Bangkok Airport Free Shuttle Bus Service And Timetable
Bangkok Airports Short History And Introduction
Don Muang airport (IATA code DMK) opened in 1914 as an airforce base and in 1924 it started accepting commercial flights. Up until 2006 it was Bangkok's only major airport, dealing with both international and domestic flights.
As Thailand's tourism industry started to grow in the early 1970's the need for more airport capacity in Bangkok was recognised and 8,000 acres of land was acquired for a new airport in an area known as Cobra Swamp. However, because of political and economic instability in Thailand (including the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997) no development took place for a very long time.
When Thaksin Shinawatra became Prime Minister in 2001 he seemed determined to hasten progress with the new airport and Suwarnabhumi Airport (IATA code BKK, which it inherited from Don Muang) was finally opened in September 2006. Initially, the new airport dealt with both international and domestic flights and Don Muang ceased operation.
Don Muang airport in June 2015
In September 2006 I travelled by road from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, but returned by plane and the flight landed at Suwarnabhumi on the first day the new airport was open to passengers. It was my first experience of the new airport and I was one of the first passengers to arrive there. That first experience was eerily quiet, but Suwarnabhumi is very different nowadays.
A couple of years earlier, in 2004, budget airlines had taken off in a big way in Thailand. Previously, it was only possible to use Thai Airways for domestic flights and tickets were expensive. However, budget airlines enabled Thais to fly around the country instead of taking very long train and bus journeys and airfares were only slightly more expensive.
This budget airline boom started to cause capacity problems at Suwarnabhumi and it was decided to reopen and move the majority of domestic flights to Don Muang. These days, most budget airlines in Thailand use Don Muang for domestic flights (Nok Air, Thai Air Asia, Lion Air, etc) and most (but not all) international flights go in and out of Suwarnabhumi.
Thai Smile, the budget arm of Thai Airways, is the exception and this airline uses Suwarnabhumi for domestic flights.
An almost deserted Suwarnabhumi airport just after it had opened in September 2006
Suwarnabhumi airport terminal in December 2006
Suwarnabhumi airport in December 2006
If you arrive or depart on an international flight at Suwarnabhumi and transfer to a domestic flight other than Thai Smile (Thai Smile is about the most expensive budget airline), then you will need to transfer between Bangkok's two major airports.
Suvarnabhumi To Don Muang Taxi Fare
One obvious option to transfer between Bangkok's two airports is by taking a metered taxi. I did this in 2017 after landing at Suwarnabhumi from the UK and the reason was because my flight from Doha in Qatar had been delayed by almost two hours. I had very little time to make my connecting flight and I had to get to Don Muang airport as fast as possible or be forced to buy a new ticket. The metered taxi fare was Bt460 and I had to pay Bt145 in toll way fees, therefore, just over Bt600. I made the flight with minutes to spare and would have missed it had I taken the free shuttle bus.
Bangkok taxi and some of Thailand's famous tuk-tuks
If you do have sufficient time (as I should have had if my incoming flight hadn't been delayed), there is a shuttle bus service operated by the Airports Organisation of Thailand (AOT) and it is completely free.
On the outward journey when I flew into Don Muang from Hat Yai and then transferred to Suwarnabhumi for my Qatar Airways flight to London via Doha there were no flight delays. I had plenty of time and used the free shuttle bus service. The service was excellent and it saved me Bt600. If you have time, I recommend it highly.
Below you will find details about the service.
Free Bangkok Airport Shuttle Bus Service Timetable
The shuttle bus journey time - dependent, of course, on Bangkok's notorious traffic jams - is about one hour. The distance by road is around 45km. According to the official timetable, the service runs from 5am until midnight. During peak hours (from 8am to 11am, and 4pm to 7pm) the buses run every 12 minutes and outside of peak hours they run every 30 minutes.
Be aware that during peak hours is also when you will encounter the most traffic. The traffic situation in Bangkok is horrendous and peak hour traffic jams will add a significant amount of time to your journey.
Bangkok airports shuttle bus service
If you just miss a shuttle bus it is possible that you will have to wait 30 minutes for the next one to leave and if the traffic is bad your journey time may be longer than one hour. This needs to be borne in mind because paying a Bt600 taxi fare is a lot cheap than buying new flight tickets.
Airport security is very tight these days (especially at Suwarnabhumi) and many airlines advise passengers to check in three hours before their flight. To be on the safe side, always take the worst-case scenario and always make sure that you have enough time.
The shuttle bus service is completely free, but to use it you must show your air ticket for your onward flight. The date of your flight must be for the same day, or for the following day. Once you show your ticket your hand will be stamped and you will then be allowed to board the bus. The seats are quite uncomfortable, but the buses are designed in such a way that there is ample space for lots of luggage.
If you are carrying golf bags, surfboards, bicycles in boxes, guitars, or any other large items or packages it won't be a problem. Passengers with mobility aids and wheelchairs should also be fine (with a little help), even though Thailand can be a difficult country for disabled people.
Bangkok airports shuttle bus service timetable
The next thing you need to know is where to board the bus.
At Don Muang airport free shuttle buses leave from outside Exit/Entrance 6 at Terminal 1. Most domestic flights use Terminal 2, but the walk between the terminals isn't very far.
Don Muang Airport Terminal 1 Exit/Entrance 6
At Suwarnabhumi airport free shuttle buses leave from Exit/Entrance 3 on Level 2.
Suwarnabhumi Airport Level 2 Exit/Entrance 3
The service is really easy to use. Just make sure that you have your onward flight ticket or a print of your e-ticket and that you have plenty of time to make your connecting flight.
Suvarnabhumi - List Of Airlines
The following list may not be up to date. Always check first using current sources.
- Aeroflot (International Terminal 1)
- Air Asia (Domestic)
- Air China (International Terminal 2)
- Air France (International Terminal 2)
- Air-India (International Terminal 1)
- Air Koryo Korean Airways (International Terminal 1)
- Air Macau (International Terminal 2)
- Alitalia (International Terminal 2)
- Asiana Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- Bangkok Airways (Domestic, International Terminal 2)
- Biman Bangladesh Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- British Airways (International Terminal 2)
- Cathay Pacific Airways (International Terminal 2)
- China Airlines (International Terminal 2)
- China Eastern Airlines (International Terminal 2)
- China Southern Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- Drukair (International Terminal 1)
- EgyptAir (International Terminal 1)
- El Al (International Terminal 1)
- Emirates (International Terminal 2)
- Ethiopian Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- EVA Air (International Terminal 2)
- Finnair (International Terminal 2)
- Garuda Indonesia (International Terminal 2)
- Gulf Air (International Terminal 2)
- Indian Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- JAL Japan Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (International Terminal 2)
- Korean Air (International Terminal 1)
- Kuwait Airways (International Terminal 2)
- Lao Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- LTU (International Terminal 2)
- Lufthansa (International Terminal 2)
- Malaysia Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- Myanmar Airways (International Terminal 1)
- Northwest Airlines (International Terminal 2)
- PIA Pakistan International Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- Qantas Airways (International Terminal 2)
- Royal Brunei Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- Royal Jordanian (International Terminal 1)
- Royal Nepal Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- SAS Scandinavian Airlines System (International Terminal 1)
- Singapore Airlines (International Terminal 2)
- SriLankan Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- Swiss International Air Lines (International Terminal 2)
- Thai Airways International (International Terminal 1)
- Thai Smile (Domestic)
- Turkish Airlines (International Terminal 2)
- Turkmenistan Airlines (International Terminal 1)
- United Airlines (International Terminal 2)
- Uzbekistan Airways (International Terminal 2)
- Vietnam Airlines (International Terminal 1)
Don Muang - List Of Airlines
The following list may not be up to date. Always check first using current sources.
- Air Asia (International)
- China Express Airlines (International)
- Indonesia Air Asia (International)
- Indonesia Air Asia X (International)
- JC International Airlines (International)
- Malindo Air (International)
- New Gen Airways (International)
- Nok Air (Domestic)
- Nok Scoot (International)
- Philippines Air Asia (International)
- Scoot (International)
- Thai Air Asia (Domestic, International)
- Thai Air Asia X (International)
- Thai Lion Air (Domestic, International)
- Tiger Air Taiwan (International)
Shopping And Eating At Suvarnabhumi Airport
After you get through security at Suvarnbhumi you enter what resembles a large, expensive shopping mall rather than an international airport. Think Siam Paragon in central Bangkok.
The Duty Free area is vast and the shops are very expensive. While on the way to London in 2017 I was on the look out for a camera and looked at the model I wanted in a shop in Suvarnabhumi. Despite the 'duty free' status of the goods at the airport, the camera I wanted was vastly more expensive at Suvarnabhumi than shops outside the airport.
Most good for sale inside Suvarnabhumi's Duty Free area seem to be targeted at the ultra rich, and not at poor people such as myself.
Likewise, I found food outlets to also be very expensive inside the airport. Once you have passed security there is no way back and if you want to buy food you have no choice but to eat at expensive restaurants.
If you want to save money there is a food court in the main terminal building, but you can only use it before going through security.
There is also a massage shop inside the departure hall but, as you have probably guessed, it is also very expensive. When you live in Thailand are are used to getting massages for Bt200 an hour, the prices quoted at the airport come as something of a shock.
I found the whole Suvarnabhumi experience to be very, very expensive. If you don't have wads of cash, I would advise buying all the things you will need while waiting for your flight before you get to the airport. Everything at Suvarnabhumi is very expensive.
Don Muang is very different. Food prices inside the airport terminal are fairly reasonable and if you really want to save money you can find places outside that are even cheaper.
Changing Money At Suvarnabhumi Airport
We've already established that Suvarnabhumi Airport is a very expensive place for eating, shopping and massages. It is also a very expensive place to change money. There are several currency exchange booths at the airport, all offering the same poor exchange rates.
Probably a lot of tourists returning home will want to exchange their remaining Baht and other travellers will want to buy some currency for their next destination. Suvarnabhumi is a bad place to do it.
In 2017, due mainly to bad planning, I exchanged money at Suvarnabhumi twice. First, Baht to UK pounds and then Baht to Vietnamese Dong when I went to Hoi An in Vietnam. On both occasions I got ripped off with exchange rates.
Changing money is also something that you should do before you arrive at the airport. If, like me, you failed to plan and end up exchanging money at Suvarnabhumi, just get the minimum you need for when you arrive at your destination.
Get the rest of your foreign currency after you arrive at your destination and you will get a much better exchange rate.
Hotels Near Suvarnabhumi Airport
Due to flight times or personal circumstances you may need to stay in a hotel near Suvarnabhumi Airport the night before your flight. This happened to me when I went to Hoi An in Vietnam. There were no flights early enough from southern Thailand to get me to Bangkok in time to make my connecting flight. I flew into Bangkok the day before and stayed at a hotel for one night.
A lot of people do the same and consequently a lot of new hotels have opened within a few kilometres of the airport to cater for this demand. The hotel owners know exactly why guests stay at their hotels and they offer free minivan services to the airport that run every half hour, or so. The price of this service in included in the room rate. When you check in, tell the receptionist what time you have to be at the airport the next day and reserve your seats on the minivan.
I stayed at Sinsuvarn Airport Suite. It wasn't the greatest hotel I have ever stayed at, but it was sufficient and - most importantly of all - I got my flight the following day.
Because Chinese tourists now dominate the Thai tourism industry most of these hotels seem to cater to large Chinese tour groups.
Sinsuvarn Airport Suite - Click on image for more information
I always use (and recommend) Agoda to book hotels in Thailand. Agoda has many alternative hotels near the airport. Just go to the Agoda website and put in a search for Suvarnabhumi.
Suvarnabhumi Suite, Bangkok - Click on image for more information
Golden Jade Suvarnabhumi Hotel - Click on image for more information
To stay in a hotel near Suvarnabhumi Airport is very cheap. When I returned to Thailand from London in 2017 I also had an early flight and looked at staying in a hotel near Heathrow the night before. I very quickly gave up this idea when I saw the room rates, and decided to sleep inside the airport terminal instead.
Prices in Thailand continue to go up gradually every year, but hotel room rates are still a bargain compared to most other countries.
This will be of very little interest to most visitors to Thailand, but it really annoys me.
The transliteration of Thai words into English using the English alphabet is a perennial nightmare and in most cases the transliterations are completely wrong phonetically. There is supposed to be an official system, but it is inaccurate and its use is inconsistent.
Bangkok's original airport is officially transliterated as Don Mueang, but according to many transliteration systems it should be Don Meuang and you will often see Don Muang.
The transliteration of the new airport's name is extremely misleading, causing most foreigners to mispronounce it. Some Thai words have a written short vowel at the end, but this vowel isn't voiced. A more accurate pronunciation would be 'suu-wun-na-poom' without the 'i' at the end.
สุวรรณภูมิ - 'suu-wun-na-poom'
ดอนเมือง - 'don meuang'
There are two versions of the word 'airport' in Thai. Most commonly used is 'sanaam bin'. 'Sanaam' has many meanings in English, but one meaning is 'field'. 'Bin' is the verb 'to fly'. Therefore, the literal meaning is something like 'flying field'.
สนามบิน - 'sanaam bin'
The second version is 'taa aagaat yaan'. 'Taa' means pier, dock, jetty, port, etc. 'Reua' in Thai is boat/ship, therefore a shipping port is 'taa reua'. 'Aagaat' is 'air' and 'yaan' is 'craft'. This second version is a more accurate translation of the English 'airport'.
ท่าอากาศยาน - 'taa aagaat yaan'
If you are interested in understanding more about written Thai, check out my Learning To Read Thai Tutorials. Reading Thai is actually a lot easier than you may think. If you live in Thailand (where you are surrounded with Thai script) and are of average intelligence you can learn to read Thai to a basic level fairly easily within six months.
Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
If you wish to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.
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