Here are some tips on Bangkok transport options and how best to make your way around this bustling metropolis
1. Avoid Tuk Tuk Scams
Tuk Tuks (3 wheeled motorised taxis) can provide you with a quick and readily available means of getting around Bangkok, but don’t be tempted by the ’20 baht’ offer of a full day tour of the city. These scams invariably take you from one dull & overpriced shopping venue to another, each one selected on the sole basis that if you buy something, your tuk tuk driver will earn himself a nice commission bonus. Not all tuk tuk rides are scams but just make sure you negotiate a reasonable price for your (direct) trip before jumping on board.
2. Utilise the Bangkok Skytrain and newly opened Underground
The BTS Skytrain and newly opened Underground (or subway) network will get you around Bangkok in the fastest possible time. If you want to get across town in a hurry and avoid the infamous Bangkok traffic jams, then these two transport systems will serve you well. From most points around the city you can take a quick walk or taxi ride to the nearest station and be on your way in air-conditioned comfort in no time at all. Just remember, during peak times, you’ll be sharing the ride with thousands of Thai commuters, so you’ll be lucky to get a seat, but it still beats sitting in traffic for up to two hours.
3. Try the Chao Phraya Ferry Service
For a scenic journey across town, try one of the many ferry services operated on the main river, the Chao Phraya, which winds its way through Bangkok. Only available during daylight hours, this is one of the most relaxing and stress free ways to get around Bangkok, plus you’ll see a terrific blend of old and new architecture as you pass by sweeping skyscrapers and humble wooden abodes. There are ferry stops all along the river, usually marked on any map of Bangkok and if you’re not sure which ferry to take to get to where you’re going, just ask one of the other commuters or ticket staff – they’ll be happy to help you on your way.
4. Taxis are cheap but traffic moves slowly
In Bangkok, you can hire a metered taxi for very little cost. For example, a journey from the airport to your downtown hotel is likely to only cost you in the vicinity of 200 THB (or about $5). Keep in mind, however, that as reliable and comfortable as Bangkok taxis can be, they are still subject to peak hour traffic jams. If you need to be across town during peak times, consider leaving for your destination earlier to avoid traffic, or else take a combination of taxi and public transport (skytrain, underground or ferry) to avoid getting stuck in one of those notorious Bangkok traffic nightmares. Also, when taking a taxi, make sure you select a driver who uses a meter, not one who quotes you a set fee, as choosing the second option will invariably end up costing you more.
5. Leg Power
If you want to sightsee in Bangkok or don’t have far to travel across town, consider donning a pair of good walking shoes, grabbing a bottle of water and setting out on foot to explore this vast and exciting city. Especially during peak traffic times, you’ll find this a much more enjoyable mode of transport and you’ll get to see some of the intricate details which make up this cosmopolitan city. In addition, you’ll get closer to the people and probably make a few new friends along the way.
6. Public Buses & Trains
Public buses run everywhere in Bangkok but trying to work out which bus goes where can be a bit daunting, even for veteran Bangkok travellers. If you’ve got a sense of adventure and a bit of time on your hands, you’ll find this a fun and inexpensive mode of transport, as well as a great way to meet people along the way. Just keep in mind that peak hour in Bangkok will mean very full buses, sometimes not even standing room will be available.
Public trains (not the underground) are mainly for travel to regional destinations, so unless you’re heading upcountry, travelling by train around Bangkok is probably not your best option.
7. Motorbike Taxis – Not for the Faint-hearted
Their ability to duck in and out of the congestive Bangkok traffic and the low cost make motorbike taxis a popular choice for many living in Bangkok. If you only need to travel a fairly short distance, a motorbike taxi could be a fast options for you. Keep in mind though that this mode of transport is not the safest form of getting around and you’ll require nerves of steel as well as great trust in your driver if you choose to travel by motorbike taxi around Bangkok.
Copyright 2006 Kris Gardener. Please feel free to pass this article on to your friends, or use it in your ezine or newsletter. It’s a shareware article.