Before Suvarnabhumi International Airport opened in 2006, it was Don Mueang International Airport that served as the primary gateway to Bangkok. It first opened in 1914 and began commercial service in 1924 with a flight arrival from the airline KLM. When Suvarnabhumi opened in 2006, Don Mueang closed for a while and re-opened in 2007 to handle some domestic flights. In 2015, due to the surge of visitors in Bangkok, Terminal 2 was reopened to handle domestic flights, and Terminal 1 was dedicated to international flights.
There are many instances, especially for foreign travelers, when Suvarnabhumi is the ideal choice. For example, there are many more options for public transportation in Suvarnabhumi. However, there are also situations when it’s actually better to travel via Don Mueang Airport. Here are a few of them.
You’re on a Budget
If you’re travelling with a smaller budget, chances are, you’re choosing a budget airline. This means that you’re most probably flying in or out of Don Mueang Airport. Many Southeast Asia-based budget airlines like AirAsia, Nok Air, and Scoot Airlines operate out of Don Mueang Airport. While Suvarnabhumi Airport is undoubtedly larger and more modern, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be uncomfortable at Don Mueang. It has a Duty Free shop, numerous currency exchange booths and ATMs, as well as car rental services. There are also restaurants near the boarding gates. If you need to stay near the airport, it’s also easy to find hotels near Don Mueang Airport. A simple search of โรงแรมใกล้สนามบินดอนเมือง
will draw up a comprehensive list and you can choose affordable but excellent accommodations.
You’re Traveling Locally
Suvarnabhumi International Airport is usually where foreign tourists arrive, unless they’re flying on a low-cost airline. Don Mueang, meanwhile, is more focused on local flights and serves only a few international flights to and from Asian destinations. If you’re flying to other cities in Thailand, Don Mueang might be a better idea to avoid the crowds. Don Mueang accommodates flights to and from more than 20 local airports, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Krabi, Lampang, Nakhon si Thammarat, Phuket, Trang, and Udon Thani.
You’re Traveling to Other Popular Asian Destinations
Suvarnabhumi Airport accommodates flights to and from various countries including Australia and several European nations. This simply means that you’ll be dealing with a bigger crowd. If you’re travelling to Asian countries, it might be best to choose an airline that flies out of Don Mueang. Some of the busiest routes include flights to: Nanjing and Changsha in China; Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia; Narita Airport in Tokyo, Japan; KLIA in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Changi Airport in Singapore.
You’re in a Hurry
In terms of actual distance, Don Mueang Airport is closer to the city center than Suvarnabhumi Airport. It’s only during the rush hours that Don Mueang might feel farther away, as it is located in an industrial and residential area. However, as long as traffic conditions permit, it will only take about 30 minutes to get to and from Bangkok by bus. There’s also a train station in the airport that can take you to and from Hualamphong in Chinatown.
You Want to Play Golf
Admittedly, this is a more frivolous or niche reason than the others mentioned earlier. However, if you’re the type to get bored easily or simply want to try something new, you can actually play golf inside Don Mueang Airport. Kantarat Golf Course, a Royal Thai Air Force golf course, is tucked between the airport’s two runways. Of course, there are certain limitations involved in playing in such a location, chief among which is space constraints, as well as the fact that you have to stop playing when planes are landing and taking off. After all, the course is not separated from the runways. Still, it’s a unique and possibly thrilling experience that won’t make you dread staying at the airport for extended periods.
Don Mueang Airport may be an old facility, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its benefits. Even its small size may be more advantageous for you, since you won’t easily get lost. Consider these situations the next time you travel to Bangkok, and see if Don Mueang Airport can make your experience better.