I just discovered: AirAsia now connects Bengaluru directly with Bangkok, starting September 1st, 2015. This would make it convenient for Bangaloreans travelling to several locations in South East Asia.
This morning, I was looking up for air tickets to a few destinations in South-East Asia on AirAsia website. At one point, I was searching for Air Tickets out of Mandalay, Myanmar to Bangkok. In the list of destinations that AirAsia tickets can be booked out of Mandalay, Bengaluru also popped up to my surprise. This wasn’t the case when I was searching for travel options in the region a few months ago, early in May.
A quick research revealed that it is indeed possible to book Mandalay to Bengaluru (via Bangkok) on Air Asia in one reservation (single PNR), thanks to the fact that Thai AirAsia has started flying Bangkok to Bengaluru and return. The flights have commenced only recently, starting from 1st September 2015. They had announced this as early as end-June and perhaps started ticket sales immediately, but this had skipped my attention. What really makes me excited about this is not the connectivity to Bangkok alone, but how easier (and cheaper) it will become to fly from Bengaluru to some remote locations in South East Asia.
Flying from Bengaluru to Cambodia and Myanmar
Flights to Cambodia and Myanmar have been traditionally very expensive even from major hubs in South East Asia such as Bangkok, KL and Singapore. This changed considerably when AirAsia introduced cheaper flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Yangon and Mandalay. On many airlines, you often see fares that can be two to four times more expensive.
Travellers from Bengaluru had multiple difficulties in using these AirAsia fares although they were often the cheapest option.
Bangkok is the nearest large hub physically closer to Myanmar and Cambodia compared to KL and Singapore. Hence it should ideally be cheaper and faster to fly through Bangkok to visit these countries. But unlike Chennai, Bengaluru did not have any budget airlines connecting direct with Bangkok. Flying from Bengaluru to Bangkok remained expensive. The new AirAsia flight should help bring down the costs.
Also, when you fly other airlines to Bangkok, you normally land in Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). Since the AirAsia flights to Myanmar and Cambodia take-off from Don Mueang Airport (DMK), you had to go through the Bangkok City to reach the other airport. This meant spending on an unnecessary Thai visa and possible transport expenses, besides having to spend more time than needed in Bangkok going through immigration. With AirAsia flying from Bengaluru to Don Mueang Airport, you will no longer need a Thai Visa if your final destination is Siem Reap or Yangon. You can also pick flights in a way that you need to spend no more than an hour at Bangkok.
Although I am not certain, this may also make flying to Vietnam and smaller airports in Thailand (such as Phuket, Krabi, etc) from Bengaluru much easier and inexpensive.
Oh, it is worthwhile adding: this post is not sponsored by AirAsia or any other firm. Having been travelling in Cambodia and Myanmar in the last few years, I have experienced the inconvenience of having to change airports in Bangkok. I am glad things are getting simpler, and I thought it is an information worth sharing with other travellers in Bengalure.
AirAsia photo courtesy: Roderick Eime on flickr