Getting around the Thai Capital in Eight Ways
Bangkok has been notorious for its bustling streets and head whirring traffic jams. But with the emergence of tollways, sky and underground trains together with tuk tuks, boats, motorcycle and metered taxis, locals and tourists alike now have a lot more options to get around the city. Whether you want to visit your favorite attraction or simply want to go shopping, here are eight ways to get to your destination. Up to you to use your best judgment to determine which one will take you there faster.
By Skytrain (BTS)
By far known as Bangkok’s quickest and most civilized mode of transportation, the Skytrain has already come a long way since its first construction. More extensions have been planned and opened in the recent years. What makes this the most preferred transport system among all the others is that it allows people to get around town—especially shopping areas—much more quickly and affordably. You can simply hop in the BTS and walk just a few minutes to your favorite shopping mall like the Paragon.
By Longtail Boats Glide
Wanna go sightseeing? Then taking Bangkok’s longtail boats is your best bet. If you want to get todestinations like the Wat Arun, hiring a longtail boat for the day or half day would complete your idea of adventure and fun. It can cruise you along the river and stop you off at different must-see attractions all around the city at a very fast speed, making it a very exciting ride.
By Metered Taxis
Bangkok’s most ubiquitous mode of transportation, taxis are not only comfortable; they are also cheap and convenient. They come in a variety of colors but are highly distinguishable. You can hail taxis anywhere in Bangkok; just as long as their lights are lit, they should be available. In general, Bangkok taxi drivers are friendly and honest. However, like in any other country, there are also those who unscrupulously break the law by not using the meter and just negotiate the fare with you instead. Don't be lured; stop the next one instead. You should know that not using the meter is plain illegal. You would only get ripped off once you allow it.
Bangkok buses offer a cheap alternative for traveling in the city. Although there are some disadvantages to riding a bus, such as bad traffic, pollution, and obnoxious drivers, the ride will definitely give you a feel of what it really is to be in Bangkok. Despite the puzzling array of official and unofficial buses in Bangkok, the first-time traveler can do well by first purchasing a Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) map, which is available at most bus terminals. Using the bus number, the type of bus and its color, one can figure out which bus goes where. When in doubt, one can always ask a local or a policeman for information.
When entering the bus, avoid being in the way. Hold on to the railings at all times as the bus ride can get quite jerky. A conductor will be collecting the fare and make sure you have small change for the fare. Fares vary especially in the air-conditioned buses. Just inform the conductor where you will be getting off and he will tell you how much it will cost. Keep the receipt as it is sometimes checked.
By Motorcycle Taxi
Fancy a fast ride through the streets of Bangkok? Or in a hurry to get somewhere? Then grab the safety helmet and prepare yourself for a thrilling ride on a motorcycle taxi. Drivers of motorcycle taxis can be easily recognized by their numbered orange vests, which show which stop they are allowed to operate from. Before even getting on the motorcycle, negotiate with the driver on how much the fare will be. For some routes, there are fixed fares but oftentimes, the fare will depend on the distance you need to travel.
By Tuk Tuks
Tuk tuks used to be the mainstream mode of transportation before the kingdom of modern vehicles started to reign. They are still popular with tourists, though, especially the first-time visitors of Bangkok. The most common problem with tuk tuks is the lack of guidelines for the setting of the fare. There is no meter, so careful negotiation is a must to avoid being scammed by the drivers. Always try to negotiate between 5 to 15 baht off the proposed fare and take it from there. While riding a taxi is more convenient, comfortable, and sometimes even cheaper, a tuk tuk ride once in a while could be fun. Just avoid riding them during the peak hours. You don’t want to be stuck in a tuk tuk inhaling all of the fumes from other vehicles.
The Bangkok Underground or Mass Rapid Transport is a fast and efficient way of city travel. It serves 18 stations from Hua Lamphong to Bang Sue. During peak hours, there are trains every five minutes while at other times, every seven minutes. It is the height of comfort and practicality. Despite its intersection with the Skytrain at a number of places and its stations in major roads and intersections, the underground still cannot be used at all times. There are still destinations that the underground can’t reach. Purchase your pass by telling the ticket vendor your destination. All you need to do is pay the fare.
By River Bus
Another way of seeing the city of Bangkok is by a river boat. There are many types of boats offering various services, with some only carrying you across the river while others giving you the works for the right price. The Chao Phraya Express Boat offers a day pass for only 75 baht. It stops at 10 major piers and gives access to tourist attractions like Wat Arun, Wat Po and the Royal Barge Museum. Throw in a guide and drinking water and you have the best value for your money!
Getting from one place to another in Bangkok can be quite the experience with all its means of transportation. Simply bring with you your sense of adventure, your itinerary and possibly your haggling skills, and you are bound to enjoy your whirlwind tour of the city!