Once upon a time, getting around Bangkok was an activity most tourists would rather not experience. The traffic was terrible and the public transportation available did not help. Now, getting around the city is not only a joy but is also a breeze.
In 1999 the government launched its first mass transit system, opening the door to a whole new way of moving and touring the country. With the modern transport system installed, getting around Bangkok became easy not only for its citizens but also for its tourists.
Bangkok has two of the fastest modes of transportation on land: the Bangkok Skytrain and the Bangkok Underground. The Bangkok Skytrain, also called BTS, is the quickest way to go around town. It has two routes: the Sukhumvit which runs North to East and the Silom which runs West to South. On the other hand, the Bangkok Underground, also called MRT, serves 18 stations and spans 20 kilometers of a crescent-shaped route. It passes through stations with major attractions like Chatuchak Weekend Market, Thailand Cultural Center, Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, Lumpini Park, Silom Road and Sukhumvit Road.
Aside from trains, slower transportation options include taxi cabs, buses, motorbikes and tuk-tuks. Taxi cabs can be hailed from anywhere in town. It’s probably not the cheapest and the fastest transportation available, but it’s the most convenient. Of course, you can always opt to drive a car yourself and get a rental instead. Just be sure to get a map as it’ll be a real challenge to drive on a road with no English signs.
You may also try the city buses. They have many routes that you can check from a BMTA map. It’s a cheap way to get around the city but it’s not for everybody. The rough ride coupled with some rough passengers may not be worth the few baht that you’ll be able to save.
You may also want to try riding motorbike taxis and Tuk-tuks (rickshaw) that roam the streets. However, while motorbikes may be fast and convenient, they might not be the safest mode of transport. Tuk-tuks on the other hand are only for short-distance destinations.
Still, there are other transportation options. You can travel by plane via the many regional airlines flying to different parts of the country. It would also be great to try traveling by boat on the Chao Phraya River. Different kinds of boats and ferries are available to carry passengers to other parts of the city. In addition, the Chao Phraya River is rich in history and is reminiscent of the old Bangkok, so you’re not just riding the boat to get to another part of the town: in essence, you’re also exploring the country’s history through its famous canals.
Getting around Bangkok is relatively easy and affordable. If you’re the adventurous kind, you can even try riding them all so you can get a better feel of the country and its people. Whatever your plans are and the type of transportation that you feel you’d be comfortable with, remember that the journey is sometimes the most important part of getting to your destination. Enjoy every minute of it!