Thailand

Transport in Thailand: The Easy Guide To Getting Around Thailand

Stu Brown

Stu Brown

July 17, 2018

Thailand has many different modes of transport which tend to come in all different shapes and sizes. These shapes and sizes are often quite different in the smaller towns and cities compared to that of Bangkok. Bangkok in actual fact has everything when it comes to transport and a great variety of the different modes of transport to meet everyone’s needs.

This transport guide covers everything from Songthaews and motorcycle taxis to the Bangkok BTS Skytrain and world-renowned Tuk Tuks. This is your easy guide to transport in Thailand.

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Tuk Tuk

A Tuk Tuk taxi in Thailand

The most indigenous mode of transport in Thailand, Tuk Tuks are the famous 3-wheeled vehicles that you would have seen in many travel-related photos of Southeast Asia. You should definitely take at least one ride on a Tuk Tuk as it is quite a memorable experience that you won’t find back home.

At the same time it is important to note that Tuk Tuks are quite a lot more expensive than your average motorcycle taxi or Songthaew as it is a popular mode of transport for tourists. But if you can, jump aboard a Tuk Tuk at least once during your time in Thailand. The rates are usually anywhere from 80 to 150 Baht and if you brush up on your Thai, you are less likely to be ripped off by the Tuk Tuk drivers. Photo by Flight Catchers

Taxi

Metre taxi in Bangkok, Thailand

With Bangkok being the most visited city in the world in 2013, it consequently has one of the largest proportions of taxis to people in the world. Unlike in the big Western cities, Bangkok’s taxi system is very reasonable thanks to the metre system that was recently introduced several years ago.

Taxis start at 35 Baht and thereafter 2 Baht for the first 2 km and then 2 Baht per km after that. The traffic in some areas in Bangkok can however be appalling so motorcycle taxis might be a better bet if you are only wanting to travel a short distance in Bangkok. Taxis are however air-conditioned which can make for a nice break from the ridiculous Bangkok heat.

In other cities and towns in Thailand, there aren’t many taxis like you will find in Bangkok and there is usually no metre system which often allows for taxi drivers to rip you off – they are also not easy to barter with as there is a higher demand for them in the smaller cities in Thailand. Photo by Wikipedia

Motorcycle Taxi

Westerner getting around Bangkok on a motorcycle taxi

Motorcycle taxis are your best bet if you are looking for cheap and immediate transport for short distances. They can be found in most Thai cities throughout the country as well as smaller towns with good transport systems. Obviously when travelling on the back of a motorcycle, it is not ideal if you are carrying with you a lot of luggage or if it is raining quite hard but otherwise this is probably the best mode of transport for the everyday backpacker.

One great thing about a motorcycle taxi is that you can also go two people on the back and this won’t cost you much more. The standard rates for motorcycle taxis can be anywhere between 20 to 100 Baht – it all depends on the distance you cover. Simply tell the motorcycle driver the street or place you need to go and 9 times out of 10 he will know where to take you. Photo by Spoiled Traveller

Songthaew

Songthaews are the cheapest mode of transport in Thailand

The name “songthaew” literally translates to “two rows” in English. Basically, Songthaews are small pick-up trucks which are comprised of 2 rows of seats at the back end of the vehicle for passengers to rest their legs on. There is also some limited space right at the back of Songthaews for people to stand and hold on to – Songthaew drivers do drive reasonably slow making it rather safe but please do remember to hold on.

If you don’t mind waiting 10 to 15 minutes for a ride, then this is a great mode of transport and it costs as little as 10 Baht to get to one side of a town to the other. Simply press one of the stop buzzers located on the roof of the vehicle and the driver will pull over for you. Only pay the driver once you reach your stop and it is important to note that Songthaews aren’t common in the big cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai but rather in the smaller cities and towns. Photo by Wikimedia

Bus

Colourful bus in Thailand

Thailand has a developed bus transport system and unsurprisingly, Bangkok has the largest bus system in the country. When it comes to getting around within the majority of smaller cities and towns, Songthaews are usually the norm as opposed to buses but many of the smaller cities do have bus systems that provide long-distance transport to other towns, cities, and popular tourist destinations. In Bangkok, you will find a variety of buses of all different sizes and colours some of which are public and others private buses.

Your cheapest bus option will cost you a mere 7 Baht within Bangkok with other buses not costing too much more than that. There are long-distance buses departing from Bangkok to all over the country such as Pattaya, Hua Hin, Krabi, Phuket, Chiang Mai and so on. This is often a great alternative to flying or catching the train if you are on a tight budget.

In the smaller cities and towns, buses generally only leave from one terminal but in Bangkok buses depart from several different terminals. There are also a variety of different bus classes with different rates in Bangkok, you can read up more on them here. Photo by Panoramio

Bangkok BTS Skytrain

The BTS Skytrain in Bangkok, Thailand

Over recent years and due to the over-congested roads in Bangkok, city planners have developed both an overground and underground train network through the city. The BTS Skytrain is an overground railway system comprised of the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line.

This overground railway network stops off at many tourist areas and attractions in Bangkok and is very developed much like the large Western cities of the world making it very easy to find your way around the city. For more information on the BTS Skytrain and the various stops along the Sukhumvit and Silom Lines, click here. Photo by Top 10 Thailand

Bangkok MRT Subway

Map of Bangkok's MRT Subway

The MRT Subway, otherwise known as the Blue Line, is the first underground railway line to be introduced to Bangkok’s railway network. It is comprised of 18 stops and follows a slightly different route to the BTS Skytrain which allows travellers to commute via train to the inaccessible neighbourhoods of the Skytrain.

Both the BTS and MRT intersect at various points allowing travellers from both lines greater variety when it comes to getting to their destination of choice. Both the BTS and MRT networks are in operation from 6 am to midnight Monday to Friday. Click here for route options and a map of the MRT Subway. Photo by Bangkok.com

Train

Train in Thailand's Beautiful Countryside

Thailand’s overground railway network runs throughout the country and offers a comfortable travel option compared to some of the cheaper bus routes. The train is still a cheap option and you can get from Bangkok all the way to Chiang Mai in the north for as little as 800 Baht where you can get your own private cabin and take in the exquisite scenery that accompanies this journey. The Thai train also has three different classes with different rates.

To put into comparison the different train classes and their rates compared to other long-distance modes of transport in Thailand. First class is very fancy on a train which includes a private air-conditioned cabin with a double bed and can be slightly higher in price to a budget air ticket. Second class train tickets are slightly more comfortable to first class bus tickets and generally cost the same as first class bus tickets. Third class is the cheapest mode of transport for any long-distance journey in Thailand however it is also the least comfortable so keep that in mind.

Please note that train tickets tend to sell out well in advance for popular weekends and holidays, especially for trains travelling to the more popular destinations, so plan your trips in advance if you wish to travel by train. For information on Thailand’s train network.

Travel by air

Thai Airways arepolane taking off in Thailand

Travelling by air in Thailand is definitely the quickest way of getting from A to B and there are a lot of budget airlines which cater for those travelling on tight budgets.

Thai Airways offer the greatest variety of destinations and flight options and one can get from Bangkok to many of the tourist islands and destinations simply by boarding a 1-hour flight from Bangkok. Also check out AirAsia, Bangkok Airlines and Nok Air. Photo by XFW Spotter

 

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