Flying domestically with Thailand is now a real alternative with the competition on some routes driving the prices lower than bus tickets and the flights are just one hour compared to 12 or more hours in a bus! The choice on some routes is bewildering with the two most flown routes being Phuket and Chiang Mai. For this article I am comparing prices and conditions on flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in February.
I generally start my flight search with www.SkyScanner.net as this excellent site provides details and pricing on all the options available. You can also select by Best, Cheapest & Fastest. Armed with this information, I generally then proceed to the individual airlines websites rather than use any intermediaries. You have the comfort of full information at your fingertips and preferably all details, including Boarding Cards on your phone. As with most Low Cost operators around the world there are a range of options available and in this survey I have based on a single traveller, travelling with one 15kg suitcase, requiring no insurance or catering (it’s only a 1 hour flight!)
Skyscanner provided me with Nor Air starting from THB.2,478 return, closely followed by a combination of Thai Lion Air and Nok Air. It is also worth considering buying one-way flights but for comfort and simplicity this exercise is based on return flights with the same airline.
The Nok Air website is easy to navigate and they were offering 10 flights to/from Chiang Mai daily. Their Nok Lite allows you a 7kg carry-on and even advanced seat selection from THB.900 each way. However we are travelling with 1 suitcase so Nok Extra allows a 15kg suitcase, 7 kg carry-on and advanced seat selection for an additional THB.300. A round trip fare of THB.2,648, check for Nok Sure (Their insurance deal) and you will see that you have accepted. Remove this and you price is now reduced to THB.2,400. If you pay by Credit Card there is an additional fee of 256.80 making the total that you pay now 2,657. Whilst more convenient you can also opt for ‘Counter Service’ for an extra 38. You then pay cash at any 7/11 and pay an additional 30!
Next up was ThaiLion Air with 9 flights daily. Initial price THB.2,569, again remove insurance and it’s down to 2,390. Next add 15kg of baggage for both flights for 1,040. If you want you can choose your seat for 60. Counter payment would be 3,490 plus 30 to 7/11
AirAsia has an amazing 15 return flights a day! Here we can see the enormous capacity that is available resulting in highly competitive prices. Again 7 kg Carry-on allowed and a charge of 370 for a 20 kg piece of luggage. Remove their offer of insurance for 299 and the total becomes THB.3,005. Processing fees may apply depending on your Credit Card or alternatively ‘over the counter for 75 +30!
VietJet joined the fray relatively recently with new planes and high levels of service. The website annoyingly opens in Thai but a single click changes to English, the site is not as clear as the previous Airlines with is surprising for such a new company!. VietJet flies from the domestic section of Suvarnabhumi with 9 flights daily. Initial offer is THB. 910 one way but they immediately add some fees increasing this to 1,238. Seat selection is 50, 15 kgs of luggage is 220 each way. They don’t include Insurance as currently not available! Final cost for return flight THB.3,001!
Next up was Bangkok Airways, Thailand’s boutique airline with 8 daily departures. This is a full service airline operating also out of Suvarnabhumi. 20 kg of luggage included. You can reserve your seat and even book your meal! The cost THB.4,130
Thai Smile is the domestic operations of Thai Airways, with 5 flights a day from Suvarnabhumi. Again prices including Insurance, remove this and the price comes to THB2,900 including 20 kgs and free seat selection. Not a bad price considering!
Last and not least there is Thai Airways with just 4 flights operated by Thai Airways but additional supported by Thai Smile, their domestic operations. Their price THB.3,630 including luggage and seat selection.
So for our selected dates 11-14 February you could book a return ticket with 1 piece of luggage and seat selection from as low as THB 2,900-3000 from Thai Smile,VietJet and Air Asia up to THB.4,130 with Bangkok Airways. Its only a 1 hour flight, all the aircraft are good and who really cares about service for such a short flight! Happy Flying!