Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Travel Tips: Leaving Suvarnabhumi, Pt 2

Airline check-in counters at Suvarnabhumi
In Part One about flying out of Suvarnabhumi International you saw reference shots of the public portions of the departure area; what you'd encounter before going through Passport Control. Today (with a couple of photographic exceptions, like the one above) you'll get an idea of what it's like past that, on the way to the departure gates.

By the Yak you saw guarding the currency exchange yesterday is a small Family Mart where you can purchase some last-minute items (or cheap packaged snacks), but remember that you won't be allowed to carry liquids and the usual forbidden things through the security still ahead of you and there will be plenty of opportunities to buy souvenirs and duty free items closer to the gates.

At the Passport Control windows they'll stamp your passport with an exit stamp and collect the departure form they stapled to it when you arrived. You did keep that in a safe place, didn't you? You'd better hope so, or you're likely to miss your flight while you arm wrestle with Thai Immigration.

The entrance to Passport Control, with the wait lines out of view

Immediately past those desks you'll come to a downward sloping area that will bring you to the security check point, where you'll have to do the usual screening: all metal out of your pockets, laptops out of their cases, sometimes (but not always) shoes, that sort of thing.  No liquids over 3 ounces (88 milliliters), no knives or flammables - most of you already know the drill.

Past Security you'll see guide signs that will direct you to the gate area (such as D6)indicated on your boarding pass. Don't be fooled into thinking it's only a few steps away, because it's not - the boarding gate "arms" stretch out a ways. It's liable to take you at least 10 to 15 minutes to get there, depending on how much stuff you're hauling along with you - and if you make any stops at all along the way to browse, use the rest room, grab a newspaper or whatever.

A personable man selling real designer watches at a duty free shop

There are stretches of moving walkways along the lengthy arms of the airport, and I've usually found them in service.  If nothing else they give you an opportunity to look around better for a couple of minutes, instead of having to be vigilant about moving along through a crowd of people hauling their stuff around; all too often oblivious that there are others around them.

I always enjoy the brief respite of a moving walkway

There are many, many places to shop, eat and drink along the way. Duty free liquor and cigarette shops, Tourism of Thailand (ToT) "locals" handicraft souvenirs, duty free fragrances, skin conditioners and make up, and a good variety of eateries. There's even a branch of Mango Tree, the touristy but interesting Thai restaurant on Soi 6 in the off of Suriwong Road. It's a flat out guarantee that some of you know where that location is.

The Suvarnabhumi location of Mango Tree

A variety of shops at an intersection toward the gate area.

The panorama below is similar to the one I used a couple of days ago, but slightly different.  The images were taken while looking down one of the gate arms. I kind of like it, so I'm including it today. Something I haven't mentioned is that the portions of these corridors that are translucent are a springy canvas-type material.  While they're waterproof to protect from the rain and moisture they also serve as drum heads during a downpour, and create a rumble that can equal slightly distant thunder.  It's pretty impressive.

Another reason to allow a little extra time is that walking along these corridors you get some interesting views of the aircraft, tarmac, sky and surrounding areas:

You saw a different view of these windows in the 28 August 2010 post about the window washers at Suvarnabhumi - a job I'd not care to try. While up above they sometimes walk around on the canvas-type rooftop I mentioned above, and I've even observed some of them bounce around on it a bit, as though they're on a trampoline.

Once you've arrived at your gate sign you have a choice of a ramp or stairs down to the actual waiting area where you'd show your boarding pass and then wait to be called to board the plane.  There are a few video monitors, usually showing news or a sporting event or some such thing, but I'd strongly suggest bringing a book or whatever you normally use to entertain yourself.

I met someone once who was already online, looking to book their next trip back to the Land of Smiles. That sounded like a good idea to me.

I hope this helps some of you newer visitors.  Comments are always welcome, and if I can help with any other questions you can drop me an email any time at

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