Transport in Thailand
Unless you are happy to sit by the pool for the duration of your stay, you are going to come across some if not all of the various types of transport available.
Based upon our own experiences this page has oodles of information on the different types of Thailand transport. From how to easily get a taxi when your hot and flustered (and your little one is driving you to distraction!), to the best way to see the sights. We have been there and done it all, so read on and benefit from our experiences (good and bad) to make travelling round Thailand a sinch!
Taxi & Private Taxi
When catching a taxi in Bangkok, the driver is obliged to put his Meter on. If your driver refuses to do not get into an argument about it, smile, leave the taxi and find another one, there are plenty of Taxis in Bangkok and it is rare to wait for more than a couple of minutes.We also tend to wait for the newer vehicles - some of the older ones don’t look road worthy.
Look for the red light on the left corner of the dashboard this tells you if the Taxi is available for hire. To flag a taxi down do not wave with your palm up (this means goodbye in Thai) instead point your hand to the ground and wave your hand up and down.
A taxi driver may also try and sell you a tour/shopping/hotel room. Smile, leave taxi and find another one.Taxi drivers are of course not fluent in English but if you are asking to go to a fairly famous destination and he says he doesn’t know, smile, get out of taxi and find another one. It is always useful to have your destination written down in Thai and take a map and point out where you want to go. If they still looked bemused then have the number of the restaurant/hotel etc keyed into your phone. Call the number and hand the phone to the taxi driver!
Tiny Tip: If you are hot and stressed out and the last thing you feel like doing is bartering with a taxi driver, head to the lobby of a big hotel. They will summon a taxi for you and tell them your destination in Thai and they also take down the taxi details which normally means you have no meter issues either!
The driver may ask you if you want to go on the Expressway. You will of course pay the toll. The tolls are not expensive and could cut out a lot of traffic (especially at peak times). Be aware the Expressways are faster roads and if you think your driver is driving like a bit of a nutter then may be best to keep him slowed down by traffic!
Inside the taxi look for the drivers ID (usually on the dashboard), ID Plates on the doors, and government lock on the Meter. If there is no ID plates on the doors and no Driver ID, get out of the Taxi.
If the taxi smells of alcohol or the driver seems drowsy ask the driver to pull over and get another taxi.
Airport Taxi – Go to the second floor and find the taxi booth. The person will ask you your destination, they write it down in Thai for you and join the queue. To catch a Taxi from this rank will cost you 50 baht, but the drivers details are taken down so you are much less likely to be ripped off. Avoid any Taxi drivers that are inside the airport. To avoid the 50 baht fee and queue at Departures you could always head over to arrivals and pick up one of the taxis dropping someone off.
Tiny Tip: If you leave something in the Taxi phone the Taxi Hotline: 1164 and give the Taxi ID number (number from the door). Offer a small reward and you hopefully will get your lost property back!
You will encounter one of these Taxi driving problems when in Bangkok, but as with everything in Thailand a bit of humour goes a long way! If you think they are driving around the houses make a joke of it, letting the Taxi driver know that you know he is ripping you off, but without him having to lose face (a big part of the Thai culture). Confrontation is not going to get you anywhere, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and pay a bit more money. The taxi drivers do not earn very much and if they do a good job please leave them a tip.
Tiny Tip:When you have reached your destination and are about to get out of the taxi ALWAYS check for motor cyclists on either side! They are everywhere in Bangkok!!
Now When speaking in Thai always be polite. To make a sentence polite you put Kha (if you are female) and Khrap (if you are male) at the end of every sentence.
I want to go – "Pai (destination wanted) Kha
"Please could you Use the meter - "Chuay Chai meter duay kha"
Turn left – "lee-o-Sai"
Turn right – "lee-o-kwa"
Slow down – "cha cha noy "
Please park here - "chuay –jort– tini duay kha"
How much – "Thao rai kha?"
Thank you – "Khap Khun Kha"
If you are travelling for a longer distance (for example Bangkok to Hua Hin) you may want to use a Private Taxi firm. The price is fixed at the start for a single or return fare.
These are three wheeled taxis. A cabin compartment is added to a motorbike. They are open sided so you get to experience the sights, smells and sound of Thailand (whether you want to or not). You cannot miss a Tuk Tuk they make a loud "tuk tuk" sound! They do not have seat belts or safety seats for children and in general will fit two people at a time. We would tend to use a tuk tuk for the experience rather than using them on a daily basis.They are in most places in Thailand and prices will vary depending on what area of Thailand you are and how far you want to go. You will be charged more than a local, fact. Smile and barter with good will and in Thai if possible (look at the numbers section) it goes a long way and just makes the game fun.
Tiny Tip: As a rule always barter whatever price quoted. A half to a third off the price is where you would aim to negotiate to.
These are an adapted pick up or a larger truck and are used as a shared taxi. They have two wooden benches in the back (no seatbelts or child seats). Colours dictate route and type of songthaew, these are all regional. They are cheap and cheerful. Flag a songthaew down and jump into the back and when you want to get off press the bell (usually on the ceiling), jump off and pay the driver. Some Songthaew drivers will take you to your exact destination but you will pay extra for it and only if it has no other passengers onboard.
Thailand has a good rail network and is a cheap way to get around the country. You get a real taste of Thailand on these trains and it makes travelling around the country fun. You can get trains from Chiang Mai in the North to Had Yai (near the Malaysian border), from the Laos border, Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and beyond.
It is a safe way to travel around the country but due to the track being narrow and single tracked for most of the journey, it can be slow, but that adds to the beauty of it! Often going through countryside with lovely views. There are different classes of travel and if you are going up To Chiang Mai or down to the Islands an overnight train could be an option!
BTS -Sky Train & MRT -Underground Train
Thailand The Sky Train is a great way to get around the City and also get your bearings! AIr conditioned this train sails above the chaotic traffic below. Tickets are bought from machines at the stations and are self explanatory. Most of the skytrain stations do not have lifts or escalators so pop baby in a baby carrier if this is how you want to get around town. The sky train runs along Suckumvit and Silom and will take you all the way to the River! Making travelling around Bangkok easy peasy! The Thai people love children and if there are no spare seats on the train and they see you with littlies someone will give their seat up for them! This is a lovely way to travel especially if the taxis are a bit fast for your liking!
MRT -The underground trains are modern and effiecient. They are easy to use and not expensive.
Tiny Tip: The Sky Train is a really easy way of getting to the Chathchak weekend market. Catch the Train to Mo Chit Station and then just follow the crowds! It also makes for a handy quick & cool get away when you have finished!!
Thailand has many domestic routes to get you around the country. Of course this is the quickest way to get around the country so if time is pressing this is for you!
Some Airlines that fly around Thailand include:
Nok AirAsia Air