Jesse McLaughlan

Travelled to 14 countries / regions

Written 48 briefs
Backpacked across Thailand in spring 2019



Asia > Thailand > Bangkok > Useful Info
Submitted on Nov 20, 2019 Useful Info

Best ways get around Bangkok for travellers

  • Bangkok is massive and hectic; getting to anywhere in the city can take a surprising amount of time, especially in the rush hours.
  • While taxis remain the best way to get around the Bangkok, the city has a fairly developed public transportation made up of metro, boats, and buses. Below I will detail how to use each one of these transportation options

  • Option 1) Taxi and Grab taxi (best overall option):User submitted photo of Bangkok
  • For most visitors, this is probably the best way to get around Bangkok. There are lots of taxis roaming the streets pretty much at any hour of the day
  • Fare: Bangkok taxis start at 35 baht ($1.16USD) and then goes up 5 baht ($0.16USD) per km. Most trips within the city should cost you 80-150 baht ($2.65 - $5 USD) per trip. Taxis are all metered, and you should avoid the ones that tries to do a fixed fare. Payment is by cash Baht only, and tipping is not necessary.
  • How to flag a taxi: if you're staying in a hotel, the easiest way to get a taxi is to have the front desk or concierge call one for you. If you're out and about, you can simply raise your hand to get an available taxi that's passing by. Taxis that are available to be hailed have a red light on the window, like this:User submitted photo of BangkokAlternatively, there's also going to be taxis parked outside major hotels and tourist attractions. It's usually advised that you avoid these parked ones because they're more likely to try to scam you with a higher fare
  • Scams: the two biggest scams that some taxi drivers commit are
  • 1) Fixed fares: basically the drivers avoid the use of the meter and quote you an inflated fare. They'll commonly charge you 2-4 times what the metered rate is. To avoid this scam insist on using the meter and avoid cars that are reluctant to use it
  • 2) Shopping detours: more rare but still happens; it's basically when the driver would take you to various jewellery, clothing, and souvenir shops and pressure you to buy things. I always ask "no shopping?" before getting on a taxi
  • Use Grab taxi: Grab is a rideshare app similar to Uber. It actually works exactly like Uber and is extremely popular all over Southeast Asia. You'll need to download and set up the app on your phone beforehand (it requires a mobile number for verification so make sure you can receive SMS text when you set up the app), and to use the app you'll need internet connection (wifi or mobile data). I used Grab everywhere in Southeast Asia, including Bangkok, and it worked extremely well. I like the app because you can use it to hail regular taxis as well as private cars, and is priced the same as regular taxis, and there's no chance for scams because the fare is pre-determined by the app. You can download the app at https://www.grab.com

  • Option 2) Metro BTS skytrain and MRT subway:User submitted photo of Bangkok
  • Bangkok's metro system is made up of 1) a sky train system called BTS and 2) a subway system called MRT. While it's not an extensive metro system that can get you everywhere in the city, it is good to around central Bangkok (especially if you need to go to the various shopping malls), as well as getting you from one side of the city to the other cheaply and quickly (taxi is both expensive and time consuming especially in rush hours)
  • Note that BTS and MRT are two separate systems run by two different companies. Tickets are sold separately and ticket for one system cannot be used on the other system and transferring from one system to another requires purchasing a separate ticket
  • Fare: fare varies by distance traveled. BTS costs 15-58 baht ($0.50-$1.68USD) per ride, and MRT costs 14-70 baht ($0.50-$2.31USD) per ride. You can find the exact fare for BTS and for MRT
  • How to buy tickets: you can buy single tickets or reloadable cards for both systems
  • Tickets for BTS (skytrain): single ride tickets can be purchased at the automatic ticketing machines with coins. If you want to pay with notes you must go to the ticket counter. Credit cards are not accepted either at the machine or the booth. For reloadable cards (called Rabbit Card) or day passes you need to purchase from the booth. Single ride tickets
  • Tickets for MRT (subway): single ride tickets can be purchased at the automatic ticketing machine with either coins or notes. Single ride tickets can be purchased at the booth too. Reloadable card can also be purchased at the booth.
  • How to enter and exit the station:
  • BTS: if you have single ride tickets, you insert the ticket into the turnstile both when entering and exiting the stations. If you have the reloadable Rabbit card or one of the day passes, you tap the card to enter and exit the stations.
  • MRT: if you have single ride tickets, which are plastic coins, you tap the coin to get into the origin station, and insert the coin when you exit the destination station. If you have the reloadable cards, you tap the card when entering and exiting the stations
  • Here's a video instruction for how to buy tickets for both BTS and MRT:

  • Option 3) Boats:User submitted photo of Bangkok
  • The main river that runs through Bangkok is called Chao Phraya River, and there are lots of public boats running up and down the river that can get you to some major attractions like the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, China Town and Khao San Road
  • The boats are operated by Chao Phraya Express (http://www.chaophrayaexpressboat.com), which operates 4 routes on the river. The routes are each identified by a colored flag (orange flag, green flag, yellow flag, and no flag), and differentiated by which piers they dock in
  • Fare: varies by line
  • Orange: 15 baht ($0.5USD)
  • Green: 13-32 baht ($0.43-$1.06USD)
  • Yellow: 20 baht ($0.66USD)
  • No flag: 9-13 baht ($0.3-$0.43USD)
  • Operating hours: varies by line
  • Orange: 6am-7pm everyday
  • Green: 6:10am-8:10am, 4:05pm-6:05pm, only Monday-Friday
  • Yellow: 6:15am-8:20am, 4pm-8pm, only Monday-Friday
  • No flag: 6:45am-7:30am, 4pm-4:30pm, only Monday-Friday
  • How to take a boat: first, go to Chao Phraya Express' website to determine the pier you need to get on and off at. Then determine which route you need to take based the piers and time of day. Use Google maps to help you navigate to the departure pier. Tickets can be purchased with cash at the entrance to the pier. Line up on the pier and board the boat when it comes. Look at the color of the flag on the boat to make sure it's the route you need to get on. Boat the boat and find a seat; if there's no seat you can stand. Once the boat starts to move there will be someone to check your ticket - if you don't have a ticket you can purchase one onboard
  • Map of all the piers in Bangkok:User submitted photo of Bangkok
  • Map of the routes by color of flag:User submitted photo of Bangkok
  • There are other boat operators on Chao Phraya, but they're usually a lot more geared towards tourists and more expensive. Chao Phraya Hop On Hop Off boat (https://chaophrayatouristboat.com) for example costs 200 baht ($6.63) per day
  • Check out this video guide using the Chao Phraya Express:

  • Option 4) Public buses:User submitted photo of Bangkok
  • Public buses are all operated by Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (http://www.bmta.co.th)
  • Tourists usually don't take buses to get around because routes information is not clearly published and it's therefore difficult to know which buses to take. However, for Bangkok there is a highly rated app called ViaBus (for Android, for iOS) that can show you exactly which buses to take and how to transfer to get to your final destination. The app shows you all the bus stops around you, you pick the starting and ending bus stops, and the app will show you exactly which routes to take
  • Fare: very cheap; varies between 8-25 baht ($0.27-$0.83USD). Most buses are fixed fare, but some buses have distance-based variable fare. It's best to tell the driver where you're going to and ask him how much it'll cost
  • Fare is paid onboard. You don't pay the driver, but rather you board the bus and then there will be someone walking around to collect the fare
  • It's best to have a bunch of 1, 2, 5, and 10 baht coins to pay for the fares. 20 baht and 50 baht bills are ok too, but avoid paying with 100 baht or higher denominations
  • Hours: most buses start operating at 5am (some start operating at 4am), and stop operating at 10pm or 11pm
  • Bus route map: as I said above, it's best to use the ViaBus app to figure out how to get from where you are to your final destination
  • Once you're on the bus, I recommend having your phone on and track where you are by GPS and Google Maps. Once you get close to your stop, you need to press the buzzer to request the bus to stop

  • In addition to the transportation options above, there are also two options I suggest you avoid:
  • Tuk tuk: avoid using them because their prices are not cheaper than taxis in Bangkok, and they're even worse than taxis in terms of shopping scams. Some people also don't like the fact that they're open air so you breath in all the traffic exhaust fumes that pollute the streets of Bangkok
  • Motocycle taxis: you will be able to find some motorcycle taxis roaming the streets of Bangkok. While they can be a pretty cheap option to get around quickly during rush hour, I don't recommend them more for safety reasons. Bangkok has lots of traffic accidents every year involving motorcycles and I personally do not recommend renting or riding motorcycles in that city