While Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok often takes the spotlight, Thailand is a treasure trove of aviation experiences, boasting a total of 39 commercial service airports, including ten that cater to international flights. These gateways offer travelers a delightful invitation to explore the diverse tapestry of Thailand. Each airport is like a chapter in a captivating travel story, adding a unique layer of excitement to your journey, whether it’s the beginning of your adventure or the sweet return home.
The Airport Classification Dossier
To understand the Thai airport landscape better, we’ve broken it down into various classifications.
International Airports: These airports serve international flights round the clock and are equipped with customs and immigration services, passenger facilities, and cargo services. Primary international airports offer full services, while secondary ones cater to international flights with slightly fewer amenities.
Domestic Airports: For those hopping around the country, domestic airports exclusively handle flights within Thailand, allowing you to discover local gems with ease.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) classifies airports further into four categories, based on passenger traffic and their location:
Primary Hub Airports: These are bustling airports with over 25 million passengers per year, located mainly in Bangkok, the heart of the nation’s travel network.
Secondary Hub Airports: With 5-25 million passengers annually, these airports are in popular tourist destinations, providing a comprehensive range of services for domestic and international flights.
Regional Airports: Handling 1-5 million travelers, these airports can be found in smaller cities or off-the-beaten-path locales, offering somewhat limited facilities and services.
Local Airports: Serving fewer than 1 million passengers each year, these quaint airports are situated in small towns or remote areas, offering minimal facilities catering to domestic flights.
Let’s take a closer look at some of Thailand’s International and Domestic airports, showcasing the diversity and uniqueness of each:
- Don Mueang International Airport (DMK): Located in Bangkok, this primary international airport serves as a major gateway to Thailand. It offers a wide range of facilities and services, making it a bustling hub for international travelers.
- Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK): Also situated in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, Suvarnabhumi International Airport is the nation’s primary international airport. This modern airport boasts world-class facilities and serves as a major entry point for travelers from around the globe.
- Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX): Nestled in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, this secondary international airport welcomes visitors to explore the rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes of Northern Thailand.
- Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI): Serving Chiang Rai, this regional international airport offers a gateway to the charming province and its unique blend of culture and nature.
- Krabi International Airport (KBV): Located in the coastal province of Krabi, this regional international airport is a stepping stone to the Andaman Sea’s breathtaking scenery and vibrant beach destinations.
- Phuket International Airport (HKT): Serving the picturesque island of Phuket, this secondary international airport provides travelers access to the stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant nightlife of Thailand’s largest island.
- U-Tapao International Airport (UTP): Positioned near Pattaya in Rayong, U-Tapao International Airport is a local international airport managed by the Royal Thai Navy. It serves as a gateway to the energetic coastal city and nearby attractions.
- Hat Yai International Airport (HDY): Located in Hat Yai, Songkhla, this regional international airport facilitates travel to the vibrant southern region of Thailand, known for its unique culture and cuisine.
- Samui International Airport (USM): Situated on the tropical island of Koh Samui in Surat Thani, this regional international airport offers easy access to one of Thailand’s most sought-after island getaways.
- Surat Thani International Airport (URT): Serving Surat Thani province, this regional international airport provides access to the picturesque landscapes and stunning natural beauty of the area.
- Udon Thani International Airport (UTH): Located in Udon Thani, this regional international airport connects travelers to the heart of Northeastern Thailand.
- Betong Airport (BTZ): Found in Yala, Betong Airport is a domestic local airport catering to travelers exploring Thailand’s southernmost province.
- Buriram Airport (BFV): Serving Buriram and Surin provinces, this domestic local airport is a gateway to the northeastern region’s cultural and historical attractions.
- Chumphon Airport (CJM): Located in Chumphon, this domestic local airport is an entry point for those interested in exploring the region’s serene beaches and natural beauty.
- Hua Hin Airport (HHQ): Situated in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Hua Hin Airport welcomes travelers to the charming seaside town of Hua Hin, known for its royal palace and beautiful beaches.
- Khon Kaen Airport (KKC): Serving Khon Kaen province, this domestic regional airport provides access to the cultural and educational heart of Northeastern Thailand.
- Lampang Airport (LPT): Located in Lampang, this domestic local airport is a gateway to the province’s cultural heritage and natural wonders.
- Loei Airport (LOE): Serving Loei province, this domestic local airport connects travelers to the region’s cool climate, mountains, and unique traditions.
- Mae Hong Son Airport (HGN): Situated in Mae Hong Son, this domestic local airport offers access to one of Thailand’s most scenic and culturally rich provinces.
- Mae Sariang Airport: Located in Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, this domestic local airport supports travel within the region.
- Mae Sot Airport (MAQ): Serving Mae Sot in Tak province, this domestic local airport facilitates travel to the province’s cultural attractions and natural beauty.
- Nakhon Phanom Airport (KOP): Located in Nakhon Phanom, this domestic local airport connects travelers to the captivating region along the Mekong River.
- Nakhon Ratchasima Airport (NAK): Serving Nakhon Ratchasima, this domestic local airport provides access to the vibrant culture and history of the region.
- Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport (NST): Located in Nakhon Si Thammarat, this domestic regional airport serves as a gateway to the southern region’s unique culture and coastal attractions.
- Nan Nakhon Airport (NNT): Serving Nan province, this domestic local airport connects travelers to the province’s mountainous landscapes and cultural traditions.
- Narathiwat Airport (NAW): Located in Narathiwat, this domestic local airport offers access to the province’s cultural diversity and natural beauty.
- Pai Airport (PYY): Situated in Mae Hong Son, Pai Airport is a domestic local airport that welcomes travelers to the tranquil and scenic town of Pai.
- Pattani Airport (PAN): Serving Pattani province, this domestic local airport provides access to the region’s unique cultural heritage and historical sites.
- Phetchabun Airport (PHY): Located in Phetchabun, this domestic local airport is a gateway to the province’s lush landscapes and tranquil atmosphere.
- Phitsanulok Airport (PHS): Serving Phitsanulok, this domestic local airport offers access to the province’s historical and natural attractions.
- Phrae Airport (PRH): Situated in Phrae, this domestic local airport connects travelers to the province’s cultural and historical richness.
- Ranong Airport (UNN): Located in Ranong, this domestic local airport provides access to the province’s stunning coastlines and islands.
- Roi Et Airport (ROI): Serving Roi Et province, this domestic local airport facilitates travel to the region’s cultural heritage and natural beauty.
- Sakon Nakhon Airport (SNO): Located in Sakon Nakhon, this domestic local airport is a gateway to the province’s unique culture and tranquil landscapes.
- Sukhothai Airport (THS): Serving Sukhothai province, this domestic local airport offers access to the province’s rich historical and archaeological sites.
- Tak Airport (TKT): Located in Tak, this domestic local airport connects travelers to the province’s natural beauty and cultural traditions.
- Trang Airport (TST): Situated in Trang, this domestic local airport serves as a gateway to the province’s serene beaches and diverse landscapes.
- Trat Airport (TDX): Serving Trat, this domestic local airport provides access to the province’s tropical islands and coastal charm.
- Ubon Ratchathani Airport (UBP): Located in Ubon Ratchathani, this domestic regional airport is a gateway to the northeastern region’s unique culture and natural attractions.
Hidden Airfield Gems
Thailand’s aviation world isn’t limited to its commercial airports. There are numerous smaller airstrips and airfields that cater to general aviation, military, or private aircraft operations. If you’re an aviation enthusiast or seeking remote adventure, these lesser-known airports might pique your interest:
- Koh Mai Si Airport: Located on the picturesque Koh Kut island, this airfield serves as an exclusive gateway for visitors to Soneva Kiri.
- Nok Airfield: Situated in Chiang Mai, Nok Airfield is perfect for enthusiasts looking to explore the skies, thanks to the Nok Aviation Flying Club.
- Phuket Airpark: Offering a unique flying experience in Thalang, the Phuket Airpark provides aviation enthusiasts with unparalleled views of this tropical paradise.
- Old Chiang Rai Airport: This historic airfield in Chiang Rai, still in use by the Royal Thai Air Force, is a testament to Thailand’s aviation history.
- Surin Airport: In Mueang Surin, this airport opens up opportunities for travelers looking to experience the charm of Surin Province.
The Future of Thai Aviation
Thailand’s commitment to expanding its aviation network continues, with airports under construction, approved, or in the proposal stage. Some noteworthy developments include the new terminal at Trang Airport, the second phase of Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and the third expansion phase of Don Mueang International Airport.
The Kingdom’s skies are set to become even more accessible, making it easier for all of us to explore the diverse and enchanting beauty of Thailand.
As expatriates and travel enthusiasts, Thailand’s airports offer endless opportunities to explore the country’s rich culture, pristine landscapes, and vibrant cities. Whether you’re here for business or pleasure, these airports play a crucial role in ensuring your journey is as exciting as your destination. So, pack your bags, fellow adventurers, and get ready to embark on your next Thai adventure!