When you’re in a travel destination enjoying the place and the culture, everything is exciting and new 🧐 But, you will feel overwhelmed or stressed when you are getting from place to place.
Accordingly, to a first-timer, Bangkok’s diverse public transportation system may appear daunting and overwhelming at first 🧑🎓
Just believe me, with proper research and preparation, you will take on public transport in Thailand and easily travel around. If you need a guide to make sense of Bangkok’s public transport, this all-in-one guide is for you 💯
In general, traffic in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) is absolute chaos, especially compared to Western cities 🧐 However, using public transport will be better than trying to drive yourself. Bangkok generally has an amazing public transport system that’s comfortable.
Normal rush hours in the city fall around 07:00 and 09:00 in the early morning and 16:30 and 20:00 in the evening, but the main remain busy at any time of day 🧑🎓 You absolutely want to avoid getting stuck in traffic at places like Sukhumvit Road, as you can easily end up stationary for two hours.
The BTS is the fastest way to travel in the city, and due to that, it is the all-time favorite way of Bangkok Public Transport for any Bangkokian. The BTS, which transports over 650,000 people daily, is an elevated rapid transit system known as the Skytrain 💯 This modern train system is equipped with superb air conditioning for comfort and gets you to the other side of the city within an hour.
Bangkok has two different BTS lines, the Sukhumvit Line (light green) and the Silom Line (dark green), that cover the most important districts of the city 🧑🎓 At Siam BTS Station, travelers can switch between Sukhumvit and Silom Line and connect to the MRT System at Asok, Mo Chit and Silom BTS Stations. However, recently, the line was expanded. Nowadays, you can take the BTS from the heart of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) all the way to Samut Prakan 🧐 But I focus on the BTS lines and stations covering the capital city for the article's purpose. The BTS Lines operate between 06:30 in the morning and 12:00 at midnight.
In order to access the BTS Lines, you need to buy a Rabbit Skytrain Card at the ticket booth or buy a single card at the ticket machines 🧑🎓 If you plan to use BTS multiple times a day, it’s best to get a BTS One-Day Pass for 140 THB or put money on your Rabbit Card at the kiosk. With these cards, you can easily access the platforms without waiting in a queue in front of the ticket booth. In 2018, the Sukhumvit Line extended all the way to Samut Prakan, and further extensions are planned for the future, including to Don Muang Airport 🧐 Travelers who must go to Suvarnabhumi International Airport can use the Airport Rail Link at Phaya Thai BTS Station.
The Airport Rail Link is a BTS connection between the international airport Suvarnabhumi and the city center, with seven stops. Several of these stops are connected with either the BTS or the MRT (Metro System) 💯 For tourists and every traveler; the BTS is a fantastic form of Bangkok Public Transport that allows you to travel comfortably and cuts out road traffic 🧑🎓 It’s a good idea to book a hotel close to a BTS Station to move quickly through the city.
For more stops, check out the most recent version of the mass transit map of Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) made by Richard Barrow, who writes excellent and useful articles about tourism in Thailand 💯
Another all-time favorite of Bangkok Public Transport is the MRT 🧑🎓 Like the BTS; this metro system has two different lines: the Blue Line and the Purple Line.
At Sukhumvit, Chatuchak Park, and Silom Station, travelers can switch between lines and MRT and BTS systems 🧐 During rush hour, these stations get extremely busy, but using the BTS and the MRT is still a great alternative to being stuck in traffic jam. As an example, you will usually have to wait an additional fifteen minutes for the MRT Connection at Sukhumvit as it is so busy. But getting stuck at Sukhumvit Road in a taxi can take up to two hours 💯
When traveling on the MRT, you must get either a single-journey token or an MRT Pass. Like the BTS, travelers can also get a day pass for 120 THB 🧑🎓 As the railway systems are run by different companies, using an MRT day pass for a BTS ride is impossible. The MRT Lines are available between 06:00 in the morning and 12:00 at midnight.
The train system isn’t ideal for getting around Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok), but it’s a great way to travel to different parts of Thailand 🧑🎓 For many travelers, taking the train to the north or south of the country is a cheap, comfortable, and safe option.
The trains nowadays are modern and equipped with all sorts of features such as air conditioning and power sockets 💯 However; these trains are extremely slow, yet fair-priced. Night trains, such as the train to Laos, have beds with freshly washed sheets. Each train is divided into three classes, with First Class being the most luxurious.
Popular train routes, such as the night train for the Full Moon Party or the train to Laos, quickly sell out, so get tickets at least 24 hours before departure at the ticket booth at Hua Lamphong Station 🧐 Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok’s central hub, accessible from the Metro System.
The most convenient option is to get your train tickets from the Ticket Office for Foreigners (06:00 - 20:00) 🧑🎓 Always bring your passport when buying train tickets, as they’ll be linked to your name. The most popular train routes are:
The train to Kanchanaburi can only be accessed from a different train station named Thonburi Train Station 🧑🎓 From 2021, Hua Lamphong Train Station is no longer in use. The government is building an enormous state-of-the-art train station near Chatuchak Weekend Market. Once the new station is in use, the Hua Lamphong Station, which was opened in 1916, shall be transformed into a museum 💯
On the first floor of Suvarnabhumi Airport, you'll find the taxi rank 🧐 To take a taxi from there; you need to get a ticket at the office inside the airport; they will direct you to the parking lot and your taxi.
By law, the taxi driver charges an extra 50 THB fee on top of the total cost of the journey 💯 Most taxi drivers tend to take the highway, which means you must also pay extra toll costs. Traveling from the airport to central Bangkok usually costs up to 400 THB. It might be cheaper and more comfortable with a group of people 🧑🎓 The only downside is that most taxis are small sedans without space for all the suitcases. When taking a taxi with a group at the airport, ask for the larger taxi vans.
Since there's no Skytrain at Don Muang Airport yet, you can only take a bus or a taxi, so as you can imagine, it gets jam-packed. On the first level of Don Mueang, you'll find a similar taxi ticket system as at Suvarnabhumi 💯 Getting a taxi from the second level is possible to avoid the queues, where people are just being dropped off. Here you can easily get a taxi which most people don't know about.
There are no extra fees at Don Mueang, but there are tollways before entering the city 🧑🎓 It will cost you around 150 THB to get to Mo Chit BTS Station, including the toll fee.
As the railway systems in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) are limited, taking a taxi is another popular way of getting from point A to B 🧐 You can hail any taxi when the red light (sometimes green) in front of their window screen is turned on.
Even though you might have heard stories about taxi driver scams, in general, you won’t have any trouble if you follow this advice:
Taxis can be a great way to get around and are much safer than using a tuk-tuk or motorbike 🧑🎓 Taxis also typically have air conditioning, leather seats, and seatbelts, making a much more comfortable ride 💯
For most travelers, the public buses in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) are not a popular form of transport because of the research required to work out bus lines and timetables, which aren’t normally available in English 🧐
Some buses aren’t the most comfortable transport either and are frequently old and rundown 💯 Long-distance night buses, however, are a great mode of transport, especially if you’re on a budget. These buses are cheap but comfortable and relatively safe 🧑🎓 Just ensure you always keep your valuables with you. Sometimes night buses can be extremely slow, and the longest journeys can take 20-plus hours.
Tickets for these buses can be found in any city at any travel agency for destinations around Thailand 💯 If you have a slightly higher budget, I’d still recommend the train, which is faster and more efficient.
As some people have shared, a tuk-tuk may not only be uncomfortable and unsafe, but the level of pollution inhaled when driving around the city could be overwhelming 🧐
Some of you may have also read from other websites about some tuk-tuk drivers infamous for their scams and often charging ridiculous prices for short trips 🧑🎓 Remember that not everyone does.
You can always negotiate, and some are flexible and open to giving you an exciting tour around the city 💯 Although, personally, I still must say that taxis are much safer, cheaper, and more comfortable.
In Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok), you'll notice vibrant orange-vested motorbike riders offering convenient short trips around the city for 20-30 THB 🧑🎓
While it may seem like an affordable transportation option, there are other great choices for getting around the city 🧐 Bangkok offers a variety of public transport options that are safe, efficient, and enjoyable. And Thailand has been working diligently to improve road safety 💯
Minivans are a popular form of transport for long-distance trips to, for example, Ayutthaya. Each minivan can accommodate up to eight passengers and take you to various popular destinations in and around Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) 🧐
In Bangkok, the most common areas to find these vans are at Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports, the Victory Monument, Mo Chit Bus Station (also known as Mo Chit 2), and the Ekkamai Bus Terminal 💯 You’ll find these comfortable vans with air conditioning and sometimes LCD screens across Thailand.
With the advent of technology, public transport in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) has become relatively easier. You can worry less about intra-city commuting if you have your smartphone with you 🧑🎓 These apps (e.g., Grab, Bolt, etc.) are extremely convenient modes of transport services in the city that have come into existence in recent days. Make sure you're able to choose one that best suits your needs.
One of the top things to do in Bangkok regarding transport is to take a trip on the Chao Phraya River Express Boat 🧐 The city is built around the Chao Phraya River, so you can use a comprehensive boat service.
Five express lines stop at the main piers at Chao Phraya River, with one dedicated to tourists. The blue line is perfect for sightseeing, you can easily hop on at one of the piers, but most people start at Sathorn Pier, located close to Saphan Taksin BTS Station 🧑🎓 For a one-way ticket, you’ll pay 40 THB, and for a day pass, 150 THB, this allows you to hop on and off all day.
Simple river crossings can be found at multiple piers along the river, costing you just four THB. Ferries are a great way to visit Wat Arun, in particular; 💯 Visit this beautiful riverside temple by taking a ferry to Tha Tien Pier.
If you want to explore the river, renting a private longtail boat at Sathorn Pier is possible. It would help if you negotiated prices, but usually, it costs 1,500 THB for 90 minutes 🧐 The boat is large enough for at least ten people.
You’ll immediately be flooded by touts and get to hop on to various boats with different itineraries, all-inclusive packages, and a long list of sights when you exit to the pier via the Saphan Taksin BTS station to traverse the Chao Phraya River 💯
A ticket on the orange flag boat from Saphan Taksin to the Grand Palace stop will cost THB 15 / 0.70/0.50 USD, and ticket fares here are bought on-site. If you’re looking for the most economical option, head left to the public river taxis, denoted by their colored flags, which represent different routes 🧑🎓
The colored flags are as follows:
Bangkok has two airports, Suvarnabhumi and the much smaller Don Mueang Airport 🧐 Suvarnabhumi is the international airport of Bangkok, while Don Mueang flies mainly on domestic routes and to some nearby countries.
Suvarnabhumi has the Airport Link Connection, which means a BTS connection between the airport and Phaya Thai BTS Station, with six stops in total 💯
Although buses are available, the most convenient way to get to the city center is by taking a taxi straight to your destination or Mo Chit BTS Station. If you take a taxi to Mo Chit, you can take the BTS and MRT to your destination 🧐 As mentioned; it’s easier to get a taxi from the departure floor of Don Mueang rather than waiting in the queue on the arrival floor.
The most convenient way to get to or from the airport is the Airport Link and the good old taxi or buses for most tourists from Mo Chit BTS 🧑🎓
In addition, taking the Airport Link to Phaya Thai is the most convenient way depending on your destination. This BTS Line has six stops: Lat Krabang, Ban Thap Chang, Hua Mak, Ramkhamhaeng, Makkasan, and Phaya Thai 🧐 The maximum duration is 26 minutes and costs 45 THB.
If your final destination isn’t accessible from one of those stops, take a taxi from the first floor of Suvarnabhumi Airport 💯
The best way to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Sukhumvit is to take the Airport Rail Link to Makkasan Station 💯 From this station; you take a taxi heading south. Makkasan Station is two kilometres from Asok BTS Station and Sukhumvit Road. It will cost you around 140 THB when traveling alone 🧑🎓
One of the most common ways to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Khao San Road is by taking the Airport Link 🧐 This BTS Train will take you all the way to Phaya Thai BTS Station and cost you 45 THB.
You can get a taxi to Khao San Road, which costs you around 70 THB. The overall travel time is 50 minutes, depending on the traffic 💯 You can also take the bus from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Khao San Road for 60 THB. You need to take Bus S1 at Exit Number 7. Remember that bus rides can take up to two hours or more, depending on the traffic.
Moreover, a taxi ride from Suvarnabhumi to Khao San Road will cost you around 400 THB, and this is the fastest way to get into the city if you use the highway 🧑🎓 This is the most efficient and affordable way to get there if you’re traveling in a small group (up to four people).
The easiest and most convenient way to get from Khao San Road to Suvarnabhumi is to take a taxi to Phaya Thai BTS Station and take the Airport Link to Suvarnabhumi Airport 💯 It will cost you around 70 THB for the taxi and 45 THB for the BTS ticket.
Bangkok is continually evolving its transportation infrastructure to provide more convenient travel options. One of the significant developments is the implementation of bullet trains in Thailand 🧐 These high-speed trains, utilizing Chinese HSR technology, aim to revolutionize travel within the region. With impressive speeds of up to 250 km per hour, they promise to offer faster and more efficient connectivity between cities.
The local authorities are also taking steps to enhance public transportation within Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok). One notable initiative is the introduction of new electric buses 🧑🎓 These eco-friendly buses will contribute to a more sustainable urban transport system and provide improved travel options for residents and visitors.
As we eagerly await these changes, we can be assured that the future of travel in Bangkok holds great promise 💯
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