Shandelle Battersby flies Bangkok Airways from Koh Samui, Thailand, to Luang Prabang, Laos, via Bangkok.
Two Airbus A319s in reasonable condition, with a small section at the front for premium customers separated by a curtain.
Class: Economy for us, on both legs.
Price: $405 all up, one way.
Flight time: Koh Samui to Bangkok is an easy 75 minutes; the Bangkok-to-Luang Prabang flight north took 90 minutes. We arrived at the airport in Koh Samui well ahead of time thanks to an early ferry from Koh Phangan and our flight was moved forward by 90 minutes. Kudos to Bangkok Airways for doing this. This meant more time for shopping at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport before our late-afternoon flight to Laos.
My seats: Window seats both flights, above the wing. These aircraft have two rows of three seats, stretching back to 24.
Fellow passengers: All tourists. The Laos leg was full of French and German baby boomers who couldn’t wait to get off the plane. You’re asked to turn your phone off, old-school style, but no one seemed to bother.
Entertainment: A pretty decent inflight magazine — no screens anywhere to be seen. I made the most of some downloaded Netflix shows on my phone.
Food and drink: Another reason to love Bangkok Airways is its dedication to snacks! At Koh Samui Airport there is a Courtesy Corner with complimentary beverages and local delicacies; on board the cabin crew manage to serve lunch during the short flight (a yummy chicken curry with purple rice, fruit, water and a chocolate brownie). The crockery and utensils were all reusable, except for the plastic water bottles. On the Laos flight we were served something similar with an alcoholic beverage on the side.
Luggage: Up to 20kg of checked-in luggage which went straight through to Luang Prabang. One woman was carting a pair of hula hoops.
The airport experience: Koh Samui has a lovely airport with an open-air vibe and self-service kiosks; the airport in Luang Prabang is surrounded by dramatic lush green mountains and is quite spectacular to land at, with the chocolate brown Mekong River snaking along below. Note that the easiest way to sort your visa on arrival is with US dollars (we paid US$31 each on New Zealand passports) and two passport photos and there is no ATM or currency exchange in the arrivals hall. The process takes a while but is reasonably straightforward. The city centre is only a few kilometres from the airport and many guest houses will send drivers to collect you — otherwise there are motorbike or tuk tuks out front for hire.
Would I fly this again? Absolutely. Two thumbs up for Bangkok Airways. Khob khun ka!
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