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Bangkok International and Domestic Airport - Don Muang


Bangkok International and Domestic  Airport Don Muang


Review and travel tips for Bangkok International and Domestic Airport, Don Muang

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- Notice - from September 28, 2006 at 3am all commercial flights in and out of Thailand, and also all domestic flights land and depart from Bangkok's new International Airport - Suvarnabhumi, Since then the airport hotel is the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel - end Notice -

This review is valid only while Don Muang is still in full commercial operation - Bangkok Airport is split into three major terminals, two International (1 and 2) and the domestic terminal. Don Muang as it is called, may not be the most sophisticated airport in the world but it works, and is well spread out with handy electronic walk ways, throughout the airport.

All three terminals are connected land side via air conditioned passage way, it would take roughly 20 minutes to walk from the domestic terminal to International terminal 1. 

Inside the airport there are food and beverage outlets, even pubs to help you pass the time. However most of these are before you pass through immigration. In between terminal 1 and 2  you will find on the second level, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, a Thai restaurant, and a couple of Pubs the best of which is the Hofbrauhaus.

Once however you have passed through immigration, which can take a long time depending what time you actually are departing your choice is very limited. There is a Kentucky Fried Chicken, which can be found close to the security pass for gates 40-49, and there is also a small restaurant style cafeteria which is on the second level, upstairs. The choice is very limited and consists of mainly a few Thai dishes. There are also a few little cafe style cafeterias dotted around the airport, which serve delicacies such as hot dogs and a few sandwiches. Other than that, the only other place for food and beverage, would really be the lounges which you can only access, if a) your are travelling in the appropriate class (namely business or first), b) you are a "Gold" card member with that airlines frequent flyer programme, c) You belong to a club such as Priority  or d) you pay. 

Depending what time your flight is leaving, passing through immigration can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 40 minutes or even longer. As I write this I am sat aboard Thai airways and the queue in immigration was frightening, a whole group of tourists seemed to descend upon the immigration queues, just as I arrived. There are ways to avoid these minor inconveniences, if you are travelling Thai, and you are in business or first class then the ladies and gentlemen in white coats (no jokes please !) will escort you through immigration without you even having to queue. These kind people can be found at the special check in areas, for first and business class Thai Airways, some other airlines do also offer this 'Fast Track' service so check with the airline when you check in .

Once you have passed through immigration you can then either go to the lounge (if applicable as stated above), go shopping, or simply laze around. 

The lounges at Don Muang are generally very good, yet basic, with a lot of airlines having just finished their lounge renovations, most lounges at this airport are non smoking. One exception to this is Thai. Thai has three lounges for business class passengers and the one situated in the middle of the airport offers guests a smoking lounge on the upper floor, as does their newest lounge which offers great views of the airport.

As for shopping at Don Muang, the airport consists of one Duty Free outlet, King Power Duty Free. All general Duty Free items are available at reasonable prices. There are other shops scattered around, however it generally tends to be cheaper to buy the same goods in downtown Bangkok, especially such as books etc. so do think about what you need to take back before leaving.

The Domestic terminal is very simple, they have a very basic Thai airways business class lounge, and about three Burger Kings in the one terminal ! 

Book shops can be found in each of the terminals but as mentioned before the choice is limited and more often than not the same book may have been cheaper downtown.

If you are arriving at Bangkok International Airport, you will be able to buy Duty Free before passing through customs. These shops are just after immigration and are located at either end of the baggage reclaim area. Cigarettes are a good buy with a packet of Dunhill International Red costing 490 Baht but alcohol tends to be a little expensive, a bottle of Balvenie 10 yo will cost you roughly 1,600 Baht. Wine is definitely expensive so if you enjoy a good claret then bring it in with you.

If you are meeting friends at the airport be SURE to ask which way out of customs you should turn. At the domestic terminal this will not be a problem however in both the International Terminals this can cause confusion and mild panic, as you can turn both right and left ! Generally the meeting area is on the left if you have your back to customs, however the right side is always less crowded and you will find your friends/family much easier here.

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