Getting Around Bangkok – Public Transportation Guide

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Last Updated on November 23, 2019 by Chef Mireille

Getting Around Bangkok – Public Transportation Guide

Here are all the options for getting around Bangkok and how to navigate them all.

Bangkok Metro

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
  • Bus
  • River Taxis – Ferries
  • Tuk Tuk – a three wheeled vehicle that seats 2 passengers in the back and the driver in the front
  • Taxi

BTS

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.

Travel LR 1

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.

Travel LR 3

MRT

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.

Travel LR 2

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.

BUS

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.

RELATED: BREAKFAST IN THAILAND

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.

Travel TT IG 3

TUK TUK

Tuk Tuk is an open 3 wheel vehicle. The driver is in the front and the passengers in the back.

Travel TT IG 1

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.

Travel TT IG

TAXI

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!

Looking for some unique and interesting tours from Bangkok? Check out Trip Guru!

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Thank you for sharing!

About Chef Mireille

CHEF MIREILLE - AUTHOR, RECIPE DEVELOPER AND PHOTOGRAPHER FOR Global Kitchen Travels
***
Chef Mireille is a NYC based freelance chef instructor and food photographer. Due to her very diverse family background, she was able to travel and learn about global cultures and flavors from a young age. Her passion for culture, cooking, history and education had made her an expert on developing traditional globally inspired recipes & delicious fusion cuisine.
Her extensive travel history provides a plethora of background information and Travel Tips!

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Maria

    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! 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Federica

    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?

    • Chef Mireille

      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.

  6. Chris

    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.

    • Chef Mireille

      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.

  7. Inna

    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

  8. jen

    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.

  9. Mario

    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.

  10. Yukti

    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.

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