Transportation in Bangkok

Public Transportation in Bangkok

Skytrain (BTS)

The Skytrain is an efficient and convenient way to navigate around the inner city, at a cost low enough to relax and enjoy the ride, though not cheap -- short distances are about one dollar or slightly less, while longer distances are the equivalent of $1.50. It is a very high tech, modern and smooth elevated train that runs through the main business districts, but doesn’t go ’everywhere’ (i.e taxis and tuk tuk rides may still be needed depending upon your itinerary).  Train stations are well marked and well tended and trains run very often, with little or no wait times. Many hotels are just a short walk away from a stop so check your map to see if the Skytrain is your best option for returning to your hotel, or better yet -- book a hotel near the skytrain in order to avoid the horrible Bangkok traffic.  You can take the skytrain to the river and then use the river boats to visit the Grand Palace and other major sites.   It may be worth buying a  ticket that you can charge up by adding more money to it and recharge when you like so as to save queueing for tickets or for change for the machines, though it may be difficult to figure out how to do this. Skytrain does not cater well for disabled people, being elevated and access generally being by steps and escalators. Elevators for disabled people are available at many stations though so it is possible to take these if you check in advance which stations have them.  The service ends at midnight.  Skytrain was recently extended further west, on the west side of the river for several stops.  If you stay near Siam Center, an interchange between the two skytrain lines, using skytrain as transportation to many places becomes easy and very quick. source: wikipedia.

The official BTS web site provides a route map showing also MRT, ARL and BRT lines as well as Chao Phraya Express boat piers. It also includes an interactive calculator for travel times and fares, and local maps of the stations.


Taxis are cheap and fares start at 35 Baht. Make sure the meter is on and showing 35 baht, though it is often difficult to convince the driver to do so. All taxis are metered but some drivers will try to negotiate a fixed fare with tourists. This is not allowed and should not be done. In this case leave the taxi immediately and find another one. There are enough taxis available everywhere. Late at night, taxis are the most convenient as the Skytrain and Subway do not operate after midnight.  Be aware that you can get stuck in some major traffic jams during morning and evening rush hours, especially on a Friday and with the civil unrest and protests taking place in Bangkok now, traffic blockages are becoming common. The meter runs on a combination of both distance and time, so the BTS or MRT are always a better bet if it covers your destination. Taxis are mainly sedan cars with a large part of the trunk (boot) taken up by a natural gas tank. The colours of the cab indicate which co-op they belong to.

Richard Barrow has made a nice page that covers the official metered taxi rates in Bangkok.

Chao Phraya River Express Boat

In a city teeming with traffic like Bangkok, an even easier way to experience a bit of Bangkok is to hop on the Chao Phraya Express boats that run along the river in both directions. A boat runs at least every 20 minutes, but in the rush hours and during high season they run about every 5 minutes. The most important line for tourists is the 'Orange flag boat' which is the only one running from morning til evening. For 14 baht you could ride  the express boat for locals from the "Central Pier" (Sathorn Pier, under the Saphan Taksin BTS station) all the way to the end of the line at Nonthaburi, a fascinating journey of about an hour. It's also a fast way to get to the Grand Palace at Ta Chang Pier, and other interesting locations. 

From the central pier it is often difficult to find the locals boat and, instead, tourists are ushered on the tourist boat which costs 40THB for any segment.  Tourists are urged to purchase 150THB on and off unlimited cards for the day, but unless you take four segments, these do not pay for themselves.  Try to get onto a local's boat at some time and experience how efficiently they bang into the piers and on and off load their passengers, and then quickly take off again.  There are cross river ferry boats from several of the piers to visit Thorburi and Wat Arun.

The official boat service web site provides information on routes, timetables and fares. It has annoying persistent errors like too high fares for the Orange flag boat and neglecting to mention some piers where it actually stops. 

Saen Saep canal boat

Saen Saep canal boat cuts across the downtown and its traffic jams running from the Rattanakosin Island with the Grand Palace and temples in the west to the Pratunam shopping area near Siam and from there to the western suburbs. The service is cheap with fares not exceeding 20 baht but it is not suitable for people with mobility challenges or significant baggage. Pratunam is an interchange pier where passengers must switch to another boat but the same ticket is still valid.

Passengers can interconnect with the MRT trains with a fairly short walk at the Asok pier which is near the Petchaburi MRT station. The walk from the Nana Nuea pier to Nana BTS station is feasible but quite a bit longer. 

Motorcycle Taxi

For shorter distances motorcycle taxis can be found on many street corners. This is helpful especially for accessing the Skytrain or the Subway. Prices normally range between 15 and 40 Baht. However as a foreigner you are 99% likely to be overcharged. Just walk up to the driver, tell him where you want to go. If you want to go to the subway or skytrain use either “BTS” for the Skytrain or “MRT” for the subway. These are the short names that the drivers will understand. The driver is supposed to supply you with a helmet and you are supposed to wear it. If he doesn't and/or you don't, you are turning an already highly dangerous ride into a suicide trip.  Fumes in traffic are also bad and there are numerous scams of tourists taking  Not really recommended...  

Subway (MRT)

The Subway (MRT) is a welcome addition to the Skytrain and gives access to more areas than the Skytrain already does. There are interchange stations at Silom and at Asoke where you have the possibility to change from the subway to the Skytrain and the other way around, but the systems are independent of each other and not very handy to use in tandem. Magnetic chips and cards can be bought at the counter or the available machines. Cards can be recharged at the counter with any amount once they are used up.  Here is their English language website:

The subway station at Kamphaeng Phet has exits to Chatuchak Weekend Market and Or Tor Kor wet market. There are stations also next to Hualamphong and Bang Sue railway stations. 

BRT Bus 

A single route Bus Rapid Transit system is now open, see 

Tuk Tuk

Some may believe that your Bangkok trip is incomplete if you do not ride just once in a Tuk Tuk, but you may want to save this experience for a less congested city where the fumes are not so bad, and the danger less. This is a motorized three wheeler which is seen all over the city. Since it does not have a meter, all the price has to be negotiated. its not recommended to use them as a normal form of transport as for tourists a taxi is cheaper, safer, and has air-conditioning!  Be aware that aound the main tourist areas, some Tuk-Tuk drivers are not honest and will lead you into a shopping or other type of scam often by lying to you about major attractions being closed. These drivers will also sometimes drop you off in the wrong area, saying that you just need to walk up the road to get to where you want to be - if you do not recognize where you are, insist he drop you where you agreed to. If not, say "no pay". Either he will then drop you off at the correct place, or he'll realise you caught him trying to trick you and he'll say "no pay". Get off, get a taxi - they are safer, cheaper, more reliable. 

Airport Rail Link (ARL)

The Airport Rail Link provides an inexpensive and fairly quick rail connection from Suvaranabhumi (BKK) airport to downtown Bangkok. The web site provides a fare and travel time calculator. There was a faster Express line but it has been discontinued. The currently operating City Line stops at every station; it is full of commuters and a bit slower. At Makkasan station people can walk over a covered footbridge to the Petchaburi MRT station. At Phaya Thai station people can walk over a covered footbridge to Phaya Thai BTS station.

The fastest route to lower Sukhumvit without taking a metered taxi is taking MRT train from Petchaburi to Sukhumvit station although people probably prefer taking the BTS train from Phaya Thai station if they stay near Nana BTS station. Ratchaprarop ARL station provides rail access to the Pratunam shopping area. 

Public (BMTA) Buses 

There is a huge network of public buses in the city, but little English language route information is available, though they are not difficult to figure out. Few tourists will opt for local buses when other options are available, but the adventurous tourist will be rewarded with good and very inexpensive cultural experience when riding the bus.  Tell the conductor your stop and he will let you know when to exit.  For information on Airport Buses, see the "Top Thailand Questions" in the Thailand forum, or the "Top Bangkok Questions" in the Bangkok forum. Sites with city bus route info:

The A1 bus (30 baht) running between Don Mueang (DMK) airport, Mo Chit 2 bus terminal and the Mo Chit BTS station can be important for tourists. The Mo Chit BTS station stop is right in front of the Chatuchak Park MRT station, too.  

Public (BMTA) Vans 

A network of white passenger vans complements the bus network, but little English language route information is available. Victory Monument that has also a BTS station is a huge terminus for van services to the Bangkok suburbs and locations out of town.