Bangkok Basics - Getting Around
Neil has a lot of great info to share from the time he's spent living and working in Bangkok. His second installment in the Bangkok Basics series focuses on getting around. All major cities suffer from traffic congestion and Bangkok is certainly no exception.
From the Airport
If you are arriving in Bangkok by air and don’t have much luggage, it is best to use the airport express train to get into the city. The train takes about 40 minutes and terminates at BTS station ‘Phaya Thai’. A one way trip will cost 90 Baht or you can purchase a return ticket for 150 Baht. Taxis are available at the airport, but they are more expensive and slower than the train. If you do elect to use a taxi, be aware that you should never pay more than 280 Baht, including all tolls, to get downtown.
Using Public Transport in the City
To get around the city on a daily basis, I use the BTS (Sky Train) and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit System). Both are easy to use, well-marked and can get you within walking distance of most places you will want to go. The two BTS lines and the one BRT line, are easy to navigate and all stations are clearly marked in English. If you are looking for some help to plan your route in advance, try this handy link - http://www.transitbangkok.com/.
Please note that the BTS, BRT and MRT all have their own tickets and none are interchangeable.
To use the BTS you can purchase a ticket for every journey, using the machines at the stations outside the gates. Payment can only be made by coins but change is given at the service desks. Fares for a single journey ticket are between 15 and 40 Baht depending on number of zones crossed.
You can also purchase a day pass for 120 Baht which gives you unlimited rides for the day.
If you are using the service for a number of days a Smart Pass stored value card (or Rabbit card) can also be purchased. A minimum value of 100 baht must be applied and 50 baht refundable deposit is charged.
Altenatively you can purchase a 30 day pass. Fares are 15 journeys - 375 baht, 25 journeys- 575 baht, 40 journeys - 840 baht, 50 journeys - 1000 baht.
The BRT buses that have their own lane and can travel faster than regular buses.
The service currently consists of one line that travels from Sathorn close to Chong Nonsi BTS station, along the sharp bend of the Chao Phraya River to Ratchapruek station. There is a flat fare set at 10 baht per ride, no matter how far you travel.
You will need coins to purchase tickets from machines at the stations. Change may be obtained at the service desk, if you only have bills.
Bangkok also has a subway (MRT), which is easy to use although I rarely do as the routes aren’t where I need to go.
You can purchase tokens from machines at the stations.
Using Local Buses
Bangkok has many local buses throughout the city. Though they are inexpensive at 8–10 Baht a ride, I find them difficult to use as they are not as well marked as the BRT and BTS. You must know the exact bus number and place you want to go and be quick to get on and off as they don't seem to stop for anyone at the designated stops.
Be forewarned that the buses have no air conditioning.
Chao Phraya Express Boats
The Chao Phraya Express Boats make stops at both sides of the Chao Phraya river. At the Phetchaburi BTS (Sky Train) stop there is a connection to the Saphan Thak Sin/Central Pier, where you can catch a boat. There are also many Bangkok bus connections at Chao Phraya Express Boat piers.
Fares vary depending on the distance you want to go. You can purchase tickets on board or at pier ticket offices. For more information, please see the Chao Phraya Express Boat website.
Taxis, Tuk tuks and Mototaxis
On weekends, I may use I use taxis and on the rare occasion tuk tuks or mototaxis. All are easy to use. Make sure that the taxis use their meters, otherwise you may end up spending more for your trip than you should. Tuk Tuks do not have meters so you must agree on the price before using.
For short trips, I hop on a mototaxi. A typical trip will cost about 20 Baht.
A couple notes worth mentioning:
- If your trip uses the expressway you will be asked to pay toll fare, in addition to the taxi fare.
- As of September 1, 2012, taxi drivers can be fined for refusing a fare. If they do refuse you can report them. In my experience there are so many taxis available, that if one refuses, I just call over another.