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December 19, 2011

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport

Filed under: Bangkok, Photography, Southeast Asia, Travel — anotherheader @ 3:22 pm

The view from the observation deck in Bangkok (HDR)

If you are like us and travel a lot you see the inside of a bunch of airports.  I figure that I’ve flown through about 90; it is hard to keep track.  For many frequent travelers seeing the inside an airport a negative.  To me seeing being inside the new generation of modern airports is a pleasure.  Strange as it may sound, I’d actually travel just to explore the architecture of the departure halls of modern international airports.

Each airport has a surprise.  In San Francisco, the rotating museum displays are worth a visit on their own.  Toronto has “Tilted Spheres,” a cool art installation with interesting acoustics by Richard Serra.  Frankfurt has vanishing point tunnels between the terminals, a large distinctly old-school mechanical departure board, and stylish Lufthansa gates.  Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok has an infrequently visited observation deck with a birds eye view of the cavernous departure hall.  Bilboa’s airport also has an observation area that lets passengers get a good view of the curving, architecturally interesting structure.

Airports also have their particularly distinctive food choices.  Often the most unique options are hidden amongst the usual international offerings.  Hunt for the blue fin tuna in Tokyo’s Narita, Chicago-style dogs in O’Hare, beer and pretzels in Frankfurt (Not hard to find!), ceviche and Pisco Sours in Lima Peru, or the pinxtos in Bilboa.

Whether it is Hong Kong, Bangkok, Bilboa, or San Francisco, all large airy airports have one thing in common, the acoustics.  There’s something about the large cavernous space of airport departure halls that gives a slightly muffled metallic resonating sound that permeates the air.  It’s not the same sound as large sports arenas or shopping malls.  There’s something unique about airports this way.  For me the distinctive airport sound is comforting.  Maybe I like the sound because international airports are oases of similarity.  They are all set up with a common structure; they are always familiar.

In the end the sound and the open airy space mean one thing; I am traveling.  Perhaps this is what I connect to.  Perhaps that’s why the airports have such a strong appeal.

(All pictures from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.)


  1. Those are some really cool interior spaces. How did you manage to get photos without any people, especially the terminal? Luck or timing?

    Comment by surlypeach — December 19, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

    • It’s hard to know what is luck and what is timing!

      The Departure Hall shots, with some people, was taken in the morning just at sunrise. The empty terminal was near noon. I’m not sure why the terminal was so empty; Suvarnabhumi Airport is ranked 15th in the world in terms of traffic. The airport is not super large, so I’d guess it is often busier. Without doubt, the floods discouraged many tourists. Perhaps that is the reason. Or maybe international arrivals and departures tend to occur within certain times and our flight to Siem Reap occurred outside those times?

      Comment by anotherheader — December 19, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  2. This is truly amazing!
    So futuristic and modern.

    Comment by London Caller — December 19, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  3. Very clean and modern, with a statement of cultural identity maintained by Eastern decor, which is due to the strategically placed motifs, such as the items that hang from ceilings and of course the large statue in the first picture.

    Comment by Paul Edward Kosloski — December 20, 2011 @ 6:03 am

  4. Lovely images. I enjoy modern, futuristic airports too. What was the focal length used in the first image ? i guess a fisheye lens would’ve created a nice distortion.

    Comment by Newkid — January 21, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

    • 10mm (Nikon 10-24 mm f/3.5-4.5, see about for more details), not nearly as fishy as the Tokina 10-17 mm f/3.5-4.5.

      Comment by anotherheader — January 21, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

  5. Always a treat to come across your blog when searching for some random something.

    Comment by Josh Moore — June 3, 2015 @ 8:43 pm

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