Getting to and from Suvarnabhumi Airport
Getting from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Bangkok is the first problem visitors often face when arriving. The impression visitors get is possibly not optimal. For years, what happens at the airport can appear a bit confusing and chaotic. In the arrival hall, one is often already confronted with touts directing you to taxis or limousines. Unsavory characters are a bit less prominent compared to a few years ago, but is good to be on your guards. The best way to deal with this situation is to be informed and to not make ad hoc decisions, but to stick to plans you made beforehand.
Taxis and Limousines
When walking to the taxi stand outside the arrival hall (while neglecting anybody before reaching there) you should be able to get a taxi that operates a 'taxi-meter' from the taxi queue. With the meter (there is a 50 baht surplus to pay when leaving from the airport), it should be possible to reach Bangkok for a total fee of between 250 and 300 baht.
In the past we often walked up two flights of stairs to exit at the departure hall, and take a taxi there (one that just dropped off passengers from Bangkok). The taxi drivers are usually very happy to find a customer, because they are not allowed (as far as we know) to go and pick up passengers from the arrival level. The only other option they have is get back to the city without paying passengers. You can avoid paying the 50 baht surplus this way. Surely this way of doing things is not recommended by airport authorities (and taxi management at the arrival hall level), but hardly illegal.
There are also 'limousines' available from the airport. They offer more seating place and can store more luggage. Expect to pay around 600-700 baht for a trip.
It took a long time to construct (initial approved plans date from 2003), but eventually an airport link became operational some years after the airport was built.
Bot a SA City Line and an SA Express Line are now operational. The City Line starts at Phaya Thai station, and stops 6 times at various stations in town, before reaching the airport.
The SA Express Line at present runs from two stations directly to the airport. From Makkasan station and from Phaya Thai station. The Makkasan station was used solely first, but with very limited success. A major problem seemed to be a poor connection between the MRT subway station there and the Airport Link station. Remember that you have to drag your luggage around!
The express line from Phaya Thai to Suvarnabhumi airport became operational in the middle of 2011. Trains take less than 20 minutes to the airport. The schedule at present is easy to remember. Trains leave every half hour from 6:00 A.M. till midnight.
At present (it is quite possible that this option will be abandoned in the future, unless facilities are upgraded and easier to use) trains leave also from Makkasan Station every 40 minutes from 6:18 A.M. till 23:38 P.M.
The City Line takes about 25 minutes and operates every 15 minutes from Phaya Thai station. In a way this should also be a good option, but we did not check it out in real life.
Arriving from the Phaya Thai skytrain station, one has to walk down one level (three flights of stairs with your luggage) to reach the connection corridor to the Airport Link. There is an elevator available, so look for it if you are carrying a lot of luggage.
When we used the train service from Phaya Thai to the airport, we found (september 2011) that the service is not really much used, that is, most train compartments seem to be empty. Storing your luggage may become a problem in the future, if there are more passengers. There are overhead luggage compartments that are too small to place any substantial suitcase. So you have to place your luggage beside you during the train ride. In practice this kind of means you use 4 seats all alone, one to sit, while the other 3 are unaccessible because of your luggage blocking access. Ideally there should be some designated storage place behind your seat, or in between seats.
Fares : 90 baht one way to and from the airport with the Express Line. 150 baht two-way ticket (if you come back within 2 weeks, but check at the ticket counter about this).