Local Transport In Bangkok
Planning a grand trip to the Thai capital? Then, you must get yourself acquainted with the scenario of the place. Bangkok is undoubtedly is one of the best tourist destinations in the world admired for its fascinating sacred temples, heartwarming beautiful canals, and vibrant street life.
However, the traffic is maddening and you are likely to get delayed and waste time on road instead of enjoying the tourist attractions. NO, it is not a discouraging statement for, Bangkok has the best network of rail, metro and waterway transportation options that supplement the road system and if you carefully plan, your trip around the city is going to be quick and seamless.
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What are the most common local transport options in Bangkok?
Bangkok is becoming an advancing city day by day. With a great blend of technology and mechanical equipment, there is an establishment of a wide array of different modes of transportation covering all three spheres – land, air and water.
And not to forget, Subways are another modern transportation infrastructures set up in Bangkok.
Wondering how to proceed with your journey after arriving at Bangkok airport? Don’t worry, let me get you acquainted with authentic information regarding all the local transport options to get around in Bangkok.
You will get to see a massive variety of land transport during your trip to Bangkok.
These include taxi services, public buses and trains, tuk-tuks and mini trucks.
There are numerous multicolored taxis which can be seen rushing on the road throughout the day. The colors range from yellow, black, blue, red to yellow-green and even pink.
Natively called “Chah Chaa”, taxis are a convenient way of traveling at affordable prices.
Cost: The fares begin with 35 baht for one kilometer and goes in increasing with 5 baht for each kilometer you travel further. Not to forget, every single minute you spend in traffic jams will incur an additional charge of 2 baht.
Make sure that the meter is turned on every time you take a taxi to avoid unnecessary quarrels with the drivers afterward.
Availability: taxis are available 24×7 across the city. You can easily hire one outside your hotel, shopping malls or near the tourist places.
These are similar to the auto-rickshaws we have in India. Tuktuks are three-wheeled vehicles very popular among the native people as well as travelers.
These can carry 3-5 people at a time. Although, tuk-tuks are not as spacious as taxis but are still preferred by travelers for an exciting journey as they can get the street view clearly.
Cost: rates are flexible and can vary from driver to driver depending upon the distance of your destination and time of the day.
Normally, fares are somewhere between 30 baht for short distances up to 5 kilometers to 70 baht for distant locations.
Since tuk-tuks don’t have meters, you can try your bargaining skills too. If successful, you will be saving a penny or two.
Availability: just like taxis, tuk-tuks can be found 24 hours throughout the day but you must avoid taking it during peak traffic hours, usually between 4 PM to 7 PM.
3. Local Buses
Buses are quite affordable means of traveling. There is a total of 3,000 buses issued by Bangkok Mass Transit Authority.
The interiors of the buses are usually messy with polluted atmosphere and sweaty odors. Moreover, buses are often stuck in traffic jams.
Cost: Normal buses charge 8 baht and express buses will charge up to 10 baht. Air-conditioned buses still charge more, nearly about 12 bahts and the exceptional all-night buses will cost starting from 9.5 baht.
Fares are not fixed but vary according to distances. You can talk to the conductor about your destination and get the exact information regarding the fares right at that moment.
Bangkok also has another most efficient and comfortable category of buses. These are named as EURO II buses and are orange in color. Such buses offer free wifi along with well-ventilated interiors and will cost you an estimating 25 baht.
Availability: the services offered by public buses can be availed between 5 AM to 11 PM.
4. BRT Buses
Bangkok’s BRT buses are an exclusive rapid bus transit system meant for fast forward journeys without the intruding traffic and delays.
This is a 16-kilometer long continuous bus lane with 12 bus stops, two of which are interchange points for Bangkok BTS SkyTrain. These are namely Chong Nonsi station and Talat Phlu.
Cost: fares start from 12 baht per trip for a one-sided trip.
Availability: these fast track buses can be on board from 6 AM in the morning till 12 AM at midnight.
New buses arrive every 5 to 10 minutes at the respective stops.
5. Public Trains
Hua Lamphong is the major railway station located in the city. The schedules can be checked online and advance booking is recommended for a better experience.
Smoking, eating, and drinking is strictly prohibited in the trains in Bangkok. The people are very generous and readily give up their seats if any monk enters the compartment and you must be also doing the same.
Cost: trains are extremely cost-effective and economically feasible means of transportation in Bangkok.
Availability: trains will enter the station every 5 to 7 minutes yet random delays are common.
6. Motorbike Taxis
There is also an adventurous traveling facility available for tourists and locals people in form of motorbike taxis.
These are best suited for solo travelers who desire to experience some fun and adventure in their journey. You have to sit on a bike behind the person who drives the bike to your destination.
Cost: These bikes will cost you 20 – 30 baht for a distance of 5 – 7 kilometers. Further, your bargaining skills can also work out here.
Availability: these vehicles are available 24×7. You can approach the drivers dressed in orange jerseys which can be found outside offices and popular buildings.
These are probably the cheapest vehicles you will come across in the streets of Bangkok.
Songthaews are red-colored miniature trucks with two rows of seats for seating passengers. The most common are the red ones, even though, there are also yellow and blue colored songthaews that carry visitors outside the city.
Cost: 20 baht for short distances up to 5 kilometers and can exceed till 70 baht in case long-distance places.
The fares will be fixed mostly and the places where the particular songthaew will go are also mentioned/written on the vehicle itself.
Availability: songthaews can be found anywhere in the city and even at beach areas.
When you reach your destination, press the buzzer you will presumably find on the ceiling and head on to outside the driver’s window to pay the fare.
8. Public Vans
Indeed a cheaper way of traveling with a whole family or group of friends. They can carry 1 to 8 passengers comfortably from Suvarnabhumi airport to Victory Monument with frequent hauls in between the path.
Cost: it will cost 40 baht per person for one hour.
Availability: they operate from 5 AM to 10 PM and the new vacant van reaches airport after 20 minutes. During peak hours, arrival time can get shortened to 5 minutes interval.
Subways and SkyTrain
Subways systems are generally referred for the trains that run underground through the tunnels or tubes, just like an underground metro.
SkyTrain in Bangkok is a mode of transport that runs on a banked platform a few inches above the ground level. This is just another form of the metro.
1. BTS SkyTrain
BTS refers to Bangkok Transit System which is an elevated transportation system for a rapid travel facility. The track is laid few feet above the ground level alienating it from other traditional land transports thereby, making it faster and efficient. These are the most relaxing ways of traveling without the hurdle of encountering traffic and suits your comforts.
There are 45 stations covered through two prominent routes of BTS.
BTS Sukhumvit line encompasses 22 stations. Here is the glance of the same;
- Mo Chit
- Saphan kwai
- Sanam Pao
- Victory Monument
- Phaya Thai
- Chit Lom
- Phloen Chit
- Phrom Phong
- Thong Lo
- Phra khanong
- On Nut
- Bang Chak
- Udom Suk
- Bang Na
BTS Silom line runs across 13 stations which are;
- National Stadium
- Sala Daeng
- Chong Nonsi
- Saphan Taksin
- Krung Thon Buri
- Wonguwian Yai
- Pho Nimit
- Talat Phlu
- Bang Wa
Sukhumvit line connects northern parts of the city to south-east areas whereas the Silom line joins the city core with the regions situated in the west.
Besides, BTS meets MRT routes at Mo Chit and Asok stations.
Cost: the fare system for BTS is very transparent and comprehensive. You will find the map near the ticket machine at the BTS platform. This map depicts all the stations that fall along the way with numbers. Check the number of your preferred station where you wish to get off. Enter that number in the machine and it automatically calculates the fare followed by popping out of a ticket, just like money comes out of an ATM.
BTS ticket machine with the map along its side illustrating all the stations with the fares mentioned in cirlce
Basically, the fare initiates at 15 baht per stop and increased up to 52 baht see upon number if stations you cross. You can also get an unlimited travel pass for a single day for 140 baht.
The ticket you receive will be purple in color containing all the relevant information, having a BTS logo and map of stations is also imprinted on it.
Availability: the trains can be seen hauling up and down the way between 6 AM to 12 AM. Unlike taxis, they cease passenger services after midnight.
New trains arrive at regular intervals of 10 minutes.
2. Bangkok MRT Underground Metro
Metropolitan Rapid Transit System, commonly known as MRT is another transportation facility provided to passengers for quicker traveling in a solacing and comfortable manner.
MRT runs through all the well-renowned centers of the city enfolding a distance of 60 km. You can also enjoy sightseeing and rides during your journey.
There are a total of 45 stations covered through two dominant routes.
The most common blue line passes through the following 30 stations;
- Hua Lamphong
- Sam Yan
- Si Lom
- Phra Ram 9
- Thailand Culture Centre
- Huai Khwang
- Lat Phrao
- Phahon Yothin
- Mo Chit
- Kamphaeng Phet
- Bang Sue
- Tao Poon
The less common but efficient purple line is linked with rest 16 stations covering 23 km long routes;
- Khlong Bang Phai
- Talad Bang Yai
- Sam Yaek
- Bang Yai
- Bang Phlu
- Bang Rak Yai
- Bang Rak Noi Tha It
- Sai Ma
- Phra Nangklao Bridge
- Yaek Nonthaburi 1
- Bang Krosor
- Nonthaburi Civil Centre
- Ministry of Public Health
- Yaek Tiwanon
- Wong Sawang
- Bang Son
- Tao Poon
There are several spots where MRT interchanges with BTS stations. These include Mo Chit, Asok, Sala Daeng, and Bang Wa.
Cost: Tickets are purchased in the form of tokens by standing in a queue in front of ticket machines. Book Daypass Online
Fares start at 15 baht for dropping off at first station and increases accordingly for each subsequent station you cover.
Here also, you can take unlimited travel pass for a day by paying 140 baht.
However, there is a special offer for children below 90 cm in height. They can travel for free. If you are accompanying any child with you, then his/her height will be measured using a scale at the platform to confer eligibility of free travel.
Availability: MRT begins the service right from 5:15 AM in the morning and can be lodged till midnight.
Arrival time between two consecutive metro is 5 minutes on an average.
Water transports in Bangkok are no less than a blessing to relieve all your stress and refreshen up yourself in a tranquil atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
1. Chao Phraya River Express Boat
The city of Bangkok is situated around the banks of Chao Phraya river which adds up a charm to the beauty of the city.
The river offers exclusive boat service to the visitors through five express lines out of which the blue flag line is dedicated to tourists while no flag line is mainly allocated for local residents. It a wonderful experience especially for nature lovers.
Cost: one-way ticket accounts to be 40 baht per person and single pass for one complete day cost 150 baht.
Availability: you will find these express boats all 7 days around the week. They run from 6 AM to 8 PM daily except on weekends and holidays when the duration changes to 6 AM to 7 PM. Arrivals are scheduled every 20 minutes usually.
2. River Ferries
These are huge boats with a roof over them. Generally, they are operated for crossing the rivers. Among the 32 river ferries executing in different piers, the most popular is the one which passes Wat Pho Temple in its way.
Cost: the crossing journey cost no more than a 4 baht for one way service.
Availability: there are relatively fewer places where you will find river crossing ferries, like the one that goes to the famous Wat Arun Temple through pier N8.
Tickets can be purchased directly from at piers at the time of crossing. The working hours are from 6 AM to 10 PM.
3. Long Tailed Boats
Bangkok is remarkably known for its enchanting canals, called as klongs. These eye captivating view of these canals is an unforgettable experience and every travel enthusiast must visit these klongs.
Longtail boats carry six people at a time and are driven by propeller shaft which is paddled manually.
The main attraction though this splendid journey is the floating markets. People with shops set up on their boats can be seen waiting for travelers to buy their offerings.
Cost: the ticket costs 1500 baht for one person to explore all through the canals within 100 minutes duration.
Availability: they are readily available on all the weekdays from 6 AM till 10 PM.
4. Saen Saep Canal Boat
These are also a kind of express boats that runs from Rattanakosin Island to Siam and further to westernmost suburbs of the city.
Visitors can connect with MRT at the Asok pier which falls in the midway of the ride.
Cost: 20 baht to begin with and may increase with the distance covered.
Availability: the device is active between 5:30 AM to 10:30 PM on regular weekdays and extends to 11 PM on weekends when the visitors magnitude is high.
These generally accommodate 40 to 50 passengers at a time.
Airport Rail Link
Airport Rail Link is a system that connects BTS and MRT routes to Suvarnabhumi Airport which is the only International airport of Bangkok.
There are 8 airport links that conjoins with SkyTrain and metro at different stations;
- Ban Thap Chang
- Hua Mak
- Lat Krabang
- Phaya Thai
The train starts from Suvarnabhumi station outside the airport and runs till Phaya Thai which is also a BTS interchange for passengers. Also, the train merges with MRT at Makkasan station.
Cost: 45 baht for half an hour ride. Book Online
Availability: all rail links are active from Monday to Friday from 6 AM to 12 AM. There can be an interval of 12 minutes between the departures.
Extra Stroke Tips
- Just to make you familiar, 1 Thai Baht equals to ~2.37 INR. You can refer for more insights about Thailand’s currency.
- Beware of suspicious or scam taxi drivers, especially those who say they can take you to a secret and less known tourist places.
- Assure that you have taken a meter taxi. If the meter is not working or the driver is unwilling to turn meter, it’s better to get down and wait for another one.
- Always keep a Google translator application on your smartphone.
It will help you numerous times while conversing with people and recognizing the names of the place as most of them will be written in the Thai language.
- If you choose to take a motorbike taxi, always ask to wear helmets for safety measures.
- If you are making a decision to reside in Bangkok for a longer time. Then you should certainly get a Rabbit card for yourself to pay for BTS and MRT ticket prices.
Rabbit card is a prepaid smart card that is issued at 209 baht and can be used in form of the ticket in BTS and MRT without having to stand in a queue in front of ticket machines, provided your card has enough balance required to cover the ticket cost. You can recharge for one month in advance and pay the fares conveniently.
- In case you want to travel with the utmost comfort and peace of mind, you must go with Skytrains and metro as they are hassle-free.
But if you want to save some money despite the hectic traffic that intrudes, you should definitely opt for any of the good land-based transport.
- Install a Grab app on your phone. This Singapore based app lets you book cars and meters taxis in the range of 300-400 baht. The functionality of this application is similar to that of Uber.
All Thai taxi app is also a good alternative but only for iPhone users.
Next station app displays all the nearest upcoming SkyTrain, subways and stations. This is compatible with both Android and iOS.
Bonus – Travel Options out of Bangkok
Are you planning to head for Pattaya/Phuket/Chaing Mai etc after landing in Bangkok? There is a number of options ranging from Flights, Trains, Cab, Public Bus and Ferries for the other tourist centres of Thailand. What more you can even plan and book tickets for one or all the above as well as most other countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines, Laos, Japan, Indonesia, China, Nepal and Australia at the click of a button.