Getting Around Bangkok

Getting Around Bangkok

Posted on 23. Sep, 2009 by in Thailand

A few months ago I told you about driving in Bangkok.  For those of us without a car or motorbike (and who are scared silly of driving in this city, anyway), and may not always want to use a taxi (car or motorbike), there are other ways to get around.  Plenty of other ways…

The Infamous 71 Bus

The Infamous 71 Bus


1. Bus

The bus is our most frequently used mode of transportation.  They come in all colors, shapes and sizes.  The most expensive have A/C, for 8 baht you’ll have fans, and then there are the small, green buses.  They run 6.5 baht, and many of our Thai friends won’t step foot on them in fear for their lives (ok, well at least their safety).  Let’s just say they have a reputation.  From my experience, the drivers aren’t any crazier than the other buses.  Sometimes they will just come to a rolling stop and you’re expected to hop on or off.  It’s an adventure :) . Most of the buses have wooden floors, and in some you can see through the cracks to the ground.  Every bus has two employees- the driver and the fare collector.  Once you board the bus, you can get yourself situated and find your money to hand to the fare collector and receive your little white ticket in exchange.

Songtaew ready to go

Songtaew ready to go


2. Songteaw

We see these in Bangkok, but we have no idea where they go.  However, when we’re in smaller towns we use them all the time.  It’s basically a pick-up truck fitted with benches.  All you do is flag one down, climb in, ring the buzzer as you approach, climb out, and pay the driver.  In the small towns it was a nice change from Buses that barely stop.

Some things are different here...

Some things are different here...


3. Subway

The subway system in Bangkok only covers a small area of the city.  In fact, I’ve only used it once.  It’s very clean and new, however.  I would guess that it is more crowded during rush hours, but when we were using it there were very few people in the station.  When you go to the machine to purchase a fare, you’re given a round black plastic chip.  This you’ll swipe next to the sensor as you enter the subway and then deposit as you exit.

Nice breeze!

Nice breeze!


4. Skytrain

The BTS (or Skytrain) is a great form of modern transportation in Bangkok.  As long as you’re able to manage a couple flights of stairs.  I love the view and the breeze from up there.  Again, this doesn’t yet stretch to the whole city.  We have to take a 30-40 minute bus ride to reach the BTS line.  But once you’re there, it’s oh so nice :) .  They’re working on getting it open to the airport, but there have been some hang-ups (bus and taxi drivers aren’t excited to lose that income).  Just choose where you’re going on the machine, insert money, and out pops a card with your appropriate fare.

Don't fall in!

Don't fall in!


5. River Taxi

Bangkok has been called “The Venice of Asia” because of the canals (khlongs) running all over.  In the past boats were one of the main ways people traveled around.  Today, the canals are still used for transportation.  Often times it is the quickest way to get downtown because you avoid all the traffic on the roads.  If you’re going to take the river taxi, there are a few things to remember.  First, watch your step!  As the boat pulls up to the pier, be ready to hop off, and don’t fall in the water.  Second, bring a handkerchief.  You’ll want it to protect your nose from the khlong’s odor and to prevent any stray splashes of the black water from getting in your mouth (and by black, I literally mean the color black).  They also have tarps along the sides that can be pulled up to keep the water out.  The really amazing thing to watch is the fare collectors on the boat.  They walk along the railing along the side of the boat, gripping a rope, collecting money and giving change.  At least they wear helmets, long sleeves and gloves for protection.

Photo by Sarah Smith

Photo by Sarah Smith


6. Tuk-tuk

The most iconic form of transportation in Bangkok is the tuk-tuk.  It’s a three-wheeled vehicle that is basically a motorbike with a bench seat in the back.  They’re always painted very colorfully and seem to swarm in the tourist areas.  Tuk-tuks don’t have meters, so you need to haggle your price beforehand.  Outside the city you will also see a version of the tuk-tuk that is powered by a bicycle.  Although they seem very romantic, all I remember from my tuk-tuk experience is the exhaust fumes from the nearby vehicles.

What’s your most interesting public transportation experience?

Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “Getting Around Bangkok”

  1. Bob Smallman

    23. Sep, 2009

    Taking a little 3-car ferry across the Tred Avon River in Maryland’s eastern shore as a child. If we asked “Captain Bill” very nicely, he would usually let us steer!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Brad Ruggles

    02. Oct, 2009

    The Songteaw and Tuk-Tuk look fun…and they’re fun to say. :-)

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge