Discover the different means of transport in Thailand as well as practical advice on how to use them properly.
Thailand is one of the few countries where it is very easy and inexpensive to travel:
Low-cost airlines, many four lanes who are allowing fast travel by road and bus, taxis, tuk-tuk, motorcycles in abundance in the cities.
During your travel to Thailand, you will have a lot of choices to go from one region to another.
Book your tickets online
If you want to get an idea of the prices of domestic transport or book your train, bus, boat or plane tickets, you can use 12go.asia
Transport in Thailand: travel by plane
For Bangkok, it should be noted that there are two airports, Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang, make no mistake about it!
Suvarnabhumi, called Suvarnakhorn by the Thai, is the new airport, it is mainly dedicated to international flights.
Don Muang, the former airport, handles mainly domestic flights or flights to neighboring countries.
Enjoy low-cost prices!
Example: you can find flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for only 20 euros.
For long haul flights, there is a great flight comparator, which makes it easy to find a flight at the best price by offering different departure dates:
I think it’s the best of the moment, but if you have another one to recommend with lower prices, you can mention it in the comments.
Transport in Thailand: travel by bus
Also, the country’s road system consists of many four very well maintained lanes, which means that buses can travel safely at high speed.
There is little traffic congestion, except sometimes upon arrival in major cities.
Bring warm clothes for travel; some air-conditioned buses are real refrigerators.
There are several classes of buses; the cheapest are often crowded and stop at many stations.
In general, all destinations are indicated in the ticket offices in bus stations.
If you want to be sure you have a comfortable bus, ask for a V.I.P.
Most of the buses are VIPs, comfortable, cheap, with air conditioning and a hostess who will offer you drinks and food all along the way.
There are also now more and more “super VIP” buses with less seating and more legroom.
Avoid spreading your feet on the bus armrests, by doing this your feet can touch the people in front of you and it’s very rude.
In Thai culture, touching someone with your feet is considered contempt or an insult!
See: Do and don’t IN THAILAND
On long journeys, several pee breaks are organized, even if there are often toilets on the bus.
This allows you to walk, smoke, or shop in one of the stores often linked to the bus company.
There is also sometimes a stop in a restaurant with a meal included in the price of the ticket, in which case one of the tickets you have been given is used to pay for the meal.
At these stops, remember the location of the bus, the head of the driver, hostess, or other passengers.
Sometimes your bus stops alone in the parking lot; you go to eat, and on the way back, there is a 20-something of identical buses with the destinations indicated in Thai!
In general, the hostess counts the number of passengers before departure.
Buses in Bangkok
Bangkok has three main bus terminals:
There are also lines to the main cities in the south.
Sai Tai Taling Chan (Southern Bus Terminal), which serves the West (Kanchanaburi…) and South (Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani…) destinations.
Ekamai (Eastern Bus Terminal) which mainly serves the east of the country (Pattaya, Rayong, Trat…).
Transport in Thailand: travel by train
Thai trains are not very fast or punctual (often late) compared to buses, but it is more comfortable (if you don’t like to sit still) and friendly way to get around.
The Thai rail network is managed by the State Railway of Thailand (STR).
You can check the schedules and book your tickets on their websites: www.railway.co.th.
There are five main lines: the North line, the Northeast line, the Kanchanaburi line, the East Line, and the South line.
The different classes
Only fast, express and special express trains have first-class compartments.
The cabins are generally equipped with a sink, a small table, benches that can be converted into a bed, and adjustable air conditioning or a small fan.
Only fast and express trains are equipped with second class equipment. The cars are composed of comfortable seats facing the front of the train.
Second class sleeper cars are cabins with benches that can be converted into beds.
There are four beds per cabin, and in general, the lower beds are more expensive because they have more height space than the upper beds.
The 3rd class wagons are equipped with seats facing each other, if the train is crowded, you can find yourself with more than three people on the seats!
Express trains do not have 3rd class.
You can eat in the restaurant cars or your place by ordering the meal, but prices are generally high in the trains
It is better to buy food at the departure station where prices are correct.
There are also often street vendors.
Transport in Thailand: hitchhiking
It’s not in Thai culture, and if you stretch your thumb, few Thai will understand what you’re doing.
Here to stop a vehicle, you have to reach up and move your hand from top to bottom.
Public transport is cheap and also used by poor people.
If you hitchhike, it will be misunderstood, and you may look like a farang ki ngao, a cheapskate.
Rent or buy a car or motorcycle
You can buy a used motorcycle and resell it after if you stay for a long time.
You can find used motorcycles in your area or advertise on thaivisa.com.
The country’s roads are in good condition, there are many gas stations with seven-eleven (food, drink, medicine shops…) or other shops open 24 hours a day, very convenient if you travel at night.
In villages, many small shops offer glass bottles filled with gasoline, usually on display in front of the store.
Be very careful on the road!
If you decide to rent a car or motorcycle to travel around the country, you should know that the greatest danger in Thailand is the road!
Thailand is the world champion of two-wheeled deaths
Here we drive on the left and change sides modifies all our perception and reflexes regarding the use of roads.
It should also be noted that many drivers do not know the highway code.
The rule is to let the biggest vehicles pass; big 4x4s are dangerous even when you cross the road.
Some drivers think they can do anything, and forcing themselves into thinking they’re going to stop is a very bad idea!
Thai people so polite and pleasant in everyday life can turn into ferocious beasts on the road!
You also have to be very careful with bus and truck drivers, who often work beyond their limits and sometimes take Yabaa (methamphetamine) to keep up.
When I passed my motorcycle license in Thailand, there was a multiple-choice question with a touch of humor about it.
The question was “what to do in case of tiredness,” and among the answers were “stop for coffee,” stop for sleep,” or “take yabaa”!
There are often motorcycles in the opposite direction on the roadsides because this avoids having to make a big detour.
On a motorcycle you must wear the helmet under penalty of a fine (about 200 baht), it should be known that many Thai do not wear the helmet to preserve their hairstyles!
You must have third-party liability insurance if you drive in Thailand.
Rental agencies generally offer them, make sure you have them well before renting because, without insurance, you may have big problems in case of an accident.
See: Travel insurance: why the credit card is not enough
You must have an international driver’s license if you rent a car or motorcycle.
If the police catch you without a permit, you will have the choice of paying a bribe or the more expensive fine.
Rental or purchase of bicycles
In tourist cities, it is quite easy to find bikes for rent.
Another solution if you stay a long time is to buy one and sell it in the first place.
You can also find used bicycles or advertise on thaivisa.com.
There are bike shops in most major cities, Thai people are bike lovers, and it is possible to find the biggest brands of bicycles in the country.
You can easily take the train, bus, songtaew or tuk-tuk with your bike.
But be careful on buses and taew song, if your bike is put on the roof, check that the driver does not put heavy objects on it.
And as with motorcycles, you have to be very careful on the road and be wary of large vehicles that act as if they have priority in all situations!
Urban transport in Thailand
If you use sam lo, tuk-tuk, motorcycle taxi, and taxi, you must agree on the price of the trip before boarding, except for taxi-meters.
In Thailand to signal the driver to stop you have to reach up and move your hand from top to bottom
In Bangkok and other major cities of the country, there are urban bus networks.
It is the most economical way to travel, but it is not suitable for tourists, there is often no indication in English, and they are often overcrowded.
Sam ro (or sam lo) means three wheels (sam = three; ro = wheel), they are rickshaws that can make short trips.
A silent and ecological way to travel over short distances.
It is one of the symbols of the trip to Thailand. “tuk-tuk” is the repetition of the word “tuk” (or rather touk), which means “cheap.”
But the price (for tourists) is often much more expensive than the price of a taxi.
It’s at the customer’s head, and you have to love the “so soft” sound of the engine and the exhaust gases!
This is a fast and cheap way to get around, very convenient when there are traffic jams, but it can be dangerous, especially in Bangkok, where drivers are driving like crazy!
If you have a large backpack, ask the driver to put it between his legs, sometimes they offer to take it themselves, it is uncomfortable and even dangerous to keep it on his back.
This is one of the most comfortable ways to get around, and average trips rarely cost more than 50 baht.
When you get into the taxi, ask the driver if it is a taxi-meter and make sure that he turns on the meter.
Make sure you also always have a small change to pay for it, taxis never have any.
Sometimes the taxi will ask you if you want to use the toll highway in Bangkok if you agree it will ask you for money to pay for it, it is not very expensive and reduces the duration of the trip.
Songtaew or dreamtéou means two benches (song = two; taew = bench), they are equipped pick-ups.
An economical way to travel to cities and villages. In some small villages, this is often the only way to reach the city.
The price of the trip in town is often between 10 and 30 baht; you must indicate your destination to the driver.
In general, there is a bell on the ceiling to stop the vehicle; you pay once you arrive.
Bangkok is the only Thai city that has a subway MRT and an aerial metro, the BTS.
It is an economical and fast way to get around and avoid traffic jams.
This is the essential way to reach the islands of Thailand, except those with an airport.
Depending on the popularity of the island, there are different types of boats, express boats, ferries, catamarans…
In Bangkok and its surroundings, there are long-tail boats that allow you to move quickly through rivers and canals.
Photos: Bus: Flying Pharmacist; bus in Bangkok: Nutjaru; Boeing: Arpingstone, boats: Jpatokai; elephant: Ganeshapark; Source: tourismthailand.org
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