No-one looking for cheap holiday deals in Thailand wants to miss flights with budget carriers like AirAsia or Nok Air. Whether for a domestic or international trip, these airlines offer fares for a fraction of the cost of full-service operators; during sale periods you can even get ‘free seats’, where taxes and any surcharges can add up to as little as a couple of hundred baht for a flight within Thailand.
While the sweetest deal was to be had while AirAsia was still flying in and out of Bangkok’s main Suvarnabhumi airport, even since the airline’s move to Don Muang (as part of efforts to ease congestion at Suvarnabhumi, which already operates over capacity) the fares on offer make it a more than worthwhile choice. Don Muang might not be quite as handily connected as Suvarnabhumi with its Airport Rail Link line, there are still a number of ways to make the trip.
The most obvious and most expensive way to get to the airport is just as it always has been, and just as it is to get to Suvarnabhumi; by flagging down one of Bangkok’s multi-coloured taxis. From Silom to Don Muang, expect a base fare in the region of 175 baht; around 200 baht from the top of Sukhumvit and a similar price from the Khaosan Road area. But traffic around the airport can be a nightmare at times and, depending on where you are travelling from, you are likely to come up against one or two tollway booths that will set you back almost 100 baht in addition to the taxi fare itself.
Less comfortable but a heck of a lot cheaper: if you’re truly on a budget, then the bus is the way to go. A number of routes, some with air-con and others not, ply Kamphaeng Phet Road beside Don Muang airport, but for a cheap-as-chips ride pick up the fan-cooled number 29, which runs 24/7. Stops include Hualumphong train station, where the route starts, plus the MBK shopping centre and then much of the western end of the Skytrain’s Sukhumvit line, as it snakes its way past Phaya Thai and Victory Monument towards Mo Chit.
It’s as local a bus as you’re likely to get from central Bangkok, and it might not be heaps of fun if you’re travelling with lots of luggage (and you’ll already have been stung by the airlines for that!) but the journey out to the airport will only cost you six and a half baht. Yes, really! If you are going to take this option, remember that the number 29 doesn’t take the tollway express route so allow plenty of time – allow at least an hour for the bus journey.
The number 59 will take you straight from Sanam Luang, near Khaosan Road, directly to Don Muang, while the air-conditioned 538 runs between the airport and Phaya Thai, and the 555 operates as a shuttle between Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports. Air-conditioned bus number 510, onto which airport staff seem keen on herding foreign tourists straight off their planes, makes the short hop from Don Muang to Mo Chit for onward travel by Skytrain.
What Don Muang lacks in the modern sense of the airport train boasted by Suvarnabhumi, it makes up for with its location right on the mainline north-south railway line from Bangkok’s main Hualumphong station. Trains leave from Hualumphong between 04.20 and 22.25 and generally take in the region of 30-50 minutes. The airport is just over the road and reachable via an elevated ramp walkway. Many of the third-class services are free to Thai citizens and cost between 5 and 31 baht for foreign tourists depending on class of accommodation – but beware, there are a few Special Express trains that are inexplicably priced in the 200-300 baht region.