Thailand - Bangkok Airports Shuttle Bus
Bangkok Airports Short History And Introduction
Don Mueang airport 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 the need for more airport capacity in Bangkok was recognised in the early 1970's and land was acquired for a new airport. However, because of political and economic instability in Thailand nothing happened for a very long time.
However, when Thaksin Shinawatra became Prime Minister he seemed determined to progress with the new airport and Suwarnabhumi was finally opened in September 2006. Initially, the new airport dealt with both international and domestic flights and Don Mueang ceased operation.
Don Mueang 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 - my first experience of the new airport.
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 Mueang. These days, most budget airlines in Thailand use Don Mueang 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.
Suwarnabhumi airport just after it had opened in September 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.
One obvious option 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 had been delayed and I had very little time to make my connecting flight. The taxi fare was Bt460 and I had to pay Bt145 in toll way fees.
Alternatively, if you have sufficient time, there is a free shuttle bus service operated by the Airports Organisation of Thailand (AOT) and it is completely free.
Below you will find details about the service.
Bangkok airports shuttle bus service
Free Shuttle Bus Service
The journey time - dependent, of course, on Bangkok's notorious traffic jams - is about one hour. The service runs from 5am until midnight. During peak hours the buses run every 12 minutes and outside of peak hours they run every 30 minutes.
If you just miss a 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. Airport security is very tight these days 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. Once you do so 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.
Bangkok airports shuttle bus service
The next thing you need to know is where to board the bus.
At Don Mueang airport they 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 Mueang Airport Terminal 1 Exit/Entrance 6
At Suwarnabhumi airport 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.
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 phonetic transliterations are completely wrong. There is supposed to be an official system, but it is inaccurate and its use is inconsistent.
The original Bangkok airport would normally be transliterated as Don Meuang, but it is transliterated as Don Mueang and sometimes Don Muang.
The transliteration of the new airport's name is extremely misleading. Some Thai words have a written short vowel at the end, but this vowel isn't pronounced. A more accurate pronunciation would be 'suu-wun-na-poom' without the 'i' at the end.
If you are interested in understanding more about written Thai, check out my tutorials.
Thailand for Tourists
Living In Thailand
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.
Images of Thailand