Boutique Bangkok Hotels
Transport Overview

In recent years it has become much easier to get around Bangkok, thanks to a big investment by the government into public transport that gets people off the heavily congested roads of Bangkok. There is now the overground 'Skytrain' that is commonly referred to as 'BTS' and the subway that is called the 'MRT'. These systems are relatively cheap, fast, comfortable (they are air-conditioned) and regular. The routes of both the BTS and MRT are slowly being extended to cover more of Bangkok.

The most notable area that is not covered by the Skytrain or the subway is the histroric center of Bangkok, near the famous Khao San Road. This is where the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun are all located. The best way to get out of the Banglampu / Khao San area is to jump on a ferry going up or down the Chao Phraya River. Tickets are inexpensive and boats are frequent. Moreover you get a cooling breeze from the river and get to see some great sites.

As a further point, Bangkok is an excellent transport hub. While travel in Bangkok itself can be slow going, it is to catch flights from both Bangkok airports, as well trains heading north to Chiang Mai, south to the islands and east to Cambodia. Indeed the Sukhumvit Road starts in Bangkok and finishes at the Cambodian border.

For more about the possibilities of touring Thailand by train see www.thailandtrains.com

Taxis and tuk tuks

For those with heavy bags, traveling late at night, or or who simply prefer private transport the option is between taxis and tuk tuks. Although tuk tuks look fun and cheap, the drivers generally drive a hard bargain for fares. It is much better (and safer) to take a yellow meter taxi. Avoid taking taxis at the end of Khao San Road or in front of other major tourist spots. If you flag one down on the street they will agree to go on the meter without much fuss. However, beware that at rush hour times many drivers will refuse to take certain routes; moreover, be sure to know which way you want to go up or down Sukhumvit as it is difficult to turn around on the main thoroughfare.

Buses and motorbikes

The fearless might want to take motorbike taxis. They are sometimes handy for short distances, but are the most dangerous form of transport in Bangkok. There are many accidents involving motorbikes every year and in the fine print of lots of insurance policies are clauses stating the company won't pay in the event of a motorbike accident in Thailand.

When I was a poor backpacker, way back in the days before before the BTS, I used to take buses around the city. Buses are amazingly cheap. The experience will teach you that there is something smaller than a Baht (namely 100 satang=1 Baht). For getting from one part of Bangkok to the other it can take a long, long time if you get snarled up in rush hour gridlock on the bus. For the poor of Bangkok there is no choice since the 30 to 60 Thai Baht on the overground train is too expensive.

Finally, it should be mentioned that Suvarnabhumi Airport is now joined to the Sukhumvit area via a rail link. If you don't arrive late at the airport and don't have heavy bags the express train will save you a few hundred Baht. Below are a few details and links regarding the various ways of getting around Bnagkok.

Skytrain (BTS)
Bangkok Skytrain

There are two main Skytrain lines in Bangkok. The Sukhumvit Line runs from Mo Chit in the north down to Bearing in the south. The Sukhumvit Line connects with the Silom Line at Siam. The Silom Line starts on the west bank of the river at Wongwian Yai in Thon Buri goes to Siam and then curls back west and finishes at the National Stadium. There are also inter city train routes that connect with the Skytrains. Notably, these other train services go to Suvarnabhumi Airport and Hualamphong Train Station.

The Silom, Siam and Sukhumvit areas are well covered by the BTS. The nearest station to Khao San is Ratchethewi station (30 minute walk or short taxi journey). If you are not in a hurry it is more relaxing to connect with the BTS via the ferry if you are staying in Khao San

  • Opening times: trains run from 6.30am to 12am. Trains run every 3 to 6 minutes
  • Charges: between 15 THB and 80 THB. It is possible to buy day passes and 30 day passes
  • Website: www.bts.co.th (useful site)
Subway (MRT)
Bangkok subway

The Bangkok Subway or the Mass Rapid Transit Network has 18 stations. It consists of 20 km of track under the city that goes in a semi-circular shape from Hualamphong in the South to Bang Sue in the north. There are connections with the Skytrain at Sukhumvit and Silom stations. Important connections are Asok (for Sukhumvit skytrain), Kampaengphet (for Chatuchak Weekend Market), Hua Lamphong (Central Railway Station), and Petchabrui (for express train to Suvarnabhumi Airport). More line is being built.

There are no joint tickets yet available to combine overground and undergound travel in Bangkok.

  • Opening times: trains run from 6.00am to 12am. Trains run every 5 minutes during peak times and 7 minutes at other times
  • Charges: between 15 THB and 50 THB. It is possible to buy a one day pass, 3 day pass and a 30 day pass
Express Boat
Chao Phraya express boat

The Chao Phraya river, its tributaries and small canals or klongs used to serve as the main routes of transport around the city. The Chao Phraya Express Boat service still functions as an important part of the Bangkok transport system. 21 km of river are served by 65 boats that carry an average of 40,000 passengers a day. As the BTS and MRT doesn't reach the Khao San area, the express boat ferry pier at Phra Athit remains the best way, if not the quickest, to connect to the BTS. Take the boat south to Sathorn Pier and then it is a short walk to Saphan Taksin BTS.

The boats are great for siteseeing and for spotting monks making their way around the city. They might not be the quickest form of transport but they are the most picturesque.

Opening times: 6am to 7.30pm weekdays and 6am to 6.40pm weekends/ holidays. Wait between 5 and 30 mins
Charges: between 10 THB and 30 THB
Website: www.chaophrayaexpressboat.com (helpful)

 

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