7 October 2012 – Suvanabhumi – Krabi
6 a.m. I arrive at Suvanabhumi airport (from the Sanskrit सुवर्णभूमी meaning “Golden Land“), Bangkok, Thailand. The airport is huge and modern, and one noticeable fact about it: it has the tallest control tower in the world, which culminates 434ft above the ground.
Most low-cost airlines have been relocated to Don Mueang Airport, (the older airport North of Bangkok) which is not very convenient to reach, especially if you land at Suvanabhumi! There is a public bus that links the two airports, but remain aware that the travel time is around 2 hours in normal traffic conditions.
I have booked my trip with Thai Smile, the low-cost wing of Thai Airways, which is based in the Suvanabhumi airport. The air fare was reasonably priced at THB 3,XXX o/w, knowing that I only bought it online less than a week in advance. The fare was higher than AirAsia.com (based in Don Mueang), which was priced at THB 2,XXX, but it saved me the inconvenience to change airports and venture in a time consuming journey across the megapolis of Bangkok.
Whereas Suvanabhumi is now served by the very convenient Airport link, Don Mueang is still only accessible by taxi or by bus, and you must plan your transfer well in advance to avoid bad surprise. It is very easy to get stuck in traffic in Bangkok.
I opted for the convenience, but budget travelers could choose to travel to Krabi by air conditioned bus, which would cost around THB 900 o/w 1st class or THB 600 2nd class (about 4 to 6 times less than the air trip), but then you would embark for a 12 hour journey… Regular buses (which are not air conditioned and have less comfortable seats) cost only over THB 400.
Another option would be to travel by train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, which would take 8 to 9 hours, with prices ranging from under THB 400 (2nd class compartment, seated sprinter, with fan only) to just over THB 1,000 (1st class cabin, sleeper berth, air conditioned). You would then have to take the bus from Surat Thani to Krabi for around THB 150 (air conditioned) for another 3 h 30 journey.
7:30 a.m. – Boarding Time Thai Smiles is quite comfortable and has a brand new fleet. Like most low-cost airlines, the room leg is just enough, and most of the services come for a fee. However, for a short trip like that (only 90 minutes), it doesn’t really matter. The service on-board is similar to a regular airline (i.e. it doesn’t feel “cheap”), and after take off, I am served a small bottle of water and a sandwich.
9:20 a.m. – Landing The 1 h 30 journey ends at Krabi International airport, which is 15km way from the city center The terminal is welcoming, with large floor-to-ceiling glass walls that give a clear view on the surroundings. The airport is fairly small, so I hardly have to wait to collect my bags and walk out of the terminal.
Once outside, the mini-van of the hotel is there waiting for me. Welcome to Krabi!
It is interesting to note that in Krabi, you only leave the airport by mini-van (or car rental if you opted to rent one). Either the minivan of your hotel if you booked one, or public minivans, which will actually leave when all seats are occupied, with a fare around THB 90. Booking a private transfer by car from the Airport to the city center would cost you around THB 500 to 700 (for up to 2-3 persons plus luggage). From the city center to the airport, you can take the typical Songthaews, for a fare ranging from THB 30 to 50. It takes about 20 minutes to go from the airport to the city center.