Suvarnabhumi: Bangkok’s newest shopping mall
and one hell of an airport!
Suvarnabhumi has been open for a month now, and undoubtedly tens of thousands have passed through it already. What are your thoughts?
Mine, well, Don Muang was old, in fact it was the oldest airport in Asia, in one of the busiest hubs. It had to go. When I went through Suvarnabhumi things went very smoothly, so I don’t have many complaints save the trip back. The taxi ride took an hour and a half and cost 500Baht, including five tolls just to get to Phayathai (where, ironically, a new metro transit line was supposed to connect the airport. Officials seem to have stopped even pretending this will happen).
Thais love superlatives. Unfortunatley, Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd airport is the largest in the world. But don’t worry, because entering Suvarnabhumi, you are promptly welcomed to “the LONGEST airport in the world.” I thought that was pretty desperate, and frankly Suvarnabhumi doesn’t need a superlative, it’s spectacular enough. It’s very avant-garde. Roof trellis rap around the tubular terminal which has almost 360 views. There is lots of exposed cement beams. But I didn’t understand all these volcanic formations in the middle of the airport’s courtyard…
But the most apparent thing about Suvarnabhumi, is that it looks and acts like a shopping mall. Passing customs, you walk through shopping areas the way gift shops are placed after rides at Disney World. There will even be (of course) karaoke bars. But this is no surprise for Bangkok, a city abnormally obsessed with malls. …Did you know a few months ago the UK sold its Phloen Chit embassy to Central Group for the development of yet another mall? This along a strip that is already lined back to back with malls (west to east: MBK, Discovery Center, Siam Center, Paragon, Central World, Gaysorn, Central Chitlom)