The rumours you hear back home, Bangkok’s traffic really is worse then what you suffer at home!
At any time, day or night you can caught in traffic jams due to anything from a broken down car to a pile up. To give some indication how terrible it is to try and navigate the Bangkok traffic, a simple 5 km journey will at times take over an hour to complete! Red lights will often last 10, 20 even 30 minutes and yet the traffic does not budge!
Due to recent major infrastructure upgrades on the rail lines and river ferries, Bangkok can be easy to get through if you understand the quickest methods for any journey!
Getting Around Bangkok
Travel options will also depends greatly on what you are looking to get out of Bangkok. Here for Business? Family Holiday? Backpacking through? Depending what you are here for, will depend on the way you travel.
A Backpacker would most probably like to watch an old bus, with local Thai people traveling through the slums of Bangkok, while a family would more then likely catch the BTS. Safe, Fun, Efficient – the perfect rail system!
There is also the options of the Bike Taxi and Tuk Tuk’s, although many tourists over the years have reported been scammed and over charged, dropping of in the middle of no where – plenty of things that should be avoided.
BTS – Bangkok Skytrain
Bangkok is a city that is expanding at a rapid rate, shown by the road system! This however, does not mean that getting around Bangkok is hard, in fact it has never been easier and would match some of the western worlds first class rail network.
It is called the BTS or Bangkok Skytrain, its very cheap, a great way to see most of Bangkok, can get you anywhere you need to be in minutes and trains run every 6 minutes! The BTS has to different “networks” that run: The Silom line is between National Stadium around the Siam shopping area to Saphan Taksin at the riverside, and to two newly operated stations (Krung Thon Buri and Wongwing Yai) on the Thonburi side (across from the Chaophraya River), while the Sukhumvit line runs all along the famous road from Mo Chit to On Nut.
MRT – Bangkok Underground
The MRT (Metro) is the Skytrain of the underground! The MRT (Metro) is fast, safe and efficient! Trains run every 5 minutes on the dot during peak times, and drop down to every 7 minutes off peak times, it will cost 39 for a full ticket that will take you from 1 end to the other.
Currently the MRT only works on the blue line, there are additions in the work although they are still waiting for government approval.
Trains on the MRT (Metro) come with full air conditioning, padded seats and 24 hour security. On time arrival’s are at a amazing 99.54%, although this has been released by the Bangkok Post and the Thai Government, so these stats may not always be as wonderful as they appear.
The MRT also provides parking at the following stations:
- Sam Yan
- Thailand Cultural Centre
- Huai Khwang
- Ratchadaphisek and Kamphaeng Phet
Tuk Tuk’s which are also known by Thai’s as ‘sam lor’ (three-wheeled) have for a long time been one of the most recognisable features in Bangkok.
Over recent years the Tuk Tuk has become an experience rather then a reasonable way to travel. Tuk Tuk’s generally work on a set fee decided by the driver, depending on the distance of the journey. Tuk Tuk’s are very easy to recognise as they only have 3 wheels, and whats appears to be a small cage for 2 to 3 people on the back.
Tuk Tuk’s used to be a popular way for Thai’s to get around until the MRT and BTS opened, now the Tuk Tuk’s are generally only used by tourists looking for that experience.
Some important notes on Tuk Tuk’s include:
Short trips should start at 30 baht, cost is decided by the driver although this can be bartered.
Tuk Tuk’s can work out to cost the same, if not more then a Taxi for longer trips. Avoid these if your trip will last more then 10 minutes.
Tuk Tuk’s can be fun out side peak Hours, during though; they can be horrible. Traffic, Car Fumes, No Windows… Good good.
Many tourist’s have reported been scammed by the “Tuk Tuk Mafia”. These drivers and apparently, managers of the drivers work in tandem with a number of shops who will over charge or make false claims about goods.
Tourists have been threatened and left in the middle of no where because they did not buy something. Be warned.
Motorbike Taxis are easily one of the fastest, cheapest and most reliable way to travel around Bangkok. Downside, they are not the safest option. Motorbike Taxis are very easy to recognise as the drivers will be wearing orange vests numbered on the back. If someone offers you a ride and they are not wearing this, they will not be a legitimate Motorbike Taxi driver and should be avoided.
Motorbike Taxi drivers are the James Bond’s of Bangkok, they are absolutely fearless and will do next to anything to get you to your destination quickly, including driving on walk ways and going through parks or buildings! Motorbike Taxi’s should cost no more then 10baht for a very short trip, and no more then 100 baht for a trip with some distance! For obvious reasons, you would not use a Motorbike Taxi if you are going to Pattaya.
Car Taxis would easily be the most popular choice of travel for people besides the MRT and BTS. The vast majority of Car Taxis in Bangkok are very new and comfortable, for a long time they have always used the standard green-yellow and red-blue to stand out, now they are also starting to come in wild and fun funky colours like red, bright orange and even pink. Taxi’s will often park themselves out the front of the airport, major shopping area’s and hotels so finding one should never be an issue.
Tips To Deal With Bangkok Car Taxis
You will be able to tell if a Taxi is free by the red neon sign which says “Available”.
All taxis in Bangkok should now be metered, if a driver refuses to use the meter you should go out and source a different taxi – that one is wrong.
Same rules as Tuk Tuk’s, there are bad Taxi drivers who will offer to take you to “good” places.
Drivers are not expected to no every part of the city. If you are going somewhere unknown, take a map and help them find it.
Tipping is not required, although it is nice. Round up the fare by another 5 or 10 baht, these guys work a harder job then you do.