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Bangkok Guide: How to get around?

by Sanne
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Bangkok Guide - How to get around

BTS SKYTRAIN

One of the most efficient ways of getting around in Bangkok is the BTS Skytrain. A Skytrain trip is slightly more expensive than other means of transportation in Bangkok, but in return you can enjoy a fully air-conditioned ride on an elevated track above all the hustle and bustle on the streets below.

There are several ticket types available including single-journey tickets and one-day passes, but if you are in Bangkok for more than a day or two, I would suggest that you get a Rabbit Card, which is a rechargeable smart card.

The Rabbit Card is sold at the ticket offices at all BTS stations. The minimum amount required for a Rabbit Card is 180THB, which includes 80THB in issuing fee and 100THB available for rides. The Rabbit Card also functions as an electronic wallet, so you can use it as a method of payment in several fast food places and cafes.

You can top up the card at any BTS ticket offices as well as in a number of other outlets. The minimum top up amount is 100THB. As an example, a ride from Thonglor to Siam costs 34THB, so expect to charge the card with around 500THB if you’re in Bangkok for a week and plan on using the Skytrain a lot.

>Visit the Rabbit Card website for more info.

GRABTAXI AND UBER

The last couple of times I’ve been to Bangkok, I’ve only used Uber or GrabTaxi to get around. You don’t have to deal with taxi drivers, who don’t want to turn on the meter, and you avoid the troubles of explaining where you’re going. It’s more expensive than taking a regular taxi, but still dirt cheap compared to what a taxi ride costs in the US and so worth the money. Download the apps, and you’re good to go.

BUS

Getting around by bus is cheap but can be very confusing to the uninitiated, and personally, I never take the bus unless I feel adventurous and want to explore the city in a different way, because I never manage to get to the right destination. If you still feel like giving it a go, visit the Transit Bangkok website for more information on routing and prices.

>Visit the Transit Bangkok website

MOTORCYCLE TAXIS

Motorcycle taxis are by far the quickest and cheapest way to get around the city, but it’s not for the fainthearted, so be prepared for several near-death experiences and nerve-racking encounters. This kind of transportation is definitely not for everyone, and personally, I only use motorcycle taxis as a last resort, such as when I was late for my appointment for LASIK surgery and took a motorcycle taxi across the city. I hope my mom isn’t reading this.

The drivers wear orange vests with numbers on the back, and down most sois, there are motorcycle stations. The drivers usually operate with fixed prices for shorter distances within the neighborhood, but for longer rides, you’ll need to negotiate a price. It is required by law to wear a helmet when riding a motorbike, but most local passengers go without a helmet and don’t expect the driver to offer you one unless asked. If the driver doesn’t carry a spare helmet, find someone who does.

Remember that even though the drivers are really experienced and know the area, accidents still happen, and you’re very exposed, when riding pillion. Also notice that a lot of travel insurances do not cover motorcycle accidents so check in advance that you are covered.

TAXI 

Taxi rides are inexpensive in Bangkok, but since many taxi drivers are from other parts of the country, they may have difficulty finding their way to lesser-known hotels and neighborhoods. It is therefore advisable to bring the address of your destination (in Thai) or a phone number. You can hail a taxi directly on the streets. If they are available, a red light in the corner of the windshield will be on. Most taxi drivers only carry enough change for s couple of hundreds Bahts, so make sure you have some of the smaller notes at hands.
Some taxi drivers will try to negotiate a ‘fixed-price’. It is in almost all cases more expensive, than if you choose a metered ride. To and from the airport you have to pay a road tax on top of the meter amount.

TUK-TUK

You either love them or hate them, these charming half car, half motorbikes. They are noisy and smelly and not particularly fast nor comfortable. Nowadays, tuk-tuks are mostly used by tourists, and they are often nicely decorated. The price is negotiated in advance (and it is not particularly cheap). The greatest tuk-tuk concentration is found around Khao San Rd. and other tourist-dense areas. If the price for a ride is unusually cheap and the ride includes various ‘sightseeing’ stops, you should watch out, since many tuk-tuk drivers are paid by various gemstone dealers and tailors to fool naive tourists to visit their business, where they will try to make you buy goods of poor quality.