There are many ways to get around in Thailand.
Within this section, I introduce different possibilities to travel and the pros and cons for different reasons.
First time in Bangkok?
If you travel individually and arrive at the international airport of Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi, the first challenge is to get out of the airport to a destination that is as you wish. Me, for example, I know the city a little, enough to know that I want to get out as fast as possible. I can either do that by getting a lift from my wife:)haha or with a bus, which is the cheapest way or with a taxi. If you choose the taxi, there is a small trick you can use, you go to the top level, the departure gates and check a cab up there. There you won’t have to queue. But still, use my advise that comes later down in this post.
I have my ritual: After passing the arrival gate first I change some small money, as the rates at the airport are quite bad but some money I will need to get to the next money exchange (Which can be any bank by the way) or I use one of the many ATMs. Second I get me a coke or something an go outside to get a taste of the climate and smoke a cig and feel happy to be here. Then I sit in my car and start driving in the preferred direction. This is not really advisable for first timers, even me it costs quite some nerves the first one or two hours until I am out of the worst city chaos.
If you decide to rent a car anyway, there are four main directions you will have to follow. At the beginning, there are actually only two, direction Bangkok or direction Chon Burri but you need to get on highway 7. I won’t get more into this, it is too complicated and in the end when you rent a car make sure there is a working GPS on board. Make sure it is switched to English, enter your destination and hit the road, good luck.
Don’t drive inside Bangkok the first time you visit Thailand it’s very busy and I would call it dangerous as long as you don’t have some experience in driving on Thailand’s streets. Not forget we drive on the left side. If you have to drive through Bangkok by car, make sure to use a tollway. There is less traffic and less chance to get lost.
Most backpackers hit for the Khao San Road area downtown.
When You get to Khao San, don’t think this is the real Thailand. I guess there are more western visitors than Thai citizens. There though you will find about every offer Thailand has to give. I was there the first time in Thailand and booked a bus/boat ride to Kho Tao for a reasonable price.
Plan at least one night in Bangkok. It’s a very big city and you rely on arrivals, departure times of buses or trains. Bangkok is an interesting place with lots to see and definitely part of exploring real Thailand. Tons of markets and temples. But not for me, too many people and pollution.
Another famous street where you find many hotels in all price classes is the Sukhumvit Road. This is a very long street that goes right through the main part of Bangkok. Interesting places you will find around Sukhumvit 24, it is well known and the Skytrain gets you there too.
Once you have a room in Bangkok you can start planning the next steps.
You can get anywhere you want in Thailand with public transport and very cheap too. But you should know where you want to go. A quick way to get around Bangkok is by the sky train. Today the sky train to Suvarnabhumi Airport, the main international airport in Bangkok, is connected and in use. For your return back home from Bangkok, I have a little interesting link here. I would advise a drive with one of the tuck-tucks, just for fun. Choose a market or another sightseeing point and let yourself be driven there, through the traffic with the best view and a pace that lets you suck in the metropolitan spirit. Be aware of rush hours though, in the morning until about nine and evening from four to seven are bad times to be on the road in Bangkok, then it is time to use the motorbike taxis.
The fastest and most convenient way to get to your next bigger destination is by plane. There are very low priced inland flights in Thailand. In fact, sometimes it’s the cheapest way to get around Thailand. Sure you miss out all the beautiful views on the way. To book your flights in Thailand I recommend to use Traveloka, which is an online booking service that gives you the best deals in and outside of Thailand. You can book, pay and get your ticket all on your smartphone, easier it will not get.
There are Three big bus terminals in Bangkok.
The first and biggest is Mo Chit. From Mo Chit you get busses to the northern, northeast, east and central provinces and cities. There you find government and privately operated bus companies as well as minibus and regular and VIP buses.
To get there is easy with the Skytrain or by any other transportation. It is really a huge terminal where you can find shops and restaurants of all kinds all year long 24-7.
Just be aware of public holidays, you might not find a single seat during these times so better make a reservation. Mainly around new years and Songkran. That is the same at all terminals, millions of Thais move around the country during these times.
Sai Tai Mai, the Southern Bus Terminal you want to use if your destination is the southwest of Bangkok. Cha Am or Krabi or Phuket, all these destinations are served by the southern bus terminal. The easiest way to get to the terminal is by taxi. There as well you will get food and everything else you might need in the last second before departure.
Don’t drink too many liquids before leaving for a bus trip, many buses don’t have toilets and they will not stop for you. They do stop about every four to five hours at rest areas where there usually are eating, drinking possibilities and a run for the toilets of course.
Last but not least, the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai). This is where you want to come when your destination is southeast of Bangkok, like Trat or Pattaya Kho Chang or Kho Samet and to the Cambodian border. The Terminal is also reachable by the Skytrain or by taxi. It is a much smaller Bus Terminal than the others but you still find some small foods and drink and ATM.
You can choose from a variety of bus services. The VIP, two-story Bus gets you to almost every well-known destination. You can book tickets in advance and the prices are not much higher than the regular bus.
The regular bus ” rod bus ” get’s you everywhere in real Thailand. It will stop many times, so you can smoke or use the toilet. Maybe you have to change the bus sometimes but the service is very good and you are taken care of. Drinking alcohol and smoking is not allowed inside all buses. Exploring real Thailand in the regular bus adds a lot of adventure to your trip. You meet the locals, see many places. At most stops, there are local markets very close by, where you can get some food or gifts. Ask the driver when he plans to take off to the next stage. Most Thais don’t speak much English but with a little inspiration, hands, and feet you will be understood.
Last but not least there are the minibus ” rodtu ” transport companies. These are very common for they get you from point to point. These are air-conditioned vans for max 12 people but often I am almost alone in a bench and can lie down. The prices are a bit higher than the regular bus but cheaper than VIP. You ask for “lodtu / rodtu, pai” Phetchabun, at the Mo Chit Terminal for example and someone will surely help you find the exact location where they take off.
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A nice way to get around in Thailand is by train.
It is the old style of getting around in Thailand. The new highspeed trains are in discussion but I think far ways from being realized. For long distant trips, the rail is a very good choice to explore real Thailand. The train does not move too fast and you can take a ride during the day, so you have the chance to enjoy the view on the way. Rocking and rolling along the beautiful nature and through towns and villages. With the train, your trip can have a romantic touch where you sense smells, sounds and views of an exotic country.
The Thai railway net is quite well enlarged. You can get to all main corners of the country and every “line” starts or ends in Bangkok Central Train Station “Hua Lamphong”.
The Train also carries you to the borders of Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. The most used trips by foreigners are the ones to Chiang Mai in the north and Krabi in the south. To get to Chang Mai from Bangkok, for example, will take you about 15 hours and costs around 800 Baht, which is not bad for an almost 700-kilometer trip. This is a second class sleeper ticket in an airconditioned wagon. You can move freely inside the train and food is sold on board too.
There are several different classes you can choose from, starting third class up to first, where you’ll have air con. a sink two beds in your little room. Best you get yourself informed right here on the Thailand train website, here you get all information and can also book in advance. It is advised to book sleep separates one or two months in advance during high season and a week during low season. On Thai holidays you have to be lucky to get a seat.
Taxi cabs take you anywhere you want
When you use taxis, insist on meter taxi, don’t get in before you get confirmation that the driver is ok with that. Don’t get in! I know it’s very busy and hot in Bangkok and you are tired but you save a lot of money if you insist.
For long distance rides, there must be a price list inside of the taxi on the back of a front seat. There should also be a note that shows the rates per kilometer and minute and the minimum fee you have to pay. If you have the time and want to go a long distance, talk with the driver, look at the price list and try to get a discount. I once went to Ubon Ratchathani from Suvarnabhumi airport at night. It was around 10 thousand Baht but the driver was nice, I could sleep and we found the house in the small village in the middle of nowhere.
You can rent a car at any destination you like
For me, the best way to explore real Thailand is by car. The independence and free moving are important to me. The best offers for car rentals you get if you click here.
Thank you – “Kop Khun Khap”
Now the first words you should learn are “sa wa dee khap” and “cop khun khap” hello and thank you. For a female, it is “khaa” not “khap”. If you are exploring real Thailand, you want to use these two terms as real Thai people appreciate if you say these two things. Don’t try to shake hands, no one shakes hands here.
Our unique guided trip to the southern Thailand
By the way, if you intend to travel through Thailand by foot, I recommend you get yourself a pair of really good flip-flops:). This is a website created to help sponsor this Thailand website. If you buy any products on the flip-flop site, I will earn a small commission but your purchasing price will not be influenced.
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