Koh Samui Airport
Six or seven years ago Samui’s little airport was an utter delight. Visitors arriving here for the first time couldn’t believe their eyes when they were shuttled from the plane in what seemed to be a little fairground train. And the wonderful toytown impression continued when they arrived in a ‘children’s playground’, complete with neat lawns, gigantic carved wooden seats and picturesque Robinsin Crusoe thatched buildings. It was compact, it was breathtakingly pretty and it won several international design awards.
Today things have changed a little. The runway’s been extended, and to go with that new modern chrome and glass arrival and departure areas have been built. It’s still pleasantly attractive – particularly when compared to most city airports – but some would argue that it’s become smoother, slicker and far less characterful, too.
The airport is located not much more than ten minutes away from Chaweng Beach Road, and geographically about half way via the backstreets between Chaweng and Bang Rak on the north coast.
From the airport:
When you arrive at the airport the last thing on your mind is haggling over a taxi – which is something that others realise only too well. Which is why you can either hang about until an airport mini-bus has eventually filled up, and pay a fair price. Or take a taxi directly and immediately – but at inflated rates that make the rest of Thailand hoot with disbelief.
To the airport:
All but the smallest resorts will lay on transport for you when you leave. Or, if you ask around in advance, you’ll also be able to negotiate the best price from one of the local taxis.
It’s a safe bet to assume that your first experience of the airport will be when you arrive. And, unless you’ve come from Hong Kong or Singapore, you’ll step out into the sweating heat after a journey of anything up to 24 hours. (Sadly you cannot yet fly direct; Samui can’t handle long-haul flights.)
The customs clearance and baggage collection are straightforward, although there is quite a long walk before you emerge from the ‘stylish’ glass tunnel into the waiting area outside.
You are advised to check in at the airport one hour before departure. However, be warned, you might be cutting it fine!
Once you have arrived at the Check-In area entrance it's only a short walk to the checked-In counters where you’ll check your bags and take your boarding pass, from here there is rather a long walk to the departure gates / lounges.
There’s an “imaginative” shopping strip-mall named Park Avenue, the length of which you’ll need to walk. However, if your not up for the stroll there is a little airport bus that does shuttle runs between the Check-In area and the Main Gate entrance. If you are running late and there is no bus in sight it's probably a good idea not to rely on it turning up any time soon!
The Main Gate entrance is the very last thing you’ll discover at the end of Park Avenue and from here it will take at least another ten minutes between the security check and the departure lounge, depending on what gate you’re leaving from.
If aplicable, please don't forget the 400 baht departure tax you will need to pay – so be warned. (But if you’ve paid for the flight to BKK and the return shuttle to Samui all in one payment when you booked your holiday, then this 400 baht tax will have been included.)
Reading the press release from the airport, it seems that the whole concept of Park Avenue is to encourage you to lounge about, relax, do some shopping, explore your e-mail, eat at the “Gourmet Food Park” or sip cocktails at the Sports Bar before going shopping for duty-frees – and that’s before you get on your flight!
Samui’s airport is a place of mixed pleasures but, be warned, you need to aim to get their at least 90 minutes before your flight and if you want a relaxed departure, make that two hours. That way you might get a chance to do a bit of last minute shopping after all!
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Wind 22 KPH
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