Got a list of places to go and looking for a way to get there? Here’s a quick guide to using local transport in Bangkok. This handy guide will help you traipse around the city like a local and avoid those awkward moments of deciphering whether you’re getting a good deal or being conned.
AIRPORT LINK: TRANSIT TO THE CITY AND BACK
Fast and affordable, getting on the Airport Link will set you back 35 to 45 baht each way. Connected to the MRT underground transport, you can easily change stations and head to other parts of the city.
OVER AND UNDER TRAFFIC: BTS SKYTRAIN AND MRT SUBWAY
With the frequent and unpredictable congestions that plague Bangkok, hopping on the BTS Skytrain or MRT Subway would get you to your destination faster. The downside is that you may have quite a walk from your starting point or to your destination if they are located far from the station. Also, during rush hour, the carriages tend to be crowded and you might end up feeling like you got lost in a can of sardines.
With two lines, the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line, to cover the major areas of the city, the BTS Skytrain can take you to major shopping centres, the Chatuchak Weekend Market, and the attractions of Sukhumvit Road. It runs from 6:30 until midnight with peak hours from 7:00-9:30 and 16:00-19:00 with fares starting at 15 baht per stop. You can, however, save baht and time waiting in queues by getting a one-day unlimited pass for 120 baht or a stored value cards for 100 baht with 50 baht deposit.
The MRT underground service, which connects you to the Airport Link, some BTS stations, and bus stations, is from 6:00-midnight with peak hours from 7:00-9:00 and 16:00-19:00 with 18 stations running from Hua Lamphong to Bang Sue. For as low as 15 baht per station, you can either get the tokens from the stations or get a stored value card. Be advised that the MRT and BTS do not use the same stored value cards.
THE TOURISTY WAY TO GO: TUK TUKS
A trip around Bangkok would not be complete without a ride on a zippy tuk tuk that can zig zag through Bangkok traffic. Make sure to use it for short distances and negotiate the price before you hop on. 15 to 30 baht off the driver’s suggested price should do the trick. Also, make sure that you know where you are going. Tuk tuk drivers tend to be a bit cheeky and may take you on a side trip to get some commission.
SONGTHAEW: THE AFFORDABLE WAY TO GET AROUND
With fares that cost as little as 10baht, getting around with songthaew is recommended for people on a budget. It would, however, be smart for you to let the driver know where you are going before you hop on. Although colour coded, songthaew routes are hard to decipher and you may need to keep a close watch of your map to know when to get off. Hit the magic buzzer to get off.
PASS TRAFFIC ON A MOTORBIKE TAXI
The great thing about motorbike taxis is that they can ride through traffic, taking you to your destination faster. For around 20-100Baht, the driver can take you wherever you want to go. Just make sure you can pronounce the name of the place properly.
WHEN IN BANGKOK…
Always check the map and plan your trip. One of the biggest rookie mistakes is getting off a station that has the same name as your destination and finding out that it is closer to another station. To get to Lumpini Park, for example, you will need to get off at Silom Station, not Lumpini Station.
Always have a map app on to know where you are and if you are headed in the right direction. You might have to do some backseat driving to avoid being taken elsewhere. It is always advisable to have the business card of your hotel or destination with you.
Finally, make sure that you have exact change. Some taxi drivers do tend to ask for the change to be left as a tip. Also, for purchasing train passes, it ensures that you do not have to wait to get your change.
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