The city of Bangkok, or Krung Thep, as it is called in Thai, is a bustling and busy urban area, filled with exotic and enticing sights, sounds, and smells. Because Bangkok is densely populated, as well as a popular place to visit, it is constantly buzzing with people. And like many big cities, it is utterly notorious for its traffic. At any time of day or night, it is close to impossible to avoid a gridlock on the streets of Bangkok. You shouldn’t worry when you visit there, though. One of my favorite things about Bangkok is the wide array of convenient public transportation that is available. There is really no need for you to rent a car. Here are some of the best ways to get around Bangkok:
- The Skytrain, called the Bangkok Transit System or BTS, is an extensive rail system that connects all of the main entertainment, business, and shopping districts of the city. A new train arrives every 3-6 minutes between 6:30 am and midnight. The BTS is a super speedy, cheap, clean, safe, and easy way to get around town.
- The Mass Rapid Transit Network, or MRT, is a relatively new underground transport system, as it just began running in 2004. The MRT is pretty impressive- it has the ability to whiz 40,000 passengers per hour all over the city. Plus, the underground network is air conditioned and has mobile phone reception. It is quite handy!
- Boats and ferries are a terrific way to get around the historic riverside area of the city. Several different types of boats run all up and down the Chao Phraya River. Some companies, such as The Chao Phraya Express Boat Company, offer a full day boat pass, which allows you to ride down the river and stop at many of Bangkok’s major attractions, such as the Temple of Dawn and the Grand Palace.
- Public buses are a very cheap way to get around town. Plus, if you are interested in traveling with locals, this is a great way to do it. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, or BMTA, has a very extensive route, so you can get pretty much anywhere you wish to go. The buses can get quite crowded, though, so don’t forget to offer up your seat to local women, children, and monks if there is standing room only.
- Motorbike taxis are one of the fastest ways to get around town, especially if you are traveling by yourself. However, since motorbike drivers tend to dart around the busy traffic and even onto sidewalks, this is probably also the most dangerous method as well. If you do wish to take a motorbike taxi ride, you can easily spot them. Drivers wear bright orange vests on their motorbikes, and tend to congregate on the street corners of busy areas such as office buildings and shopping centers.
- Tuk-tuks used to be the most popular way to get around Thailand until the BTS and the MRT became so popular. Really, though, every visitor to Thailand should ride in a tuk-tuk at least once for the experience. Tuk-tuks are little three-wheeled vehicles. They evolved from traditional rickshaws, and are essentially like rickshaws with a motor. Tuk-tuks are best for short little rides to give you a rest from walking. For rides across the city, stick to the other major methods of transportation.