Eli Orzessek answers your travel questions.
Or is it worth paying for an airport hotel room?
In case my friend is unable to pick me up, what is the best/safest way for me to get to Pattaya from the airport?
The very helpful website Sleeping in Airports warns that travellers should exercise caution in the arrivals hall at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, due to reports of scams and petty thefts in the area. Even if you stay awake, it's easy to let your guard down when you're tired after a flight, so I'd recommend finding somewhere to stay.
Luckily there are a couple of options that aren't too hard on the pocket and you'll be able to sleep worry-free. Boxtel is one such option — it offers small sound-proofed rooms that can be rented for a maximum of four hours, for 1250 baht ($57). However, you'll still have to use the airport's toilets. It's at the Airport Link "Suvarnabhumi Station" on the basement floor.
Another option is the Avagard Capsule Hotel, which offers sound-proof sleep capsules with a queen-size bed and a locker to store your luggage in. The walk-in rate is 250 baht an hour and it's Landside on the B floor of the Airport Rail Link. However, if you're claustrophic, you might want to give this one a miss — Boxtel looks as if it offers a little more space.
As for getting to Pattaya, you could either get a taxi or a bus. The rate from the airport, according to bangkokattractions.com, is 1050 baht ($48) and the journey should take around 80 to 90 minutes. Make sure it is a properly licensed taxi — the driver should have an Airports of Thailand certificate.
A much cheaper option is the Airport Pattaya Bus, which departs from Gate 8 on level one of the arrivals hall. It costs 120 baht ($5.50) for a seat and the journey is about two hours. Each passenger is allowed one small bag that fits in the overhead compartment and one normal-sized checked baggage, with a maximum weight of 20kg. If you're over the limit you will be subject to extra charges. It drops you at the bus station in Pattaya, so you'll need to organise your own transport from there. There are departures every hour, starting from 5.30am. You can book online, or buy a ticket at the airport ticket counter.
If you feel nervous about getting the bus alone, I'd just pay the extra and go for a taxi.
I received some helpful responses to last week's query about keeping bags safe at airport security when the wife has a hip replacement and the husband has screws in his back.
Brenda says that although her back is fused from the neck down, she never sets off any alarms. "Apparently it depends on the density of the metal, which is why knees and hips always cause a stir."