With Thailand getting more and more popular among tourists from all over the world, it is no wonder that we have been there about ten times until now.
But why is Thailand so popular? Especially the different culture, delicious food, paradise islands and one of the best nightlife scenes are only a few reasons to jump on a flight to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand.
For many travelers a journey to Thailand means as well their first long haul flight. So you might be nervous and have plenty of questions. As flying is pretty normal for us, we created this little guide about which things to consider on a flight to Bangkok.
Do I need a visa for Thailand?
Most European nationals do not require a visa for Thailand and are allowed to stay up to 30 days for touristic purposes. As the rules of immigration might change from time to time, it is best to check with the Thai Embassy in your home country or country of residence.
With Bangkok (BKK is the Bangkok Airport code) being one of the biggest airports in the world, there are plenty of airlines operating to the capital of Thailand offering sometimes pretty cheap airfares. In order to get a first overview about timings and prices for a flight to Bangkok, we usually use the search platform Skyscanner.
Non stop flights are usually more expensive than flights with one ore more stopovers.
Nonstop flight to Bangkok or layover?
In our example we are selecting Frankfurt, Germany as the point of departure.
From Frankfurt Airport (Germanies largest Airport) Thai Airways and Lufthansa are operating non stop services to Bangkok with flight duration varying between 10 hours 40 minutes to 12 hours.
Usually a nonstop flight to Bangkok is more expensive than a flight with a stop over. Furthermore it might be hard to cope with sitting 12 hours in an aircraft for some people, especially when you are tall. On the other hand you will reach your destination faster using a non stop connection.
Although having lived in Abu Dhabi for the last 4 years, we do prefer connections with a stop over when departing from Europe. We just enjoy having a short break after a few hours and saving on the ticket costs.
Our Airline recommendations
Etihad Airways review:
As we spend most of our time in Abu Dhabi, we try to use Etihad Airways as often as possible. Sticking to one airline offers the benefit to collect air miles, which has allowed us to get many reward flights and free upgrades to Business Class in the past. And you can believe us. Etihad Airways Business Class is just awesome.
Furthermore the service of Etihad is pretty good, although it got less since the bankruptcy of Air Berlin, which was part of Etihad. But in total they are still good and for getting from A to B you can`t do much wrong.
Food and drinks (alcoholic as well) are served on board for free. After the meal times, additional beverages can be ordered with the cabin crew. This is why we usually sit in the rear of an aircraft. On the back of the plane there is a small kitchen, where some of the flight attendants hang around during the flight. So just go there, if you need anything and have a small chat with the staff.
The airport in Abu Dhabi has plenty of duty free shops. Smoking areas and luxurious airport lounges are available.
Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi T1:
You can find the premium lounges in Terminal 1 and 3. Both offer a huge selection on food, beverages and alcoholic drinks. Furthermore showers, spa and smoking areas are available. Food and drinks are free inside the lounges.
How do you get lounge access in Abu Dhabi Airport?
Access to lounges is usually granted to Business and First Class passengers as well as frequent flyers holding an Etihad Silver, Gold or Platinum Status. Gold and Platinum members are allowed to bring one additional guest into the lounge.
If you don`t fulfill either of the entry requirements, you can buy lounge access with air miles or cash, which is pretty expensive. More information here.
Another option is to use one of the many credit cards offering free lounge access. If you live in the UAE, you could check out the FGB Ferrari Credit Card, which offers free membership in the lounge key program. This entitles you to worldwide free lounge access. Pretty cool and saved us tons of money.
Transferring in Abu Dhabi
So you chose Etihad Airways for your flight to Bangkok? You will have to change planes then in Abu Dhabi. Etihad usually operates at Terminal 3, which means you won`t have to change the terminal for your connecting flight to Bangkok. But from time to time it does happen that you need to get to terminal 1. That`s not a problem but means a walk of a few minutes. We have experienced pretty often, that planes from Germany are parked at the freight terminal. That means a short Cobus right to the passenger terminals.
Pay close attention to get a connection with a transfer time not being to long. Usually up to 3 hours are OK for us.
Etihad Airways has got some good deals from time to time offering flights from Europe to Bangkok (BKK) for 500 Euro.
Oman Air Review
Is Oman Air a good airline?
Yes, we would say so. Twice we had the pleasure to fly with the Omani airline from Germany to Bangkok. Especially when Etihad tickets are too expensive, Oman Air is a great alternative. Muscat Airport (Muscat Airport Code: MCT) offers most of the amenities which you also find in Abu Dhabi.
Service and aircrafts are similar to Etihad Airways.
Which airlines fly to Bangkok?
There are plenty of other carriers flying between Europe and Bangkok.
Qatar: Stopover in Doha departing from Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich
Emirates: Stopover in Dubai departing from Hamburg, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Munich
Aeroflot: Stopover in Moskau departing from Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Dresden
Austrian Airlines: Nonstop departing from Wien
Gulf Air: Stopover in Bahrain departing from Frankfurt
Arriving in Bangkok Airport
Before the flight arrival, flight attendants will hand out immigration cards, consisting of arrival and departure card. Those have to be filled out by you and shown to the immigration officer at Bangkok airport. The departure card will be put into your passport. Make sure not to loose it, otherwise there might be problems when leaving the country.
In case you are a frequent flyer, you might want to ask the cabin crew to give you a fast track card for the immigration as this will save you plenty of time.
Bangkok Airport (also called Suvarnabhumi airport) is huge. Depending on which gate you arrive, the walk to the immigration might be far.
If you are unlucky and several aircraft arrived before you, the queues at the immigration can be huge with waiting times of 1 to 2 hours.
If it is too crowded, don`t follow the masses. Try the second immigration counters if you just continue a bit further the main walkway.
After the immigration formalities, you need to wait for your luggage, which can take time as well in Bangkok.
You survived your flight to Bangkok. Welcome to Thailand.
Sim Card Bangkok Airport
As we usually spend a few days in Bangkok, we get two things directly at the airport.
- Cash: Getting Thai Baht is pretty easy, as there are plenty of ATM in the arrival hall. We only use credit cards in order to get cash overseas. We haven`t used any cash exchange since ages.
- Thai Sim Card: When you continue walking down the arrival hall, several shops of mobile operators will appear shortly. The best mobile operators in Thailand are AIS and DTAC. We usually get our Sim Card from DTAC. They offer special tourist sims in different package sizes called Happy Tourist Sim. The smallest package costs 299 Thai Baht and includes a mobile data package for 8 days. For other packages you can inquire on the website of DTAC. The staff is happy to help you activating the sim card, which you should accept to avoid later upcoming problems.
How to get from Bangkok Airport to Sukhumvit Road (city center)
There are multiple ways to reach the city center of Bangkok, depending on where your hotel is located.
As we mostly stay in the Sukhumvit area between the BTS stations Asok and Nana, we have the choice between taxi and the Airport Rail Link.
The taxi fare from Bangkok Airport to the city is around 400 Thai Baht and takes around 30 to 90 minutes depending on traffic.
If you arrive in the early evening hours, we strongly recommend to use the Airport Rail link as the road traffic is just horrible at those times.
In order to get to Sukhumvit road with the airport rail link, it is best to ride to the terminal Phaya Thai and then change onto the BTS Sukhumvit line until Nana or Asok station depending on where your hotel is located. Another option is getting off the rail link at Petchaburi station and taking the MRT (subway) from there.
Fares for public transport in Bangkok
Airport Rail Link Airport – Phaya Thai: 45 Baht
BTS Phaya Thai – Nana: 25 Baht
Taking the airport rail link and BTS/MRT will cost 140 Thai Baht, which means it is way cheaper than taking a taxi.
Where are you usually staying in Bangkok and how are you getting there from Bangkok airport? Tell us your story in the comments below.