Don Muang International, Bangkok’s main airport until Suvarnabhumi opened in 2006, is now the city’s secondary terminal for budget airlines like Air Asia.
1. Free Wifi
Sometimes. At the Chiang Mai airport I went through a complex, multi-step sign-up process to connect to the free airport wifi provided by True, one of Thailand’s telecom providers. The same log in information allowed me to access wifi at Don Muang later the same day. But when I returned to Don Muang four days later, my account information no longer worked and I wasn’t able to sign up for a new one. I can’t tell you why this happened because my three words of Thai weren’t enough to translate the error messages.
2. Train Connection To Somewhere Worth Seeing On A Four-Hour Layover
No. Mo Chit, the nearest BTS station, is a 20 minute taxi ride from the airport. When you exit customs, go to the taxi stand at Gate 8 of the arrivals area. The English-speaking staff at the counters will write your destination on a piece of paper for the driver to minimize mistakes. The taxi from the airport on a busy afternoon cost me 250 baht (about CAD$8) for the metered fare plus a 60 baht expressway toll and a 50 baht surcharge for trips starting at the airport. A one way skytrain ticket from Mo Chit to the main shopping area at Siam BTS station is about 40 baht and the trip takes 20 minutes.
3. Left Luggage
Yes. Left luggage is an important service for a terminal hosting low cost airlines that charge by the pound for luggage. At 75 baht per bag for the first 24 hours, and 38 baht for each additional 12 hour period, it’s a great alternative to packing all of your dirty laundry with you on a quick visa run.
4. Duty Free Costs
1L Bombay Sapphire gin = CAD$26
Coco Mademoiselle eau de parfum 50ml = CAD$110
5. Security Screening
Variable. On my outgoing international flights, I walked up to more open immigration counters than there were passengers. Security screening was equally quick, perhaps because the guy behind the monitor was so busy examining a bullet he had confiscated from a previous passenger that he barely glanced at my bag.
Immigration on arrival was painfully slow. I think the officer had to bleed herself to make ink for the visa she stamped in my passport. I walked up to the Nothing to Declare customs line just as the lone officer gave up on the long line and started waving people with less than two pieces of luggage through without security scanning. I liked the time savings; I did not like the compromise on safety a couple days after a Malaysia Airlines flight went missing.
6. Ease of Orientation
Easy. Don Muang used to be the belle of the ball so she’s overdesigned for just the low cost carrier traffic. There is lots of signage and lots of space.
7. Pre-Flight Food
Eat after security. Before my first flight, I settled for a few cubes of white bread soaked in honey and a push button Americano at one of the grimy coffee shops near the check in counters. Choices improve after security, so for subsequent flights I held out for overpriced scrambled eggs near the international departures gates.
8. Architecture/Interior Design
Faded 1970s glory. Okay. there was probably no glory even back then. Don Muang, the world’s oldest international commercial airport, is an unremarkable modernist building with no extra effort put into aesthetics. The interior design accents that do exist in the check in and domestic areas are yellow on brown, like a bad gym uniform. Fortunately the international departures wing has been updated and is clean and comfortable.
Photo courtesy of Bowo W
Overall Rating for DMX: 58%