Thailand: flights, airports, transport and accommodation


Flights to Bangkok, Phuket, and beyond, plus airport guides, key destinations, transport, car hire, accommodation, tours and more.


Flight time from Australia: 6+ hours

  • The main airlines that fly directly between Australia and Thailand are Thai Airways, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar, Turkish Airlines and Emirates.
  • Direct flights are available from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth to Bangkok or Phuket.
  • Other airlines, such as budget carriers AirAsia and Tiger, run indirect flights from Australia to Thailand, including to Krabi, Hat Yai and Chiang Mai.
  • Domestic flights and ferries connect with popular tourist destinations.

Should you book directly with the airline or through a comparison site? See our tips on booking cheap flights.

  • 30km east of CBD.
  • Taxis are on the first (ground) floor. Fares should be metered plus any tolls and a fee of 50 Baht for the driver.
  • Car hire desks including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Sixt, Thai Rent A Car, Bizcar Rental and Chic Car Rent are on the second floor.
  • The Airport Rail Link (running 6.00am – 12.00am) can take you to the CBD in under 30 minutes, stopping at six stations which connect with Bangkok's MRT underground and BTS Skytrain. You can buy single-trip tokens from vending machines at the airport station for between 15 and 45 Baht depending on your destination.
  • Public buses depart from the airport's Public Transport Centre, running to a range of locations, 24 hours a day.
  • A free shuttle bus connects various areas of the airport, including the Public Transport Centre.
  • Free bus transfers to Don Muang Airport depart regularly (5.00am – 12.00am) from Gate 3 on the second floor. The journey takes between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on traffic.
  • Airport website: suvarnabhumiairport.com
  • 30km to Phuket town. 40km to Patong. 35km north of Ratsada Ferry Terminal (to Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, Krabi, Ao Nang).
  • Metered taxis are available outside the main terminal. Fares include a 100 THB airport surcharge. Check the airport website for estimated journey costs.
  • A number of car hire companies operate from Phuket Airport, but remember you may get a cheaper rate if you hire a car in town.
  • The air-conditioned Airport Bus runs to Phuket town via a number of other stops. . Tickets can be purchased on the spot (100 Baht) and the journey takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • Minibuses and limousines can be organised from within the terminal, or a shuttle service can be booked in advance - a good option if you need to request child seats.
  • Many hotels offer a pre-arranged airport transfer.
  • Airport website: phuketairportonline.com

Most Australian tourists won't need a visa to enter Thailand if they're visiting for less than 30 days. Passing through immigration and customs should be straightforward, but will depend on queues and whether or not officials take an interest in you or your luggage.

Airport taxes are included in the cost of your ticket and no longer have to be paid in cash.

VAT refunds for eligible goods (but not services) can be claimed at the airport upon departure. Read more about how to claim a VAT refund in Thailand.

Scam alert: If your taxi driver tells you your hotel is "closed" and offers to take you somewhere else, or if they stop at a travel agency to "confirm your booking", you're probably about to get a hard sell on a tour or an alternative hotel. Stand your ground and never feel obligated to buy something you don't want.

Airports
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)
Don Muang Airport (DMK)
Phuket Phuket International Airport (HKT)
Chiang Mai Chiang Mai Airport (CNX)
Hat Yai Hat Yai Airport (HDY)
Koh Samui Samui Airport (USM)
Krabi Krabi Airport (KBV)
Surat Thani Surat Thani Airport (URT)

How to get to...
Koh Phi Phi Ferry or speedboat from Phuket (Rassada Pier) or ferry from Koh Lanta (Saladan Pier) or Krabi (Klong Jilad Pier).
Koh Samui: International or domestic flight. Or ferry from Chumphon (Matapon Pier), Koh Tao (Mae Haad Pier), Koh Phangan (Thong Sala Pier) & Surat Thani.
Koh Phangan: International or domestic flight. Or ferry from Chumphon (Matapon Pier), Koh Tao (Mae Haad Pier), Koh Samui (Nathon Pier), Surat Thani, Chumphon (Lomprayah Pier) or Koh Samui (Mae Nam Pier).
Koh Tao: Ferry from Chumphon (Matapon Pier), Koh Phangan (Thong Sala Pier), Koh Samui (Nathon Pier), Surat Thani, Chumphon (Lomprayah Pier) or Koh Samui (Mae Nam Pier).
Krabi: International or domestic flight. Or ferry from Phuket (Rassada Pier). Or car/bus/taxi from Phuket (3+ hours).
Koh Lanta: Ferry from Krabi (Krabi Passenger Pier) or Phuket (Rassada Pier). Or car/bus/taxi from Krabi (3+ hours).
Surat Thani: International or domestic flight. Or ferry from Koh Tao (Mae Haad Pier), Koh Phangan (Thong Sala Pier) or Koh Samui (Nathon Pier).
Chiang Mai: International or domestic flight. Train/bus/car from Bangkok (10+ hours).
Pattaya: Car/bus/taxi from Bangkok (1 hour 30 minutes).
Hat Yai: International or domestic flight. Car/bus/train from Bangkok (15+ hours).

Buses

Buses connect all major towns, cities, airports and tourist areas in Thailand. Most are cheap and clean, and some are air conditioned. For a higher price, 'VIP' buses offer extra comfort and an on-board toilet for long-distance trips.

  • Buses departing from the state-run BKS stations are likely to be the most reliable.
  • There's usually no need to book ahead, but you can buy tickets in advance from bus stations, travel agents or online (depending on the service).

Trains

Trains connect much of Thailand, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the north, Hat Yai in the south, and on to Malaysia and Singapore.

  • The Australian government currently advises against travelling to the southern regions bordering Malaysia.
  • Trains can take you to the Cambodian and Laos borders where they connect with buses.
  • The train at Surat Thani connects by bus to Phuket and Krabi, and by ferry to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.
  • Train tickets can be bought at stations, but if you want to book ahead, try the rather clunky State Railway site or book via an international site like 12GoAsia or baolau.com.

Ferries and boats

Ferries and boats serve popular tourist islands such as Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. They also connect some coastal mainland towns, such as Phuket and Krabi.

  • Ferry and boat companies are privately run, so prices, booking procedures, speeds and even safety standards will vary.
  • Some boats may be overloaded at peak times.
  • If you're concerned, ask your hotel, travel agent or a local tourist information service for a recommendation.
  • Some ferry tickets can be booked online in advance, but for other services you'll just have to buy your ticket on the spot.

Domestic flights

Flights link Thailand's cities, towns and some islands.

  • Almost all of the country's airports can be reached via Bangkok.
  • Airlines include Nok Air, Thai Air Asia, Orient Thai Airlines and Bangkok Airways.
  • You can book domestic airline tickets through most major international flight search sites.

Tip: Many domestic flights, particularly with budget airlines, depart from Bangkok's Don Muang Airport (DMK) which is about 45km from the main airport, Suvarnabhumi (BKK). Transport between airports can take between 45 minutes and two hours, depending on traffic.

Getting around towns and cities

Short trips are best done on foot, bicycle, taxi or tuk-tuk (motorcycle rickshaw).

  • Bangkok has an extensive bus, metro (MRT) and light rail (BTS Skytrain) system. Unfortunately the ticketing isn't integrated, so you'll have to buy separate tickets or passes for each.
  • Taxis, tuk-tuks, minivans and private drivers are all readily available and can either be organised on the spot, or booked in advance via your hotel or travel agent. To avoid excessive haggling or rip-offs, make sure you have an idea of how much the trip should cost.

Tip: Taxis are generally metered whereas tuk-tuk drivers will want to negotiate a price.

Car hire

Car hire is available from major airports, cities and tourist centres. Operators include Nu, Sixt, Budget, Thai Rent A Car, Avis and more.

  • You'll need an international licence - some companies may not rent to you without one, plus you run the risk of being fined by police or negating your insurance.
  • Make sure you and the vehicle are properly insured (through your travel insurance and through the insurance offered by the car hire company). Before you pay extra fees for vehicle insurance, check to see if you're already covered by your travel insurance for the same clauses.

Tip: Book with a well-known international car hire company. They're likely to be easier to deal with if you get into a dispute.

Find more tips in our car hire guide.

Motorcycle and scooter hire

Motorcycle and scooter hire is easy to find on the street in tourist areas. Most vendors are local small businesses and they may not check your licence (you'll need an international motorcycle licence), offer you a helmet (it's the law) or any kind of insurance (if you crash, you will probably have to pay for damages).

  • Never leave your passport as collateral.
  • Make sure your travel insurance covers you for injuries, as many policies exclude motorcycle or scooter crashes.

Warning: Foreigners have been arrested and detained by Thai police until they agree to pay compensation to locals for motorcycle or jet-ski crashes (or, in the case of scams, for damage they didn't even cause).

Read more in our travel insurance buying guide.

Driving in Thailand

Thailand's roads are the most dangerous on earth according to a report by World Atlas, with an average of 36.2 road deaths per 100,000 citizens. If you're planning on driving, make sure you have the appropriate skills, licence and insurance.

Thai road rules

  • Vehicles drive on the left.
  • You need an international licence to drive in Thailand.
  • You need an international motorcycle licence if you plan to drive a motorcycle or scooter.
  • Seat belts are compulsory for those sitting in the front of the car. Child seats are optional.
  • The blood alcohol limit is .05%, or .02% for drivers who have held their licence for less than five years.
  • Mobile phones can only be used hands-free.
  • Right of way is generally determined by size of vehicle (ie. trucks trump cars, cars trump motorcycles, etc.)
  • There is no fast lane or slow lane on highways, and drivers will rarely indicate when changing lanes.

Accommodation

Accommodation ranges from beach shacks to five-star resorts and health spas. Prices may not be quite as low as in neighbouring Laos and Vietnam, but by Australian standards you can certainly grab a bargain holiday in Thailand.

Most hotels, resorts and hostels are easily booked online through local or international sites (better to go with a well-known international one, in case of disputes).

Tip: Compare booking sites and the hotel's website (if it has one) to find the lowest price, and check reviews before you book.

Tours

Tours can be organised through a travel agent or online through a major tour operator before you go. But if you're only interested in short trips or day trips, you'll have more choice and probably find better deals once you're in the country.

If you prefer everything to be organised for you, consider a package deal from a travel agent, which includes flights, transport, accommodation and sometimes even meals.

Looking for the best travel insurance?

See our travel insurance comparison.

Travel Insurance reviews

Got a travel tip about Thailand? Or spotted something in our guide that needs updating? Add a comment below.


Leave a comment

Display comments