The best way to get to Bangkok depends where you're travelling from. If the Thai capital is the only destination on your trip, or it's the first stop on your tour, then you'll most likely want to fly there. If you're travelling from elsewhere in Southeast Asia, then catching a train or bus may well work out cheaper, provided you've got time to spare!
Return flights between the United States or Europe and Bangkok vary depending on the city and the season, however they can be found for as little as 400 USD or EUR, and from the UK from 280 GBP. As the adage goes, time is money, and direct flights or those with short stopovers are usually way pricier than those with a long layover.
Travelling by plane from elsewhere in Asia can be very cheap too. It's usually under 100 USD to fly from Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore, for example; and often less than 50 USD to travel to Bangkok from other areas of Thailand, including the islands.
Most international flights arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), which took over from Don Mueang Airport (DMK) as the city's main airport in 2006. The latter is mainly used for domestic flights and some international flights from other cities in Southeast Asia.
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Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station, which is located in Chinatown, is the main rail terminus for trains heading to and arriving from all points south, north, northeast and east. While the temptingly cheap domestic and short-haul international flights are definitely the quicker option, trains can be great if you've got time to spare and want a more immersive experience on your trip to Thailand.
The most popular train journey is between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Travel for just 881B (18 GBP or 25 USD) one-way by sleeper train, or 611B (£12 or $18) by day through the countryside. The overnight option saves you the cost of a night's hotel accommodation, gives you an incredible sunrise view in the morning and is super eco-friendly too!
Consult timetables and updated fares on the Thailand State Railway website, and book your tickets at the train station from the ticket offices (just follow the signs). Avoid the touts trying to sell you overpriced tickets!
Like travelling by train, getting the bus is cheaper and more environmentally friendly but lots more time-consuming. While trains don't reach all of Thailand's provinces or popular tourist destinations in neighbouring countries, buses or combined train and bus routes will get you there.
If travelling by bus, try to use the government stations rather than tourist centres like Th Khao San, which can be more prone to incidents. Eastern Bus Terminal, located near Ekkamai BTS station and conveniently locally known by the same name, is the place to go for buses heading to places in eastern Thailand, and the same rule applies to Southern Bus Terminal.
Go to the Nothern & Northeastern Bus Terminal (located near Mo Chit BTS station and again often sharing this name) for - you guessed it - all northern and northeastern destinations, as well as international destinations including Pakse (Laos), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Siem Reap (Cambodia) and Vientiane (Laos). One-way tickets for the latter are less than 1000B, and often involve overnight travel.