Transportation in Thailand
Being a developing country you wouldn’t think Thailand’s public transport systems are any good, the thing about travel is never to make assumptions. Surprisingly getting around Thailand with the public transport is not only reliable but it’s very affordable if you know what the price should be. This article will look at the different transport options when travelling around Thailand. Take note of the points below as Thais are known to take a chance when they see foreigners (farang as they refer to us) so knowing the right prices around Thailand will save you a lot of baht and the hassle of bargaining for an amount you aren’t sure of.
Spread Your Wings and Fly
Traveling between different cities and towns around Thailand is pretty easy. If you don’t like the idea of public transport and have a bit of money to spend, then look into your flight options as you can find many reasonable flights out of Bangkok to anywhere in Thailand, and around South East Asia for that matter. When travelling from Bangkok make sure you have looked at flights from both airports. Suvarnabhumi airport is the main international BKK airport, and there is also the Don Muang airport which often has cheaper flights from low cost and budget Asian airlines such as Nok Air and Thai Air.
When flying from Bangkok, make sure to double check which airport you leave from, as the two are a good 30-40 mins apart depending on the traffic, getting the wrong airport could result in disaster. Don’t only make sure you know which airport to go to but be sure the cab driver taking you there also understands. Originally, I was not aware that there were two airports and in my naivety, I asked the cab driver to take me to the airport, so he took me to Suvarnabhumi where the ticket counter told me I had come to the wrong airport, missing my flight to Vietnam. At least you won’t have to learn the hard way.
The Bus for Us
If you’re looking to keep the costs low and have some time to kill then look into the bus options. The options vary between private bus companies, big public transport buses, and then smaller air-conditioned vans or mini-buses. Beware though, as many of the private tour companies offer more than just a bus ride. You will see these massive pink animated karaoke busses everywhere you go, and yes they sing karaoke while you’re on your trip between Bangkok and Pattaya. So if you are up for the experience and don’t need to catch up on sleep then give it a go. Otherwise, you have the normal private tour companies which have comfortable air-conditioned buses and prices are middle-of-the-range. If you are travelling on a budget then the Thai blue and white buses leave from any major bus stop, which costs only 120 baht ($ 4) for2-hour hour drive between Bangkok and Pattaya. I have not yet found these buses online so you need to go to the actual stops for tickets and times. They run a very regular schedule, so plan for an hourly departure. These buses for me are as comfortable as the private ones and a lot cheaper.
Riding the Railway
For a more cultural experience, the train is another option. We took the train from Bangkok down to Petchaburi, which was a really lovely trip. A few points on the train though… When I say cultural experience it really is. The trains are not air conditioned but rather just wide open windows for a warm breeze. They will also be full so if you are travelling alone expect to share your seat with someone. They stop at stations along the journey where various food and drink sellers jump on and try to sell you a variety of Thai snacks.
It is a really amazing way to see Thailand and get a feel for real life, but not the most comfortable. If you are wanting to adventure out of your comfort zone a bit then I advise a train trip, even if just a short one. The trains leave every few hours so it’s easy to just go to a station and jump on the next available train. Our trip cost 90 baht ($ 2.50) and was a 2-hour trip. Once again, don’t look online for trains and prices. You can buy tickets online but they sell them for about 200 baht ($ 6) for the same seat I paid 90 baht for, be mindful with any deals online. Best way to double-check is to look at the reviews on Google.
Transport around Thailand is in many ways similar to the transport we are used to back home. The ease of flying between places and travelling into another country by bus is not new to us, what is great to know is how affordable it is in Thailand. Depending on your budget, comfort preference and travel time you have an array of options to choose from. Being based in Thailand also gives you access to affordable travel to other ASEAN countries which include places such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.
My next article will look at getting around cities like Bangkok and the Chon Buri province which Pattaya, Sattahip and Chon Buri District are apart of. Is Thailand sounding more appealing as a place to teach? Then check out the Thailand Guide. If you have any other questions about getting around Thailand pop me a message on Twitter.
About the Author
Tatum Condon a 27-year-old South African girl with Irish family. Her dream growing up was to be a mechanical engineer for Formula One’s Team McLaren. Any sport which is in water, she does it. Even if the water is frozen, count her in. She is currently teaching and living in the land of smiles, Thailand, while sharing stories of my life adventures and experiences. She hopes you enjoy.