Stepping off the plane at Suvarnabhumi Aiport with no real idea of how to reach your hotel can seem like a daunting prospect. Especially if you are on a strict budget and have heard stories of how the Bangkok taxi drivers lie in wait like crocodiles, ready to rip off new and confused tourists.
When I arrived at the airport I was freaking out. As a result I made the decision to sit down near the exit, compose myself and connect to the free airport wifi. My plan was to work out exactly where I needed to go before heading out into the chaos. Through the doors I could hear the sound of horns beeping and taxi drivers shouting as they competed for the tourists attention. For many newbie travellers this is the first experience of Asia. And what an experience. Looking back I wonder what the hell my issue was. It’s really no big deal to me now. Whilst freaking out on my phone in the airport I noticed my Uber app. I clicked on it out of curiosity and was relieved to find that Bangkok had Uber. I was amazed at the fact that an hours journey would only cost me £7 (that’s a 10 minute journey in England). I reasoned that taxis outside might be even cheaper but I couldn’t be sure. I was also scared of the fact that I only had large notes and no real way to argue my position. I caught the Uber. I later found out that for things such as aiport runs Uber are competitively priced and therefore a viable option.
Bangkok transport is there to make your life easier and it really does. Please see the list below to see which ones are best for you.
Aside from buses taxis are probably the slowest mode of transport in Bangkok. Traffic is notoriously congested. During the day it can take 30 minutes just to move one block. However they are a comfortable, air conditioned way to escape the heat of a Bangkok summer. As mentioned above Uber is my favourite for long distance. But for getting about town in the evenings pink cabs are the cheapest. They should always have there meters on. If it doesn’t just ask your driver nicely to use it. It’s always cheaper than trying to negotiate a price. These people are haggling pros. They will make you feel like you’re getting a good deal when you’re really not. The second best taxi company is the green and yellow ones. In my experience these have always been slightly more expensive than the pink. I have not used any others and don’t recommend being too experimental with your choice in cabs. Bangkok is famous for its unlicensed taxi cabs and the scams that go along with them.
Tuk tuks began to replace rickshaws in Bangkok in 1934 and have been used ever since. Hashing out a price with the drivers is an experience in itself. If you manage to reach a price you’re happy to pay I recommend giving it a go at least once as a tourist. There are cheaper and much easier to negotiate modes of transport but like I said it’s part of the cities history and culture so worth a go. They are also faster than taxis as they can nip between traffic and sometimes down pavements.
Like Tuk Tuks but that bit scarier. The Thai’s are experts at riding side saddle on the backs of these. After spending more than a few minutes in the city you soon realise they learn it from a very young age. Personally I never used one. I was too scared so opted for what I believe to be safer modes of transport.
Airport City Link
This is what I should have used at Suvarnabhumi. Airport City Link does what it says on the tin. It’s a train that takes you from the airport to the city within 15-30 minutes depending on whether you take the normal train or the express service. From the city you can then get the MRT line or a taxi to your destination for much less than my original Uber.
BTS (Skytrain) and MRT (Underground)
These two are a couple of the cheapest ways to travel around Bangkok. Fares range from 15-40 Baht depending on which zone you wish to go to. You can usually get to most areas of the city with relative ease.
Yep that’s right. Good ol fashioned walking. It’s cheap and remains the best way to soak in the culture of the city. Whilst walking bare in mind that buildings pavement and road often blur into one. It is not always clear which one is which. I do advise stopping if you wish to look at anything other than your feet or the pavement straight ahead of you. The pavements of Bangkok are often covered in shops, food stalls with seating, rubbish and other things spilling out into the road. Often the pavement disappears entirely and you must walk along the side of the road. Sometimes tuk tuks and motorbikes will drive along the pavements towards you but it’s all part of the fun.
Chao Phraya River Ferry is by far my favourite mode of transport. When the weather is hot there is nothing better than speeding down the river, breeze on your face, mixed with the occasional spray of the river. The boats run to all of the great tourism spots. Many Wats are located right on the river. Sites like the Grand Palace and the infamous Koa San Road are all within walking distance of the ferry stops. On top of all this the Ferry is an incredibly cheap mode of transport. I always got the orange water taxis and the cost was always 15 Baht (an amazing 50p). There are also faster boats which will cost you a little more and green ones which take you much further up the river. I was fortunate to stay in a great hostel called Kama Bangkok. It was a little out the way in a residential area but had a great atmosphere and was right by a local food street. The Ferry stop was only a 10 minute walk, meaning I got the best of both worlds. When I arrived the staff were kind enough to provide me with a map to the Ferry stop and a map of the boat routes. Otherwise I never would have known they existed. I have included links below to a map of the water ways and costing to help you plan your trip.
Map of ferry routes: http://bangkok.sawadee.com/expressboat.html
Information on ferry costs: http://www.chaophrayaexpressboat.com/en/services/
I hope that you have found this list useful. Especially if you’re like me and are prone to the odd freak out at the thought of navigating Bangkok straight off a 10 hour flight. If this post helps to prevent just one anxiety attack then I have done my job.
Safe travels everyone.