For people in the know, the food court at Don Mueang airport is a tasty option for a bite to eat before a flight to your next destination. Read on for Bangkok airport travel tips from Foodiepacker Ana.
Red-eye flight from Islamabad to Bangkok (BKK) arriving early in the morning.
Same-day, afternoon flight from a different airport in Bangkok (DMK) to Da Nang.
That was the start of our January 2019 trip to Southeast Asia. And it left us with three problems that needed solutions. First, how to get from BKK to DMK. Second, what to do about lost sleep plus jetlag. Third, and most importantly, where to eat.
Shuttle bus from Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang
If your flight arrives after 5 am and before midnight, you are in luck. The free shuttle bus between BKK and DMK runs every 12 minutes during peak traffic hours and every 30 minutes during off peak hours. The journey takes about 50 minutes when traffic conditions are good, making this a convenient option if you have 3+ hours between flights. On the other hand, with less than 3 hours, you are better off taking a taxi via the expressway.
The shuttle stop is clearly marked at both BKK and DMK airports. Just follow the signs after you exit the baggage claim area. No reservations are needed. You will need to present proof of both your flights via BKK and DMK. Namely, your boarding pass stub or a copy of your itinerary is sufficient. The shuttle is air-conditioned and has space for luggage.
Sleeping for cheap(er) at the airport hotel
Red-eye flights are the worst. Does anyone like them? I guess some people don’t mind them, especially if you can save some money. But me, I’d rather have my sleep. Sadly, for us, there were only red-eye flights from Islamabad to Bangkok.
With an 8-hour gap between flights, we would have had enough time to go into the city and explore a bit. Except… Sleep. Plus, we had two backpacks to lug around. Lastly, we would be back in Bangkok for a few days at the end of our trip. So, we opted for sleep.
There are a few options for hotels within walking or short taxi ride distance from Don Mueang airport. However, none is more convenient than the Amari Don Muang Airport Hotel, which is directly connected via a footbridge.
Rooms at the Amari airport hotel usually start at around $50-60 USD. But one of the top reasons people stay at the Amari is so they can catch an early morning flight from DMK with the least amount of hassle. We figured that by the time our bus arrived from BKK airport, there would be plenty of rooms available. Sure enough, we got a standard room for the day rate – about $30 USD.
Where to eat at Don Mueang airport
I was lucky enough to live in Thailand for 2 amazing years (from 2014 to 2016). In those years, I took many flights out of DMK, and it was on one of those occasions that I stumbled upon the food court, called Magic Garden.
Since we opted not to go into the city to eat, I confidently told Chris that the airport food court was the next best thing. That’s because, while DMK also has the usual suspects for airport cuisine – i.e., McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Starbucks, etc, as well as some Asian chains like Bonchon Chicken (Korean), Gindaco (Japanese) – Magic Garden serves Thai street food specialties.
Where’s the food court at Don Mueang airport?
It’s on Level 4, but easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. Basically, it’s one floor above Departures (Level 3), almost in between the International and Domestic terminals, but closer to the latter.
From the Domestic Departures terminal, go the left end of the hall facing the check-in counters and look for the escalator up to Level 4. You will see SleepBox hostel on the left and a Cafe Amazon straight ahead. Go right and you will see the brightly lit white sign for Magic Garden.
From the International terminal, go to the right side of the terminal, take the escalator up to Level 4 and follow the signs toward the Domestic terminal. It’s a long hallway, so don’t get discouraged. But when you see the sign below you’ll know you’re on the right track.
Get an electronic card before you order
Below the Magic Garden sign, there’s a counter where you can get an electronic card loaded up with any amount you wish. Dishes at the food court are usually 100 Baht or less (~3 USD), which means you can feast without burning a hole in your wallet. I recommend a walk around the food court so you can see what’s available. The vendors themselves don’t handle cash, so make sure you get the card before you order. You can collect the remaining balance on your card once you’re done.
*Note: there’s a second DMK food court on Level 1 (Arrivals) which operates on a coupon system.
What we ate
Top among Chris’s passions: crispy pork. Consequently, we headed straight for the vendor with the huge slab of pork hanging behind a glass window. Chris got his crispy pork on rice. For variety, I got the roasted pork. The roasted pork looked good, but it lacked a little something. The crispy pork was better. In summary, not the most outstanding pork we’ve ever had. But nonetheless very respectable for airport food.
Other things you can get at the Don Mueang airport food court: all kinds of noodle soups, tom yam soup, coconut-y tom kha soup, pad krapao (stir fries with Thai basil), som tam (green papaya salad), roasted duck on rice, duck noodle soup, steamed chicken with rice, rice porridge, curries, oyster omelettes, and so much more. If you want something sweet, there’s mango sticky rice, Thai iced tea, boba tea and the like.
About the Food Court at Don Mueang Airport
You can find Magic Garden Food Court at Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) on Level 4