When you are in a foreign city, navigating around on the public transport system is pretty difficult. However, as far as public transportation in Bangkok is concerned, the scenario is just the opposite. The system is perfectly thorough and well catered by numerous English signages all around so that travelling on the public transportation network is quite easy.
Visitors to the city have numerous public transport options which they can use for getting around Bangkok. Some of the most notable means of travel are rickshaw, tuk tuk, motorbike and normal taxi, bus, ferry service and metro railways- you also have the option of getting around on foot.
The underground rail and Skytrain systems connect the main business, entertainment and shopping districts in the city of Bangkok while the express boats and river taxis can be used for exploring the many historic attractions and sites lining the riverside. If you are looking for a cheap mode of transport that can be accessed at all times and from anywhere, then taxis are the way to go. Once considered to be the biggest attractions in the city, tuk-tuks are rapidly disappearing from the streets. Nevertheless, it is well worth taking a ride on one of them if you are visiting Bangkok.
Let us now take a look at the various means of public transportation in Bangkok in greater detail.
A convenient and efficient means of navigating around the inner circles of Bangkok, travelling on the Skytrain is cheap enough to permit a ride on which you can enjoy as well as relax. Modern, smooth and hi-tech, this elevated train does not typically run to all parts of the city meaning that you will be required to call upon the services of a tuk-tuk or cab in order to reach your destination.
The various stations are well marked out and tended to while the service is very frequent- you may not be required to wait at all before a train comes along. The Skytrain service can be availed for reaching destinations along the river while the network has numerous hotels along the route, giving you the opportunity to stay away from the horrors of the Bangkok city traffic.
One major issue with this service is that it is not very convenient for the elderly people. As an elevated service, it can be reached only by stairs in most places while only a few have elevator services. The BTS service runs till midnight and was recently extended to many stops to the west of the river. Staying near Siam Center, which is the interchange section of the two BTS service lines, you can cover a vast area of Bangkok by means of this public transport system.
Chao Phraya Express Boat Ferry Service
Travelling on a boat along a river that runs through the heart of a major city in the world, lined with numerous attractions of significance on either side exudes an old world and romantic charm about it. Although the water in the river is not the cleanest and you have a constant spray of smelly water in your face, this scenario does not change. As a result, you should not miss travelling on the Chao Phraya river by means of the Express Boat service.
The Chao Phraya River has as many as five different boat lines running on it: the Tourist Boat line, orange flag line, green flag line, yellow flag line and the one with no flag. Each of these flag signs indicate various purposes. The No-Flag line makes a stop at every pier on the route only when running during peak hours. The green, yellow and orange lines make scheduled stops at various piers throughout the day. Although it is more expensive to travel on the Tourist boat, the journey offers better comfort and you are also provided with an audio guide in English that provides information on the various sightseeing attractions along the riverfront.
Getting into one of the many ferry services in Bangkok is very easy as people along the pier are eager to sell you tickets at local prices. You can also use the service for criss-crossing the river along various routes at reasonable travel prices.
The Metro service ranks as one of the new additions to the public transportation in Bangkok. Although there is only one line in operation at present, tourists will find it very useful for travelling around the city. Moreover, you can really enjoy the modernness and cleanliness of these stations located at the heart of what is otherwise a chaotic city. Interchange stations exist at Asoke and Silom where you get the opportunity to switch between the MRT and BTS services, although using both these networks in tandem is not a handy means. You will be required to but magnetic tokens for travelling on the Metro service while frequent users can consider buying the smartcard.
Bangkok Taxi service
Apart from the BTS and MRT services in Bangkok, taxis rank as one of the easiest means for getting around the city. Most of these vehicles are spacious and new, and while there are such conventional colors such as red-blue and green-yellow taxis in Bangkok, you may just catch a funky colored vehicle with hues such as pink, red and even bright orange. If you are close to one of the many tourist attractions, shopping malls or hotels, then finding a taxi will not be too difficult. However, be prepared to find yourself in trouble if it starts to rain.
Communicating with the taxi drivers can be an issue as they do not have enough knowledge of English. Try to be imaginative and innovate while trying to explain things to them. Meter taxis mostly operate although in some cases, you may be required to make a firm but polite request to the driver to switch on the same so that you are spared the trouble of subsequent negotiations. Spare a thought for the souls at the wheel, weaving through the legendary city traffic all day long and be generous while offering them a tip.
Public bus service in Bangkok
The city of Bangkok boasts an extensive bus network. However, owing to the fact that there are better means of travel available in the city and the bus routes do not offer much information in English, most tourists tend to stay away from this means of public transportation. Nevertheless, if you are keen on experiencing an adventurous journey along with the various aspects of the culture of the city, then taking a bus ride is recommended. If you tell the conductor your desired destination, he will direct you when your stop comes around.
Apart from all of these modern public transportation services there is also the tuk-tuk, the famous and historical transport facility in Bangkok. In fact, many people feel that if you do not ride on this means of conveyance at least once while in the city then your tour is seemingly incomplete. However, it may be advisable that you keep the experience stowed away for a city where the air is less polluted and the road less congested. Tuk-tuks are essentially three-wheeled motorized vehicles that can be found all over the city. They are not metered and the prices have to be negotiated with the drivers. Never consider them to be your primary means of transport as they lack basic comforts and are more expensive as opposed to a taxi. Around some of the tourist sites, the drivers may lead you to shopping districts stating that one of the tourist sites is closed- be aware of their dishonest schemes. Travelling on a tuk-tuk should only be regarded as an experience of heritage and nothing more.
You may have heard of the notorious tales about the city traffic in Bangkok. Sure, all of them are true to the ‘t’. Finding yourself caught up in one of the many traffic gridlocks in the city is an expected occurrence, causing loss of valuable time as a result. However, thanks to the modern and excellent network of public transportation in Bangkok, travelling from one point of the city to another proves to be surprisingly easy.