Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang International Airport (sometimes Don Muang) are two separate airfields serving Bangkok.
The site of harried tourists leaving their hotels and arriving at the wrong airport has become more common as flight traffic increases in Bangkok.
Tourists should be prepared and know which airport they will be using, how to get there, the differences between the two and the services available at both.
Why does Bangkok have two airports?
In September, 2006, a Qantas flight bound for Sydney departed Don Mueang Airport at 3:12 a.m.
It was to be the final commercial flight from the field that had served Bangkok since 1914. Operations ceased and were transferred to Bangkok’s new airfield, Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
The closure was short-lived, however: Operating costs at Suvarnabhumi Airport were high, and safety concerns over cracked runways and taxiways created a crisis of confidence.
Low-cost carriers saw Don Mueang Airport as a viable transit hub, and authorities began to see it as a reasonable alternative to expanding operations at Suvarnabhumi International.
By March 2007, Don Mueang International Airport again reopened for domestic flights.
Today, legacy carriers and long-haul international flights operate from Suvarnabhumi International, while low-cost carriers operate from Don Mueang International.
Here are some things to know about Bangkok’s Two Airports:
Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK)
Suvarnabhumi International Airport, 25 km east of the city, is the sixth-busiest airport in Asia and handles 53 million passengers yearly. It also has the world’s tallest free-standing control tower. It serves as the main hub for Bangkok Airways, Orient Thai, and Thai Airways. It was built in an area formerly known as Nong Nguhao, or Cobra Swamp.
The terminal is massive and as beautiful as it is functional.
TIP: Tourists should be warned that the arrivals hall can be populated by con-men and illegal taxi drivers, and should use care.
Getting to and from Suvarnabhumi is easy.
In addition to taxis and express buses, the Airport Rail Link, which operates from 6 a.m. to midnight, connects Suvarnabhumi to downtown Bangkok.
Connections to Bangkok’s MRT subway system can be made at the Makkasan City interchange, while the BTS Skytrain connects at the end of the line, at Phayathai Station.
Transit is cheap and the connections are easily made, but parties of three or more may find it cheaper to take a taxi.
Travel Time from Suvarnbhumi Airport to Bangkok:
Approximate time into Bangkok is 30 minutes.
Don Mueang International Airport (DMK)
Don Mueang International Airport, 25 km north of the city, has seen yearly double-digit growth in passenger travel and handled over 35 million passengers in 2016.
Don Mueang International Airport began handling commercial traffic in 1924 and served as a major US base of operations during the Vietnam war.
Don Mueang’s two terminals:
- Terminal 1: handles international travel
- Terminal 2: for domestic flights
Most people traveling between Bangkok and Don Mueang Airport opt for a taxi, as there are no fast transit options in and out of the city.
A few bus routes travel to Don Mueang.
Some travelers attempt to take the Skytrain to Mo Chit station, and taxi from there, but savings are slim and reports of difficulties finding cabs at Mo Chit abound.
Travel Time from Don Mueang Airport to Bangkok:
Approximate time into Bangkok is 45 minutes or more.
Airport confusion can be prevented in Bangkok.
First, tourists must note well which airport serves their airline.
Second, you must be specific with cab drivers when traveling from hotels to the airport. It is prudent to have the name and the address written along with the terminal number to avoid confusion.
Bangkok’s two airports each serve different but equally important purposes.
Knowledge of the two and prior planning can save a mad dash between Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Mueang International Airport as minutes tick down to departure.
Happy trails… now catch your flight!
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