Layovers can be the most unpleasant part of a business trip, but your experience can be made much better with a bit of planning. If your next layover is at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, be prepared for the crowds. In 2018, close to 65 million passengers travelled through the airport, even though its capacity is only 45 million.
Here are some of our tips to navigate these travelling masses, and make the best out of your layover at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
🛌 Sneak in a little snooze
The best sleep is interruption-free, but that's not always possible on the plane. For weary travellers, the first thing you'll want to do is to snooze off the jet lag.
You will get the most comfortable rest at Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. It is connected to the airport, and offers facilities such as an outdoor pool, fitness gym, and business centre.
For shorter stays, Miracle Transit Hotel allows bookings with a minimum of six hours. It is located on the fourth floor of Terminal 2. You can visit this three-star accommodation without clearing immigration.
Travellers yearning for rest at more affordable options can check out Boxtel, Thailand's first sleeping box accommodation. A sleeping box is a cosy little space that fits only a bed and minimal facilities. Boxtel may not be as lavish as hotels, but it's just right for those who need a convenient and affordable place to nap. Plus, the pods are soundproofed and come with comfortable bedding. Rates start at US$41 for four hours.
Got only two hours for a nap? Head to the airport's rest zones instead. They can be found inside security, at Concourses B and D, and have reclining leather chairs for a short rest. The airport has plenty of armrest-free seating, too. So if the rest zones are too crowded, look for a quiet seating spot and rest up.
👩🏻💻 Catch up on work
Seasoned business travellers spend most of their layovers getting work done.
Like most airports, Suvarnabhumi has free wifi to keep you connected. The difference comes in the facilities provided for a conducive working space. You may find it harder to get productive in this airport as there are no working zones or tables for that. Few can tackle their to-do lists seated on a cold, hard plastic chair.
If completing work is high on your agenda, consider getting lounge access instead. First-class and business-class flyers shouldn't miss out on the perks of having lounge access. Using comfortable facilities will definitely help with a long layover. Check which lounges you are entitled to, and be sure to present your boarding pass before entry. All the lounges in this airport are located on the third floor of the transit area.
The VIP lounge facilities will be more than sufficient for a pleasant stay. Expect to see amenities such as massage chairs, shower facilities, free beverages, and decent workspaces.
Economy-class travellers can often receive lounge access by buying a day pass or paying at the door.
There are 126 internet kiosks dotted throughout the airport for your use, but it logs you out after just 15 minutes. Also, the internet connection at this airport may be intermittent. If you need wifi and don't mind paying a fee for it, proceed to CAT Telecom Internet Cafe. Rates are priced at US$3.29/20 minutes, US$6.28/40 minutes, and US$9.88/hour. Photocopying and printing services are also available here at US$0.33 per page.
🍜 Satisfy your hunger
Flying takes up a lot of energy—and it can make you hungry. Your number-one priority is to get to your departure gate. What's the second priority? Have a hearty meal.
Suvarnabhumi Airport has a hidden 24-hour food court serving up affordable Thai food. Magic Food Point is at Level 1, near Gate 8. It's where all the airport employees head to. You have to exchange your cash for coupons since the vendors only accept coupons. Expect to see a wide variety of Thai dishes such as pad thai, som tam, and tom yum goong, and at prices far cheaper than airport standards.
Need a caffeine fix? Consider homegrown brands such as Caffe Nero by Black Canyon, Doi Tung Coffee, and Coffee World. Doi Tung Coffee is committed to ethical trading, with its coffee beans sourced from farms in—you guessed it—Doi Tung.
💆🏼♀️ Pamper yourself
After all the airports you have visited, you are probably unfazed by yet another massage facility in this airport.
But Thai Airways' Royal Orchid Spa is a real attraction and has won Skytrax's Best Airline Lounge Spa Facility award for five consecutive years. The spa provides luxurious treatments that'll top your past spa experiences at any airport. First-class passengers on Thai Airways are entitled to an hour-long full-body massage. Business passengers get a complimentary half-hour foot or head-and-shoulders massage.
Travellers not flying with Thai Airways can go for the airport's other massage centre, Express Spa Body and Foot Massage. It is less luxurious but is open 24 hours. Prices for a Thai massage begin at US$26.
🛒 Scratch your shopping itch
Suvarnabhumi Airport has plenty of upscale boutiques that will please luxury spenders.
Several top-end brands—including Chanel, Hermes, Ralph Lauren, and Cartier—are located at Level 4, Concourse D. King Power Duty-Free also has your usual range of tax-free cosmetics, fashion, and accessories.
Those who prefer to browse more unique retail stores can visit local outlets (Chitralada, Sai Yak Rak, Mae Fuh Luang, or Sai Jai Thai) for handmade items crafted by locals in various Thai provinces.
For Thai food specialities, you'll find a good range of local snacks at Tastes of Thailand. Look out for popular treats like durian chips, crispy pork sticks, and Bangkok Mini Cookies. Don't forget to try unusual cookie flavours like tom yum, crab curry, and green curry!
A busy airport coping with heavy traffic
Suvarnabhumi Airport is seeing more and more travellers go through its doors than what it was actually built to handle. The airport is adding new terminals and runways so it can cope with the increasing traffic. If all goes well, Suvarnabhumi is expected to handle 110 million travellers by 2022—so it would hopefully be less crowded by then.
Despite the strain on its existing infrastructure, Suvarnabhumi Airport does relatively well in airport connectivity. Ranked as the world's 14th most connected airport last year, chances are you will land here someday. And when you do arrive at this international airport, you'll find decent amenities that will tide over any traveller on a layover.