Bus travel in Thailand is one of the lesser-known ways for tourists and expats to get around the country 🧐 Since we don’t take the bus very often in our own countries, it is also not our first thought here.
For most Thai people, it is the best way to get around at the lowest cost, and it is the same for foreigners. For tourists, it’s a great way to see more of the country during your vacation. For expats, it’s an economical alternative to driving or flying 👓
The key to bus travel in Thailand during your vacation is to get all the correct timetable information for where you are going. This is easy to do, and you will enjoy your trip more when you leave the driving to them!
Bus travel to almost everywhere in Thailand is straightforward from anywhere, especially from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok). All major cities, provincial capitals, and most small towns have a bus terminal 🧐 The Government subsidized bus line “BKS” has the best busses and services and is the safest and most reliable.
Buses are very cheap in Thailand. For example, a one-way ticket from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) to Khon Kaen is only 400 Thai Baht. Long-distance trips like this always take 20 min. rest stops, and water and snacks are provided 📜 Riding a major bus line is also much safer than driving yourself, and you won’t get stopped at police checkpoints.
There are very few bus accidents in Thailand. Buses also offer convenience. They go places where you can’t fly, save you money 👓, and often save you time.
The bus from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) to Pattaya is only 120 Thai Baht ($4.00). It is 1,300+ by taxi, and driving there yourself costs 600+ in gas and tolls 👓 To Koh Samui, the bus is only 1,000 Thai Baht, including the ferry to the island. To Chiang Mai, it’s 700 each way. The bus fare from Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) to Nong Bua Daeng in Isaan, a distance of 350 km, is only 300 Thai Baht. These prices are impossible to beat. The price of long-distance travel by bus also includes a meal at the rest stop, snacks, and water. What a deal! 💯
Every town and city in Thailand has a bus terminal. Sometimes that means just a small shelter, but there is a proper bus station with staff in all towns and cities with over 10,000 people. This is great compared to flying 🧐, and especially important if you go home or to family in the country. Often the nearest airport is nowhere near where you are going, even if it is a district capital.
There is absolutely no stress when you ride the bus. No hassles at security checks, no long waits at the gate, and no worries about paying attention to the road. The seats on the bus are comfortable and recline much further than in an airplane 👓 If you bring earplugs and a blindfold, you will go out like a light and wake up ready to roll. If you really can’t sleep, they have video entertainment on TV screens, and you can always play with your phone 📎
It is impossible to see Thai life on the ground from 10,000 meters up 🧐 If you are a tourist and travel by plane everywhere, you don’t see the country at all. You will miss all the culture of the Buddhist temples everywhere. You won’t see any of the mountains and forests up close. Farms, fields, and towns along the way are entirely invisible 🎓 Worse, if you always fly, you have no contact with Thai people's real life. Looking out the bus window, you see life in Thailand all around you the whole way.
Whether you are a first-time tourist or have lived here for years, it is very stressful to drive in Thailand. If you are from the European continent or the Americas, driving on the left only adds to the stress 👓 Thailand has one of the highest accident rates globally. Still, the percentage of bus accidents is very small. Less than 1% of road fatalities occurred in commercial bus accidents in 2016 (the latest statistics). But the best thing about not driving may be that you will not have any issues at police roadblocks 📜 Unless they are looking specifically for you. That’s a different problem.
Bangkok’s main bus terminal, Mo Chit, is the best in Thailand. It has all the information on the entire bus network for the country 🧐 The other good one is the eastern main bus terminal at Ekamai. If you are even thinking of taking the bus somewhere, it is strongly suggested you visit one of these places beforehand. Booking online is not possible (yet), but you can call and book by phone and pay at any 7-11 stores nationwide.
Try and get an idea of the schedules by checking tour operator websites. But look things up and still go to the station 👓 Third-party operators charge more and don’t always have up-to-date information. It is best to go to the bus terminal on the day of travel an hour or so before departure and buy tickets in person.
Mo Chit is easy to find but not simple to get to, especially if you have a lot of luggage. If you have to travel heavily or just come in big suitcases, take a taxi there 📜 The BTS goes to a station called Mo Chit, which is not within walking distance of the terminal. The best and cheapest way there is to use a motorbike taxi from the BTS. But this is also the scariest way for first-timers and impossible with big luggage.
Ekamai is fine from the BTS, only 20 meters from the terminal, but Ekamai buses don’t go everywhere. Ekamai is the best terminal to go to Pattaya or further in that direction, like Cambodia.
Insider secret: from downtown Bangkok to Pattaya, use the Airport Rail Link to Suvarnabhumi and take the bus from there 👓
Thailand has 390,000 km of highways; the number of registered vehicles here is over 40 million. Bus travel is the most popular mode of transportation in Thailand, and one of the oldest bus services is the Government-run BKS or Baw Khaw Saw, which was formed 80 years ago.
Be careful about drinking before you get on the bus, especially in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok). In the past, there was no issue with this 🧐 But now, if they see you with booze or smell alcohol, they are likely not to let you board; There is beer at rest stops, and you can consume it freely. But on the bus, you must be very discreet about drinking.
It is a good idea to bring as much food as possible with you on the bus to eat on the journey. They have everything you could want in and outside the terminals. You can also eat well cheaply at rest stops on shorter routes where meals are not included 👓 Salty snacks, and heavy food are best to bring to avoid frequent trips to the “loo.” If you bring food, bring tissue and napkins, too, or you will be a mess.
Get one of the blankets they have on board and two if there are not too many people. The A/C on the bus is cold! 🧐 If you are ok with the cold blowing, the blankets double nicely as pillows. Thai people will always need a jacket. They get cold if it is anything below 70 degrees (21 degrees Celsius).
Try to “upgrade” to the first floor. This only costs about 10 Thai Baht more, but it is well worth whatever it costs 🎓 There are not too many seats on the bottom floor, and the restroom is right there. Getting in and out of the bus seats is complex, and the aisle is tight to walk through. Coming down from upstairs to the bathroom is much more work.
Don’t even TRY to smoke in the bathroom of a bus, no matter how easy it looks. Smoking on a bus is just as bad as on an airplane. The fine and the problems the bus staff will give you are not as rough as on an airplane 🧐 But the attitude of the people riding with you will turn unfriendly, which will not suit you.
Now you know more about bus travel in Thailand, so sit back and enjoy the ride. We hope you better understand that this is one of the excellent ways to get around the country 🧐 In fact, the bus is the most recommended way to get the most out of a visit to Thailand economically. When you add the hours on each end, you spend in an airport; you might reconsider the options now. Nobody will be impressed that you took the bus, but did you come to Thailand to show off or enjoy and know the place 👓? NO! So enjoy it while you can!
With the bus travel in Thailand vacation tips, you will save expenses and lots of travel time and get hassle-free baggage carrying 🧐 The best part of traveling to Thailand by bus during vacations is enjoying the surrounding sights and traveling safely.
: the Bangkok Mass Transit System, commonly known as the BTS or the Skytrain
: difficulty or annoyance
: Baw Khaw Saw, or BKS, is the Government subsidized bus line in Thailand
: having part of the cost of production paid to keep the selling price low
: schedule (something) to take place at a particular time
: a chart showing trains, buses, or aircraft departure and arrival times.
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