Guide to Don Mueang International Airport
Once the primary international airport for Bangkok, the airport opened to commercial traffic in 1924. Don Mueang (DMK) is Asia’s oldest airport in operation and if walls were to talk, just imagine the secrets and history hidden within. With the opening of Bangkok’s new Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Don Mueang closed. The airport code BKK was transferred to the new Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) which handles the bulk of long-haul international traffic. As low cost carriers and new routes proliferated, Don Mueang International Airport re-opened in 2007 with the new code: DMK.
Today Don Mueang is Bangkok’s secondary international airport, handling both domestic and international. Most airlines at Don Mueang are low cost carriers, in fact Don Mueang was ranked the largest “low cost carrier” airport in 2015 and the trend is likely to continue into 2016. Airlines either based or operating a hub at DMK include Nok Air, NokScoot, Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Thai Lion Air, and Orient Thai Airlines.
An Amari Hotel is also attached to the airport by an overhead pedway connected to Terminal 1. The hotel is convenient for travelers departing early or arriving late.
Don Mueang Domestic Flights
Terminal 2 is newly renovated and now handles all of the domestic flights here. Catching domestic flights is simple here, as it is in any other country. The airport is hub to airlines such as Nok Airway, Thai AirAsia, and Thai Lion Air, when it comes to Thai domestic flights.
With the proliferation of low cost carriers here, many international visitors book onward domestic flights with low cost carriers. As such, you’ll frequently see international visitors traveling between the two airports, but many will opt to stay in Bangkok for a day or two before flying up to Chiang Mai or south to the beach resorts of Krabi (KBV) or Phuket (HKT).
Ko Samui from Bangkok Don Mueang (DKM)
There are no flights to Ko Samui (USM) from here, but the destination is easily reached from Don Mueang. Most will purchase a package with Nok Air or Thai AirAsia to first fly to Surat Thani (URT) or Nakhon Si Thammarat (NST). From either of these two cities, it’s a short bus ride followed by a ferry service out to Ko Samui.
It may be slower, but it’s often cheaper. However, many like to say they’re taking the “scenic route.”
International Flights at Don Mueang
International flights arrive and depart at Terminal 1. Most international flights are short-haul on low cost carriers. However, a new trend of low-cost long-haul flights is rapidly taking-off. Carriers such as Scoot, NokScoot, and AirAsia Thai X, are now operating a selection of long-haul routes from Don Mueang. These flights are popular among some because of cost, but as a general rule, don’t expect much space and be prepared to hand your credit card over for nearly everything once on-board.
International Arrivals at Bangkok Don Mueang
The arrival process is the same here as Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), but you’ll experience much shorter talks and the terminal is more compact. Arrival cards must be completed by all inbound passengers and we suggest you do this on the plane. Entry requirements vary depending on nationality, but getting in is quite simple. Unless there are unique circumstances, don’t expect an interview or question and answer session at immigration. Hand your passport, required documents, and arrival card over and face the camera. After a couple of stamps, you’re in.
Customs likewise is pretty straightforward. Claim your bag(s) and proceed through the green (nothing to declare) or red (items to declare) channel. ATMs, Foreign Exchange, and telecom providers selling SIM cards are all available upon arrival.
International Departures at Bangkok’s Don Mueang
The process is more or less identical to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) without the long walks. We suggest you arrive 2 to 3 hours prior to international departure, as you may encounter lines at both check-in and immigration exit-control. As you’re likely on a low cost carrier, we suggest you know your baggage limits to avoid sticker shock at check-in.
Once you’re checked-in, it’s a good idea to proceed to immigration in case the queues get long. Be sure your departure card (opposite half of your landing card) is complete. Just like arrival, hand over your passport, any necessary documents, and departure card. Look at the camera and after you’re stamped out, proceed to security. The procedure is “Easy Peasy” as they say, unless you’ve over-stayed and then you might have a few problems.
There’s a nice selection of duty free at Don Mueang but it certainly isn’t Suvarnabhumi. Food, beverage, and even a pharmacy are all available airside prior to departure. Once on-board, expect a quick taxi out to the runway if everything is on-time.
Connecting between Don Mueang (DMK) and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)
A free bus service operated by Airports of Thailand (AOT) is available to transfer between the two airports. Bus service starts at 5:00am and ends at midnight. Pack your patience as the journey time could take anywhere between 50 minutes and two hours depending on traffic. The transfer bus operates once per hour at minimum and more frequently during peak periods. See the bus service timetable for more information.
Other transportation options between the two airports include Uber and Taxi. A taxi fare should run in the neighborhood of 350 THB on the meter.