Most people that travel to Thailand probably imagine that taking busses, trains and boats are the easiest ways to get around Thailand. But in fact to see the best places in the country taking cheap domestic flights in Thailand is much easier, faster and often even cheaper as well. In this Thailand travel blog I will show you all the domestic airlines in Thailand and the best Thai domestic flight search.
Over the last 10 years I have lived, partied and traveled in Thailand for almost 20 times, all across the country. This resulted in more than 50 different Thailand travel blogs from how to travel around Thailand in 2 weeks to is it safe to travel to Thailand, Thailand packing list and everything in and between.
The main goal of this blog post is to help you find cheap domestic flights in Thailand, but in the end I will also show you some other transportation in Thailand and how to get around the country.
Domestic flights in Thailand
For long distance travel in Thailand a Thai domestic flight search can do wonders. There are more than 50 domestic flight routes in Thailand and you will be amazed by the cheap prices you can find. Booking in advance will obviously get you the cheapest domestic flights, but even last minute domestic flight deals in Thailand are not that bad. In total there are 8 domestic airlines, scroll below for more information about the best domestic airlines in Thailand.
The main hubs for domestic flights in Thailand are: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Surat Thani and Hat Yai.
Domestic flights from Bangkok
There are two airports in Bangkok: Suvaranabhumi and Don Mueang. Both are pretty conveniently located just outside the city center in Bangkok and within a $10 taxi ride. Suvaranabhumi Airport is also called BKK Airport and Don Mueang Airport is called DMK Airport. When booking your cheap domestic flights in Thailand, make sure you rock up at the right airport in Bangkok!
All other popular places to go in Thailand have just one airport.
In the first section of this blog about how to go around Thailand I showed you prices for long distance busses and trains. These prices were what I found for a random weekend in April 2019. For those exact dates I found the following prices for domestic flights in Thailand.
Cheap flights from Bangkok:
- From Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 1 hour 20 minutes - 7 airlines - $30-55.
- From Bangkok to Surat Thani: 1 hour 10 minutes - 4 airlines - $28-50.
- From Bangkok to Phuket: 1 hour 30 minutes - 7 airlines - $25-55.
- From Bangkok to Krabi: 1 hour 25 minutes - 7 airlines - $24-53.
As you can see the above prices for domestic flights in Thailand are kind of similar to taking busses and train in Thailand. The longest domestic flight in Thailand is from Chiang Mai to Phuket and lasts just 2 hours. It of course depends if you are traveling Thailand on a budget and how much time you have, but domestic flights are real winners in Thailand.
Flying from Bangkok to Koh Samui
Sadly enough Bangkok Airways hold the exclusive right to fly to Koh Samui airport. Therefore no low-cost airlines in Thailand offer the route Bangkok to Koh Samui. Prices for tickets flying to Koh Samui are set to around $150 one-way.
Alternative routes to fly to Koh Samui
There are many other ways low-cost airlines in Thailand try to sell you flights to Koh Samui, but be aware that these tickets are NOT direct flights. They fly either to Surat Thani or Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport and then offer you a bus to the pier and a ferry to Koh Samui. Some airlines even include a complimentary shuttle bus from the pier in Koh Samui to any given hotel on the island. Find your cheap domestic joint tickets below.
A direct flight to Koh Samui is only 1 hour, but cost $150. Joint tickets (flight, bus, boat) start from $45 up to $70 and take around 5-7 hours.
Best routes for traveling in Thailand
From Chiang Mai to Phuket
To me the most convenient domestic flights in Thailand are the ones from Chiang Mai to Phuket. If you would travel this route overland it would cost you 2 days, with a domestic flight it will only take 2 hours. Unfortunately there are only 3 airlines that operate this route and they charge between $100 and $170. Click on the link to get you the best price available.
From Chiang Mai to Krabi
The same story counts for this route as well. Though from Chiang Mai to Krabi is only served by Air Asia and they charge between $100 and $120. Find the best fares in the link.
Strangely enough if you travel the other way around so from either Phuket or Krabi towards Chiang Mai the flight cost you only around $50! Also if you search well in advanced you can find cheaper deals for domestic flights in Thailand. Try it out yourself below.
Domestic airlines in Thailand
As said before there are 8 different domestic airlines in Thailand that potentially could show up on a Thai domestic flight search. Most of the below listed airlines are low-cost airlines. With these airlines there are additional costs for your bags and service on board and there is no free seat allocation. You basically pay for all extras. That is the price you pay for cheap domestic flights in Thailand.
What airlines fly in Thailand?
Thai Air Asia
The most well known and biggest low-cost airline in Asia. This Malaysia based airline has an affiliate operating in Thailand: Thai Air Asia. It operates all its international and domestic flights in Thailand from DMK Airport in Bangkok and serves a wide array of destinations in Thailand. In total they have 62 A320 aircrafts. Baggage is not included and these are the fees that apply for domestic flights in Thailand with Air Asia.
There have no severe accidents reported about Thai Air Asia.
Definitely not the cheapest airliner in Thailand. It is a small company with only 22 A320’s in their fleet on some propeller planes. They own the airport in Koh Samui and therefore hold the exclusive right to fly to the island. They serve 12 domestic destinations in Thailand. 20KG baggage is included in the ticket price.
In the last 20 years two Bangkok Airways flights skidded off the runway, killing 1 pilot. No other severe accidents occurred.
The main airliner in Thailand that flies to 84 destinations in 37 countries around the world and has a fleet of over 90 aircrafts. Thai Airways is not a low-cost airliner but has a 22% stake in NOK Air Thailand and also launched its own low-cost airline in Thailand: Thai Smile. The main hub of Thai Airways is BKK Airport in Bangkok and Phuket Airport. Domestic flights with Thai Airways are mostly a little more expensive, though 23KG luggage is included. Thai airways only operates domestic flights in Thailand from Bangkok to Krabi, Phuket and Chiang Mai.
There have no major accidents occurred with Thai Airways flights.
Thai Lion Air
Lion Air is an Indonesia low-cost airline based in Jakarta and the second largest low-cost airline in Southeast Asia after Air Asia. Although it is one of the world fastest growing airlines it does not have the best reputation worldwide. Lion Air was banned into European airspace for several years and only after major improvements the European Union lifted the ban in June 2018. There is a long list of reported accidents, and unfortunately on October 29th 2018 a tragic accident occurred in Indonesia when a Lion Air flight crashed and all 189 people on board died. When choosing the best domestic airline in Thailand, Lion Air won’t make it to the top 3.
Thai Lion Air flies to Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani, Hat Yai, Udon Thani and Ubon Ratchathani.
Thai Lion Air offers passengers 10KG free checked baggage allowance. Additional baggage fees apply.
Find cheap domestic flight tickets with 12Go Asia
The search engine of 12Go Asia works like any other flight search website, but these guys are specialized in southeast Asia and give you the best travel routes. From my experience I found out that they often have better deals as well. Find your preferred flight below, type in your departure and arrival airport and hit the find tickets button.
Nok Air Thailand
If you are looking for cheap domestic flights in Thailand Nok Air can be a great option for you. Nok Air mostly operates domestic flights from DMK Airport in Bangkok and has 28 domestic flights in Thailand. Nok Air also offers joint tickets (boat tickets included) to islands like Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Koh Lipe. Their fleet consists of 17 B737’s and a bunch of propeller aircrafts.
They also fly international to China, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.
No major accidents occurred with Nok Air Thailand flights.
These are the baggage fees for cheap domestic flights in Thailand with Nok Air.
Thai Vietjet Air
One of the smaller low-cost airlines in Thailand with only 7 A320’s. Its main hubs are Phuket Airport and BKK Airport in Bangkok. They serve flights to and from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Krabi and Phuket. Hand luggage is allowed up to 7KG. There are additional checked baggage fees.
They also fly to Vietnam, Taiwan and India.
This low-cost airline in Thailand is the little brother of Thai Airways. They operate from a hub at Suvaranabhumi BKK Airport and the domestic airport DMK. Since 2012 they are part of the Thai Airways family. Thai Smile flies to 13 domestic destinations in Thailand and 19 international destinations in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, China, and India. The fleet of Thai Smile consists of 20 Airbus A320’s. Thai Smile offer its passengers free 20KG baggage allowance.
There have no severe accidents reported about Thai Smile.
Orient Thai Airlines*
After a long history of accidents and sanctions as of July 2018 Orient Thai Airlines suspended all operations. In 2008 a crash with One-Two-Go Airlines (also part of Orient Thai Airlines) killed 89 people on a flight from Bangkok to Phuket. May Orient Thai Airlines start operating again it surely is not one of the best domestic airlines in Thailand and I would not recommend it.
Best Domestic airlines in Thailand
From my experiences I found Thai Air Asia, Nok Air and Thai Smile ok airlines. I have had no problems flying across the country with these low-cost airlines in Thailand. Bangkok Airways and Thai Lion Air do not have my preference and I would only fly domestic with Thai Airways if the price difference would not be too bad. They have a 23KG luggage allowance.
When booking a domestic flight in Thailand don’t be lured by cheap tickets. Also check the additional baggage fees! Low-cost airlines mostly operate flights at inconvenient times so be prepared to get up early!
Best way to find cheap domestic flights in Thailand
I always used to use several different flight search engines, but since I found out 12Go Asia I stick to them. They are specialized in transportation in Southeast Asia and apart from domestic flights in Thailand they also give you joint tickets (Flight/Boat/Bus) to choose from. They show you all the options available, prices, baggage allowance, timetables and even reviews. On top of that they let you book online straight away in just a couple clicks. It definitely made my trip to Thailand much easier!
What is the transportation in Thailand?
Just like any other country is traveling in Thailand pretty straight forward. On the streets there are uncountable busses, motorbikes, mini busses and taxi’s to use for your convenience. Tuk Tuks are an iconic way to go around Thailand in the big cities, but often they are much more expensive for tourists than they should be, so be aware to bargain when taking a Tuk Tuk.
Is there Uber in Thailand?
There is no Uber in Thailand, there was Uber in Thailand! Nowadays Uber is replaced by Grab Taxi. It works exactly the same. You can download the app, register yourself and use it. You can pay cash or through your credit card in the app.
Long distance busses
There are loads of different companies that offer long term busses. Popular routes are busses from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Koh Tao. From Bangkok you can basically go everywhere around the country by bus. Here are some examples of bus routes in Thailand including their prices.
- From Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 10-12 hours - $16-27.
- From Bangkok to Phuket: 15 hours - $19-34.
- From Bangkok to Krabi: 13-18 hours - $22-37.
Long distance busses in Thailand are pretty convenient. I have taken them multiple times mostly from Bangkok to Koh Tao and from Surat Thani to Krabi. There are different classes available, but all long haul tourist busses in Thailand have AC, toilet facilities, complimentary snack/drink, reclining seats and some provide you with blankets during the night. Night busses can get pretty cold add a hoodie to your Thailand packing list.
There are international bus connections as well:
- From Bangkok to Siem Reap, Cambodia: 8-9 hours - $22-30.
- From Bangkok to Vientiane, Laos: 19 hours - $35.
Taking overnight busses saves you precious day time compared to domestic flights in Thailand. Try your luck finding the best bus connections in the search engine of 12Go Asia below. They compare prices, give company reviews and timetables and let you book your e-ticket in just a couple clicks.
(Overnight) trains in Thailand
Traveling by overnight trains in Thailand can be very convenient, but this comes mainly down to which class you book. There are a different classes and prices available. Thai trains are never on time and travel pretty slow, but if you book one of the upper class tickets they can be a very chill way to travel around Thailand.
There are 4 different train lines in Thailand: Northern Line, Southern Line, Eastern Line and the Northeastern Line. There are also international trains that connect Thailand with Malaysia and Cambodia.
- From Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 11-13 hours - $25-50.
- From Bangkok to Chumpon: 7-9 hours - $17-30.
- From Bangkok to Surat Thani: 11 hours - $24-38.
Book your Thailand train tickets through 12Go Asia. Through the search engine you will see all the prices, times and you don't have to hassle with paper tickets. Try it out below!
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