Whether you’re a frequent traveller to Thailand or are visiting for the first time, we’ve put together some tips to help you book your flight. Check out our advice for finding the best fares, who to book with, and what paperwork you will need.
For the majority of visitors flying to Thailand from the UK or Ireland, the arrival airport will be Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK). When booking domestic flights or onward travel, please note that some low-cost carriers use Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) airport. Average travel time by road between the two airports is around one hour.
How to get the best fare to Thailand
As a general rule of thumb, the earlier you book the better. There are always exceptions to this rule, but booking early normally gives you access to more routes and lower fares. The price of tickets tends to go up the closer you get to the travel date. The different options for booking flights all come with their own pros and cons, so choose whatever is best for your individual circumstances.
Booking direct with airline
Booking direct with the airline may not always be the cheapest initially, but does give more flexibility should you need to change anything and can save you money on fees. Booking your preferred seats is also usually easier when booking directly with the airline.
Online ticket broker
Using a flight aggregator like Skyscanner or Google Flights is a convenient way to check flight options and prices. Although fares can sometimes be lower than booking directly with the airline, not all airlines/fares are displayed. You may also be booking through a third-party provider and while some are excellent, there can be issues if you need to contact anybody about your flight. Before booking your flight, make sure the ticket provider is ATOL and ABTA protected.
DialAFlight is one of the biggest and best-known independent travel companies in the UK. Their buying power means they may be able to offer a fare that is cheaper than can be found elsewhere.
In the Internet age, the idea of visiting a travel agent in person can seem old-fashioned. But there are advantages to this way of doing things, especially if you are looking to book a complete holiday package or you’re a first-time visitor to Thailand.
Direct flights from the UK to Thailand
Direct flights to Thailand from the UK to Bangkok take around 11.5 hours. These are the current flight schedules (November 2022)
|Thai Airways||LHR-BKK||2 flights per day|
|EVA Air||LHR-BKK||1 flight per day|
|TUI||LGW-HKT||1 flight a week*|
|TUI||MAN-HKT||1 flight a week*|
*TUI charter service to run 3 November 2022 – 14 April 2023
British Airways previously operated direct flights from LHR-BKK. That service is not expected to resume until March 2023 at the earliest.
Scoot Airlines suspended their LGW-BKK service in 2022.
Indirect flights from the UK and Ireland
Flying indirect to Thailand can be a good option if you’d prefer to break up the long journey. Flying via one of the Middle East hubs like Dubai or Abu Dhabi means you change flights approximately halfway into the journey to Thailand. And flying via Singapore or Malaysia can be convenient too if you are starting your holiday in southern Thailand and want to connect to Phuket or Ko Samui.
|Emirates||LHR-DXB-BKK||4 flights per day|
|Etihad Airways||LHR-AUH-BKK||2 flights per day|
|Qatar Airways||LHR-DOH-BKK||5 flights per day*|
*Because of the football World Cup, Qatar Airways will only operate point-to-point flights to and from Doha during November and December 2022; there will be no flights from London to Thailand during this time.
Other airlines operating indirect flights to Thailand from the UK or Ireland include:
- Air France
- KLM Royal Dutch Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
If you are flying to Thailand via another country, check for any additional airline regulations or local laws that may apply. For example, Dubai has stricter controls on travelling with prescribed drugs. Because you will need to pass through security again at your transit airport, also be careful if buying drinks or duty-free products at your original departure airport.
International airports in Thailand
International airports in Thailand:
- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK)
- Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK)
- Chiang Mai (CNX)
- Chiang Rai Mae Fah Luang (CEI)
- Hat Yai (HDY)
- Krabi (KBV)
- Phuket (HKT)
- Surat Thani (URT)
- Udon Thani (UTH)
- U-Tapao (UTP)
If you are starting your holiday in Thailand somewhere other than Bangkok, it’s possible to book through tickets to destinations including Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Krabi, and Phuket. When booking your flights on a through ticket, you are usually able to check your bags all the way through to your destination. This may also be possible on some non-through tickets if your domestic flight is with a full-service airline like Thai Airways. Check with your airline to be sure.
If you hold a UK or Irish passport and are flying to Thailand for a 2-3 week holiday, you do not require a visa to travel. You can enter Thailand under the visa exemption scheme. If you are planning to stay longer, other visa options are available. Find out more here:
Do I need a visa for Thailand?
Visa rules are subject to change. While we regularly update the information on our site, always check the current rules listed by the Royal Thai Embassy in London and Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
One way flights
If you are unsure of your travel plans or are planning to travel around South-East Asia, you may be tempted to book a one-way flight to Thailand. Although it’s possible to book a one-way ticket to Thailand, there are some important caveats:
If you haven’t applied in advance for a Tourist Visa, you need to be in possession of a confirmed flight ticket (an e-ticket is acceptable) to show you will be flying out of Thailand within 30 days (45 days if arriving between October 2022 to March 2023). Without this, your airline may stop you from boarding.
TM6 arrival/departure cards
Regular travellers to Thailand will be familiar with the arrival/departure cards (known as a TM6) that need to be filled out before entering or leaving Thailand. To speed up the arrival/departure process at immigration, the requirement to complete a TM6 form was suspended in June 2022. This only applies to international arrivals by air. Arriving in Thailand by land or sea, travellers may still be asked to complete the TM6 form.
How long to clear immigration and baggage collection?
Baggage collection and security at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi is usually efficient. However, delays clearing immigration can occur if your flight arrives at a busy time or the immigration desks are under-staffed. How long you wait to clear immigration can be luck of the draw; it could be five minutes it could be 45 minutes.
If you have a connecting flight, it’s wise to allow some wiggle room for potential delays. You should also factor in extra time if you need to collect your luggage and check-in again for your onward flight.
Tips for beating jet-lag
With a long flight and crossing a number of time zones, jet lag can be an issue for some travellers. Although there’s no golden bullet for jet lag, there are steps you can take to help reduce the effects:
- Get plenty of rest in the days before you travel
- Drink plenty of water on the flight
- Get up regularly to stretch and walk around the cabin
- Try to adjust to the destination time zone; if it’s night-time in Thailand when you’re in the air, try to get some sleep
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- After you arrive, change your sleep schedule to Thai time as soon as possible
- Going outside during the day and getting lots of natural light is a good way to help your body clock adjust
- Use an app to help your body clock adjust
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