Thailand has several international airports, located at Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai (the gateway to the north), Chiang Rai, Ko Samui and Hat-Yai in the south. Major international flights arrive at Bangkok’s super new state-of-the-art airport; Suvarnabhumi, which is located in the Bang Phli District in Samut Prakan, 30km east of Bangkok. Getting to and from the airport takes 30 minutes and you can either book a taxi (avoiding the taxi touts) from the taxi counter or take the airport bus. Bangkok’s former major international airport is Don Muang, which is located 25km north of the capital – previously the busiest airport in Asia but now the new hub for domestic flights. Out at the beach airports such as Phuket you will find mini vans and buses waiting to take passengers to the many beach hotels. At Chiang Mai there are reservation taxis at arrivals.
Thailand has an excellent transport system, and you can get even to very remote villages via local buses. Long distance journeys are probably best done by internal flight if you are there just for a few days or a week. Getting from Chiang Mai to Phuket by plane takes two hours, compared with two days by bus. Thai Airways has an extensive domestic service and there are other budget domestic airlines including Airasia, Bangkokair, Nokair, Fly12go and Pbair.
Bangkok is the heart of Thailand's bus and coach network and almost any province is accessible from here. Bangkok has three main bus stations located on the outskirts of the city; Mo Chit bus station is Bangkok's largest and handles all buses going to destinations in the North and North-Eastern regions (located near to Mo Chit sky train station, Kamphaeng Phet and Chatuchak subway station). The Sai Tai bus station (on the opposite side of the river) handles all the buses for destinations south of Bangkok, for example, to the southern islands or beaches and you can catch a bus to Pattaya, Ko Samet, Ko Chang (and other eastern provinces) from the Ekkamai bus station.
Train travel in Thailand is very extensive and the level of service good. Trains connect Thailand with Malaysia and Singapore in the south from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station, and train journeys should be booked in advance. Getting about in Bangkok is straightforward with a choice of river buses, taxis, subway (which runs from 5am till midnight) or the Skytrain, which runs every few minutes from 6am till midnight. You can flag down a ‘Songthaew’ in small towns or rural areas (these are vehicles with two rows of seats facing each other which follow set routes with fixed fares) or negotiate a fare with a taxi driver. Bangkok has metered (and un-metered) taxis, buses and train travel is safe and comfortable. Another popular mode de transport is the ‘Samlor’, a three wheel bicycle (rickshaw) or the motorised version which is more commonly known as a ‘Tuk-tuk’. Always negotiate your fare before stepping into a Thai taxi. Driving is a viable option outside of Bangkok, but attempting to drive in the capital it is not for the fainthearted, as it has some of the worst traffic jams in Asia. However, for those brave enough to try it, the good news is that road signs are in English and driving is on the left.
Accommodation prices vary greatly in Thailand depending on where you are staying. If you are in Bangkok and want to stay near to the airport, then the newly opened, ultra modern Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel offers rooms from around 3,380 THB (approx €80) per night. Packages including spa treatments and added extras will also be available and bookings can be made online. It is located just a three-minute walk from the airport’s main terminal, connected by an air-conditioned underground walkway. In contrast, accommodation at the southern beach bungalows will cost from 300 to 3,000 THB (€7-70) per night depending on the level of luxury you are looking for.
The currency is the Thai baht and €1 = approximately 42 Thai Baht (THB). Thailand is +7 hours GMT and there are no daylight savings.
VPlast Clinic, with two branches in beach resorts in Thailand, offers a range of cosmetic surgery anCh 9 Airport Hospital
Ch 9 Airport Hospital has over 100 beds and welcomes local patients as well as visitors from abroad.