Essential Guide to BKK Airport and 21 Layover Tips

Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is the larger of Bangkok’s two airports, handling most international and some domestic flights. Don Mueang Airport (DMK) caters mainly to low-cost carriers and domestic flights.

Know Your Terminals:

Suvarnabhumi Airport features three terminals; Terminal 1 and 2 handle international flights, and a separate terminal is dedicated to domestic flights. Although close in proximity, knowing your terminal beforehand can save you time and hassle.

Arrival Tips:

  • Immigration: Have a pen ready to fill out the immigration card, and keep your hotel address handy as it’s required on the form.
  • Baggage Claim and Currency: Easily locate your baggage claim area and access numerous ATMs and currency exchange booths.

Sleep and Rest Options:

  • For a Quick Nap: Check out the capsule hotels like Boxtel and Avagard on the Basement Floor, offering hourly rentals perfect for short rests.
  • Overnight Stays: For longer layovers, consider staying at the Miracle Transit Hotel located on Concourse G, which offers rooms for 6-12 hours.
  • Free Rest Areas: Utilize free rest areas across the terminals, which include comfortable seating and some even feature reclining options. Ideal for budget-conscious travelers, locations such as the Observation Deck on the 7th Floor and seats near Subway and 7-Eleven on the B Floor provide spots to rest for free.

Transport to City Center:

Transportation to City Center:

  • Airport Rail Link: Connects the airport directly to the city center, with connections to the BTS Skytrain at Phaya Thai Station.
  • Taxis and Private Transfers: Available 24/7 from gates 4 and 7 on the first floor. Ensure the meter is running to avoid overcharges.

Getting Between Airports: If you need to transfer to Don Mueang Airport, plan ahead for traffic and consider a taxi or the free shuttle bus for direct airport-to-airport travel.

Dining and Shopping:

Explore a variety of dining options on the 2nd and 3rd floors, or shop at King Power Duty-Free for everything from luxury brands to local products. Jim Thompson Thai Silk offers high-quality silk items at reasonable prices.

Are there Smoke Areas at BKK Airport

In 2017, Thailand enacted the Tobacco Products Control Act B.E. 2560 (2017), which implemented a strict ban on smoking in public areas, including all zones within Bangkok’s airports.

This comprehensive legislation defines tobacco products broadly to include items intended for smoking, inhaling, chewing, and other methods of consumption, such as vaping, which is also explicitly prohibited under this law. Violations can result in hefty fines and even imprisonment.

Smoking at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK):

  • General Ban: Smoking is strictly prohibited throughout the airport, both before and after security checks. There are no designated smoking rooms within the airport terminals, reflecting the country’s rigorous anti-smoking stance.
  • Legal Penalties: Carrying or using vaping products can lead to significant legal repercussions, including fines up to 30,000 Baht and up to ten years of imprisonment.
  • Alternatives for Smokers: For those looking to smoke, the only opportunities exist outside the terminal buildings. Locations before security include:

Smoking Before Security at Bangkok Airport:

  • Bus Stop for S1 Bus to Khaosan: Located on the lowest level, this is a convenient spot for a quick smoke before entering the airport.
  • Ground Floor at Entrance 8: Follow the pedestrian way across to the parking facility where you’ll find a designated smoking area on the right.
  • Landside Near Door 1: At the far end of the curb, there is a tolerated smoking corner, although not officially sanctioned. Airport guards often direct smokers here.

Smoking After Security at Bangkok Airport:

  • General Restrictions: Post-security, smoking is completely prohibited throughout the domestic and international concourses (Gates A, C, D, E, F, and G). There are no designated smoking areas, and the airport enforces strict measures to prevent smoking.
  • Former Locations: The previously accessible smoking area in the Miracle Lounge near gate G2 has been closed as of early 2023.

Travelers looking to smoke should plan to do so before passing security, utilizing the spots available at the S1 bus stop or near entrance 8. Once past security, there are no legal opportunities to smoke due to stringent regulations and the presence of smoke detectors and vigilant security.

21 Essential Tips for Layover at BKK

Based on the extensive reviews from travelers, here are five helpful tips for a layover at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK):

Tip #1: Affordable Eats in the Basement

If you find yourself hungry during your layover, head to the basement level of BKK Airport where you can discover a secret canteen area. Here, you’ll find about ten street food stores offering reasonable prices compared to the more expensive food options on the second and third floors. The basement also serves great desserts and beverages, providing a more authentic and wallet-friendly dining experience.

Tip #2: Sleeping Spots for Overnight Stays
For those needing to catch some sleep, the basement level near the 7-11 and under escalators provides quieter spots with less foot traffic, especially from 1 AM to 6 AM when the Airport Rail Link is closed. The temperature is comfortable, but it can vary, so having a jacket and a travel pillow might enhance your comfort.

Tip #3: Use Grab for Reliable Transport
Avoid potential overcharging by local taxis by downloading and using the Grab Taxi app, Southeast Asia’s equivalent of Uber. This service offers fixed prices and can be a more reliable way to get around, but you’ll need internet access to use the app, so plan accordingly.

Tip #4: Capsule Hotels for Short Rests
If you’re looking for a private space to rest, consider the Avagard Capsule Hotel located in floor B1 near the train terminal. Prices start at 250 THB per hour. There’s also Boxtel, which charges 650 THB for a minimum of two hours, with each additional hour costing 300 THB.

Tip #5: Prepare for Variable Temperatures and Noise
The airport can be quite cold and noisy, especially with frequent announcements. If you plan to sleep in the public areas, bring earplugs and a warm layer of clothing to make your stay more comfortable. Additionally, bringing a power strip could be beneficial as some of the power outlets may not work, and they can be in high demand.

Tip #6: Stay Hydrated for Free
Instead of buying multiple bottles of water, bring a reusable bottle. You can fill it up at the drinking water fountains located near most restrooms throughout the airport. This is a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to stay hydrated during your layover.

Tip #7: Opt for Public Transport to the City
If you’re planning to head into the city during your layover, use the Airport Rail Link, which is an efficient and economical option. It connects directly from the basement level of the airport to several major stations in Bangkok. The train service starts running around 6 AM, so it’s perfect for early travelers.

Tip #8: Explore Local Food Options on Level 1
For a more local dining experience, visit the food court on the 1st level. It offers a variety of small food stalls with street food prices, providing an authentic taste of Thai cuisine without having to leave the airport.

Tip #9: Secure and Comfortable Sleeping Areas
For quieter and more secluded sleeping areas, the observation deck and the quieter corners of the terminals are recommended. While less frequented by travelers, these spots often offer a darker and more tranquil environment for rest.

Tip #10: Be Mindful of Customs Regulations
Avoid unpleasant encounters with customs by being aware of Thailand’s strict regulations on items like cigarettes. Travelers are only allowed to bring one opened pack per person without declaring. To avoid hefty fines or confrontations, ensure you comply with these limits.

Tip #11: Enjoy Cheap Massages for Relaxation
If you’re feeling tense during your layover, take advantage of the reasonably priced massage services available at the airport. Located on various levels, these massage services can provide a relaxing break between flights, with options ranging from quick foot massages to full-body treatments.

Tip #12: Use Free Wi-Fi Wisely
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport offers free Wi-Fi, but accessing it may require you to sign up with some personal details. Plan ahead if you need continuous internet access by considering a local SIM card for longer internet use, which can be purchased at the airport.

Tip #13: Explore the Magic Food Court for 24/7 Dining
For those with a late-night craving or early morning hunger, the Magic Food Court is open 24 hours and offers a variety of tasty, affordable food options. This is particularly convenient for travelers who find themselves at the airport during off-hours.

Tip #14: Consider Short-Term Lounge Access for Comfort
If your layover is extended, purchasing short-term lounge access might be worthwhile. Lounges provide a comfortable environment with amenities such as showers, snacks, beverages, and quiet zones, which can greatly enhance your airport experience.

Tip #15: Secure Luggage Storage
If you need to store your luggage, use the Left Luggage Baggage Service Center located on the 2nd floor in the Arrival Hall near Baggage Claim and on the 4th floor in the Departure Hall behind the check-in counter (Row P). Rates start at THB 100 per bag per day, varying by luggage size.

Tip #16: Relax in Free Lounges
For relaxation between flights, free lounges equipped with reclining leather chairs are available airside in Concourse B and D (west side). These lounges are perfect for unwinding or catching up on sleep without additional cost.

Tip #17: Refresh with Shower Facilities
Freshen up before your flight at the shower facilities available for a fee. Locations include the Miracle Transit Hotel on Concourse G, Floor 3 East, and various First Class Lounges in the International Terminal on Levels 3 and 4 West.

Tip #18: Stay Connected and Charged
Free WiFi is available at Suvarnabhumi Airport for up to 2 hours daily. Connect using networks like .@AirportTrueFreeWiFi, .@AirportAISFreeWiFi, or .@AirportDTACFreeWiFi. Additionally, numerous mobile charging points are scattered throughout the airport.

Tip #19: Indulge in Spa Services
The Express Spa Body & Foot Massage, located in International Departures on the 4th Floor in Concourses A and G, offers a variety of spa services. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage or other spa treatments during your layover.

Tip #20: Explore Bangkok with Transit Tours
If you have a long layover, consider taking a sightseeing tour. Transit tours of 4, 5, and 7 hours are available, with tour desks located on the Arrivals Level at Concourse C/D and D/E intersections. These tours are a great way to experience Bangkok without worrying about missing your next flight.

Tip #21: Premium Lounge Access
For a more luxurious wait, access the Miracle First Class Lounge located in Concourse A and another in Concourse C. Both are on the International Departures, Airside, Level 3, East side, open 24 hours. Lounge access can be obtained by paying at the door, with a prepaid lounge pass, or via lounge membership programs. Rates are 1500 THB for the first 2 hours, then 750 THB per additional hour.

Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.