I am going to start doing smaller posts on Friday about things around town, so if you have a question about something in Thailand, let me know and I’ll write it up for you!
To start, as James pointed out, we have not driven in over SIX months! And I can honestly say, I’ve not missed it once. For one, the roads are completely crazy and I’m generally waiting for a crash but also the public transportation around Bangkok is so good there is just no need!
Here are some of the many wonderful ways to get to and from –
Skytrain – Think of it as a subway that’s above ground, it also goes by “BTS”.
- The Good – it is my favorite because it takes me to many a great art center or mall and is air conditioned! It goes all through the city, above ground, avoiding traffic. They are a great way to see the city from a bird’s eye view.
- The Bad – They actually tend to be very cold inside and quite jerky. Definitely use the handrails!
- The Price: Depends on distance but starts around 66 cents. Tickets to a destination can be purchased or a card is available for frequent users.
Subway – Think of them as subways, below ground, because they are. Also called the “MRT”.
- The Good – currently, my main form of transportation, again, going all throughout the city for a pretty reasonable price and no traffic jams! They are typically not as jerky as the Skytrain.
- The Bad – These are not consistent with being air conditioned or having low humidity but they get the job done. Your view is darkness out the window but non-stop commercials play on the monitors!
- The Amazing – It is truly incredible around 5pm how many people will squeeze into a train. I typically think, well no one else is fitting and someone will run from behind me and squeeze in. Where India is perhaps king for people on a train, the Thai would give them a good run for their money on the subway.
- The Price: Again, depends on the distance but starts around 66 cents. Tickets to a destination can be purchased or a card is available for frequent users, just not the same card as the Skytrain. MRT is a unique and special snowflake.
Vans – Mini-vans to be exact, holding about 13 people (including driver).
- The Good – they have signs that list where they are going, in Thai, so of no help to me. I get to play a matching game each time I go out to the nursery school: “a, two squiggly lines, w, backward r, u, l, n, u, dot”. I spy: สะพานใหม่! I win! I’ve not gotten on the wrong van yet (although I’m never 100% sure as I board!).
- The Bad – The vans cue up at the Skytrain and will wait until every last seat is filled. AC or fan is typically going but not always the most comfortable way to travel and don’t worry about seat belts, you are not going to find a working one!
- The Price: Cheap! Ranging from 66 cents to a dollar, for 40 minute rides.
Taxis – as in most languages, “Taxi!”
- The Good – My favorite part about taxis is how they are decorated. Their dashes are covered in knickknacks or their inner roof is covered in religious symbols for protection. I love sneaking photos of them or just letting my eyes track over all of their decorations.
- The Bad – the custom is to ask the driver if they will take you to your destination THEN get in. Being from Florida, I am from an un-taxi culture so I’m always shocked when they say no.
- Tips –
- Make sure they turn on the meter, it will typically less than the price they offer you.
- Look at the street before getting out – scooters are everywhere and injuries to you or the scooter driver can occur.
- The Price: Meter starts at a little over a dollar, they will drive you great distances, so long as you have the baht and agreeable driver!
Scooters – for hire in the orange vests, they are like mini-taxis that go short distances, while you hold on to the bar for dear life (not the driver).
- The Good – They will efficiently get you to where you need, be it up a sidewalk or around other vehicles, they’ll get you there!
- The Amazing – It constantly astounds me the female riders who sit side-saddle and read a book or check their phone while the driver speeds down the road. They have serious skills, all in skirts and high heels.
- The Bad – Walking on the sidewalk, there is forever one behind me, annoyed I am in their way – ON THE SIDEWALK!
- The Price: These are quite cheap but the distances are also quite short, from 33 to 66 cents.
Tuk-Tuk – three-wheeled harbingers of DOOM or overpriced taxis, as I like to think of them.
- The Good – their benefit is that where taxis adhere more to the lines on the street,the Tuk-Tuk drivers take them more as suggestions, so you can get to your place quicker, and with far more drama. “Will this one kill me or the next on?”
- The Amazing – They are also frequently overcrowded with people, which makes another fun I-Spy game of how many people you can you spot in one.
- The Bad – They are more expensive than taxis, no AC and you are in the elements should it start to rain.
- The Price: most fares start at $2-3. They are popular in the more touristy areas and you can guarantee to pay more than a taxi.
Buses – just like a bus, some air conditioned, some open-air.
- The Good – They are cheap and can take you far.
- The Bad – they are labeled with numbers and signs listing where they go, but only in Thai and their website defining locations always seemed to be wrong. We would take to spending 30 minutes waiting for a bus with a number we were “sure” about. (Glad we moved.)
- The Price: Buses are surprisingly inexpensive, about 50 cents can take you great distances. We could never figure out more than getting down to the Skytrain though.
Water Taxi – or Water Bus. Thailand has many “khlong” or waterways around town and so there is public transportation that makes use of these.
- The Good – it’s pretty cool that they make use of the waterways and they can get you long distances quickly.
- The Bad – The khlongs are filled with lots and lots of crap, so the plastic sheet that is pulled up on each side is very helpful for avoiding water sprayed on your face (because yuk, it is gross). I am also sure each time I get in one that I will end up in said water but so far so good!
- The Price – Again, these can take you long distances for about 50 cents; just be sure to firmly grip the rope as you pull yourself out of the boat!
Other methods available are trains and, of course, walking (if you don’t mind smog). Given the option, I think this would be my preferred method around town though: