10 Fun-Seeking Ways of Getting Around Bangkok Transportation

monks in a taxi

How many monks can fit in a Bangkok taxi?

 

All roads may not lead to Rome, but in this dazzling and urban Thai city, you will have many ways of getting around Bangkok. Transportation in Bangkok exposes you to unique sightseeing options, fun walking streets for shopping and faces of Bangkokian urban life!  As a female solo traveler, getting around Bangkok is easy and exploring its options are a bucket list adventure in itself.

Read my updated guide about Getting Around Thailand

 10 Fun-Seeking Ways of Getting Around Bangkok

Things to Do in Bangkok, Bangkok Top Attractions, BAngkok highlights

Bus and Skytrain hub at Victory Monument

 

1. Getting around Bangkok on food

Does walking sound obvious? In Bangkok, you’ll want to explore on foot …. a lot (and then get a $6 foot massage later). Bangkok’s pedestrian curbs will seduce the baht right out of you because its two favorite diversions are eating and shopping.  Explore Bangkok’s foodie backstreets, while grinding on fried mochi balls and fresh spring rolls from a morning line of food hawker stalls. There are hidden local and food markets in alleys, even. Slurp piping hot pho on an outdoor table in an alley or buy random trinkets from the street vendors.  The best time to take to foot is in the evening, when the streets unfold into a crazy sidewalk shopping culture.

But a word of advice: at night, foot traffic will also be at its worst as locals come out to shop. Most colorful Bangkok walking streets: Khao San Road area and off the BTS Skytrain : Sala Deng, Siam Square and  Victory Monument.

Read: Top Must Try Bangkok street foods

citywalk

Bangkok city walk

Bangkok Walking Street at Victory Monumentm bangkok markets

Bangkok Walking Street at Victory Monument

bangkok eyes

Walking isn’t so bad: Street vendors are everywhere

2. Bangkok City bus

Taking the bus in Bangkok, inspires my three “C”s: comfortable, cheap and convenient. It offers front row seats to the real Bangkok, taking me closer to the streets. Interestingly, this vehicle is off-the-grid for most tourists, but its a viable and simple way to get around. But it can be a little confusing initially. Just brush up on a few my tips for taking the bus in Bangkok first and you’ll be good to go.

Fare: 7 to 22 baht, depending on distance. Fare is collected after you board.
Hours: Day buses run from 5AM to 11Pm; night buses run 24 hours.
Tips:
Avoid peak traffic hours and always carry small change, as the fare collectors generally don’t carry change for larger bills.
Information:
  Find your bus route number  or go to the BMTA website.

thai bus

 

3. Chao Phraya River ferry

If you enjoy boat cruises,  the Chao Phraya River Ferry is a scenic ride not to be missed. From the grandeur of gilded wats and glitzy skyscrapers to dilapidated river houses on stilts, you’ll see a different side of Bangkok from its waterways.  This is one of the best attractions of all Bangkok transportation. The ferry runs the same route and makes stops on both sides of the river. Unless it’s the Express ferry, it’ll make a stops on each ferry station on the line.

The Chao Phraya ferry service takes you to further provinces while averting Bangkok’s bumper-to-bumper traffic during peak traffic hours. Head’s up- the boat can get crowded later in the day and close to closing.

Fare: 3-29 baht, depending on distance and boat type (regular or express). Unlimited day passes are sold at 150 baht.
Fare rates run like the city bus system and are often collected on the boat. Some docks may pose exceptions and collect them before boarding. In either case, after paying you’ll receive a receipt for proof of payment.  Hours: 6:15A to 7P
Getting There:  Chao Phraya River Ferry service schedules here.  Map of the ferry routes here. Those in Downtown Bangkok can catch the ferry at Saphan Taksin BTS while those at Khao San can board from Phra Athit boat stop.

monks on a boat

Reserved section for monks on the express ferry boat chao phraya ferry Chao Phraya river ferry chao phraya river Chao Phraya river

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5.   Skytrain and  MRT Subway

In the sweat of Thai heat, flying over the city traffic by Skytrain or zipping underground on the metro, presents an air-conditioned luxury. The BTS Skytrain is a monorail hovering over the city, offering beautiful aerial views. The MRT subway serves up a no-frills straight shot to your destination. Both are perfect solutions to averting Bangkok’s god awful peak-time traffic!

Fare:  15-40 baht and based on zone. An all-day unlimited card pass is 120 baht. Tickets are sold at kiosk stations and take only coins; you can get change at the nearby information window. The Skytrain issues card tickets, while the subway gives out token tickets.
Hours: 6A- midnight.
Maps here & Cool iPhone app: Bangkok transport map (Free)

metro

Skytrain Thai-metro-lines Thai locals line up for entry into the Skytrain. metro Bangkok’s Skytrain skytrain-view view of the city from the Skytrain

 

6 . Long-tail and khlong boats

The khlongs (aka canals) off the Chao Phraya River hold a waterway life, flavored with river houses and floating markets. Long-tail boats are sightseeing taxis to explore it with. At the floating markets, there are fixed price stations but if you want your own personal hire, you’ll have to bargain with the boat driver.

Khlong boats (or water taxis) in the inner city. They run 18 kilometers along the Khlong Saen Saep river, making access to and from Siam Square quick and easy. Not to mention, they serve the practical purpose of escaping rush hour traffic.

Fare for long-tail boats: Prices vary as boats can be hired as a group or individually.
Fare for khlong boats:
10-40 baht, based on distance.
Hours: 5:30A-8:30PM
Khlong route information here.

Damnoen Saduak boat, Bangkok khlongs

At Damnoen Saduak floating market you can take a tour of the Bangkok khlongs

damnoen saduak crowd

Damnoen Saduak floating market, a very popular tourist destination

 

7. Motorbike taxis

What’s the Bangkok scene without these cowboy bandits? These vest-wearing Soi knights skirt through the streets on petrol-filled tanks offering rides. The Thai don’t seem to mind. For locals, men and women alike, this is the perfect way to get to work in a direct shot. Hop on the back of one of these babies and off you go! It’s so common that the Thai have become amazing at riding side-saddle. Watch women sit cross-legged on the back, while talking on the phone or applying makeup.

Lugging a backpack and some bags? No worries. These guys are sure to oblige you and your luggage for the ride. No is not in their vocabulary and they’ll make your bags fit. Who says chivalry is dead?

motorbike riders

motorbike riders motorbike-taxi Bangkok’s motorbike taxi drivers hang out, waiting for a hire.motorbike-taxi Bangkok Motorbike taxi drivers tote Bangkokians on a daily basis.motor-ride Morning rush hour in Bangkok: Local Thai taking motorbike taxis to work

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8. Tuk-tuks

You go low and they’ll go high; that’s the art of haggling with Bangkok tuk-tuk drivers. Tuk Tuk drivers are not my favorite way of getting around Bangkok, especially when there’s cheaper and haggle-free motors to choose from. Still, tourists occasionally like to use them to get around. Tuk tuks can get into more local areas.

Tip: Check to see your tuk tuk driver’s meter is on. Ask for them to turn it on. Many tuk tuk drivers will try to haggle and you can do this also. But the meter is often the safest way to go. Some tuk-tuk drivers may try to redirect you to taking a tour, which ends in them taking you to commission shops for shopping. Take an official tour if you want to sightseeing Bangkok by tuk tuk.

Read: How to Deal with Touts Beggars & Scams

tuk tuks

Taking tuk tuks in Bangkoktuk-tuk A slow day for tuk-tuks. As transportation, they’re not popular chariots in Bangkok.

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9. Taxis

With Bangkok traffic being the meaner than the L.A. freeway, the taxi is probably the last thing you’ll want to take! On one occasion it took me close to 30 minutes just to move one block! Thankfully, I was on the bus at that time; my baht was still in tact.  But taxis have their moments too. It’s perfect for getting around in the evening, after the river ferry and Skytrain close. Note: Bangkok traffic can be pretty bad. I would avoid traveling on anything with wheels during rush hour.

Travelers staying in the Old Bangkok area (Khao San Road) will be resorting to taxis and tuk-tuks often, while those staying in downtown Bangkok, will have the easy use of the Skytrain, MRT and Hua Lamphong Station.

Caution to possible Bangkok taxi scams ! I film my experience in the video below. Similar tip to tuk-tuks. Check to see your Bangkok taxi driver’s meter is on. He will try to haggle you to get a higher rate.

Hours: 24 hours
Tips: Always make sure your taxi uses a meter.

traffic

traffic in Bangkok can be pretty bad. Avoid traveling During rush hourHow many young monks can you fit into a taxi?

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10. Long Distance and Overnight Trains

By daylight, it’s a regular train, but at night it can transform into a first-rate hotel on wheels! By far, one of my favorite rides, the Thai railway system strives for hospitably, cleanliness and order.   Train stewards patrol the aisle to set up your meal table or to transform your seats into a freshly sheeted berth bed of curtain-drawn privacy. Both, western and asian toilets are in each car and if you want to have a drink or eat in the restaurant car, that’s available also.  Bangkok’s main train station is Hualamphong, with trains going to all parts of Thailand. A favorite route for travelers is the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Tip: Hua Lamphong station is easy to access via the Bangkok MRT (subway system). The station has limited food, drink and snack options, so stop by a Thai 7 Eleven to pick some up before your trip!

Hours: 24 hours
Information: train routes and schedules.

Transportation in Bangkok, Getting around in Bangkok, Guide to Traveling in Thailand, guide to travelling in thailand, thailand transportation

Hua Lamphong Train Station in Bangkok

train station

boarding the train

 

Wanting to book your train or bus travel in advance? 

I recommend 12GoAsia (below). I’ve used them before and they’re great for advance booking and seeing timetables. Although it is always ideal to buy your tickets in person.

Powered by 12Go Asia

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Wanna know what transportation to take to move around Thailand?

What is your favorite mode for getting around in Bangkok?

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21 Comments. Leave new

Just want to say your site is very well-written. I think it would be a huge help to anyone trying to navigate Bangkok. When I was there, I had to figure out the transportation system by trial and error. One comment I want to make is about the metered taxis. There’s no guarantee you won’t get cheated with a meter, because they know they can drive an unsuspecting tourist all over the place and rack up the cost. I learned that lesson the hard way!

Reply
    Avatar
    Christine Kaaloa
    May 28, 2016 12:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your experience Kathy! Also, thanks for reminding me about updating this post with my videos. I used to be afraid of what you mentioned… But then here’s some tips I discovered during a recent Bangkok Taxi scam: https://youtu.be/u5waDld3Gg0 =)

    Reply

L♥ve the BTS skytrain & the MRT…oh, and just plain Walking! Only when i go on vacation in BKK is where i actually lose some weight because of all the walking–even with all that great FOOD!!

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    @Tina yes it’s one of my fave parts of BKK too. And the AC doesn’t hurt. My legs get all oiled up and when I get home they get stiff again. Any trips planned?

    Reply

    No firm plans right now. . .poss go see my son in Aspen or go to East coast visit more family…not sure.
    Wanted to go Machu Picchu next, but that Zika virus! So, instead we’ll prob hit Japan for now if we sisters can coordinate days off together. . .soon I hope!

    Reply

    Tina I hear you on Macchu Picchu! Hawaii always has decent flights to Japan (around the cost of going to L.A. or Vegas!) Let me know if you plan on Tokyo and I’ll send you my eguide for Tokyo on a budget! =)

    Reply

    Shoots! will def let u know when and if we go!–we are SO into small budget+big experience!! Mahalos!

    Reply

I always get the cards you can put a load on, like the Rabbit card in Bangkok, the Octopus card in Hong Kong, and the Easy card in Taipei. They are good for life, and I always keep at least a minimum load that is enough to get me to the city from the airport when I enter the country. I did learn that after several years, at least the Octopus card will be deleted from the system, BUT you just have to go to a booth and they will re-enter it into the system. That happened when I gave an Octopus card to my cousin and her husband and they tried to use it when they traveled to HK. They said it didn’t work, I told them I was sure it would have because it was lifetime, then when I went back to HK on another trip found out that it had just been too long for it to stay in the system. Bummed me out, they threw the card away with about 140 HK dollars on the card! Oh well, now they know AND I know, go to one of the stations and get them to re-enter the card!

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I hate Tuk-Tuk and Taxis in BKK, many are crooked and a**h**es. Motor cycle taxis & under rail systems works for me, but buy the 3 days pass is cheaper

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[…] is a bucket list must .  However, in reality, because there are many ways for a solo traveler to get around Bangkok on their own, I generally avoid using tuk tuks. Much like taxis in Bangkok, I’ve never felt […]

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Have you ever been worried about Thai moto taxi drivers not giving you a helmet? That worries a lot though, especially on a long distance ride during rush hour.

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    No @Woody. It’s certainly a risk. But many working class Thai practically grow up on them. Parents will even balance them on as babies. But I would ask them to drive slow if you feel nervous. Some can try to scare tourist for fun.

    Reply

Thanks for the tips! We’re heading back to Bangkok next year so we’ll check some of these out, especially the long tail boats!

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This is a great piece! I lived in Bangkok for two years and experienced them all. My least favorite were the boats – they seem to take off while you’re still stepping in and you don’t want to fall into those filthy waters. The buses do the same but I somehow mastered the art of jumping in at full speed. For some reason – perhaps difficulties in getting route information – most foreigners won’t use them. I couldn’t get information either so I started riding each bus that came by my house – all the way to the end of the line and back. I was soon pretty knowledgeable about where they went.

You’re right about the trains – the best overnight rides (although I was once derailed on my way to the Lao border but no one was hurt).

What wasn’t around when I was is the Skytrain. That has revolutionalized public transport for those who can afford it. I remember sitting for hours in taxis down Sukhumvit once upon a time in a posse that simply wouldn’t move, at all. Last time I was in BKK there was still traffic on that street but due to the Skytrain it was bearable. It is a great city for public transport!

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    @Leyla: Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experiences. You have so many interesting stories.

    Oh my, you were on a derailed train?! That must’ve been a story. You sound like you lived an adventure in Thailand. I hope someday I’ll get to live there; I really love returning. I think getting lost on the buses and just finding out where they go is a good idea. You were smart to have experimented with that. Information these days is easier to get, but like you, there was a time not so long ago when I lived in Korea for a year and finding any information on bus transportation in ENGLISH was a hard won task!

    Reply

[…] a crime thriller that reminds me of Joe D'Amato's flicks with Laura Gemser. Sidewalks of Bangkok . Photo Essay: Top 10 ways around Bangkok | GRRRL TRAVELER Best sidewalks and streets to walk: Khao San Road area and off the BTS Skytrain : Sala Deng, Siam […]

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I love how you always provide the most useful, practical information for travelers, Christine! I often read about the motorbikes, tuk tuks and taxis of Bangkok, but rarely about the boats, buses and trains. Thanks for the info. Now, I’d like to know, because I feel like I’ve heard this elsewhere–do tourists have to worry about theft on public transportation like city buses and trains?

Reply

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