Getting Around Bangkok
A Guide to Transportation in Thailand’s Capital City
Bangkok is notorious for traffic jams and it’s something you need to factor in to your travel plans if you need to get across the city. It has been rated one of the top cities with the most congested rush hours. The rush hours are from 7am- 9am and 5.30pm-8pm. However, with a little planning; you can take advantage of the easy and rapid public transport systems. The Skytrain (BTS) and Subway (MRT) systems connect the main areas of the city, while river taxis and express boats can be used to explore many historic sites and attractions on the river.
Below are some of the options you can use while exploring the city.
Airport Rail Link (ARL)
The Airport Rail Link provides an inexpensive connection from Suvarnabhumi Airport to downtown Bangkok.
- 6am – Midnight
- Website: http://www.srtet.co.th/index.php/en/
- Fares: 15 – 45 baht
- You can buy your tokens from one of the Automatic Dispensers located at each station. Simply select your destination and the number of passengers, and the fare will be calculated. The machine accepts both coins and bills. Keep your receipt, you may need to show it if you have any issues.
- The Rail Link makes six stops between downtown’s Phayathai Station and the Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Phayathai Station is on the Skytrain (BTS) System, so you can take the light rail into Bangkok and connect with the BTS and then the MRT
- Travel time is about 30 minutes
An elevated train that runs though central Bangkok. It is very quick and convenient and runs very often, with little or no wait times. Many hotels are located just a short walk away from stations.
- 6am – Midnight
- Website: http://www.bts.co.th/customer/en/main.aspx
- Fares start at 15 baht
- Tickets are bought from machines at the stations. Payment can only be made by coins but change is given at the service desks. Tickets are currently only valid within the BTS system.
- Trains arrive every 3-6 minutes
- The 2 Lines that connect at Siam Station
- The Silom line runs west to south, between the National Stadium in the Siam shopping area and Bang Wa in Thonburi
- The Sukhumvit line runs north to east from Mo Chit to Bearing.
- To connect to the MRT there are two stations at Sala Daeng Station on the Silom Line and Asok Station on the Sukhumvit Line
- Connects at “Central Pier” or Sathorn Pier, which is under the Saphan Taksin BTS station. The Central Pier is connected to the Chao Phraya Express Water Taxi.
- The BTS Skytrain Stored Value Cards are not compatible with the MRT underground’s or Airport Rail Link. You must purchase the passes separately.
The Metropolitan Rapid Transit or MRT is Bangkok’s effecient subway system.
- 6 a.m. – Midnight
- Website: http://www.bangkokmetro.co.th/map.aspx?Lang=En&Menu=8
- Fares start at 15 Baht
- Magnetic chips and cards can be bought at the counter or at automated machines. Cards can be recharged at the counter once they are used up. Currently they are only valid within the MRT system.
- Trains arrive every 5-7 minutes
- 2 Lines: Consisting of the Blue Line (18 stations) and the Purple Line ( 16 stations)
- The link to connect the two lines should be completed later this year.
- To connect to the BTS there are two stations at Sala Daeng Station on the Silom Line and Asok Station on the Sukhumvit Line.
- The MRT chips and cards are not compatible with the BTS or Airport Rail Link. You must purchase the passes separately.
Taxis are a cheap and convenient way of transport. But you will get stuck in traffic jams if you use them during morning and evening rush hours. When you take a taxi, make sure the driver is using the meter, some will try to negotiate a fare instead. If you have a driver that is not wanting to use the meter, get out and find one that does.
- 24 hours per day
- Fares start at 35 Baht
- All taxis have a meter that runs on distance and time
- Available taxis are the ones with the glowing red vacant sign.
For short distance travel, a quick solution is to hire a motorcycle taxi. They are found on many street corners, you just walk up to the driver and tell them where you need to go.
- 24 hours per day
- Prices start at 15 Baht
- Negotiate Fare
- Driver should supply you with a helmet
Chao Phraya Express Water Taxi
- 6am to 10pm
- Website: http://chaophrayaexpressboat.com/en/home/
- Fares start at 14 baht
- The Chao Phraya Express Boats make stops at both sides of the Chao Phraya river.
- The boats run about every 20 minutes, but in the rush hours they run about every 5 minutes.
- “Central Pier” or Sathorn Pier is directly in front of the BTS Skytrain Station. Take the escalators as you walk from the pier and you are at Saphan Taksin BTS station.
- There are cross river ferry boats from several of the piers to visit Thorburi and Wat Arun.
- There are 5 different types of Express Boat River Taxis:
- No flag (Local Line) – Stops at every Pier
- Blue Flag Line (tourist boat) – Stops when you want but fares are higher
- Orange Flag Line – Stops at the main piers
- Yellow Flag Line – Large express boat for commuters
- Green Flag Line – Express boat for commuters
A tuk-tuk is essentially an open air motorized rickshaw. If you come to Bangkok you really need to ride in one, although it is more of an experience rather than a practical way to get around.
- 24 hours per day
- Fares normally start at 30 Baht
- Negotiation is the key
- Avoid taking a tuk-tuk during rush hours. You don’t want to be stuck in traffic for hours breathing traffic fumes.
- Be careful of the tuk-tuks around tourist areas, especially those who want to offer sightseeing tours and unsolicited help to take you places. It’s just a scam.
- 6am – Midnight
- Night buses run 24 hours per day
- Website: http://www.bmta.co.th/?q=en/bus-lines
- Fares start at 12 Baht
- Fare is collected by the bus conductor
- Make sure you have small change for bus, sometimes they can’t break large bills
- They run every 5-10 minutes
- Pick up a bus map at one of the bus terminals or look up your route online
- Destinations on the majority of the city’s buses are written in Thai, the best way to figure out which bus goes where is by the bus number, the type of bus and its colors.
- Buses in Bangkok normally do not have a sign stating the direction it is currently traveling in. Ask the driver before you board if the bus is going the correct way to your stop.
Khlong Saen Saep Canal Boat
The Express Boat service operates on the Khlong Saen Saep canal, providing fast and inexpensive transportation through the city.
- 5:30am – 8:30pm Weekdays and 5:30am – 7:00pm Weekends
- Website: http://khlongsaensaep.com/
- Fares start at 20 Baht
- To connect with the MRT disembark at the Asok pier. As you leave the pier, walk straight for about 100 meters and Phetchaburi MRT station is on your right.
- To connect with the BTS you can change at Hua Chang Pier. Walk either straight forward after you have left the pier to National Stadium BTS, or cross the bridge and walk to Ratchathewi BTS station.
If you have any tips, comments or stories about Bangkok Transportation, please let me know. Happy Travels, Tava