How Early to Arrive at Don Mueang Airport (Domestic & International Flights)

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Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) is the secondary airport in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and primarily serves low-cost carriers flying to domestic destinations and nearby international locations.

To cater to such a large volume of passengers, Don Mueang International Airport has two terminals; Terminal 1 which is dedicated to domestic flights (flights within Thailand) and Terminal 2 which is dedicated to international flights (flights outside of Thailand).

Given this, we recommend arriving at Don Mueang Airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and at least 3 hours before an international flight.

However, you’ll also want to factor in personal circumstances that might make you arrive at the airport earlier. These include; travelling with young children, your mode of transportation to the airport, flight time, etc.

What Time Should You Arrive At Don Mueang Airport?

For domestic flights such as Bangkok to Phuket, I recommend arriving at Don Mueang International Airport at least two hours before departure. For international flights, arriving three hours in advance is advisable.

This should provide adequate time to:

  • Arrive at the airport
  • Check-in for your flight
  • Drop your bags
  • Clear security
  • Reach your gate – prior to / in time for boarding

In our opinion, it’s always better to arrive at the airport a little early and have some extra time browsing the stores or grabbing a bite to eat rather than arriving late, feeling rushed and running the risk of missing your flight.

Why Do You Need Longer For International Flights?

It’s often recommended that when travelling to international destinations (outside Thailand) you arrive at Don Mueang Airport at least 3 hours before the flight departs. This is to allow for extra time to check visas, entry requirements, immigration control and clear customs.

Long-haul international flights also often have a longer boarding period (starting earlier) to allow for all passengers to board the aircraft in ample time before the scheduled departure.

How Are You Getting To Don Mueang Airport?

Bangkok is notorious for its traffic congestion. If travelling by road, whether by taxi, personal car, or another mode, account for potential traffic delays.

Apps like Google Maps or Waze can give a real-time estimation of travel duration to Don Mueang, but it’s wise to add some extra time, especially during peak hours.

Keep in mind that if you check Google Maps on a Sunday at lunchtime then the travel time you see may be very different to the reality you face when you go to complete the journey at 07:00 am on a Monday for example.

For example, while it’s estimated to only take 40 minutes to travel from Bangkok City to Don Mueang Airport, I’d still recommend setting off one hour in advance.

The Time Of Year

The time of year can significantly affect how busy Don Mueang Airport is, which in turn can influence the time required for check-in, baggage drop, and security checks.

Certain times of the year, especially around major holidays like Songkran or Loi Krathong, can be particularly busy at Don Mueang. As such, if you’re travelling during peak times, then consider arriving earlier to navigate through crowded terminals smoothly.

Checking In For Your Flight

Most airlines offer the option of checking in via their website or mobile apps 24 hours before departure. This digital method provides a boarding pass and can streamline the process once at Don Mueang Airport.

However, if you can’t check in ahead of time, then you’ll want to ensure you arrive at the airport with ample time to complete this in person at a check-in desk.

Most airlines at Don Mueang Airport offer self-service kiosks and check-in counters. However, these desks will close before the flight departure (times vary by airline), so ensure you’re checked in well before this deadline.

Dropping Checked Bags

Much like checking in for your flight, another factor you’ll want to consider when determining what time you should arrive at Don Mueang Airport is whether or not you’ll need to check your luggage.

The bag drop will close roughly one hour before the flight’s departure (exact times vary depending on the airline and destination so be sure to check your flight information) so you’ll want to make sure you arrive at the airport early enough to accommodate this where applicable.

If you do not have any checked bags and are subsequently travelling hand luggage only then once you have your boarding pass (either digital from checking in online or physical from checking in at the airport) you’ll be able to head straight through to security.

Which Don Mueang Terminal Do You Need?

Don Mueang Airport has two terminals;

  • Terminal 1 is dedicated to domestic flights (flights inside of Thailand)
  • Terminal 2 is dedicated to international flights (flights outside Thailand)

Travelling between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 and Don Mueang Airport can only be done on foot, as no shuttles are provided. The walk is well-signposted and takes between 10 and 15 minutes.


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