Moving to Thailand and coming from South Africa, where I mainly relied on my car, I wanted to know literally everything about the transport in Bangkok and I was amazed at just how easy it was to get from place to place inexpensively. Taking public transport is like an adventure in Thailand! There’s so many people here using ALL types of transport at the same time, it can get overwhelming if you don’t know where you are or who to catch a lift with?
Well, it is my right as a fellow human and helper to give you a low down on how not to get lost in Thailand…
Rent A Bike
Cost: between 150 – 300 Baht per day
You can find many shops that hire out scooters, motorbikes, cars and even bicycles. Negotiate! Problem is, if you haven’t driven in Thailand, rather don’t, until you know how they drive and the rules of the road. I choose life, so renting is not an option for me for now but it can avoid unnecessary frustration traveling around and is less expensive if you are traveling around an island. We had three people on one scooter, I didn’t feel too comfortable as yet to drive so there I was, sandwiched in the middle and it was so much fun!
Cost: starting at approximately 20 Baht one-way
These are scooters that are driven by registered locals in the main cities for short distances. You will find them in groups on main intersections and corners and underneath BTS stairs. Scooter and motorbikes aren’t allowed on the highways. The drivers have to be wearing an orange vest with their name and a number on his back.
This is the cheapest way of traveling around and the quickest as they avoid traffic or go just straight through it.
Always negotiate as well, because some drivers will take advantage of tourists
This is another inexpensive way of traveling, is reliable and available nearby, but traveling time is longer.
Cost: starting at approximately 10–50Baht one-way
Coach buses are used at the following 3 bus stations for long distance traveling, all over Thailand:
Ekkamai Bus Terminal in the East of Bangkok
Mo Chit Bus Terminal in the North of Bangkok.
You can purchase tickets on the day you would like to travel at the various ticket booths. Alternatively you can book online here.
Cost: Starts at 200+ Baht one way depending on your destination.
Available from 06h00 – midnight daily
Bangkok’s MRT – Metropolitan Rapid Transit
Bangkok’s subway, which consists of one line connected to the Suvarnabhumi Airport, Phaya Thai Sukumvit Line BTS and bus stations. Quick and convenient to travel to inexpensively around Bangkok.
Operates from 06h00 – midnight daily.
Cost: min. 35 Baht one-way depending on distance travelled.
Taxis are different brightly colored sedans. They need to have a contact number on the side of the car and inside there will be an ID card of the driver. If anything serious happens, you can give those details to insurance and the Passenger Protection Union (1584). Do not get into a random car with no details or meter. The meter has to be on otherwise the driver can name his price and you will be ripped off.
Cost: Approximately 400+ Baht plus
These vans mainly operate from the airports and take about 10 people at a time. Pro – cheaper than a taxi if traveling long distances. Con – If coming from the airport, most vans will stop at a tourism centre to try sell you tour packages and they get commission. I pretended I didn’t understand.
Also, you have many stops depending on the location of your accommodation; therefore the drive can be long.
Tuk Tuk Taxi
Cost: approximately 150+ Baht one way
Yes, while these are the more popular taxis for the tourists and available anywhere, they are rather expensive and will charge more if you are a foreigner. I use these as a last resort. Always negotiate.
BTS Line/ Skytrain
There are various payment options depending on how often you use the BTS. Purchase a Rabbit card and load it with money to simply swipe your card at the gates.
This is available in Bangkok only and is an affordable and quick way of getting around from one suburb to the next, traffic free! The traveling time between trains is approximately five minutes and operate from 06h00 – 00h00.
This is a different way of traveling around Thailand and also the one of the least expensive. If you are willing to sleep in a bunk overnight to your destination, then go for it!
You can book your train trip five days in advance or get quote before you leave to your destination at Thailand Train Ticket.
There are many domestic airlines but I can suggest the following:
Thai Smile is the sister company of Thai Airways. Great staff with affordable airfares and they fly to main airports all over Asia. 20 kgs free luggage per person. Snack and refreshments onboard. This is an expensive way to travel if you are on a tight budget in Thailand, but it does beat sitting on your bum for 6+ hours straight.
Air Asia is affordable travel as well. Fly to main airports over Asia. Quicker lay-overs. No free luggage. No inboard snacks and refreshments.
Nok Air is a low-cost airline, budget airline of Thai Airways. Mostly domestic flights out of Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport. 15 kg free luggage.
Cost: between 10 – 30 baht one way
Operates from 06h00 – 19:30
Lines: tourist, local, orange, yellow, green-yellow, blue*
In Bangkok you can take the numerous ‘river buses’ on the Chao Praya River. The BTS line also has a station (Saphan Taksin) that links to the Chao Praya central pier, Sathorn. Out of the 5 river bus lines, the Orange line* is your best bet as they run all day. There are many tour guide boats as well that can show you Thailand as a tourist. Boats come along every 20 minutes or so during the day, and in peak hour (before 10am and after 4pm) boats appear more frequently. There are many piers along this river so you can stop anywhere, for more information here’s a list of piers.
Cost: about 10 baht per km
…And I’ve left my favourite for last, UberX. Unfortunately private taxi companies such as Uber and Grab It are not doing too well in Thailand as there are so many meter and scooter taxi’s already here so the demand isn’t too high… BUT Uber has come to my rescue more than once here, so until they get rid of of UberX, I will use it! RIP UberMOTO!