Last Updated on March 30, 2021 by Chef Mireille
Getting Around Bangkok – Public Transportation Guide
Here are all the options for getting around Bangkok and how to navigate them all.
Growing up in a large city where the majority of the population travels by public transportation, navigating public transportation systems is second nature to me. From Bangkok to Paris to Singapore & Amsterdam, one perusal of the bus/train maps and I can usually figure it out quite easily.
People from cities where they drive everywhere are often intimidated by public transport systems and even fear them. As a food/travel blogger, I am a member of many travel and food focused groups on Facebook and I can’t tell you how many people coming to NYC for the first time often ask me is it safe to ride the subway? Isn’t it better to ride taxis? Well sure if you want to leave poor and spend most of your time in traffic! (sarcasm here)
Whenever I travel to any city with a public transportation system, the first thing I do is get a public transport map from the hotel concierge. I spend a few minutes going over it in the hotel lobby so I can ask questions if I need to…and then I’m off! I am a budget traveler and one way I save money is using public transport whenever I travel.
So far, of all the places I’ve visited, Bangkok is one of the easiest metro systems to understand…but let’s first go over all the different way to get around in Bangkok
Bangkok Transportation Systems
- BTS – Bangkok’s above ground metro system – also known as the Sky Train
- MRT – Bangkok’s underground metro system
- River Taxis – Ferries
- Tuk Tuk – a three wheeled vehicle that seats 2 passengers in the back and the driver in the front
Bangkok’s Sky Train has two lines – the Silom Line & The Sukhimvit Line. Siam is the central station where you can connect between the two train lines. You can connect to the MRT at Asok, Mo Chit and Sala Daeng. You can connect to River Taxi services at Ratchathewi or Saphan Taksin, depending which taxi/ferry you are taking. Connections to the Airport Rail Link is also available at select stations.
BTS runs 6:30am-midnight. At the station, is a map with all the stations. Each station has a number to represent it. You enter the number in the machine at the station. A price will come up which is the fare based on distance. Submit your money and you will receive a ticket, which you enter in the turnstile.
MRT is Bangkok’s subway system. You can connect to the BTS at Asok, Mo Chit and Sala Daeng
MRT runs 6am-midnight. Payment on the MRT works much the same as it does on the BTS, but the tickets are not compatible. So if you have an unlimited pass on the BTS, it will not work on the MRT. You must pay separately for MRT & BTS tickets.
General Information for the BTS & MRT
Food & Drink is not allowed and you cannot even be carrying durian in a bag. There are signs everywhere – NO DURIAN. Station announcements are done via voice and a TV screen on the trains in both English & Thai.
Most of the bus drivers do not speak English and since fares are based on distance, it’s challenging to navigate how much to pay and where to get off. For these reasons, I did not utilize the buses in Bangkok. However, if you speak Thai, this is another viable option.
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RIVER TAXI/FERRIES & CANAL BOATS
There are several different river taxi’s and ferries. You can can get a map/schedule from your hotel. This is a less crowded, easier option to go around to visit the different temples and malls. Different boats have different operating hours, so you need to check with which ferry you are taking.
Tuk Tuk is an open 3 wheel vehicle. The driver is in the front and the passengers in the back.
They are windowless and doorless, so not very pleasant if it is raining. They go very fast, so make sure you hold on. Many of the tuk tuk drivers make up their own prices and try to take advantage of tourists in this way. When you get in the tuk tuk, make sure to tell the driver to put on the meter and used the metered fare.
There are air conditioned taxis available also. These have metered fares and will be the most costly of transportation costs. If you want to go places outside the main city like Floating Markets, etc. you can negotiate a flat rate to take you to some of these tourist destinations.
Now you’ve equipped with the low down on getting around Bangkok!
Most of my travel in Bangkok is on the MRT, BTS, River Taxi and occasional Tuk Tuk. I only took a taxi once when I hurt my foot and needed to go to the hospital. – that’s another story I’ll save for a different post!
Use Bangkok’s public transportation options as the most cost effective and efficient ways to get around. Only use taxi’s when there is no other option and limit the use of tuk tuk. You will have lots of extra money for shopping!
Follow this Getting Around Bangkok – Public Transportation Guide and you will find Bangkok super easy to get around!
While Bangkok is a great city and you should definitely spend a few days there exploring, there is so much more to Thailand than Bangkok, Check out this fabulous Thailand 3 week itinerary to make the most out of your Thailand vacation!
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The bus does sound very confusing if you are not familiar and do not speak the language. The tuk tuck definitely looks more fun!
yes I did not even try to take the bus but I definitely had fun riding the tuk tuk!
What a useful post! I’ll take all your recommendations as I’m planning to travel to South East Asia soon! So I really appreciate all your help. You’re the best! 🙂
I’m glad you will find it useful – public transportation is so easy in Bangkok!
Jenn | By Land and Sea
This is really helpful! We are heading to Bangkok soon and have been wondering about the public transportation options. Saving this for later!
I’m glad it is helpful. It is very easy to navigate Bangkok on public transportation. You won’t have any problems.
Jimmy | The Practical Vagabonds
Figuring out public transportation in a new city with a new language is always exciting and somewhat stressful. I just bookmarked this for when we visit next year. Thanks!
I hope I’ve cut out some of the stress for you!
Zenja | Bearly Here
Oh thanks for sharing! I remember one day we took a bus in Bangkok and that was a mess – so this article will definitely be helpful to others 🙂
yes I stay away from the buses 🙂
Follow My Anchor
This is a very informative post about Bangkok transportation! I have been to Bangkok last year and I was actually surprised by how efficient the public transportation is!
yes it is the most time efficient and cost efficient way to travel in Bangkok
Bharat Bhushan Sharma
BTS and MRT sounds like the most friendly ways of transportation. Tuk Tuk appears like an adventurous vehicle.. I would like to experience the Tuk Tuk journey on my way way to Bangkok. Useful information for the people who are having plans to visit Thailand.
Even if you don’t need to, I think experiencing at least one tuk tuk ride is definitely a must when visiting Bangkok
renata - www.byemyself.com
A transportation guide is always a brilliant idea – especially in a slightly chaotic city like Bangkok. I loved taking the subway there, but unfortunately wide parts of the city are not covered. The experience I missed was a bus ride, that’s something I have to do next time I’m visiting Thailand.
true but that’s why the alternative travel options are good to know as they will cover the other areas
While in Bangkok, I used underground trains and also boats and taxi while I refused to spend money on Tuk Tuk as I think it was like spoiling other human beings treats like animals. What was your impression?
these were not man run tuk tuk like they have in India – these were driven by a person with gas pedal etc. They drive the same as a car – only no windows/doors I too don’t think I would want to ride on the ones with a human carrying.
Such a useful post! My kids would love the Tuk Tuk ride 🙂
yes it is quite an adventure – they would have a blast!
Alan @ MorePassportStamps.com
Great post. I’ve never tried MRT, only ever used Tuk Tuk. Did you find it easy to navigate?
yes the public transportation is super easy to understand in Bangkok
I haven’t been in Bangkok, and your post is great for first timer. You did really explain in detail how to use their different transportation.
I hope you find it useful when you eventually make it to Bangkok
Coming from South Africa where public transport is not something that a lot of thought gets put into I can attest that public transport was first a scary thing but it really does help keep your travel budget down! This is a very helpful guide to Bangkok’s public transport.
and for me growing up in NYC I have been taking public transport on my own since the age of 14 when I went to high school – It is always the most convenient and cost effective way to travel in large cities.
Thanks for a thorough and useful article! I’m in Bangkok right now, so this article is very handy for navigating in this huge city
This is awesome as taking long rides in taxis can be very expensive. I don’t like tuktuks though. Sometimes they charge so much for a ride that is very short. I often ride with taxis on short distances. Grab app is very helpful.
that is why I always tell the tuk tuk to use the meter – that way they cant be subjective in what they charge
It really made me snicker as I read about the “No Durian” signs. Nope, I don’t want to smell them either. And for sure not in a closed space such as in a metro.
me too – when I first saw it I thought it was hilarious but there are signs everywhere!
Thanks for sharing this valuable and helpful information about Bangkok transportation
sure I hope you find it useful
Fantastic and informative guide – really clear – this is definitely going to come in handy!
I’m glad – once you figure out how it works it is super easy to utilize
Taking tuk tuks in Thailand was my favorite way to get around! so much fun
yes they are fun and convenient to go where the metro and Sky Train do not
Thanks for sharing a detailed post to get around in Bangkok. I love to use public transportation and this is very helpful for me atleast. Ferries must be interesting to use here. As those tuk-tuks are also run in India with automatic system not a person dragging. We call them Auto, you could see plenty of them in Mumbai too. And believe me that tuktuks or Auto (what we call) are the most interesting and airy ride with open air and runs like a tri- scooter.
Ferries were my favorite – less congestion than the metro and Sky Train and very cheap! They have scheduled stops so it works very efficiently