Thursday, 7 November 2013

What I learnt on a day trip to Bangkok from Pattaya

Last Saturday, I needed to get up to Rama 9 near to Fortune Town and reckoned my best options for getting there were:

1. drive

2. take a taxi

3. take a Roong Reuang bus to Ekamai or the Northern Bus Station and then use the Sky Train.

4. take a Roong Reuang bus to Suvarabhumi Airport and then take the Airport Link in to central Bangkok.

I decided Option 1 was the most expensive, most tiring and most stressful; Option 2 was more expensive than Options 3 / 4; Option 3 was fine but dropped me in the wrong part of the capital and Option 4 was untried but had the advantage of dropping me closest to where I wanted to be in Bangkok.

Being the adventurous soul that I am, I decided on Option 4.

The Roong Reuang bus to the Airport departs from the car park opposite Pan Pan on Thappraya Road, on the hour every hour, between 7.00am to 9.00pm. Tickets cost Bt134. I was surprised to see the travel time to the airport listed as 2 hours. I reckoned it would be closer to 1 hour than 2 but what did I know.

The bus departed on time, on the hour, and only had 8 passengers so there was plenty of room to spread out. The route taken was down Theppasit and up Sukhumvit to Highway 7, the quickest way out of town. Option 4 was already starting to look a winner.....

It wasn't long before I spotted the first fly in the Option 4 ointment..... the bus was traveling at something like 40mph and did so all the way to the airport. It took 2 hours.

Once at the airport you simply have to drop down to the Basement B to find the Airport Link station. You have 2 options, one is the City Link costing Bt35 and stops at all the stations on the way in to town - 4 stops to Makkasan and takes approx 25mins.  The Express links don't stop and reach Makkasan in 15mins for a cost of Bt90. When I got there, the City Link was the next train up so I paid my Bt35 and jumped on. The rolling stock is very similar to the Sky Train and seats were plentiful.

It took 25mins to Makkasan and then it was just a short walk to Petchburi Underground Station for a one stop ride to Fortune Town.


Job done, time for home.

I returned to Makkasan around 2.00pm and caught the City Link back out to the airport. I don't know if I was just lucky but a train turned up within minutes of me getting to the platform. The Roong Reung buses leave the airport for Pattaya on the hour so I knew I had plenty of time to get out there for the 3.00pm bus. Again the journey was about 25mins but seats weren't available for the first two stops. The bus counter for Pattaya is on Level 1 at Gate 8 so when you walk in to the airport from the train you need to go up one level and walk as far to the right as you can.

It's then that the second ointment fly struck home. The 3.00pm bus was already full and I had to wait for the 4.00pm bus...........

There were no empty seats on the 4.00pm bus but the driver at least flogged the horses to get us back in Pattaya in 90mins. You have the option of alighting on Sukhumvit at Pattaya Central, Pattaya South or the start of Theppasit. After that it's the car park at Thappraya.

So what did I learn?

The Airport Link between Suvarnabhumi and central Bangkok is efficient, cheap and even enjoyable with it's spectacular views of Bangkok.

With that in mind the next time I make a day trip to Bangkok I will drive to Suvarnabhumi and stick my car in the short term car park and then jump the Airport Link in to Bangkok. I'll have no traffic jams to contend with, no parking problems and no wasted time. What's not to like.......

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