How to Get Around Bangkok

BY My Destination TIMEOctober 17, 2014 PRINT

With 26 million visitors to Thailand every year, many of which spend at least some of their time in Bangkok, this is a capital with a capital B for Busy! With great cultural attractions, amazing restaurants and exciting things to do across the city, and with no specific center, knowing how to get around, across, and every which way in between, is essential. If you want to really explore this dynamic metropolis you need to be able to get around!


Taxis, taxis everywhere! Not only are they plentiful they are affordable too and you might find that jumping in and out of a cab is the most straightforward way to explore the city. In fact, you can even get a taxi driver to drive you around for the whole day for a fixed fee even if you haven’t worked out a set itinerary. Stick out your arm on any street in any part of Bangkok pretty much and a taxi will stop within seconds.


Quick Tips

  • The yellow and green taxis are privately owned and you may find they are cleaner and you are looked after better – but many of the other colored taxis are just as good.
  • Expect to pay tollways for expressways – it isn’t much (25-55 THB) but these fast tracks can cut out traffic queue frustrations massively.
  • If you feel uneasy about the driver or the driving then always change taxis. There’s no reason not to.
  • Don’t be offended if a taxi driver doesn’t want to take you. Depending on where you’re heading you may get a few rejections before you find the right taxi.
  • Unless you’re clued up on local prices only take meter taxis. Often it’s best to walk slightly away from big hotels and tourist attractions where taxis wait and try to charge more.
  • Don’t expect every taxi driver to know every part of the city. It’s a good idea to get a rough understanding of the area you want to get to, especially if it’s not on the main tourist drag.
  • If your driver’s looked after you well and you see flowers being sold on the roads during traffic light stops you can buy a 10-20 THB garland for the driver to bring him luck and protection on the roads but guard you bag and put the coins or note through a crack in the window.
  • If it’s rush-hour or a Friday or during the Monsoon rains and you need to get somewhere quickly think twice about getting a taxi.


The BTS Skytrain is the ultimate in efficient, clean, air-conditioned travel comfort in the city. And not only that, but running from 6 am until midnight it speeds quickly above and across the city. The Sukhumvit and Silom lines meet at Siam and are really straightforward to understand and navigate. They stop in all the main parts of the city, but if you’re visiting some of the tourist attractions in the older parts of the city near Chinatown and by the river at Banglamphu, then you might decide to either get a skytrain as near as possible or opt for a taxi all the way.

As well as avoiding the busy streets by traveling overground, you can also go under via the MRT. This single runs from Bang Sue to the train station at Hua Lamphong and crosses the BTS at MRT Sukhumvit and BTS station Asoke. Another near crossing point is MRT Silom and BTS Sala Daeng, with a skywalk connecting the two. The MRT covers areas that are, aside from Chinatown, less touristy, and complements the skytrain well.

Quick Tips

  • Avoid the queues and save money on journeys with a Rabbit card that will cover you for trips on the BTS and the MRT.
  • You can’t take food and drinks through the gates onto the trains. Balloons are a no-no too!
  • It’s local custom to stand up for elderly people, monks and children of all ages. Monks will usually sit at the seats near the doors and it is not custom for them to sit next to a female so this sometimes means a little seat shuffling.
  • Kids 90 cm or under travel free.
  • The new airport link is fast and makes for a stress-free trip to and from Suvarnabhumi, linking up at BTS Phaya Thai.
  • If you have lots of shopping either ask a guard to go through the big gate to the platforms or hold your bags up high, otherwise you may find the gates close early and give you a good winding.
  • It’s better to give tickets to a guard for children to pass through the big gate if their heads are the same height or below the moving gates.
  • Don’t worry about getting to the train door before it stops at the station. It’s often easier to move when the train is just pulling in or has already stopped.
  • Don’t run!

Tuk-Tuks & Motorbike Taxis

A trip to Bangkok isn’t complete without a madcap rollercoaster of a ride through the chaotic streets in an iconic symbol of Thailand, the tuk-tuk. It’s not only great fun but a good way to zip around short distances or weave through busy traffic. Just because these auto rickshaws are ramshackle they charge about the same as a taxi and if you’re travelling around 10-20 minutes then the price should be around 40-80 THB.


Tuk-Tuks in Bangkok (Shutterstock*)
Tuk-Tuks in Bangkok (Shutterstock*)


Similarly, the motorbike taxis can be handy, especially to get around for solo travelers or couples, but they’re not for the fainthearted! These are best suited for nipping from one end of the street to another and best avoided on long journeys or on super-busy thoroughfares. Always wear a helmet and if you’re going to use them don’t overdo it. It might be tempting to get where you want to more quickly but think safety first.

Quick Tips

  • If you’re paying more than 100 THB you’re either being overcharged or you’ve taken too long a journey.
  • If you don’t see a helmet then ask, as the motorbike guys always have one either in the seat or at the taxi stop.
  • Sit side-saddle if you’re wearing a skirt.
  • Be wary of tuk-tuk drivers waiting outside big hotels and the main tourist attractions as they often try and charge you more.
  • Don’t take kids on bikes and long tuk-tuk trips even if you see the locals doing it.
  • If you feel uneasy, whatever the reason, don’t continue your journey.


Despite the wonderful chaos and exciting city life in Bangkok, the buses are amazingly organized. They are regular, usually on time, and go everywhere. They are also either free or outrageously cheap – perfect for budget travelers and anyone wanting to see a different side to Thai culture on a more grassroots level.


  • Plan your journey so that you know before you set off the best route possible and so that you don’t end up lost in the city without a clue how to get to you next destination.
  • Download an app for the bus routes or go online to work out which bus you need to get on.
  • Buses in Bangkok are not always an easy ride so beware of speeding buses when you cross the road and make sure you wave energetically to flag one down at a stop. Sit down as quickly as possible as the driver will usually set off as soon as you step onboard. Look for the small switches near the doors – these are the stop-at-the-next-stop bells.



Boat in Bangkok (My Destination)
Boat in Bangkok (My Destination)


You’ll be moving around the city like a true local if you start traveling by boat. This is a city built around waterways and not only will you discover a whole other culture but you’ll find that Bangkok’s boats are a great way to get around. The noisy klong water taxis race up and down the canals regularly, although you may have to stand in the morning and later in the afternoon when they’re packed with commuters. The Chao Phraya Tourist Boat costs 150 THB for a day ticket and travels on the river between Sathorn Pier, which is right by BTS Saphan Taksin, and Phra Arthit. You can hop on and off at each pier for no extra cost which is a great way to visit riverside attractions such as Wat Arun and the Grand Palace. The orange, green and yellow Express Boats are perfect if you want to make specific trips to a pier, and are a lot less price-wise than the Tourist Boat.


  • Pull the tarpaulin up at the side of the klong water taxis if you’re standing or sitting by the side otherwise you may get a little splashed!
  • Don’t follow the nimble locals who jump on and off boats before they’re properly stopped at the pier. Mind the gap!
  • Keep loose change for boat trips as the ticket person moves through the boat quickly.
  • Make sure you’re wearing sunscreen, as although it may be refreshingly cool on the water you might find yourself sat in the glare of the sun.
  • Don’t wait until the boat stops to start slowly making your way to where you get off. The boats come in fast and leave just as quickly.

Copyright © 2014 by My Destination. This article was originally published at My Destination Bangkok

*Image of Tuk-Tuk vehicle urban in Bangkok via Shutterstock

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