11 Tips for Surviving Bangkok’s Public Transportation System

Bangkok traffic | © David Johnson / Flickr
Bangkok traffic | © David Johnson / Flickr
Photo of Iona Proebst
8 September 2017

Are you sick and tired of Bangkok’s gridlock, a failing public transport system and news of price increases on the horizon? You are not alone, and you will likely find our 11 tips on how to survive Bangkok’s public transport system helpful.

Plan your journey

If you have a flexible schedule, it is advised that you avoid peak rush hours. An overheated crowded bus stuck in traffic is not most people’s ideal way to spend a few hours.

Pick your mode of transport

Bangkok has numerous transport options available, including BTS Skytrain, MRT Subway, buses, taxis, motorbike taxis, tuk-tuks, songthaews, express boats and khlong boats. Pick and choose the best public transport options to get to your required destination hassle-free. You can also check out Transit Bangkok to help you plan your route.

tuk tuks | © Pedro Alonso/Flickr

Keep cool

If you are not travelling by air-conditioned transportation, the temperatures can feel suffocating at times. Invest in a hand-held or mini battery-powered fan to keep cool.

Safety first

For adrenaline seekers who prefer to navigate the city by motorbike taxi, it would be wise to invest in your own international approved safety helmet. Thailand’s roads are amongst the worst in the world, and taking precautions to protect yourself is advised.

Come prepared

Traffic is a little like the weather – it is unpredictable. Come prepared with a cold bottle of water, a good book and your favourite tunes.

Bangkok city bus | © shankar s./Flickr


Ah, the humble convenience store! Not only are 7-Elevens on almost every corner, but they are also the perfect opportunity to duck in for more supplies or to take advantage of their air conditioning to cool down.

What’s the hurry?

If you are trying to board an overcrowded bus or Skytrain, then practice patience and wait for the next one. Feeling cramped in is likely not going to make your journey very pleasurable.

Consider the weather

Bangkok’s drainage system leaves much to be desired, especially after a heavy monsoon downpour. If the streets are flooded, the traffic can come to a literal standstill. Head up above the water and travel by Skytrain if possible.

BTS Skytrain | © Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr

Bring the right change

Currently, topping up your BTS Skytrain card cannot be done using credit or debit cards; therefore, bring the correct change so that you are not left out.

Save money

If you plan to spend some time in the City of Angels, you can save money by investing in a SmartPass. Not only will this save you money, but it will also save you time by being able to skip the queues to buy a new ticket each time you travel.

Our top pick

Traveling by boat on the Chao Phraya River not only gets you from point A to point B, but it is also a comfortable and enjoyable way to travel around Bangkok. You likely won’t overheat with the welcome breeze and can sit back and watch daily river life unfold.

River boat | © Bernard Spragg. NZ/Flickr

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