Bangkok layover

Old Jan 11th, 2009, 10:06 PM
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Bangkok layover

Hi,
My husband and I will have a 12 hour layover at Bangkok airport on 12th May en route to Vienna.

Returning to Australia on 6th June, we arrive in Bangkok at 2 p.m. We depart at 8.00a.m. the following morning.

Advice please.
(a) during the layover; are we able to leave the aiport, take a
tour, then return well prior to our onward flight, or
(b) is there a penalty or an immigration procedure we need to be aware of?
(c) homeward bound on 6th June, we would like to splurge and spend a night at the Oriental or the Peninsula, but our travel agent has warned us it takes two hours to travel from the city to the aiport. Reading posts here indicates that is not the case.


Many thanks.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 03:49 AM
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Your travel agent doesn't know too much about BKK. Thirty minutes on a good day. From touchdown to your hotel, including immigration, bag pick up etc could be as little as an hour - as much as two, max.

Obviously you have to go out thru immigration and customs then back in the same way if want to go into town. No big deal.

Coming back: Arrival at 2.00 p.m. Leave at 8.00 am. That's 18 hours. Do the sums here with me.

Sleeping: 8 hours
Dinner: 2 hours
Breakfast: 1 hour
Airport/arrival/immigration/customs/baggage pick up/limo to city/ check in at hotel: 2 hours.
Departure: limo to airport [leave no later than 5.30 a.m.]/check in/immigration/security: 2.30 hours.

So far, not taking into account your jet-lag, and the fact you've been flying for 14 hours, you have two hours and thirty minutes to play with.

You may want to wash. Perhaps a shower after your flight? Maybe one in the morning? Well, that's another hour gone.

Hmmm - what to do with 90 minutes in Bangkok...? You could enjoy your really expensive hotel. Don't forget to steal the Oriental toiletries. They have very nice soap.

It'll be about the only memory you'll have of your time there.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 06:05 AM
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be aware that you will have to pay the 700 B immigration/departure fee if you leave the airport....

i would pay it...

trip to the penn would be less than one hour and cost about 300-400 B in a regular taxi...

well worth it....just hang out at the hotel and have a nice meal or go to one of the local restaurants...

you would have to get up very early the next morning however for an 8AM flight....like 4 and leave the hotel by 4:30....the hotel would pack you a wonderful breakfast or have room service which is very special at the penn....
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 06:59 AM
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Hi

You should absolutely make a stopover in Bangkok if you have a chance - it is a great city. When it comes to transport to the city: it all depends on the traffic I guess with if there are not traffic you can get into town in 30 minutes. But normally there will always be some traffic but I can not remember that it has taken me 2 hours to get into town. Here is a Bangkok trip report with photos when my wife and I visited Thailand in 2007: http://gardkarlsen.com/Bangkok_trip_report_2007.htm . Maybe that can give you an idea of what to expect

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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I believe that all of the airport taxes are now included in your ticket price. So I wouldn't expect you'd have to pay the dee separately as per Bob (rhkkmk) above.

I do encourage you to go into the city during your first layover and and stay at a lovely hotel during your second. You need to be back at the airport 2 hours before the departure of your next flight. In my experience, it takes 30 minutes to/from the airport from the river area (I've often had it take less - do have them use the toll road - it will cost you something like 65 baht and will save time).

I'd say just enjoy your lovely hotel, have a great dinner, relax and watch the river traffic.

To return to the airport, you need to be there at 6 am. Leave the hotel at 5:30 and you'll be there before 6 at that time of the day. I'm not sure why Bob said 4:30 - maybe his math was faulty. But I can't think of a reason to be there 3 hours before your flight.

By the way, both the Pen and the Oriental have lovely (if rather expensive) spas. perhaps you could indulge in a couple of hours of spa to get over your long flight.
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Old Jan 12th, 2009, 10:14 PM
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Thank you all for your responses. Good advice shared is always helpful.

Gard - your detailed information and photographs are great.

rhkkmk Kathie - you have detailed pretty much what we would like to do on our return flight. We weren't looking to see anything of the city on this leg.

We're used to long flights and will not be too fatigued upon arrival. The onward flight for us the next day is less than 10 hours to home - a mere snip for those of us "down under"! A 5.30a.m. departure after a good night's sleep will not be difficult.

So...we will enjoy a lovely hotel, a wonderful dinner, relax and watch the river traffic. A packed breakfast also sounds great.

We think we will book some sort of 1/2 day trip for the long layover of the inbound leg. Not sure yet which will be best suited, but time yet to mull that over.
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 06:34 PM
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kathie...her ticket is probably for transit, so no fee woud be included was my thinking, so if she left area she would be subject to it i think
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 10:30 PM
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Let me give you my suggestions for each portion:

a) for the layover My rough estimate, with traffic and then some time on the back-end for the departure formalities, is that you will have about 6-8 hours in the city, not an indecent amount. As soon as you land, please first get your onward boarding passes if they were not issued when you checked in for the first leg of the flight in Australia. This would be the case if you are flying two different airlines. You have to do this in the “transit area” (also called “airside”) which is near the arrival gates and BEFORE immigration. You just go to the correct transfer counter for your airline, show your information and they issue you a boarding pass.
The website for Bangkok Airport is http://www.airportthai.co.th. Click on upper right for English and then Suvarnabhumi for Bangkok. This will give you info on facilities at the airport and transit/transfer.

Your checked luggage will be transferred for you, so you don’t have to worry about that. I bleieve this should be the case with a 12-hour layover, but do check. There is some cut-off time by which flights are not considered connecting, and airlines won’t transfer baggage, so check on this, I think it is like 15-18 hours, but check. If you have to actually get your luggage and re-check in for the onward flight, this will add a bit of time to your process at the airport. Note to mention being a pain, so hopefully the baggage will just be transferred for you.

There are also day rooms in the transit area where you can take showers, my understanding is that these can be booked up, and you may not want to waste time on it, but see the airport website for information. (If you are flying business class you could use the showers in their lounges before heading out.)

You can leave your carry-on luggage at the Left Luggage counter on Level 2 of the Arrivals Hall, there is a small charge should be less than AUS$5. There are ATMs and money changers in the arrivals hall as well.

Once you have your boarding pass, you can head into the city. Note that you need to be back at the airport probably about an hour before your flight, as you will have to go through Immigration again (there can be lines), security and then head to your gate (you could have a longish walk in store). So leave time for this. I might suggest being there 1.5 hours before hand, but an hour is probably OK. May 12 is a weekday, and you don’t indicate what time your arrival and departure are, so you may have some traffic issues to deal with. On more than 60 trips to Bangkok, I have varied from about half hour to almost 2 hours getting into the river areas of the city, so it is just impossible to estimate what will happen IMO. Weekdays are generally much worse than weekends, and rush hours of course are the very worst. (I would say that is why your travel agent was saying 2 hours.)

Without knowing what time you are arriving, it is hard to suggest a tour for your layover time. Do you have a particular place in mind that you want to see? If you don’t have a guidebook already, click on “Destinations” above and see what Fodors suggests. Something like the Grand Palace, Wat Po, Jim Thompson Museum etc, would probably be doable assuming you are there during opening hours. And/or go up to the top of State Tower and go to Sirocco or one of the other restaurants and have a drink or a meal and get a layover view of the city (see http://www.thedomebkk.com/web/index.html). A half day tour may not actually be workable given Bangkok’s traffic, IMO, you may spend most of it in a car or bus. You may just want to pick one site and go see that. I would also say to look at the itin of any tour carefully, they tend to include a lunch stop and a stop at a “handicraft factory” which is usually one person hand-painting an umbrella and 5 people trying to sell you a painted umbrella. See how much time you actually are spending at a sight.

There is no hop-on-hop off bus tour, but one option might be to take a public water bus up and down the river to get a sort of lay of the land, and get some outdoor time. Cheap and cheerful and full of school kids and commuting monks. You can take it to any spot, get off, and wait for the down river one. You could have the taxi take you to the Oriental hotel, which is near a water bus pier (called the Oriental Pier), have a quick meal and then hop on board. (The Penn is just across the river and would work too, the Shangri-La is nearby as well.) For a map of the water bus route see http://www.chaophrayaboat.co.th/routemap_fare_e.htm).

You could also hire your own long-tail boat and do your own tour, which could include the side klongs which the public boats don’t go into. You could hire one form the public water bus pier, although sometimes finding good English speakers is challenging. Another option is to go to the Oriental Hotel which is next door, go down to the water to their private pier, and ask a hotel representative to help you get a long tail boat and arrange for a klong tour. You don't have to be staying at the hotel (but I would not volunteer this information, just let them assume you are).

You may also want to make a spa your first stop, either a hotel spa or someplace life Face. You could get a short treatment and then also have access to the showers. If you book a treatment at a hotel spa, you generally always get the use of the pool, showers, gym and a locker for the day, which may be a good place to stash stuff for the day as well, plus you can sit by the pool, have lunch, etc. (Confirm this with each hotel, but that is generally the case.) You could try the Penn (the Oriental’s spa is across from the hotel and IMO would not work, although the spa is excellent.) There is also a hotel AT the airport (the Novotel) which you may want to consider using as well, although I don’t know if they have a spa.

b) Penalty and Immigration For both the layover and the overnight, you will have to go through Immigration in order to leave the airport and again when you return to board your onward flight. Lines can be longish, it will depend on how many other flights are arriving when yours does. (I assume you are not in business class which have their own lines, if you are, then you could save a good bit of time.) I assume you are Australian, which means you don’t need a visa to visit Thailand for less than 30 days. As noted above, as your itinerary does not include land time in Thailand, your air ticket may not already include the Thai departure tax, so when you return to the airport to take your onward flights, you may have to pay the departure tax (in Baht). It would be 770 Baht per person per departure (about AUS$30). The tax may in fact already be included, it is hard to tell, you could see if there is info on the ticket, call and ask your airline now, ask at the transfer counter or ask at the airline desk for your airline in Bangkok.

c) One night in Bangkok June 6 is a Saturday, so you should have far less traffic issues both coming in from the aiport and going back out on Sunday June 7, esp so early on Sunday morning. Both the Penn and the Oreintal are excellent hotels, you would not be unhappy with either IMO. If you choose the Oriental, I would get a River Wing room, on the side facing the pool. You probably will arrive too late to do any sightseeing at sights like Jim Thompson or the Grand Palace (they tend to close around 4 – 5 pm), but check guidebooks and see what might interest you and what would be open in the late afternoon on Saturday. A long-tail boat ride at sunset may be a good way to end the day, seeing the lights come up over the Grand Palace and the temples and going up and down the little klongs.
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Old Jan 18th, 2009, 08:56 PM
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Cicerone - I'm overwhelmed by your thoughtful response. Thank you.

We arrive at 6.00a.m. on 12th May and depart for Vienna at midnight.

Luggage will be transferred and boarding passes for onward journey issued in Australia. Not too sure about a possible immigration penalty, but this would be worth it. Thanks also for the tip re hand luggage!

As you say, we can shower and change utilising Thai's business class facilities at the airport. We plan to be there 2 hours prior to the departure of our flight.

Appreciate the advice re tours. We're currently looking at tours (each of 4 hour duration). One is of the Grand Palace, the other includes the Jim Thompson Museum.

On return journey, a long-tail boat ride at sunset prior to a good dinner on the terrace at the Oriental as previously suggested, sounds just the perfect way to round off a great holiday!!






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Old Jan 18th, 2009, 10:53 PM
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OK, if you are on Thai business class, you will save a good bit of time with Immigration. On arrival, you should be able to use the booths all the way to the right (says “Diplomatic”), sometimes you can use the booths all the way on the left, or ask Thai ground staff where you can go. On departure, Thai business class check-in has their own Immigration booths directly behind their check-in, which is in a special area and not out with the main check-in for other passengers (you can skip check-in as you will have your boarding pass, but use their Immigration booths.). These then exit into the main business class lounge.

When you land, ask or check what gate you your departing flight will leave from, this will help you know how long a walk you may have on the way back (its’ a big airport and there is no train system connecting areas).

There are showers only in the main Thai lounge as far as I know, I don’t think that their two smaller satellite lounges have showers. But if you want to use the showers before you head out to the city, you will have to go up to the Departures area, and then get back down to Arrivals as you have to then get to Immigration for arriving passengers. This will involve moving from secured to unsecured areas; so, when you get off the plane, ask the Thai ground staff who meet the plane where and how you should go to get to the nearest lounge with showers and then to Immigration. Maybe they will even take you to the lounge.

Also, the main Thai businesses class lounge has an area where you could leave carry-on luggage. It is not secured, but IMO should be very safe (I leave my carry-on stuff, including PC, at places where I am seated for various periods of time when getting food, going to the ladies, etc and have never had a problem). Of course you would not leave anything really valuable in it just to be on the safe side. This may be a good place to leave carry on after you have taken a shower. You can then collect it when you return as you pass right thought this main lounge to get out to the departure gates after you have gone through Immigration.

On May 12, which is a Tuesday, with a 6 am arrival time, you will probably be hitting some traffic as you will be coming into the city with commuters, assuming you are on the road from the airport at 7 am or so. If the Jim Thompson museum is open, you may want to head there first and have breakfast and then see the house. As there are no private tours of the house as far as I am aware (you have to go on the museum’s own tour), you may just want to do that yourself and join an organized tour later in the day to see other things. The Grand Palace opens at 8:30, so you could also just go right there, or try for breakfast in that area first. On the return, if you leave for the airport at 10 pm or even a bit later, IMO you will be fine as you are already checked-in. Should not have traffic at that hour going back to the airport.
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Old Jan 20th, 2009, 02:36 PM
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Cicerone

Thanks for the tip re outgoing gate location.
Showers available in lounge for outgoing flights in lounge to accommodate partner carrier customers.
Jim Thompson museum opens at 9.00a.m. so after coffee, we will proceed there.

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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 06:31 AM
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tuppy
I tend to agree with Bob (rmkkhk) about having to pay the departure tax at the airport. I've not had this situation come up, but since you ARE in transit, I doubt that it would be included in your ticket price.

Your plan sounds great!
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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 06:51 AM
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Carol, this thread was from January. Tuppy did this trip in May. Did it get pulled up by a spammer? Is that how you ended up responding to it?
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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 08:05 AM
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Yes Kathie there were several post with the same subject pulled up by a newbie with links to some layover web site.
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Old Jul 11th, 2009, 08:11 AM
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Oh, I see. Thanks!
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