How to Get From Don Mueang Airport to the City Centre

How to get from Don Muang Airport to city centre

To help get your holiday in Thailand off to a problem-free start, in this article, I highlight the different ways to get from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre as smoothly and quickly as possible.

One of two international airports serving Thailand’s capital city (the other one is Suvarnabhumi Airport), Don Mueang (DMK) is the smaller and oldest of two of Bangkok’s international airports and is a hub for budget airlines and domestic flights.

You will likely use this airport for your internal flights in Thailand if you plan to fly with airlines such as Airasia or Nok Air.

Don Mueang Airport is located 20 km outside Bangkok. 

The airport started life in 1914 as an airfield for the Royal Thai Air Force. Ten years later, in 1924, it welcomed its first commercial aircraft with the arrival of a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight, giving it the distinction of being one of the world’s oldest international commercial airports.

The airport has a colourful history, having been commandeered by the Japanese during World War II and briefly taken over by the British Royal Air Force from 1945 to 1946. During the Vietnam War, it was used by the Americans as a logistics and command base.

After the war years, as international business and leisure travel continued to grow, so did Don Mueang Airport, and in 2005, the first direct flight from Bangkok to New York City was introduced by Thai Airways International.

Closed for a short period in 2006 for necessary upgrades, today, Don Mueang Airport operates two terminals and two runways.

Terminal 1 covers international flights, and Terminal 2 covers domestic and short-haul flights. Pre-Covid (2019), more than 40 million passenger movements were recorded through the airport over the previous 12 months.

A Terminal 3 is also in the pipeline, with plans to have it operating by the late 2020s. 

So, with so many people coming and going, what are the best and most stress-free ways to get from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre?

How to get from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre

Are you still looking for accommodation? Don’t forget to check out the best areas to stay in Bangkok.

1. Taxi, the best way to get from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre (easy, fast, and cheap)

Like many international airports worldwide, Bangkok has its fair share of unlicenced taxis, with unscrupulous drivers out to make a quick baht from unsuspecting tourists. With this in mind, use only licensed taxis.

Once you’ve cleared baggage control and customs, follow the ‘Taxi’ signs you will find on the concourse of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

Taxi control is situated on the road level of Terminal 1 by Gate 8 and Terminal 2 by Gate 12. At the desk you will find a ticketing system. Grab a ticket which will have a number on it.

When your number comes up on the screen, go to the taxi marshal who will look at your destination and passenger numbers before contacting a driver and giving him your destination address. The driver will then walk with you to the cab.

All airport taxis operate on a time and distance meter, so ensure your driver puts his meter on before driving off.

The total fee for a taxi from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre can be made up of three elements:

  • The fee for your journey, anything from 200 – 400 baht depending on destination, time and hold-ups. 
  • The airport surcharge for using an airport taxi, 50 baht.
  •  The toll fee (recommended at peak hours) for using the Expressway, a motorway route that can save you over an hour in travelling time, 70 baht

The total cost from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre (Siam – Sukhumvit area) should be between 300 and 500 baht. The last time I took a taxi to the Asok area, the total cost was 350 baht.

Journey time, depending on time and conditions, is 30-60 minutes. You can often double that if you choose not to use the expressway, especially during rush-hour periods.

  • Cost: 250 – 520 THB
  • Frequency: Continuous
  • Travel time: 30-60 minutes
  • Operating hours: 24 hours

2. Grab, I usually use Grab to go from Bangkok to Don Mueang Airport

You can also book a Grab car (download the ‘Grab’ app available for both Android and iPhone). Operation is the same as for Uber, filling in destination, passenger numbers and luggage.

As Grab is not allowed to tout for business at the airport, you may have a short wait for your driver to turn up. On the plus side, your fee will be fixed for your journey. 

To go from Don Mueang Airport I always take a regular taxi, but on the other way around I usually book a Grab car.

Journey time again, depending on the time of day, distance, and demand will likely be from 250 baht to 700 baht. 

Last time I took a Grab from Asok area to Don Mueang Airport the cost was 284 THB.

  • Cost: 250 – 700 THB
  • Frequency: Continuous
  • Travel time: 30-60 minutes
  • Operating hours: 24 hours

3. Train, cheap and easy to connect with MRT and BTS

Transport from Don Muang Airport

Having a train line that takes you from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre of Bangkok is a relatively new experience for the local population, with the line only opening in 2021. However, using it is not as straightforward as in many other international airports.

Don Mueang Station sits opposite the airport and is accessed by a raised walkway from the second floor of terminal 1, which takes you over the large roadway and into the train station, also raised above ground level. Walking time is around 5 to 10 minutes.

Leaving airport arrivals, you need to follow the ‘SRT Red Line’ (a suburban service running south from Rangsit and stopping at Mueang Airport before terminating in the city at Bang Sue Grand Station, the largest railway station in Thailand) signs, which will lead you to the new footbridge. 

Once at the station, you need to follow the ‘Commuter’ signs for the platform to Bang Sue Grand Station. 

From Don Mueang Station to Bang Sue Grand Station, trains operate from 05.30 to midnight every 10 to 20 minutes, depending on peak or off-peak hours. The journey time is  around 20 minutes. Tickets cost 33 THB.

However, things can start to get more complicated from here on in. Bang Sue has two other suburban lines operating out of the station.

  • 1. The Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line: an underground rail line into the city centre, covering the Phetchaburi, Sukhumvit and Silom Roads, and the Hua Lamphong Railway Station. MRT also connects to the Airport Link and the Bangkok Transit System (BTS) overhead services.
  • 2. The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) Light Red Line: a light railway suburban service running west to Taling Chan.

Once in Bang Sue Grand interchange station most travelers will likely take the MRT Blue line that goes to popular tourist destinations such as Sukhumvit areas, Lumphini, Si Lom and Hua Lamphong. 

The cost for the Blue Line MRT trip from Bang Sue MRT station to downtown Bangkok is around THB 40.

Depending on where your accommodation is, after dropping off from the MRT stations, you may also board the BTS Skytrain (Bangkok Mass Transit System) to your final destination. 

Commuting to Mo Chit BTS stations is very convenient if your final destination is along the BTS line.

As an example, getting to Sukhumvit Area from Don Mueang Station will entail a change of train at Bang Sue, heading to Mo Chit, and then a change to the BTS at Mo Chit to Asok (Sukhumvit Road), with a total cost of around 100 baht.

Route maps are on display in the station showing what colour service you need for which destination. Ticket machines only take low-denomination local coins or notes. You also need a separate ticket for each line, as Thailand has yet to unify its public transport ticketing system.

  • Departing station: Don Mueang station 
  • Drop-off station: Bang Sue Grand station 
  • Cost: THB 33
  • Frequency: 12 – 20 minutes, depending on peak or off-peak hours
  • Travel time: 20 minutes
  • Operating hours: 5:30am to 12:00am

4. Airport Express Bus, a good option to get from Don Mueang Airport to city centre for budget travellers

If your chosen hotel doesn’t operate an airport shuttle service, Don Mueang Airport’s express coach service is a good option for budget travellers.

The airport continues to update its fleet of coaches, and today, most are modern, plush coaches with full air conditioning. This is the case for the Airport Express Buses.

Airport Express terminals can be found outside the arrivals hall at Exit No 6 on the first floor of Terminal 1, and Exit No 12 on the first floor of Terminal 2.

The four main express buses from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre area are designated routes A1, A2, A3, and A4.

Express bus A1:

  • Operating times: 06.15 to 00.00 midnight
  • Frequency: every 15 minutes
  • Cost: 30 baht per person one way
  • Main stops: Central Lad Phrao Mall – BTS SkyTrain Mo Chit and MRT Chatuchak Park – JJ Mall – Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal (also known as Chatuchak Bus Station)

Express bus A2:

  • Operating times: 06.30 to 23.00
  • Frequency: every 25 minutes
  • Cost: 30 baht per person one way
  • Main Stops: Central Lad Phrao Mall – BTS SkyTrain Mo Chit (MRT Metro Chatuchak Park) – BTS Saphan Kwai – BTS Ari – BTS Sanam Pao – Victory Monument

Express bus A3:

  • Operating times: 07.00 to 23.00
  • Frequency: every 30 minutes
  • Cost: 50 baht per person one way
  • Main stops: Din Daeng – Pratunam – Airport Rail Link Ratchaprarop Station – CentralWorld shopping mall – BTS Ratchadamri – BTS Sala Daeng / MRT Silom Station – Lumphini Park

Express bus A4:

  • Operating times: 07.00 to 23.00
  • Frequency: every 30 minutes
  • Cost: 50 baht per person one way
  • Main stops: Yommarat – Lan Luang – Phanfa Bridge – Democracy Monument – Bang Lamphu – Khao San Road – Sanam Luang

In most instances, you pay your fare to the driver in small denomination coins or notes, but some of the newest express coaches can now accept payment by credit or debit cards. In this instance, no receipt will be given.

5. Public buses, the cheapest way (I don’t recommend them)

Although the cheapest way to get from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre, public buses are not recommended for anyone other than those who are prepared to wing it with minimal baggage, or those with an excellent knowledge of getting around Bangkok by bus.

Nonetheless, for the more adventurous amongst us, to get to the public bus stops from the airport, you need to take the pedestrian bridge at the airport, cross the motorway to Don Mueang Station, and then exit the station to the main road where you will see several bus stops.

Bangkok operates hundreds of daily commuter bus routes, and buses come in numerous colours from pink to blue, green, yellow, and other colours of the rainbow.

Another problem is the buses (and most of the stops) are signed in Thai only, so most visitors have to rely on just the route number. 

Keep in mind that public buses tend to be very crowded, and some don’t have air conditioning. I strongly suggest taking the Airport Express Buses instead of public buses.

To further muddy the waters, some fares are flat rate, and some are based on distance. They will also vary depending on whether you ride in air-con coaches or the older sweat boxes. Across the board, fares can range from 5 baht to around 40 baht.

Public buses generally operate from 05.00 to 23.00, with limited services operating 24/7.

A few buses that stop by the airport and cover most areas around the city and up to Suvarnabhumi Airport are as follows.

  • Route 29 covering: Laksi – Mo Chit – Victory Monument – Sam Yan – Bangkok Hua Lamphong Train Station
  • Route 59 covering: Bangkhen – Kasetsart University – Central Lat Phrao – Chatuchak – Saphan Khwai – Victory Monument – Ratchadamnoen Avenue (Khorasan Road) – Sanam Luang
  • Route 95 covering: Bangkapi
  • Route 187 covering: Din Daeng – Ratwiti – Victory Monument – Charoen Krung – Thanam Sipraya
  • Route 510 covering: Laksi – Mo Chit – Saphan Khwai – Victory Monument
  • Route 538 covering: Din Daeng – Victory Monument – Rama Hospital
  • Route 554 covering: Laksi – Ramintra – Suvarnabhumi Airport
  • Route 555 covering: Laksi – Horwang – Din Daeng – Phra Ram 9 – Suvarnabhumi Airport

6. Private Hire, the most comfortable way to get from Don Mueang Airport to city centre

While many holidaymakers/tourists consider their holiday starts with the trip to their departure airport, many others feel the travelling part an unavoidable necessity to get where they want to be. And want it over as quickly and problem-free as possible.

If you fall into the second category, consider paying that little extra and book a Private Hire Vehicle.

Private Hire is also a good option for families travelling with young children, couples with large bags and cases, and visitors who want to do it in style. 

Best of all, it can all be booked and paid for online before your holiday begins, meaning one less thing to worry about when you land.

A number of Private Hire Companies operate in Bangkok, both local and international, so you can seek out the best deals for your needs.

You can book a standard taxi-size car, estate car or SUV if you have extra luggage, a people carrier if you have a large party group, or do it in style with a top-of-the-range limousine.

For Private Hire, expect to pay anything from 400 baht to 1000+ baht. Costs will depend on your chosen vehicle, time and destination. 

That said, with your English-speaking driver waiting for you at arrivals to whisk you to your transport, the extra cost is more than recouped in a fast, smooth exit from the airport and a relaxing ride to your hotel.

You check private transfers that you can book online in advance in sites such as 12go.com or Getyourguide.

  • Cost: 400 – 1000+ THB
  • Frequency: Continuous
  • Travel time: 30-60 minutes
  • Operating hours: 24 hours

7. Hire Car, only if you plan to visit other destinations

If your plans in Bangkok include daily visits to the coast and inland to soak up as much of the culture of the Land of Smiles as you can, you may be considering hiring a car.

At Bangkok Don Mueang airport, all car hire desks can be found on the arrivals concourse in Terminal 2, with the cars parked up in the rental car park just outside Terminal 1.

However, I strongly recommend you pre-book your Hire Car online. Doing so lets you compare the latest offers, which often seem to change daily.

You can choose the best vehicle that suits your purpose. And sort out any excess charges, insurance costs and documents required when you collect your car. Booking online also ensures the type of vehicle you want will be there on your arrival.

If you’re staying along Sukhumvit Road, the journey from Don Mueang Airport to the city centre will be around 30 minutes, provided you use the Don Mueang Toll Way.

From the airport, head southeast on the Vibhavadi Rangsit Road to the tollway. Take the ramp onto the tollway and keep to the left. Take the Rama IV Road exit and follow it until you reach the left turn onto Asok-Din Daeng Road.

As you drive along Asok-Din Daeng Rd, Sukhumvit Road will appear on your right.

One word of caution: even if you consider yourself an experienced driver on the roads of different European countries, driving anywhere in Asia will be a whole new experience.

Bangkok is a busy, bustling city with pedestrians, scooters, and motorbikes seemingly all trying to get through the same gaps in the traffic, so extra vigilance is required at all times. 

  • Cost: Depends on the car model
  • Frequency: Continuous
  • Travel time: 30-60 minutes
  • Operating hours: 24 hours

Summary

I would go with an airport taxi or pre-booked private hire vehicle for first-time visitors and families with young children who have had a long, tiring day’s travelling.

For those travellers where cost is a factor, I would consider the airport express coaches or airport taxi, depending on where I needed to be.

For the young adventurers and young at heart, where the experience is as important as saving money, I would choose the train, followed by Bangkok’s public bus service – if I was feeling really brave.

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