Stepping off the plane and into another country and culture can be shocking, but with a little research, you can prepare yourself. Knowing what to expect will ease your anxiety. To look like a professional rather than a tourist, you must do your homework by familiarizing yourself with Thai arrival protocol, reviewing the layout of the airport, and arranging transportation.
You will arrive in one of the two international airports in Bangkok: Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Mueang International Airport. Here are useful tips for both airports that will help you navigate from landing to exiting the airport with ease.
Follow the signs to immigration and baggage claim. Signs are written in English to accommodate all passengers. Find a step-by-step guide with photos for the Suvarnabhumi Airport here and the Don Mueang International Airport here.
Visas and Passports
If you do not yet have a visa, you must apply for a Visa on Arrival prior to passing through immigration if your country of origin is listed here. Two passport size photos and 300 baht are required for the visa. Present your passport with your visa at the immigration counter.
If you’re traveling from Africa or South America the proof of yellow fever vaccination must be verified, then proceed to the Quarantine counter.
Passenger Arrival Document
Airline staff will distribute no.6 arrival document forms to all passengers. This form must be completed prior to entering immigration. It will include basic identity information, specifics about your stay, and if you have any items to declare to customs.
Once you pass through immigration, you will be able to pick up your luggage at the corresponding carousel number found on the baggage claim board.
The Thai government checks all items coming and going from the country that may pose a health, criminal, or safety risk. These items include food, animals, weapons, and drugs. There are two lines at customs; the green line for those with nothing to declare and the red line for those who have items to declare. A list of exemptions and restrictions can be found here.
Duty Free and Currency Exchange
You will find many duty-free shops in the international sections of the airport. These items are exempt from local taxes and fees as they are meant for travelers. Most international credit cards are accepted. Once you leave the airport, cash is the main form of exchange. Stop by a currency exchange while in the airport to easily transform your cash into Thai baht.
Prior to exiting the airport, you will find a place for people to make transportation arrangements and a meet-and-greets for friends and family. This area can be found on the 2nd floor of the Suvarnabhumi Airport and the 1st floor of the Don Mueang International Airport.
Plan your route before you arrive in Thailand through the airport web site. You will be able to reserve a rental car, buy bus, ferry, and flight tickets, and check public transportation schedules. The Suvarnabhumi Airport has a direct rail link to different parts of Bangkok and a public bus and van terminal. You can also book a taxi using an automated kiosk.