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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Bangkok Getting Around
Getting Around Bangkok - TravelPuppy.com

Public Transport

The public transport in Bangkok is abundant and inexpensive, even though most tourists use taxis or the 3-wheeled taxis called tuk tuks (see below). A monorail system, called the Bangkok Transit System (telephone: (02) 617 7300; e-mail: nuduan@bts.co.th) and known as Skytrain, operates on 2 lines across the city. The Sukhumvit Line goes from On Nut along Sukhumvit Road to Siam Square, Phaya Thai Road, Victory Monument and Mo Chit. The Silom Line runs from Saphan Taksin and goes through Silom’s business area, Siam Square, and ends at the National Stadium.

Since opening about five years ago, the proficient Skytrain has immensely improved the time it takes to move around the city. The government has approved expansion lines across the river and to the south. Trains operate from 6.00 am to 12.00 midnight, every 3–4 minutes during the rush hour and every 5–6 minutes off peak. Tickets are bought from automatic ticket machines, with prices costing B10–40 across seven zones. Passes can be purchased for 10, 15 and 30 journeys, costing B250, B300 and B540 respectively to be used within 30 days. Three-day visitor/tourist passes are available for B280.

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (telephone: (02) 246 0973; e-mail: 184.bmta@motc.go.th) operates a highly complex bus system, which runs across the city from 5.00 am to 11.00 pm. Fares on common buses go from B3.50 (cream and red) to B5 (white and blue), whilst on air-conditioned ones (cream and blue) are between B6 and B16 relying on distance travelled. Fares on the yellow and orange Euro II air-conditioned buses are B18 and use fuel-efficient engines to attempt to reduce air pollution in Bangkok. There is also limited night service (cream and red) running from 11.00 pm to 5.00 am with a fare of B5. Hotels and bookshops have route maps available.

The 20 kilometre or 12 mile subway system was opened in August 2004. It is now the quickest method of transportation.

Taxis

Taxis can be flagged on the streets. Metered taxis will always have a taxi meter sign on the rooftop. Tourists are advised to check if the meter is turned on when starting a journey. The meter rate starts at B35 for the first 2 kilometres, increasing by B2 for each kilometre. The meter will increase by the minute if stuck in heavy traffic. The unmetered taxis are also available and fares must be agreed upon in advance.

Passengers will normally pay for any toll roads used and should make sure they have enough small change to pay for the taxi service. Many hire a taxi through the concierge at their hotel where the price is fixed and they can pay directly to the hotel before departure. Hiring a taxi for longer trips is also feasible. Taxi fares should be agreed in advance, even with metered taxis. Tipping is not usually expected but much appreciated.

Tuk Tuk

3-wheeled taxis or Tuk Tuk are suitable for short rides. Fares must be agreed before starting a journey and normally between B40 and B150 relying on the journey distance. The number of tuk tuks in Bangkok is slowly decreasing but it is not hard to find them around hotels and tourist areas.

River Taxis

River taxis, run by Chao Phraya Express River Taxi (telephone: (02) 222 5330), travel up and downstream on the Chao Phraya River, acting more like buses than taxis. They operate from 6.00 am to 6.40 pm daily and fares are from B5 to B15. There are also some special express boats running during the morning and evening rush hours with limited stops. The destinations and stops are indicated by different coloured flags.

Some smaller boats just provide the services from one side of the river to the other. A new service from Chao Phraya Tourist Boat (telephone: (02) 623 6001) runs from Sathorn Pier near the Saphan Taksin Skytrain station to 10 piers near the main tourist attractions and ends at Bamglumpoo Pier. It operates from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm daily and a one-day unlimited pass is about B75.

Motorcycle Taxis

Motorcycle taxis are available and they can maneuver between the cars to reach their destinations faster. Fares are between B20 and B100 relying upon the journey distance. It is compulsory for riders to wear helmets, which are supplied by the driver. Drivers wear coloured vests/tabards for identification and wait at road intersections.

Limousines

Limousines are available to hire and provided by the main car hire companies (see Car Hire below) or at the airport (telephone: (02) 535 2801, terminal 1, counter 7, and terminal 2, counter 5). Limousines to the city from the airport start from B650 with tolls included.

Driving in the City

Driving in the city requires a great deal of patience and a certain stubbornness. Few visitors hire cars, as good knowledge of the city is required to be able to drive around. The density of the traffic and the number of lanes means that you always need to know which lane to drive in. There are many expressways crossing the city with clearly signposted exits but traffic is grid locked during rush hour (7.00 am to 9.00 am and 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm). Traffic direction, entry and exit locations change during the day without warning. Drivers in Bangkok, particularly buses, taxis and motorbikes, are very aggressive and unlikely to give way.

For those who do want to risk driving, car parks are available at a number of the large shopping malls and hotels. Siam Centre on Rama I Road is a convenient place which is open 24 hours a day. A car park costs about B20 for up to 3 hours and B10 for each subsequent hour.

Car Hire

Companies for car hire vary but drivers must be at least 21 or 23 years old and have held a driving licence for 1-2 years. An International Driving Permit and National licence are required.

It is compulsory to buy Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection and they are usually included in the hire price. Customers must make payments by credit card. The office for Avis is at 2–12 Wireless Road (telephone: (02) 255 5300), and Budget is at 19/23 Building A, Royal City Avenue, New Petchburi Road (telephone: (02) 203 0250). Hire of a standard saloon car range from B2,000 a day to B12,000 a week.

Bicycle Hire

On Rattanakosin Island, footpaths have been transformed into cycle paths, which pass places like the Royal Grand Palace and Sanam Luang. Bicycles are available to hire at Bangkok Tourist Bureau (telephone: (02) 225 7612) at a cost of B200 for a full day (deposit B500).

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Getting around information on transportation in Bangkok