My personal travel style is to walk all over a city and explore all the “touristy” nooks and the “non-touristy” corners but we have come to realize that a majority of Asian cities, due to their size and weather, don’t give you that flexibility.
Now Bangkok is a big and a spread out city with quite a few things to see and do that are strewn all over the place. So while traveling here, we had to rely a lot on public transport – some was easy to figure out, while some was quite painful. So I decided to put together this post as a quick introduction / short intro guide to help anyone get a basic sense of public transport and find their way around and about this city.
Location to stay in Bangkok – In Bangkok you don’t have any dearth of choices (both in terms of kind and budget) of places to stay in, in any area. Based on what you are hoping to visit or do in Bangkok you can select the locality and the type of accommodation. For a quick introduction, you can visit this site – http://www.bangkok.com/where-to-stay.htm. Personally I believe that the Sukhamvit road is a good location to stay in. It’s quite a cosmopolitan area with efficient public transport systems like the BTS Skytrain, MRT Metro, Buses and Taxis and all kinds of accommodations available. A lot of people choose to stay in Khao San Road but the problem here is that you’re not near either of the Skytrain or the Metro stations and this is one corner of the city. Also you need to take a river express boat down everytime to the nearest BTS station.
Airport to the City – There are various ways to reach the city from the Airport. You can collect your luggage and walk out of the first gate and there are sign boards all over. You can go down one level to Basement 1 for Buses and Taxis and to Level 2 for the train into the city. A taxi to the city costs between 300 – 400 baht (including the toll charges). Either take a metered taxi or fix the fare beforehand and don’t pay more, no matter what the taxi driver says.
We decided to take a train and went to Basement Level 2. Here you can just decide where you want to go and buy the tickets from a machine. The machine does not accept denominations of more than 200 baht and if you need change then you need to go to the counter on the side and they provide the right change.
There are 2 kinds of trains here – the City Line and the Express Line. The Express Line is much more expensive but there is not much difference in terms of time taken to the city. Hence we took the cheaper city line train ticket for 35 baht.
We were staying at the Sukhamvit road and for that you need to take a train from the airport to Makkasan station. At this station you can either take a taxi at the same level as the platform (we sat here for 45 minutes but there was no taxi) or the MRT. Since we didn’t get the taxi we decided to take the MRT. For the MRT, you have to walk down 2 levels (there are signages all over) and step out of the station door on the road. You need to walk along the road for about 5 minutes and then cross the road and turn right and continue walking on the right side of the road. After a 2 minute walk you will see the Phetchaburi MRT station. You can take an MRT here to Sukhamvit road and then walk or take a cab to your hotel. It seems quite long and tedious but it’s quite convenient.
Exploring Bangkok / Commuting within Bangkok – You can explore Bangkok on all means of transportation – Taxis, Buses, MRT, BTS, Buses, Tuk-Tuks, Boats and Foot. You can check the following link for additional details on the same – http://www.transitbangkok.com/ and http://www.bangkok.com/information-travel-around/ .
A few tips for the Trip –
- The traffic in Bangkok is quite monstrous, hence taxis tend to take a lot of time to get you anywhere. In case you are taking a taxi, always go by the meter and never pay more than what the meter shows.
- We stuck more to the BTS and the MRT. They are really fast, convenient and take you to all the touristy and the not so touristy places. The BTS and the MRT also show the nearest stations for the tourist places. The map of the BTS and MRT is –
- Be careful when taking a tuk tuk especially in the touristy areas. They first tend to take you to the touristy places and then the scam starts where they take you to gem stores, travel agencies, etc.
- For Ferries – There are 2 kinds of ferries available here. One for the regular everyday passengers and one for the tourists. The tourist boat is an express boat and stops at very few stops but it’s also 3 times the fare. We took the local boats and they were super fast and convenient.
- We didn’t need to take any buses but believe they are quite convenient as well.
- Always ask at the hotel on how to reach wherever you are headed out to and avoid asking anyone on the road for directions.
- I will provide the actual details on reaching any place by public transport in all the subsequent posts on sightseeing and shopping in Bangkok.
While I have tried to list down the basic outline about traveling within Bangkok, please feel free to post comments on any additional points that I may have missed out.