRT station. We followed the temporary signs into the darkness, humidity and heat of the Bangkok night but soon there were no more signs and a lady that saw the confusion in out eyes, pointed us in the right direction. If you have been to Bangkok you know that the city is not really made for walking with roads, pavements that are high above the street…we even had to cross a railroad track to get to the MRT station. I think the walk took 5-10 minutes but with a big suitcase and in the heat it was not really a great way to meet Bangkok. photo%205[1]When we got into the MRT station we faced another “problem”: the security staff. They have started a some sort of security control when entering the MRT stations but it seems more of a superficial check than anything else. But still…the security guard insisted that we had to open the suitcase so that he could take a milli-second look in there.  The MRT fare was only 15 Baht as we only had one stop to Sukhumvit station (at Asok) to get to our hotel. To top it of we had to carry the suitcase over Sukhumvit road and I arrived soaking wet from the exercise of carrying the suitcase up and down stairs. To be fair, I think work is underway to connect the Makkasan station with the Phetchaburi MRT station. You are also supposed to connect to the BTS (skytrain) by taking the train to the end station Phaya Thai station.

Conclusion: This only cost us 30 Baht per person (1 USD) so if you are on a budget and live near a station (and remember to put on you workout clothes) this is a great alternative. If you carry a big suitcase it might be a better idea to take the train to Makkasan and take a taxi from there but be aware that the Bangkok traffic can be pretty bad and you might get stuck for some time. If you just want to sit back and relax, take a taxi straight from the airport to your hotel. Just make sure that the driver uses the meters and get him to take the express road. Also is is useful to have 45+25 Baht available for the toll stations Smile