Travel Advice: How to Beat Bangkok's Never-Ending Traffic Jam

Bangkok Traffic
Bangkok Traffic | © Joe deSousa / Flickr
Kelly Iverson

As the most populated city in the country, it may come as no surprise to some that the capital of Thailand has quite a bit of traffic. With millions of people living in the city, all needing to get around one way or another, how can you beat the onslaught of vehicles storming the streets? Here are some tips to avoiding Bangkok’s never-ending traffic.

Take the BTS Skytrain

The BTS Skytrain (the BTS) is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get around the daunting city of Bangkok. It is made up of two different lines: Silom and Sukhumvit; both are bursting with vibrant nightlife, delicious eats, and some of the top attractions the city has to offer. The BTS also has direct access to the Chao Phraya River and the airport link that takes passengers to the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Commuters can get single journey tickets, one-day passes, or 30-day SmartPasses with a certain value or number of stops. The BTS runs from 6 a.m. to midnight, so tourists are welcome to hop on and off throughout the day and avoid Bangkok’s inevitable traffic down below.

BTS Skytrain light trail

Head underground

The MRT subway is another way to avoid Bangkok traffic altogether, however, in comparison to the BTS, there are certainly fewer top attractions that can be reached from this form of transportation. That being said, the MRT is a quick and easy way to get around the city. There is about five minutes or so waiting time in-between each train. Made up of 18 stops and consisting of one line instead of two, the MRT also connects to the BTS at a handful of locations. There is also an airport link for those heading to Suvarnabhumi Airport, as well as access to the Chao Phraya River and the canals. The MRT is also open from 6 a.m. to midnight.

The beginning of the Bangkok subway line

Brave motorbike taxis

Motorbike taxi drivers are as common a sight in the city as any other form of transportation. Most hang around in packs of two to ten people, with their neon orange vests acting as indicators that they are indeed on duty. The drivers know the city fairly well, and are bold enough to weave in and out of Bangkok’s congested streets to get their passengers to their end destination, much faster than a bus or taxi would. Be sure to hold on tight and prepare for a fast, oftentimes frightening ride.

A motorbike taxi in Chinatown, Bangkok

Avoid rush hour

Visitors will be surprised at how quickly one can get around the city when the sun has yet to come up. That being said, tourists will also be surprised at how much traffic there can be at the oddest hours of the day. In addition to avoiding rush hour, passengers can download a handful of apps on their cell phones which will help them avoid traffic altogether. An example is Google Maps which lets passengers know when and where there is road congestion.

Along Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok

Hop on the expressway

Though a little more costly than braving the roads, utilizing the expressways is the easiest way out to escape the traffic. There is a ฿50 fee for most drivers, and the bigger the car, the bigger the cost. Usually, taxi drivers will ask their passengers if they want to use the expressway when possible. Those who want to save time should go for it. Those who want to save money should instead endure the onslaught of cars blocking their path, but try not to feel a highway of regret if you miss your flight.

Bangkok expressway

Brave the waterways

Exploring Bangkok by boat is one of the most rewarding ways to see the city. Passengers are sure to avoid the traffic while breezing through the water with only a handful of long-tail boats and ferries alongside them. That being said, traveling like this certainly requires some research beforehand, otherwise prepare to get lost. In addition to avoiding traffic, some of the top attractions can be found along these water channels, including the Grand Palace in Chinatown, and many of the most majestic temples in the city. The best time to take any one of the boats is during rush hour, and the canals run from the Old City right up to the thriving Sukhumvit Road—one of the most congested areas of the city.

Thailand Bangkok

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,395 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article