[Bangkok] Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors
Check Out: Eating Places in Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi Airport is the international airport in Bangkok. It is modern, spacious and serves all major airlines. English signs are abundant so no worries on making your way around.
SIM card: Grab the dtac Happy Internet Package at the dtac counter at the airport which gives you 7 days of unlimited internet access for your smartphone at 199 baht. If the airport store is out of stock for SIM cards, you can find them at the dtac store in Siam Paragon in town later.
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Airport transfer: If traveling in groups of 2 or more, you may wish to opt for the taxi transfer when going from the airport to downtown and vice versa, which will only cost around 300 to 350 baht (+ 25 baht for road toll) and the journey takes between 30 to 45 minutes. Go to the counter at level 1 outside the entrance where a staff will convey your destination to a taxi in the queue and hand you a slip of paper containing the taxi contact information. This allows you to file a complaint in the event of unauthorized charges by the taxi. Sometimes after you board the taxi, the driver will try to convince you to take a flat rate of 500 baht. Our recommendation is not to accept the flat rate option as our fares have always been around 300 baht even in heavy traffic on our many trips to Bangkok. If traveling alone, you may wish to consider taking the airport express rail, which is linked via walkways to their BTS stations for access to downtown.
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Road traffic in downtown Bangkok is notoriously heavy. Luckily, this is alleviated by a modern train and subway system, so no problems moving from place to place as long as you find the correct exits from the stations.
BTS is Bangkok’s skytrain system, where the stations are above ground. They also have a separate subway called the MRT and the stations are underground. We personally used the BTS almost exclusively because many of the shopping malls are located near the BTS stations. When using the BTS, do purchase their convenient stored value card known as the Rabbit card.
VAT/Tax refund for tourists (information accurate as of Feb 2013):
Look out for the VAT refund sign at the cashier counters in large stores (e.g. Paragon, Tokyu, Zen). If you spend 3000 baht or more in a single day, you will be entitled to a VAT refund for tourists. Be sure to check with the sales assistant on whether you can combine receipts and whether they offer any other discounts for tourists as some malls offer a discount coupon pack when you present your passport. Usually the procedure would be to bring the receipts and your passport to the customer service counter at the mall, where they will fill in your store-bought items in a form. When you are at the airport for departure, you will need to present this form and also the items you bought at the inspection counter before check-in. Make sure your form is stamped after inspection and before checking-in. Once you are in the transit area, look for the VAT refund counter where they will process your stamped form and return you the VAT amount minus an admin fee of 100 baht. This is all for information only. Be sure to check for the latest procedures when you are proceeding with your VAT refund as we are not responsible for any outdated information here.