The free shuttle bus between Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang

If you are like me, after a long flight, you want to travel fast to your final destination. However, if that destination was not Bangkok, you might need to transfer from one Bangkok airport to the other.

Bangkok has two main international airports:

  • Suvarnabhumi airport (IATA airport code BKK) - the newest and largest one. It is pronounced su-wa-na-poom, which means The Golden Land, referring to a kingdom that was east of the Ganges and maybe in South-East Asia. Currently expansion projects are underway to increase the handling capacity to 125 million passengers a year by 2024.
  • Don Mueang airport (IATA airport code DMK) - one of the oldest international airports in the world. It is mostly used by low cost carriers. Don Mueang airport has two terminals: terminal 1 for international flights and terminal 2 for domestic flights. The two terminals are connected and you can literally walk from one terminal to the other in a few minutes. An expansion project is ongoing and will cater for 40 million passengers by the year 2024.

The above should make it clear: these are very busy airports, main problems:

  • Immigration queues in both airports can be very long. It can take anyway between 10 minutes and 2 hours to get allowed into the country. A few months ago special queues were created for Chinese passengers and more recently immigration started to use fingerprint scanners. This might speed up things.
  • Check-in at Don Mueang can be chaotic in the international terminal with thousands of Chinese tourists queuing but nobody knowing exactly which queue is going where. No problems in the domestic terminal however.

So you just landed in Suvarnabhumi airport and suddenly realized you need to change to Don Mueang? You are not the first tourist that tried to find the “connecting” flight and was told to be in the wrong airport. Don’t panic, you will make it.

Options to travel from Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang airport

Of course, you can take a taxi and this might be slightly faster than the shuttle bus, but if there is a traffic jam (never been in Bangkok without one) both taxi as shuttle bus will be moving slow.

####Like a boss, use a taxi

Just follow the signs to the taxi queues. Note that there three different queues:

  • one for very nearby travel (as a tourist you probably won’t be staying very close to the airport)
  • one for groups or people with lots of luggage (minivan)
  • the queue you probably need.

Depending on how many flights arrived at the same time, queuing for the taxi can again take up to half an hour.

Everything is done through a terminal, you press a button, and after a while you get a ticket with the location of the taxi stand.

Hop on a bus, Gus

A cheaper option is taking the shuttle bus. This is completely free and takes you in about one hour to Don Mueang.

Where is the shuttle bus?

I planned to take the shuttle bus, but did not really look it up. I arrived at Suvarnabhumi, sailed through immigration and expected to see some signs. maybe I was to tired, but I did not see any signs to the location of the shuttle bus. Where is it?

Luckily I found an information stand, got help and was directed at the location of the shuttle bus:

  • Follow the signs to the Meeting Point (once you pass immigration, this should be to your right)
  • The Meeting Point is at exit door 3.
  • Take that exit, if lucky the bus is waiting just in front.
  • There is a manned counter. The person behind it will check if you have a connecting flight (no print-out needed, just a confirmation of the booking in your phone is sufficient).
  • If everything is OK, you get stamped on the wrist with the letters “SV”.
  • You can now enter the bus or wait until it arrives. There are seats outside.
  • There is supposed to be a fixed schedule, but again, I did not see that. But I was lucky, and the bus departed 5 minutes after me boarding.

Below is a quick picture taken from inside the shuttle bus. You can see the “door 3” sign and the seats outside.

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Is the shuttle bus any good?

I quite liked it. It can take about 25 passengers and luggage (the luggage is stored in the front of the bus). The seats are quite comfortable and the aircon is fully working. Curtains keep the sun out. You can easily stretch your legs, not unimportant after a long flight.

I do not hesitate to recommend this service, especially if you:

  • are on a budget, the shuttle bus is free!
  • are not in a super hurry to reach Don Mueang (note that taxis are only marginally faster)
  • are travelling in group (no need to split the group over multiple taxis or taking a more expensive van)

All in all, just do it!

Below a view from inside the shuttle. The bus left with only ten passengers. A quite and comfortable ride.

How long is the trip?

With moderate traffic jams, it will take about one hour.

Where in Don Mueang are we dropped?

You will be dropped in front of exit door number 5 in Terminal 1, the international terminal. Just walk two minutes to the right and you will end up in the domestic Terminal 2.

There I finally found a schedule (but only the other way around, from Don Mueang to Suvarnabhumi).

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Any last recommendations?

You might want to stock some food and drinks. There is a small convenience store right at the Meeting Point.