How to Transfer between Suvarnabhumi & Don Mueang Airports in Bangkok [Guide]

Transferring between Bangkok’s two major airports, Suvarnabhumi (BKK), and Don Mueang (DMK) can seem daunting at first. Whether you’re on a tight schedule or looking for the most budget-friendly option, there are numerous ways to make the journey comfortably. From the convenience of private rides to the economy of public transport, getting from DMK, the low cost international and domestic airport and, BK, the main international airport doesn’t have to be a hassle.

In this guide, we’ll explore all the transport options available from DMK to BKK airport making it easier for you to choose the one that suits your needs best. Let’s dive in!

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Bangkok has two airports. Don Mueang Airport—code DMK—was the original airport. It’s north of the city. As travel to Thailand grew, there wasn’t enough space to accommodate extra flights, so a second airport, Suvarnabhumi—code BKK—was built and opened in 2006. 

Suvarnabhumi or BKK is now the primary airport for international flights, with DMK main operating domestic and low-cost carrier services. Although some international airlines still use it as their arrival port. DMK is now considered the largest low cost carrier airport. 

There may be an occasion when you arrive at one but then need to depart from the other. The distance from Don Mueang Airport (DMK) to Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) is approximately 50 kilometres.

It infuriates me when travel agents book connections like this, as they should know better. However, with the massive uptake of online bookings, many cheaper deals use this poor connection.

I call it a poor connection because, depending on the day, weather, politics, or a myriad of other mysterious reasons, it could take 2–3 hours to get from one to the other. This can lead to heartbreak if the connection time isn’t at least 5 hours or more.

So, I’ve put together this guide with all the options to help you compare them so you can make an informed decision. 

How to Transfer between Suvarnabhumi & Don Mueang

There are quite a few options for transferring between the two airports. Your decision will come down to how much time you have to connect and how much money you’re prepared to spend. The options range from 45 minutes to 3 hours and from free to over 1,000 baht. Here’s the breakdown: 

Airport to Airport Shuttle

If you’re looking for a free option to travel between DMK and BKK, the Airports of Thailand (AOT) shuttle bus service is a fantastic choice. This service runs daily from 5 am to midnight, providing a convenient and cost-effective way to transfer between the two airports. However, be aware that there are certain restrictions for boarding.  

To be eligible for the service, you must present a valid ticket or boarding pass for a flight departing from either DMK or BKK on the same day. This is crucial, as the shuttle is designed specifically for airline transit passengers only. 

Secondly, while the shuttle is quite accommodating, there are certain constraints regarding luggage. Oversized or excess baggage might be problematic, so it’s advisable to travel light or ensure your luggage meets the size and weight restrictions commonly observed by airlines. 

AOT Shuttle at Don Mueang
AOT Shuttle at Don Mueang

Lastly, as it’s a free service, many people choose this option, and the queues can be significant. While the buses run every 15–30 minutes, you may have to wait for two or three to fill before reaching the front of the queue. 

The trip averages 1–2 hours depending on traffic, so factor that and the queuing time into your decision to take this option.

Overall, the free shuttle bus provides a reliable and budget-friendly transfer option between the airports, with the added benefit of not incurring any extra costs. Just make sure you meet the requirements to board and that you have plenty of time between flights to ensure a smooth connection. 


The most popular way tourists travel between the two terminals is by taxi. It’s undoubtedly the most convenient, provided there are no major traffic jams. It’s also a savvy choice if you have a lot of luggage.

The taxi stand at Suvarnabhumi
The taxi stand at Suvarnabhumi

The journey should take 45 minutes to an hour by taxi, though this will vary depending on traffic and weather conditions. The driver should ask you if you want to take the ‘highway’, which means the toll road. For the extra 100(ish) baht, you’ll want to reply with a resounding ‘yes!’ Going via the city is just asking for delays and grief. 

One advantage of taking a taxi from the dedicated taxi stand at either airport is that they must use the meter, so there’s little chance of being caught in a taxi scam. The only downside is that an additional 50 baht (A$2) airport exit fee is added to the final meter cost. Unless there’s traffic, the entire fare should be around the 500 baht mark (A$20). In that case it’ll be higher as ‘waiting’ time gets charged if the taxi is stationary for too long.

Private Transfer

Even though it’s the most expensive option, there’s merit in booking a private transfer between the two airports. This works best the other way from BKK to DMK, as that’s the airport where the long-haul flights arrive.

Airport Limo Transport at BKK
Book a private transfer after arrival

Flights from the  USA to Bangkok take in excess of 12 hours. There’s nothing worse than getting off a long flight where you haven’t had much sleep and have to think about navigating between two airports.

There’s something wonderfully comforting as exiting an airport to see someone holding a sign with your name on it. They do all the hard work for you, and all you have to do is follow them.  Taking this option’s well worth the added expense, especially if it’s your first time to Thailand. 

You can book a private transfer via Get Your Guide. I like the flexibility of using GYG. You can reserve now and pay later and cancel until 24 hours before arrival.

Rideshare Services

Thailand has two rideshare companies, Grab (which bought out Uber’s entire Southeast Asian operations in 2018) and local company Bolt. These can be booked via the apps as an alternative to taxis.

They have dedicated pick-up areas at both airports, and you’ll need to follow the instructions on the app to find your driver.

Unlike private transfers, rideshare drivers are not allowed into the terminal to pick you up; it’s up to you to go and find them.

Both companies have options to choose private cars, taxis, or a random lucky draw of either. For those wanting a more luxurious transfer, that option’s available too if you’re prepared to pay for it. 

I’ve always found Bolt significantly cheaper than Grab, but they have fewer vehicles, so the wait is often longer. Grab is notorious for adding ‘peak surcharges’ when there’s weather, traffic, or high demand. So, if you see fares in excess of 700 baht (for a non-luxury transfer), go for a taxi instead. 

Taking the Train between airports

This is actually my favourite way to travel between the airports. You get to see all of Bangkok from a high perch across the Skytrain networks. It’s not fast, but it’s certainly more scenic. 

There is a future plan to have a train directly from DMK to BKK, but it’s a few years away.

In the meantime, here’s how you do it:

  • Start from Don Mueang Station on the Red Line and catch the train two stops to Laksi station (17 baht).
  • Transfer to the Pink Line headed for Minburi; it’s only two stops to Wat Phra Si Mahatat on the Light Green Line (21 baht).
  • Then, travel 15 stations towards Siam and get off at Phaya Thai, which is the Airport Rail Link connection station (45 baht).
  • Finally catch the Airport Rail Link train directly to Suvarnabhumi Airport (45 baht). The best thing is that the train pulls right into the international terminal.   
Airport Rail Link at Lat Kraban station.
Airport Rail Link at Lat Kraban station.

The total cost is around 130 baht, so even if there are two of you, it’s cheaper than a taxi.

Sure, so it’s a bit cumbersome with three changes and not something you’d want to do with a lot of luggage, and it’s by no means the fastest, but as I said, it’s an excellent way to see almost all of Bangkok as you head from the north to the east. Also a good way to kill time with a longer layover.

Public Bus

If you want the cheapest option of all and have loads of time to kill, and the queues for the free shuttle are out of control, the public bus system is a way to travel around Bangkok like a local

You have a choice of two buses, 554 and 555. These buses operate between the two airports and charge approximately 35 baht. The journey is relatively straightforward and does take the tollway part of the way. However, it will take longer than other methods. Check the bus schedules and plan your trip accordingly to avoid any delays.

To catch this bus, you actually need to leave DMK airport and head out onto Phahonyothin Road. The bus stop is directly in front of the airport terminal. 

These buses arrive at the Suvarnabhumi Airport Bus Terminal, which is actually 5km from the airport, and transfer to the Airport Shuttle Bus (Line A, B, C, D or L) for the rest of the journey.

Departure Points from Don Mueang Airport (DMK)

Getting around DMK airport is straightforward. As you exit customs, you enter the arrivals hall. This is where all the private and hotel transfer drivers throng, holding up signs with people’s names on them. If you’ve booked a private transfer, your driver will be somewhere here.

Don Mueang Airport
Don Mueang Airport, head to exit 6 for the shuttle and the 3rd floor for the train

Above their heads are signs pointing the way to the taxi and shuttle bus ranks on the same level.

To enter the taxi rank, take a ticket from the dispenser at the front and sit and wait for your number to be called. When it is, approach the corresponding counter and tell them you want to go to BKK airport departures. I’ve waited over 30 minutes for my number to be called during peak season, so factor that into your transfer time.

The free shuttle bus departs outside exit 6 on the ground floor. Be sure to check in at the counter before boarding the bus.

The Don Mueang Airport MRT station can be accessed directly from the 3rd floor, following the signs to the SRT red line.  If you’re following my three connections suggestion above, go to the commuter line, not the express line.

Don Muang Airport Station
Don Muang Airport Station

If you’re catching the public bus, exit the airport and walk across the passenger pick-up zone. You’ll see the bus stop on Phahonyothin Road, next to the Family Mart. Tons of buses stop here, but you want the 554 or 555. 

Departure Points from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)

BKK airport has transport options on three levels, depending on your choice. You exit customs on level 2, and like with DMK, you’ll see the private transfer drivers holding up signs. If this is what you’ve booked, find your driver and head out. The free shuttle bus also leaves from level 2; look for the AOT Free Shuttle desk and check in for the bus.

Taxis and local buses depart one floor below on level 1. If you’re catching the 554 or 555 public bus, you’ll first need to get the Airport Bus Terminal Shuttle (Lines A, B, C, D or L) to the bus terminal 5 km away.

BKK airport transport options
All the options are easy to access at BKK airport

Taxis operate the same way as they do at DMK. Take a numbered ticket and wait for it to be called. The taxi rank here is better designed than the one at DMK as it has more space and more available taxis can queue. As such, I’ve never had to wait very long here and often have just been able to walk straight up to the counter.  

Bangkok Airport Train
Bangkok Airport Train

Lastly, if you’re going to do the train option, it’s incredibly easy from BKK airport. The train platform is located in the basement; just follow the Airport Rail Link signs. 

DMK to BKK and Vice Versa: Which Will You Choose?

So there you have it. There are several ways to transfer between the two terminals. Will you choose the most straightforward—and naturally, the most expensive—option, the private transfer? Or will you follow the pack and grab a taxi?

For those with more time on their hands, the AOT free shuttle is one of your options, as is the local bus or, my favourite, the trains.

Whatever you choose, I hope you enjoy your transfer between the two airports.

About the author: Stephen left Australia in 2016 with a one-way ticket to Thailand
and hasn’t been back since. Seven years later, he’s “living the ex-pat dream”, married and settled down; he and his partner travel across Thailand competing in half-marathon running events and sampling coffee at cafes.