Bangkok is one of Southeast Asia’s largest and more modern cities, and with a big city, you can expect there to be a substantial amount of traffic. Thankfully, due to up-to-date public transport systems found all over Bangkok, getting around the city is less of a challenge than you’d think.
The public transport system in Bangkok ranges from sky trains and taxis, to express boats and motorcycle taxis, and each caters conveniently to your traveling needs.
For those who are looking to reach the main shopping and entertainment zones of the city in a fast and hassle free manner, the sky train (BTS) and underground rail system (MRT) are highly recommended. The BTS and MRT provide both residents and visitors a safe and comfortable ride through central Bangkok, as well as toward the outskirts of the city. Let me just assure you that these trains have been designed to a high international standard and are incredibly easy to use, so do give them a try when you’re in Bangkok. Ticket prices are easy on the wallet and can be bought at the stations. Both systems operate from 6.00 am – 12.00 am.
As far as train systems go in Bangkok, there’s also such a thing as the Airport Rail Link (ARL); for those who need a quick transport system to and from the airport without the extra pain of waiting for a taxi – and not to mention the costs – then this is absolutely perfect. The city trains run from Phaya Thai and stretches all the way to the Suvarnabhumi Airport International Airport, with five additional stops in between. Working hours begin at 6.00 am and end at midnight.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat operates right on the Chao Phraya River, and provides a scenic transportation service between stops in Bangkok all the way to Nonthaburi – a province up north of the capital. Although more often used by city residents to escape traffic jams during peak hours on weekdays, the Express boats are also a big hit with visitors. Special tourist boats and weekend river tours are available to those who wish to sightsee and explore the historic sites and attractions along the riverside.
Taxis are a relatively quick and comfortable way to get around if you’re careful enough not to get on during the weekday peak hours. All taxis are air-conditioned, metered, and have a standard hailing fee of 35 baht. One of the reasons taxis are so convenient is because you can find them at virtually any corner of the city, at anytime of the day or night; however, just because they’re there, doesn’t mean they’ll always take you. Some drivers will have the audacity to insist they’ll only take you with the meter turned off, or they’ll feed you some bogus about an inner-city surcharge (which there isn’t unless you’re coming from the airport, and even then it’s only 50 baht). If either of these things does happen to you, I highly recommend you to walk away or report them because not only is it absurd, it’s completely illegal and the drivers can and will be fined if found out. Also, please keep in mind that English is not the driver’s first language, so it’s best to know the correct pronunciation of your destination or to have it written down in Thai before setting out on your trip.
Motorcycle taxis are by far the fastest mode of transport in the city, and not to mention kind of fun. I mean, what screams “adrenaline junkie” more than a ride on the back of a motorbike going 60 km/h down the busy streets of Bangkok during peak hour while trying not to hit random strays, fellow drivers, and pedestrians? If you’re brave of heart and in a really big rush to get to wherever it is you need to go to, then just hop onto one of these babies and you’ll get there in no time. They’re super easy to find as the drivers are typically decked out in colorful fluorescent yellow-orange vests, and they’re usually parked in the busiest corners of the city. Prices are negotiable, so remember to negotiate before getting on the back of the motorbike to avoid any misunderstandings.
Local buses in Bangkok are beyond doubt one of the cheapest ways to get around, however, they’re also the most challenging. They make for a great adventure if you don’t mind the astounding amount of time it’ll take to arrive to your destination, or all the confusion that’ll come with trying to figure out where your stop even is. The buses run through numerous routes that are spread out all across the city, and everything is marked in Thai – so, not very tourist friendly. Many of these buses aren’t air-conditioned, are usually super packed full of locals who use this as their main transport to and from work, and are unfortunately almost always subject to Bangkok’s notorious traffic.