Transportation in Bangkok is really puzzling. There seems to be no driving force behind the efforts to make transportation in Bangkok more comfortable and easy to use. While buses can hardly be used by tourists who don’t speak Thai, the three different train systems are an option. Besides that, you have to mainly rely on buses to get around in Bangkok.
Bangkok has several train stations of which several commuter and long distance rail services depart. While the commuter services may be an option to get around in Bangkok, they are actually not easy to use for tourists as information on routes and tickets is mostly available in Thai only. Moreover, the comfort of the trains is not comparable to Western standards. An exception are the three train systems which run in the city center.
The most important means of public transportation for tourists is the BTS Skytrain. The system consists of two lines, the Sukhumvit Line from Mo Chit to Bearing and the Silom Line from National Stadium to Bang Wa. All trains run over ground and are safe, modern, convenient and clean. The same is true for the MRT, which runs underground. At the moment, there is just a single MRT line, which runs between Hua Lampong and Bang Sue. Moreover, there is another modern train system, which is called Airport Rail Link.
There’s an express service between Phaya Thai and the airport, but also a commuter service, which stops several times on the route to the airport. Important transfer stations in Bangkok are Mo Chit (MRT and BTS Sukhumvit Line), Siam (BTS Sukhumvit and BTS Silom Line), Asok / Sukhumvit (MRT and BTS Sukhumvit Line), Sala Daeng / Si Lom (MRT and BTS Silom Line), Phaya Thai (BTS Sukhumvit Line and Airport Rail Link) and Makassan (MRT and Airpot Rail Link).
Overviews of train lines in Bangkok:
Bangkok has one of the most extensive bus systems in the world. In 1992, more than four million people a day took a bus ride. Nowadays, the numbers reported are talking of just one million a day. These passengers are transported on over 400 different lines with more than 3.500 normal buses and more than another 10.000 mini buses, private vans and other means of transportation.
The routes are not really fixed and there are no timetables available online. Also, all information on buses is just available in Thai. One exception is the Bangkok BRT, a rapid transport system with buses. Even though the system was planned to grow, there is just a single line nowadays.
For tourists, transportation in Bangkok most likely consists of taking taxis. As the train networks are rarely covering the whole city, you usually need a taxi to get from A to B. While the taxis are not the most modern ones in the world and safety is also an issue, there is no real alternative to taking a taxi.
That’s especially true as taxis tend to be really cheap compared to cities in Europe and America. Taxis are often even the cheaper option than the BTS Skytrain. However, you should be aware that traffic is a real issue in Bangkok and you may need to plan some extra time when taking a taxi in Bangkok.
In Bangkok, you’ll find several motor rickshaws, which are even cheaper than the taxis. However, you should be aware that these rickshaws are said to be very dangerous and several drivers also try to trick foreigners into paying more. Another interesting option in Bangkok is water transportation.
There are several water boat services in the city, some with information in English. Besides touristic boats, the Choa Phraya Express Boat is one of the most interesting options if you want to get around in the touristic areas of Bangkok and also want to enjoy beautiful views of the city!