Below are the different modes of transportation to travel and getting around Thailand.
You can spot these types of motorbike taxis pretty much any corner of Bangkok, as well as other parts of Thailand. The drivers wear a bright orange or green vest with their identification information at the back.
To flag down these motorbike taxis, stand where they can see you, then wave your hand and wait for them to come pick you up or you can walk to where they are parked. Normally there are half a dozen motorbike taxis in one location.
Motorbike taxis are more affordable than meter-taxis, but they only travel short distances, whereas meter-taxis can pretty much go anywhere around the city or outside.
Motorbike taxis can be very dangerous when going on the freeway or larger roads, weaving through traffic or even sidewalks. Often, you are not provided with a helmet, so make sure you have at least one hand holding the back of the bike to keep yourself balanced. Motorbike taxis are not recommended for older people.
Most taxis in Bangkok and in Thailand are meter taxis, so they charge by the distance. The meter taxi fare starts at 35 baht and this includes the first 1 km. After 1 km, the rate slowly goes up. You don’t need to negotiate for the fare.
If you’re inside the airport, you don’t need to flag down the taxi yourself. There will be a location inside the airport for you to wait for a taxi.
Example of fare cost, a 20 km (12 mile) trip, would cost about 134 baht, or under $4 USD or $3 CAD. If you’re pickup at the international airport at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Muang Airport (DMK), there is a 50 baht surcharge (only from the airport) on top of the taxi fare. For this example, it would be 134 baht (taxi fare) + 50 baht (surcharge) = 184 baht.
If you’re already outside the airport and need to flag down a meter-taxi, stand on the side of the road clear of traffic and wave your arm. To tell which meter-taxi is available, there is a bright red led light on the front passenger side of the taxi. If you see the red led light turn on, it means that taxi is available. If the red led light is turn off, it means it’s not available.
The non-meter taxis are allegedly banned; all taxis need to turn on their meter. However, not all taxi drivers follow this rule, because a lot of money can be made by not using the meter.
The reason non-meter taxis are allegedly banned is because there were too many complaints by tourists accusing non-meter taxi drivers of scam.
Even with the alleged ban, there are some occasions when meter taxi drivers will ask for a fixed rate. It could be because it’s very late at night, heavy traffic or they have many other passengers waiting; technically, a fixed rate usually means higher costs for you and more money for the driver.
Personally, I avoid non- meter taxis and fixed rates, since I know I will end up paying at least double or triple for the same trip vs a meter-taxi.
There is more information about Thailand’s taxi. If you would like to know more about other costs, different taxi colors and tipping, check it out here: Thailand taxis
Tuk-tuks in many ways are very useful, but in a metropolitan like Bangkok, to me it’s more like a tourist trap.
Tuk-tuks are basically a customize motorbike, fitted with extra seating and an overhead cover. They are open air vehicles with no windows or doors to protect you from the traffic pollution.
Since Tuk-tuks are open air vehicles, there is no air condition. The air you breathe does not have any air filter to help protect you from breathing in all the fumes.
Especially, when you are stuck in traffic in the middle of Bangkok, breathing in all that fumes cannot be good for you.
There are more comfortable, better prices and better ways to travel. If you’re in Bangkok, try the BTS (sky train), MRT (subway) and meter-taxi. Out of all my time spent in Bangkok, I only used a tuk-tuk maybe four times and that was because it was late at night and I couldn’t find a meter-taxi.
However, if you are outside of Bangkok, tuk-tuks are still regularly used in smaller towns and cities, but in Bangkok you have many options, and tuk-tuk is an option, but it should be your last option.
Buses inside Bangkok
Buses are affordable, but the problem I have with buses in Bangkok is they’re written in Thai. I can’t read Thai, and that made it hard for me to know where the buses were going and where to wait for one. For those reasons, I do not use the bus in Bangkok, except for buses going from one city to another city/town.
If you would like to take the buses in Bangkok, you can buy a bus map at many book stores. The cost for a bus fare is very affordable and they vary depending on the type of buses.
The cheaper ones are about 2.5 baht, but they do not have air condition. Air condition buses are a little more expensive at about 10-25 baht; they are newer and more comfortable to ride than the non-air condition buses.
Buses going out of the city
If you would like to take the bus to other parts of Thailand, you must go to the bus terminal.
There are three major bus terminals in Bangkok; namely, Mo chit Bus Terminal, Ekamai Bus Terminal aka Bangkok Bus Terminal Eastern and Southern Bus Terminal.
Do not confuse the Mo chit Bus Terminal with the Mo chit BTS. They are located at two different locations. If you get off at the Mo chit BTS, you will still have to take a 15 minute taxi ride (if no traffic) or 30 minute walk to the Mo chit Bus Terminal.
Mo chit Bus Terminal: Provides buses to the northern and the north eastern (Isan) part of Thailand. (Chiang Mai, Chiang rai, Ubon, Udon, Mudahan, etc.)
Ekamai Bus Terminal: Provides buses to the eastern part of Thailand. (Pattaya, Jomtein, Rayong, etc.)
Southern Bus Terminal: Provides buses to the southern part of Thailand. (Phuket, Krabi, etc.)
BTS & MRT (sky train/subway)
BTS is the acronym for The Bangkok Mass Transit System, also known as Sky Train. Generally, the Thais call it BTS. If you need to go to Silom BTS, just say Silom BTS; there is no need to say the full name or to say Sky Train.
There are two BTS lines: the Sukhumvit Line for the east and north of Bangkok; the Silom Line is south and west. These two lines meet at the Siam BTS. There are currently 34 BTS stations.
MRT is the acronym for The Metropolitan Rapid Transit. The MRT intersects the BTS lines at the Sukhumvit MRT and Asok BTS, Silom MRT and Sala Daeng BTS, Chatuchak Park MRT and Mo Chit BTS.
Currently there is one line with three under construction, a total of 18 stations.
Train out of Bangkok
Hua Lamphong Railway Station is the main rail way station in Bangkok. You can get there using the BTS and exit at Hua Lamphong BTS.
Trains in Thailand are a little better priced than buses going from one city to another, but they are a little slow and less frequent than buses.
There are two airports in Bangkok.
1. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) for international arrivals and departures.
2. Don Muang Airport (DMK) for international, as well as domestic arrivals and departures.
Flying is the quickest and the safest way to travel, but the most expensive.
We never had any problems with either airline. Just remember all domestic flights are flown in and out at Don Muang Airport, not the other one; but double check your ticket and make sure you don’t go to the wrong airport.