THREE WAYS OF GETTING AROUND BANGKOK THAILAND
Bangkok, Thailand. We’ve seen it in the movies and we’ve heard the tales and adventures of those who have ventured there to explore and discover what Bangkok and Thailand have to offer. Some of those travelers have returned time and time again while others have managed a way to just stay there on a perpetual vacation. Thailand has that type of effect on most people and it’s easy to fall in love with her, her people, the culture, and all that she has to offer you.
Bangkok is a city swarming with people and vehicles. You will not only find Thai people, but there are many other people from different parts of the world. Bangkok offers many fascinating places to see; numerous shopping choices; and an incredible assortment of different types of food to eat. Yes, there is also the adult bar / club scene as well, but that is just a small part of what is available in Thailand. Bangkok and the rest of Thailand caters to singles, couples, groups, and families alike. It’s a “something for everyone” type of travel place with a very open mind to all lifestyles.
“But how will I get around Bangkok once I am there?” you may be thinking. Well, Bangkok offers several modes of travel to get you to and from your destinations. Here is some helpful information about three of the popular modes of travel:
There are no shortages of taxis in Bangkok and they are painted in all sorts of bright colors so they are easy to see.
The only time that you might find it difficult to get a taxi ride is during rush hour. Usually if you are walking along the street, just stand by the roadside and watch for them. Within the swarm of cars and motorbikes they really stand out. Each taxi has a small red neon sign on the lower, drivers side windshield that is illuminated when the taxi is available. It’s easier if you know beforehand where you want to go. Some taxi drivers speak English and some don’t, but they will probably know the destination more than likely if you tell them before you get in.
When they stop the taxi, and if the taxi window is down, tell the driver where you want to go. If the windows are closed, open the door and tell him. If they give you a nod of the head, they will take you. If they decide they don’t want to go to your destination, they will shake their head no and drive off. They aren’t supposed to do this anymore and risk a ticket if they get caught based on the new laws, but don’t be surprised if they decline. Also, make sure they turn the meter on when you get in and start to go. If they don’t, ask them to turn the meter on. If they don’t and start haggling a fixed price for the fare, tell them no you want the meter used. If they still insist, tell them to stop the taxi if he has started to drive and get out. Just make sure you grab all your belongings and any bags in the trunk. I have had this happen before and my wife who is Thai was with me. She taught me this tip so I give her credit for some of this knowledge and experience. :-)
Sometimes the taxi driver will quote a price to you which would be off the meter. My experience has been this happens mostly during rush hour. Rush hour used to start around 3:00 P.M. and last until around 8:00 P.M. I noticed on my last trip to Bangkok in August of this year that traffic was still bad at 10:00 P.M. in some places The volume of traffic also depends on where you wish to go and the direction you have to travel to get there. This quoted price is usually higher than the metered fare would cost you. Hopefully you know what the daily conversion rate is for your currency versus Thai baht for that day. You can alway check my website which has a daily updated currency converter! :-) Now is the time for you to decide if you will accept the price or not. If you decline, just tell them ‘no thank you’ and either get out or close the door and wait for the next taxi to come along. If you agree, repeat the price to them to confirm it so you know exactly what you will be paying. Heavy rainy days are another time when some taxis will try and quote a price versus the metered fare because now traffic is going to be really slow and competition with other people for taxi rides will increase.
There are some taxis, especially at hotels, whose drivers will offer a you a day fare as another option and will drive you around for a specified time frame for a fixed price. These drivers usually speak some level of English as well. When I was a first time traveler to Thailand and stayed in Bangkok I tried this out. The only issue is, they will offer suggestions of where to go and more than likely they will take you to places they get a kickback from. They will tell you about a great place to buy fine jewelry for real cheap prices; or a place you can get clothing hand tailored for you at very reasonable prices; or they know this great restaurant you might like. They also know the different adult entertainment sites as well for those who are interested. Make sure if you choose this option, know where YOU want to go and see if they are still willing to give you a day fare for your choices. If so, this could work out for you as long as you both agree to the price and period of time. They know and can smell “newbies” to Thailand, and they are trying to make a living, so keep that in mind. Also, pay the driver at the end of the agreed upon time frame and if you want to tip him because he was a huge help, go ahead!
Taxis are also available for long hauls to other parts of Thailand. They usually have a rate / fare card based on the number of kilometers to be traveled that is usually hanging on their headrest or somewhere visible for the passenger to look over. These are the legal rates, your responsibility for road tolls, and extra fees they can charge.
Overall, taxi prices in Bangkok are a pretty cheap means of transportation when compared to other countries and a little more comfortable and private than the other choices.
Buses are another option to get around Bangkok and the surrounding areas. They have older buses and now I noticed they have these really nice new buses.
Buses are cheaper than taxis, but you have to know the route and which bus to use. The TRANSIT BANGKOK website has the information you will need for bus travel to include times of service and rates. Make sure you carry coins, especially for buses, or smaller Thai baht bills for transportation to include all other modes of travel. They are not going to be able to break a 1000 or 500 baht bill for you for a 20 baht fare.
BTS SKY TRAIN
Another inexpensive mode of transportation is the BTS Sky Train. This is a fairly new, inexpensive, and currently expanding option of travel. There are two BTS lines: the Silom Line and the Sukhumvit Line. TRANSIT BANGKOK provides some great information and a trip planner for the Sky Train that includes any bus connections to your destination. This will require preparation for your day before hand, or you can wing it and see what happens.
Tickets for the Sky Train are purchased at the turnstiles up on the platform just like in any other major city with a train / subway line. You will need coins to buy the ticket(s). There is a kiosk where you can get change, but I suggest you always keep some coins on hand in case the change lines are long. Day passes and smart passes are also available which are valid for 30 days. You can also take the Sky Train to a stop outside of the congested areas during rush hour or closer to where you want to go and then grab a taxi for the remainder of the trip to your destination. Sometimes you just have to be creative to keep moving.
Tuk Tuk’s are three wheeled vehicles which are popular modes of transportation, especially with visitors, and are again cheaper than taxis.
PROS: cheaper than taxis usually, the openness of the ride, and it’s just a fun experience. CONS: Prepare to breath in the exhaust from the surrounding traffic; make sure you know how much the fare is and that you agree with it before you go with them; you might get a little wet if it starts to rain; while you are stopped at traffic lights keep a watch your bags and belongings. Thailand is a wonderful country, but like everywhere else, there are thieves and while you’re sitting at a traffic light, someone could come by on foot or motorbike and snatch something from your belongings while you are chatting with your friend, taking a quick nap, or just looking around enjoying the sites. Enjoy the ride, but just stay aware. :-)
Not all Tuk Tuk’s have these signs as this courteous driver does.
Watch out for Tuk Tuk scams as well. Overly friendly Tuk Tuk drivers who quote you a ridiculously low fare are up to no good. They will appear very friendly, ask you questions about yourself and your trip, and offer to take you to where you want to go for very little money. It will most likely cost you more in the end. Just say no thank you and walk away. Don’t ever get into a confrontation with a driver. You will ultimately lose BIG time especially if you put your hands on him or any Thai for that matter during a confrontation, especially if you have been drinking. It’s best just to walk away.
These are three popular modes of travel around Bangkok hat are services I have used myself. There are also Khlong Boat taxis to Siam Square; water taxis that take you to both sides of the Chao Praya River, and motorbike taxis which are probably the least expensive of them all. The following links will give you more information regarding transportation services as a well as the Airport Rail Link to Suvarnabhumi Airport:
I hope these tips are helpful to you and you have a great time in Bangkok! :-)