Thailand Country Guide

Getting Around


By Plane

Thailand is a large country and if sitting in a bus for 11 hours is not in your option, you may want to consider flying. Deregulation of the Thai airline industry has brought in a crop of new operators especially budget airlines offering low cost airfares. Note that various taxes and often hefty surcharges are invariably added to the "advertised" prices.

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Air Asia
Pan-ASEAN low cost carrier AirAsia offers great coverage of international and domestic routes in Thailand and offers steeply discounted tickets if booked in advance. However, prices rise steadily as planes fill up. It's often the cheapest option and sometimes even cheaper than taking the bus or train (if booked at least a week or two in advance). They fly their (quite new) A320s from Bangkok to a number of places domestically. On-line booking is straightforward and can be done even using the mobile phone but must be done at least 24 hours in advance. Ticket sales at the check-in desk close one hour before the departure time.

Bangkok Airways
Bangkok Airways promotes itself as "Asia's Boutique Airline" and has a monopoly on flights to its own airports at Koh Samui (now shared with Thai Airways), Sukhothai and Trat. Their Discovery Airpass with fixed rates per segment can be good value, especially if flying to Siem Reap, (Cambodia) or Luang Prabang, (Laos). Note that the Discovery Airpass can only be purchased from outside Thailand.

Bangkok Airways by Budgiekiller

Orient Thai
Orient Thai (formerly One-Two-Go) is easily the dodgiest of Thailand's main carriers, flying a ragtag bunch of ancient planes and with a poor safety record. The fleet has been grounded on and off but as of late 2010 have been flying again. Unlike most budget airlines, their ticket prices do not change much - they are often the cheapest option for last-minute flights. If you're tall (above 6 feet), get an exit row seat unless you want to ride the whole flight with your knees resting against the seat in front.

Nok Air
Nok Air took to the skies in 2004 sporting lurid paints scheme with a bird's beak painted on the nose. Owned mostly by Thai Airways, they compete with Air Asia on price. Nok Air has a fairly comprehensive domestic network and is generally a pretty good choice.

Nok Air by Lerdsuwa

Thai Airways
Thai Airways is the most reliable, frequent, and comfortable Thai airline but usually more expensive than the alternatives. Travel agents often sell only Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways tickets but you can also book on-line. Thai Airways is a member of Star Alliance (all domestic flights, except some promotional fares, give at least 500 Star Alliance miles), which may partially compensate the price difference.

SGA Airline
SGA Airline flies mostly in northern Thailand and is the only carrier offering flights between Chiang Mai-Pai, Mae Hong Son, Nan and Chiang Rai. They cooperate with Nok and Thai.

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