End of June marks my third month in Thailand and I’ve learned A LOT about getting around in Bangkok!
I’ve spent so much time in Bangkok and I feel so comfortable getting around now.
Getting Around in Bangkok
When we first landed in Bangkok, I only knew that we had to get the Airlink and then the MRT to get to our Airbnb!
Check out my video about when we first got to Thailand.
The Airlink and the MRT are definitely the cheapest way to get to Bangkok from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Many people do take a taxi but I have found that taxis get very expensive very quickly!
So to make a bit more sense, I’m going to classify the transport into 2 categories: in Bangkok and everywhere else. This post will be about Bangkok only because there is so much to say!
Tips & Tricks
Getting around in Bangkok is easy if you know how! When I first got here I thought we could simply walk from one place to the next in a few minutes; I was SO wrong!
Bangkok is HUGE and the best ways to get around is by using the Bangkok Skytrain (BTS), the Bangkok Metro (MRT) or even the Bangkok Airlink.
The BTS runs over the city (light green and dark green) and the MRT (blue) runs under the city. The Bangkok Airlink (purple) runs to the Suvarnabhumi airport but there are stations along the way that you could use.
I have a few tips when it comes to using the BTS. The BTS definitely is a great way of getting around in Bangkok and I actually prefer to use the BTS over the MRT. Here are my 7 tips for using the BTS when getting around in Bangkok:
Have about 100 Baht in coins
It is definitely possible to pay with notes but the queues are often longer whereas the ticket dispensers are super quick. The ticket dispensers, however, only accept coins.
1 Baht coins don’t always work
Linking into above, I’ve had to cancel a ticket because the 1 Baht I need and the only one I had did not work with the machine. Many of the 1 Baht coins do not work with the reverse osmosis water machines as well.
Carry as little as possible
It is possible to have luggage and backpacks, but the security guards always check your backpacks. I’ve never had a problem but it does become a hassle when it’s busy and there are crowds.
Don’t carry any open drinks or food
I usually buy something that can close, food and drinks, so that I can throw it in my bag when we walk through; the security has never given me trouble about this.
Get a day pass
If you’re going to use the BTS a lot, get the day pass. You have unlimited rides of the entire day and it’s only about 140 Baht. I’ve used this day pass once and it was great. We even used the day pass to pass through a station so that we could use the walkways.
Have a map of the BTS stations
Keep a map on your phone of all the BTS stations or you can use the back of your BTS ticket. This helps when you’re sort of lost and you can find your way back. I’ve gotten lost and used the BTS to find my way back home. The trains also have maps that show which way you’re going.
Avoid peak traffic
Avoid the BTS any time from 7:00 to 8:30 and 17:00 to 18:30. This is when many people are going home and the trains are full! I don’t have any problem with a crowd but when you have a camera and cash, it definitely gets your nerves up.
There are 2 sections to the BTS and make sure you are using the right one. I’ve taken the wrong train a few times and had to go back to the previous station; luckily you do not have to buy a new ticket if you haven’t left the station yet.
The MRT is a great option for getting to places where the BTS does not go. Here are my 6 tips for using the MRT when getting around in Bangkok:
Smaller notes are best
The ticket dispensers accept notes but they only give change in coins, usually 5 Baht and smaller. I’ve had to use a 100 Baht note and I got SO many 5 Baht coins it was ridiculous! Keep your 20 Baht notes, a 50 Baht would also be fine.
Prepare for stairs
Stairs are fine if you have a backpack but a big bag with wheels is not so great. I know there is such a thing as an escalator but I did not think of it at the time!
Keep an eye out for the station entrance
The entrances look like typical subway entrances that lead underground. I’ve walked past one and missed it entirely, so look around and be aware of your surroundings.
The security guards are much more relaxed and rarely check your bag properly.
1 Baht coins
Same as with the BTS, try not to use 1 Baht coins or have a few backup coins.
Check the train name
I’ve gotten onto the wrong train SO many times in the MRT! Be sure you are getting onto the right train and make sure you know which way you are going. The stations look very similar and being underground does not help with my already crappy sense of directions.
A songthaew is super cheap and very local! I’ve used a songthaew a few times and they are very easy to find. There are honestly not too many tips surrounding these but be sure to be open to using them. Songthaews may drive a fixed route, cheaper, or may ask you where you’re going, more expensive.
~~Tuk-Tuks and Scooter Taxis~~
Tuk-Tuks and scooter taxis are definitely cheaper than normal taxis but are still more expensive than the BTS and MRT over long distances.
Always try to negotiate but don’t be rude; they also need to make their money.
2 Types of tuk-tuks
There are 2 types of tuk-tuk: government and other (I can honestly not remember the word right now). The government tuk-tuks are much cheaper! You have to check their license for some sort of a sticker but I’ve only encountered one of these.
I am generally nervous when I’m on a scooter taxi or tuk-tuk and I hold on for dear life! Despite pulling my face and fearing for my life, scooter taxis and tuk-tuks are definitely fast and fun.
Taxis are can be expensive and they quickly add up to a big chunk of your money. A taxi is great when you are out at night and you need to get home or when you know that other modes of transport will not be able to get you there. So here are my 5 tips when using a taxi to get around in Bangkok.
Insist on using the meter
Taxi drivers may take a chance and ask you how much are you willing to pay. I always insist on using the meter because then I know they cannot ask a ridiculous amount. A taxi driver once offered to take me about 25 km for 700 Baht; with the meter, it worked out to 270 Baht more or less.
Late night taxis
Usually, a taxi may not switch the meter one when it’s very late. Take advantage of being a larger group and split the bill. This way, even if they charge more one person will not have to pay the entire amount.
Keep your GPS or phone handy
The taxi drivers may not always know where you’re going, so keep your phone or GPS ready to explain or show them.
Learn basic Thai
I am now able to explain to a taxi to turn left or right, keep left or right, go straight, turn around, whether something is on the left or right, stop and going slower. This has helped me to get around with ease.
Learn basic Thai FROM taxi drivers
Some taxi drivers actually help you learn basic Thai. They are eager to teach you the words, you just have to remember them.
That concludes my rather lengthy post on getting around in Bangkok!
I hope some of these tips and tricks will help you on your future travels and save you some money every once in a while.