Visit to Bangkok
Bangkok has two airports operating. Allow at least three hours to connect between them.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport
Suvarnabhumi International AirportSuvarnabhumi International Airport (ท่าอากาศยาน สุวรรณภูมิ) is located about 20 kilometers East of Bangkok City and covers an area of about 8,000 acres. It can easily be reached via either Bangna-Trat Highway or from the Southern Bangna area, depending on the origin of the trip to the airport. A rail link connecting the airport's main building to the city center is being developed and due to open in 2010, in order to facilitate the access to and from the airport to town.
Don Mueang AirportDon Mueang Airport (ท่าอากาศยาน ดอนเมือง) was Bangkok's former airport and it has been reassigned to some point to point domestic flights which are not connecting to international ones as well as charter operated flights. The airport code has been amended to DMK and it is very easily accessible expressway from downtown as well as if needed a connection to the New International Airport can be done easily via the elevated expressways. Since the numbers of flights is very limited, the airport has become very user friendly, and aside of Thai public holidays, is not too crowded. In addition, a Train station is available in short walking distance of the terminal allowing an easy commute to Hua Lomphong main station.
Airport Rail Link(ARL)
Airport Rail Link
The Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link starts its official operation since August 2010. To avoid Bangkok’s congestion, the 28.6 km journey from Bangkok to the international airport is elevated by the services of 30 minutes or less.
The services are comprised of 2 lines, non-stop Express services and City Train services. Both lines operate from 06.00 am. – midnight.
Non-stop Express services start at Suvarnabhumi Airport and terminate at Makkasan Station. The journey takes only 15 minutes and runs every 30 minutes. City Train or Commuter services run between Suvarnabhumi Airport, stop at Lat Krabang, Ban Thup Chang, Hua Mak, Makkasan, Ratchaprarop and Phaya Thai. The journey takes 27 minutes and runs every 15 minutes.
Facilitating the tourists and commuters to travel to other parts of Bangkok, both lines have interchange station at Makkasan Station for MRT (Underground train) at Phetchaburi Station. City Train line is linked at Phaya Thai station for BTS (Skytrain) Phaya Thai Station.
Bangkok Mass Transit System
The new Skytrain Sukhumvit line connecting On Nut and Bearing Stations is due to open for public service on 12 Aug 2011. Everyone can enjoy the free ride on the journey made between these 2 stations from 12 Aug 2011 until 1 Jan 2012.
The BTS Skytrain is the safest, most comfortable and convenient way to get around Bangkok. In service since December 5, 1999, it has transformed the face of public transportation in the Thai capital, for the first time offering both residents and visitors a comfortable ride through central Bangkok - lifting commuters above the chronic congestion, noise and pollution of the streets below.
StationsThe typical station consists of two levels - concourse and platform. The concourse provides ticketing facilities and other passenger amenities as well as access to the system. The platform is for waiting, boarding and alighting from the train. Please be aware that the train may approach the platform anytime, from any direction.
TrainsThe trains are designed to high international standards. Doors open / close automatically. Beeper sounds will warn you when the doors are about to close. If standing please stand clear of the door's at all times.
TrackStay away from the track and electrified rails. Pay attention to all warning signs. Trespassing onto the track area can cause severe injury to yourself or others.
The recently opened underground train system (officially called MRT - Mass Rapid transit) reaches from the Northern train station of Bangsue to Hua Lumphong main railway station in a loop, connecting with the Skytrain on 3 different stations, namely : Silom, Sukhumvit and Chatuchak Park.
There have a similar ticket system as the Skytrain (BTS) but both systems are for the time being not compatible. All stations of the underground train can be reached via ramps and elevators, if needed, or alternatively via escalators.
Finally, what would Bangkok be without the much-loathed, much-loved, tuk-tuks? You'll know them when you hear them, and you'll hate them when you smell them - these three-wheeled contraptions blaze around Bangkok leaving a black cloud of smog in their wake. For anything more than a 5-10 minute jaunt or just the experience, they really are not worth the price - and, if you let them get away with it, the price will usually be 4 or 5 times what it should be anyway (which, for Thais, is around 30% less than the equivalent metered taxi fare). On the other hand, you can sometimes ride for free if you agree to visit touristy clothing or jewelry shops (which give the tuk-tuk driver gas coupons and commissions for bringing customers). The shops' salesmen are pushy, but you are free to leave after five to ten minutes of browsing.
There's also a less-heralded, less-colourful and less-touristy version of the tuk-tuk that usually serves the back sois in residential neighborhoods. They usually have four wheels instead of three and resemble a tiny truck / ute / lorry, and they run on petrol instead of LP. The maids and locals tend to use them to return home from market with loads of groceries, or for quick trips if they're available. Negotiate before you get in, but don't expect to go much beyond the edge of that particular neighborhood.
Local buses, mostly operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), are the cheapest but also the most challenging way of getting around, as there is a bewildering plethora of routes, usually marked only in Thai. If you can speak Thai you can call 184 Bus Route Hotline. Bus stops usually list only the bus numbers that stop there and nothing more. They are also subject to Bangkok's notorious traffic, often terribly crowded, and many are not air-conditioned. If you want to get somewhere quickly and are not prepared to get lost, the buses should be avoided (remember that taxis are cheaper than most local buses in the west). However, they make for a good adventure if you're not in a rush and you don't mind being the centre of attention.
- Small green bus, 6.50 baht flat fare. Cramped, no air-con, no fan, famously suicidal drivers, usually not advisable for more than short hops. Run by private operators, they can be significantly faster than the BMTA-run buses.
- Red bus, 7 baht flat fare. More spacious and fan-cooled (in theory). Unlike other buses, some of these run through the night (1.50 baht surcharge). These buses are BMTA run.
- White/blue bus, 8.5 baht flat fare. Exactly the same as the red buses, but cost one baht more. These buses are owned by private entities operated in conjunction with BMTA.
- Blue/Yellow and Cream/Blue air-con, 11 baht for the first 8 kilometers, up to 18 baht max. These buses are quite comfy. The blue/yellow striped buses are privately owned while the Blue/Cream buses are BMTA owned.
- Orange air-con (Euro II), 13 baht for the first few kilometers, up to 22 baht max. These are all BMTA-run, newer, and more comfortable.
- Pink/white micro-buses - not quite so common away from the city centre - these are air-conditioned, modern and only allow seated passengers (making them harder to use at rush hour as many won't stop for you). Flat fare is 25 baht which is paid into a fare-collection machine located next to the driver - exact fare only.
Buses stop only when needed, so wave them down (arm out, palm down) when you see one barreling your way. Pay the roaming collector after you board and keep the ticket as there are occasional spot-checks. Press the signal buzzer (usually near the door) when you want to get off.
Taxis are a quick and comfortable way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way. All taxis are now metered and air-conditioned: the hailing fee is 35 baht and most trips within Bangkok cost less than 100 baht. There are no surcharges (except from the airport), even at night; don't believe drivers who try to tell you otherwise. A red lit sign on the front window means that the taxi is available. When the meter is switched on you will see a red '35' somewhere on the dashboard or between the driver and you. Be sure to check for this at the start of the ride, as many drivers will "forget" to start the meter in order to overcharge you at the end of your trip. Most will start the meter when asked politely to do so if the driver refuses to use the meter after a couple of attempts, simply exit the taxi. In some cases, late at night and especially near major tourist districts like Khao San or Patpong, you will need to walk a block away to catch a meter cab.
Be sure to either know the correct pronunciation of your destination, or have it written in Thai, as taxi drivers in Bangkok are notoriously bad at reading maps. Most hotels and guesthouses will happily write out addresses in Thai for you. While most drivers will recognize the names of tourist hot spots, even if grossly mispronounced, it is often difficult to properly pronounce addresses in Thai, a tonal language. If your mobile phone works in Thailand, it is sometimes useful to phone your hotel and ask the staff to speak to your driver in Thai. If you're pinching pennies or fussy about your means of transportation, you may wish to think twice before getting into one of the (very common) yellow-green taxis. They are owner-operated and of highly variable quality, and occasionally they have rigged meters. All other colors belong to large taxi companies, which usually enforce their standards better. On some routes, the driver will ask if he should use the Tollway - this will usually save a lot of time. You have to pay the cost at the toll booth (not in advance, and not at the end of the journey). Watch how much the driver really pays, he may try to keep the change.When getting out, try to have small bills (100 baht or less) or expect problems with change. Tips are not necessary, but are certainly welcome; most local passengers will round up, or leave any coin change as tip.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat is a transportation service in Thailand that operates on the Chao Phraya River. It provides riverine express transportation between stops in the capital city of Bangkok and to Nonthaburi, the province immediately to the north. Established in 1971, the Chao Phraya Express Boat Company serves both local commuters and tourists. It also offers special tourists boats and a weekend river tour boat, as well as making boats available for charter. Among the world's great commuter boats, it holds a particular place. Not only for its success in moving large numbers of passengers in a city whose roads are generally criticized for their traffic jams (These boats, along with BTS Skytrain and Bangkok Metro are only methods that can absolutely avoid traffic jam in peak hours on weekdays when people go in and out of city for their workings.), but also for the beauty of the fleet of graceful wooden boats, which is rarely found in today's world of water transportation.
Express Boat Line :1. Local Line Boat (06.20 am. - 08.20 am., 03.00 pm. - 05.30 pm.)
Round trip services from Nonthaburi Pier to Wat Rajsingkorn Pier stopping at 34 piers
2. Express Boat (Orange Flag) (05.50 am. - 07.00 pm.)
Round trip services from Nonthaburi Pier to Wat Rajsingkorn Pier stopping at 18 piers
3. Express Boat (Yellow Flag) (06.15 am. - 08.35 am., 03.30 pm. - 08.00 pm.)
Round trip services from Nonthaburi Pier to Ratburana Pier stopping at 10 piers
4. Express Boat (Green-Yellow Flag) (06.15 am. - 08.05 am., 04.05 pm. - 06.05 pm.)
Round trip services from Pakkret Pier to Sathon Pier stopping at 12 piers.
When traffic slows to a crawl and there are no mass-transit alternatives for your destination, by far the fastest mode of transport is a motorbike taxi. No, those guys in the pink smocks aren't biker gangs; they're motosai cabbies. They typically wear colorful fluorescent yellow-orange vests and wait for passengers at busy places. Prices are negotiable; negotiate before you ride. For the adrenaline junkie, a wild motosai ride can provide a fantastic rush. Imagine weaving through rows of stopped vehicles at 50km/h with mere centimetres to spare on each side, dodging pedestrians, other motorbikes, tuk-tuks, stray dogs and the occasional elephant while the driver blithely ignores all traffic laws and even some laws of physics.
The overwhelming majority of motorcycle taxis do not travel long distances, but simply shuttle up and down long sois (side-streets) not serviced by other transport for a fixed 5-20 baht fare. These are marginally less dangerous, especially if you happen to travel with the flow on a one-way street. The law requires that both driver and passenger must wear a helmet. It is the driver's responsibility to provide you with one, so if you are stopped by police, any fine is also the driver's responsibility. This is worth bearing in mind when you hire a motorbike or moped. Make sure that if there are two of you, the hirer provides two helmets not one. When riding, keep a firm grasp on the seat handle and watch out for your knees.
The three main stations in Bangkok are :
Hualamphong Train StationThe main station and the terminus of the Bangkok Metro line. Located right in the middle of downtown Bangkok, it is a huge and surprisingly nice station, built during the reign of King Rama VI and spared bombing in World War II at the request of the Free Thai underground. The station has a good tourist office. Only listen to the people at the Info desk - anyone walking around offering to help you "find" a hotel or taxi is just a tout, even if they are wearing very official looking badges. Likewise, the second floor shops offering "Tourist Information" are just agents in disguise.
Bang Sue Train StationIf coming from the north or north-east, connecting to the Metro here can shave the last half-hour off your train trip. This is not a very good place to board trains though, as there is practically no information or signage in English. However, this situation will doubtless improve as more and more long-distance departures are switched to here from Hualamphong.
Thonburi Train StationAlso known as Bangkok Noi, this station is on the "wrong" side of the river in Thonburi District and is the starting point for services to Kanchanaburi (via Nakhon Pathom), River Kwae Bridge and Nam Tok.