Arriving for the first time at Bangkok's new Don Mueng International
airport is much like that of any other airport. You will have been
given an immigration and customs form to complete in the 'plane.
You do not neet a visa for stays of up to three weeks. If you realise
you do require a visa you can obtain one at the airport; follow the signs.
Then you queue in front of the immigration officer. I have never had any
problems (except for once when my visa obtained in London was not complete.
I was led away by an armed officer to the stares of the rest of the plane,
and amongst much smiling the visa was completed and I was given a VIP escort
past the queues).
Immigration officers are looking out for 'hippy' types without money who are intending becoming long stay visitors. If you look respectable you will be moving down the shiny escalators to the baggage hall with a stamp in your passport. The customs form you filled in on the plane asks you to declare electrical goods such as cameras and walkmans, but as you walk into the customs hall you'll find no-one pays any attention and the form is not even looked at as you hand it to a bored official sitting at the entrance.
Once through customs you are protected by a cordon sanitaire of empty space outside which all the hawkers, pirate taxi drivers and touts gather. Before going any further, change some money at the various banks exchange booths. The exchange rates are good, and although I usually find the Thai Military Bank has the keenest rate, I will pick the one with the shortest queue as the difference is not worth the hassle of waiting. You will notice now the heat seeping in from outside.
Decide now what to do. You need transport. If you have not arranged to be met by a driver, the options are public transport or a taxi. There is an official taxi desk where you can pay for a taxi and get a receipt and be led to a taxi outside. This will be a little more expensive than the prices quoted by the touts who come up to you, but at this stage in your journey when you are tired, suffering culture shock, and carrying al your goods and valuables, I would not recommend an unofficial taxi.
If you have any questions please ask them on the guestbook, and if you have been, please tell us your hints and tips and travellers tales.
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