If you’re planning your travel route around Thailand, don’t assume that the bus or train is always going to be the cheapest option. When it comes to long distance travel in Thailand, a flight can often be the best option in terms of convenience and price. On long-distance routes such as Bangkok-Phuket or Bangkok-Chiang Mai, fares on the low-cost airlines often compare favourably to the price of a bus or train ticket. And if you know well in advance the dates you want to travel, there are sometimes promotional fares available which actually make flying cheaper than taking the bus or train.
Most of the low-cost airlines in Thailand, such as Air Asia, Nok Air and Lion Air, operate domestic services from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport. Full-service airlines, Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways, currently have flights from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. Thai Airways low-cost sister airline, Thai Smile, operate services from both of Bangkok’s airports. There are also some direct flights that link Chiang Mai with southern Thailand without the need to go via Bangkok. For instance, Thai Smile and Air Asia both have direct flights between Chiang Mai and Phuket whilst Bangkok Airways run direct services between Ko Samui and Chiang Mai.
Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways are often thought to be the most expensive domestic airlines in Thailand. Whilst that may be true on some routes, it isn’t always the case so it pays to shop around and check each airlines website yourself for prices.
Well established in Thailand, Air Asia operate services from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport to various destinations throughout Thailand including Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Trang, Hat Yai, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani. Also run some international services.
Air Asia website
Services from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to destinations including Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Krabi, Ko Samui, Trat (for Ko Chang) and Udon Thani.
Bangkok Airways website
Kan Air is a small regional airline based in northern Thailand with flights from Chiang Mai to destinations including Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Nan, Pai, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok and Ubon Ratchatani. Plans for 2015 include flights from Chiang Mai-Nakhon Ratchasima, Chiang Mai-Hua Hin and Bangkok-Mae Sod. When (or if) the construction of the airport on Ko Pha Ngan island is complete, Kan Airways say they will operate flights between Bangkok and Ko Pha Ngan.
*Kan Air suspended all their services in the first half of 2017.
A relative newcomer to the low-cost airline scene in Thailand, Lion Air operate from Bangkok’s Don Muang airport with destinations including Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani and Udon Thani. They also have some international flights to Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.
Thai Lion Air website
No Air service various destinations throughout Thailand including Chiang Mai, Phuket, Sukhothai, Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani out of Bangkok Don Muang. Nok Air also offer connecting boat services to a number of the Thai islands:
Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan – via Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat
Ko Phi Phi – via Trang or Phuket
Ko Lanta – via Trang
Ko Ngai, Ko Mook, Ko Kradan – via Trang
Ko Lipe – via Trang or Hat Yai
Nok Air also provide some international services to Singapore using Scoot Airlines.
Nok Air website
At the time of writing, Orient Thai only has domestic flights between Bangkok Don Muang and Phuket.
Orient Thai website
Thailand’s national airline operate flights mainly from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to destinations including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Ko Samui, Hat Yai, Phuket, Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchathani.
Thai Airways website
Thai Smile are the low-cost branch of Thai Airways. Services from both of Bangkok’s airports, Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi to destinations including Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket and Surat Thani.
Thai Smile website