Trazy’s Survival Tips for Travelers to Thailand: Bangkok’s Public Transportation System

Welcome to Bangkok: a city full of people, traffic, vibrant nightlife, busy markets, brightly lit malls, tranquil riversides, and captivating history! An abundance of transport options such as buses, taxis, motorcycle taxis, ferries, boats, tuk-tuks, and trains exist.

There’s so much to explore and with this guide, you’ll be navigating the city like a pro. We’ve got you covered with information about the types of transport available, fares, operating hours and more!

1. BTS Skytrain

The BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System) Skytrain is the swiftest, safest, and smoothest way to get around Bangkok and see everything the city has to offer. Along with the MRT, it connects all of the main shopping, entertainment and business districts.bts-skytrainThere are two lines- the Silom line (runs west to south from the National Stadium to Bang Wa) and the Sukhumvit line (runs north to east from Mo Chit to Bearing). The lines meet at Siam Station and interconnect with the MRT at Sala Daeng and Asok station. Trains run from 06:00 to midnight and arrive every 3 to 4 minutes. Do keep in mind that they can get quite crowded during peak hours (07:00 – 09:00 and 16:00 – 19:00).BTS tickets.pngBTS Rabbit cards can be purchased from machines in the stations with coins only (but change is given at the service desks). There are several options to choose from depending on the duration and distance you are traveling.

Type

Fare

Single Journey Ticket

15 ~ 52 THB depending on distance traveled
Unlimited Travel 1 Day Pass 120 THB. Ideal for tourists as you can travel as much as you want all day.
Standard Rabbit Card / Stored Value Card 150 THB (50 THB is a refundable deposit). Can be filled with minimum 100 THB and maximum 4000 THB. Valid for 5 years.
30 Day Pass for Adults

Starts at 375 THB for 15 trips of an unlimited distance. Available for 15, 25, 40, 50 trips at varying prices.

The BTS site includes a detailed map as well as directions showing you how to get to the major tourist attractions. You can also find maps at any station.

2. MRT 

Calm and convenient, the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) consists of the blue line (runs from Hua Lamphong in the south to Bang Sue in the north) and the recently opened purple line (runs from Taopoon Station in the Bang Sue district to Bangyai district in Nonthaburi). Here’s a map for your convenience.bangkok-mrt-bts-mapTrains run from 06:00 to midnight and arrive every 5 to 7 minutes. You can connect to the BTS Skytrain at Asok station. mrt-trainUnlike the BTS Skytrain, tickets are black plastic tokens purchasable from machines in the station. Simply touch the token against the screen next to the turnstile as you enter and drop it into the slot as you leave. Fares range from 15 to 40 THB depending on the travel zone. Note that the passes bought for the MRT are not compatible with ones for the BTS Skytrain. MRT token.jpg

3. Taxis – Meter and Motorcycle 

Taxis are your next best bet in terms of convenience as they are  easy to hail and ideal for traveling to destinations that aren’t on the BTS Skytrain or MRT map.

The taxis are spacious, new, and come in many colors like yellow-green, red-blue, bright orange, and pink. However, don’t be confused as they all share the same service rates so it doesn’t matter what color vehicle you take.taxiFares start at 35 THB and remain there for the first two kilometers, then rise steadily by 2 THB at a time per kilometer. Communication can sometimes be an issue as many drivers speak little English, so improvise and be imaginative. Also, avoid taxis during rush hour unless you want to end up paying a fortune.

*Always make sure your taxi uses a meter. Drivers may come up with many ways to try and scam you and get you to use their taxi. Meters are always cheaper and more reliable. Carry around change as well since most drivers will not give change under 10 THB.
motorcycle-taxiIf you’re up for an adventure, try a motorcycle taxi. Though it’s probably the most dangerous option, it’s also the fastest. During rush hour, they will dart effortlessly around cars and buses, driving on sidewalks or opposite traffic lanes to get you to your destination as fast as possible.  The drivers are easy to spot as they wear numbered orange vests.

Fares start from 10 THB for short journeys and vary depending on the distance. Certain routes may have fixed rates and you will sometimes see a board displaying the prices. Make sure to always negotiate the price prior to the journey, or you may find yourself being ripped off.

* Make sure you wear a safety helmet. Aside from the obvious reason, tourists are also very easy to spot and fine (up to 1000 THB depending on the traffic officer’s mood).

4. Buses

Buses are a great way to travel from one side of the city to another at an incredibly cheap price. The downside is that they can be confusing to tourists as the routes are extensive and destinations are written in only Thai a lot of the time. Make sure you have an MBTA map (available at most terminals), ask someone around you or call the “184” BMTA hotline for assistance. You can also print out a simple map herebangkok-busesBuses with blue signs take the normal route while ones with yellow signs take the expressway. The fares and routes vary according to the color of the bus. Bangkok buses run daily from 05:00 – 11:00 while night buses run 24 hours a day.

Bus Type

Fare

Regular (cream-red / white-blue) 7 THB
Expressway (yellow) 8.5 THB
Air Conditioned (cream-blue) 9~19 THB (depending on destination)
All night (cream-red) 8 THB
EURO II (yellow-orange) 12~22 THB  (depending on destination)

Tickets can be purchased from the conductor once you board the bus. Simply tell them your destination and you will receive a small receipt once you pay. Keep the receipt as sometimes it will be checked.

*Wave your hand if you intend to get on the bus! Sometimes bus drivers tend to just drive past without stopping if no one seems to be intending to get on. Also, carry a copy of your address written in Thai as it will spare you the trouble of trying to communicate with the conductor or driver.

5. Boats and Ferries 

Explore canals, historical attractions, temples, and architecture on boats and ferries. There are several types but the main ones are river crossing ferries and express boat river taxis. river-taxiRiver Crossing Ferries resemble a raft with a roof and operate at 32 separate ferry crossings. As the name suggests, they transport people from one side of the river to the other for only 3 THB. The most popular crossing is between Wat Pho Temple and Wat Arun at Tha Tien Pier. express-boatFor express boat river taxis, there are five different types: No flag, Blue flag, Orange flag, Yellow flag, and Green flag lines. The green and yellow lines are for those commuting to and from work from the northern outskirts of Bangkok.

Type of Boat

Course Fare

Operation Hours

No Flag (Local Line) Stops at every pier from Wat Rajsingkorn (Pier S1) in the south to Nonthaburi (Pier N30) in the north. 10~20 THB 06:00 – 18:30 Monday to Friday.

Blue Flag (Tourist Boat)

Stops when you want. Operates between Nonthaburi in the far north to Sathorn Central Pier. 40~50 THB per trip.

100 THB for all day pass with unlimited journeys.

07:00 – 18:25 daily
Orange Flag Stops at main piers. Operates between Wat Rajsinkorn (Pier S3) and Nonthaburi (Pier N30). 15 THB per journey 05:50 – 19:00 daily

6. Tuk-tuks

Tuk-tuks were once a major Bangkok attraction but are slowly declining as more convenient and modern modes of transport arise. However, they are still quite popular among tourists and visitors!

Originating from old fashioned rickshaws during WWII, tuk-tuks are a rickshaw with a small engine fitted in. They are ideal for short trips since they cost the same or even less than a taxi and are much faster.  tuk-tukFares vary depending on the distance traveled but haggling is a must as the price named by the driver is always inflated. Negotiate 5~25 THB off the proposed fare and take it from there.

*Be careful of drivers around touristy areas who offer sightseeing tours or say they know “secret” or “special shopping places”. A short and firm “no thank you” will save you from being scammed.

Try a Tuk Tuk Tour if you’re feeling adventurous and want to explore the night lights of Bangkok. You can also enjoy a comfortable private transfer service if you’re heading to or from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK Airport) and Bangkok City.

If you found this guide helpful, make sure to stop by Trazy.com, your travel shop for Asia, for more posts with detailed guides and tips like this one! button6

Photo Credits

“BTS, Bangkok” By jo.sau

“BTS Skytrain Ticket” By Harsha K R

“Rabbit card” By Karl Baron

“Bangkok MRT” By billy1125

“MRT Ticket Vending Machine”, “MRT Ticket” By Shinji

“Primary colours on wheels” By Tricycle

“Streets of Bangkok 2015” By drburtoni

“New Orange Minibus in Thonburi” By Ian Fuller

“Isuzu (?) bus” By davocano

“EKAMAI BUS STATION BANGKOK THAILAND JAN 2012” By calflier001

“IMG_1210” By 7beachbum

“River Boat in Bangkok” By Michael Rehfeldt

“Chao Phraya river express boat in Bangkok, Thailand”By Uwe Schwarzbach

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s