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Getting around in Bangkok

Bangkok is a very large city. As many as 8 million people live there. The city has no real center, and a rather limited transportation infrastructure relative to many other cities its size.

Bangkok's traffic jams are legendary. There was a time in the early 1990's when getting around Bangkok was close to a nightmare. You could easily find yourself sitting in traffic for several hours just to make a short trip. The situation has improved dramatically in recent years.

In December 1999 the city's first modern mass transit system opened, the elevated Bangkok Transit System, known as the Skytrain. The Skytrain is a quick and easy way to get from one place to another. In 2004 the Skytrain was joined by the city's first subway.

Here some of the various modes of transport in Bangkok:

Taxi

Taxis are cheap and air conditioned. They are required to use their meter, but some drivers will attempt to negotiate a rate, especially late at night. If you're in a well populated area, you can just wait for a driver willing to use the meter. All taxis have a red and white TAXI-METER sign on the roof, yellow license plates and either a two color paint job or a distinctive metalic color such as hot pink, green, yellow or blue. Most two-tone taxis are yellow and green, with the second most common color scheme being blue and red. The flag down fare is only 35 B (slightly less than 1 USD). Make sure the driver knows the destination before you get on, there are some newbie drivers who have just started a few days, and no idea where you want to go.

Tuk-tuk

These three wheeled carts, properly called a samlor, are generally the quickest way to get somewhere, but they're rather dangerous and if you take a long trip in them you'll be quite dirty at the end. Be sure to negotiate the fare before starting your trip.

Motorcycle Taxi

Those aren't gangs you see hanging around at major intersections in colored vests, they're taxis. You ride pillion while the driver weaves through traffic. Useful if you have to get somewhere in a hurry, but a little dangerous. Note that helmets are required. They are also great for short distances, for example from the mouth of the soi (street) to the end of it, and they normally charge 10B.

Buses

Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) is charged with providing bus service to people living and working in Bangkok and the nearby provinces (i.e. Nothaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan and Nakhon Pathom Provinces). Fares range from 7 – 22 B, depending on the type of bus and distance. For more information, you can visit this website:
http://www.bmta.co.th/engversion/eng_version.htm

Skytrain (BTS)

Better known as the Skytrain, the capitol's first mass transit system is a quick way to get around. The system isn't very big, so it probably won't go exactly where you going, but it can cut a lot of time from a cross town trip. There are 4 types of tickets – Single Journey Ticket, Stored Valued Ticket, 30 Day Pass and the One Day Pass (100B) which gives you unlimited trips per day. Included is a tourist guide and system map. Several stations now also have tourist information centers with qualified English speaking attendants to answer your travel questions. Information centers are located at Siam, Saladaeng, Nana and Taksin stations. If you are in Bangok for few days, and if you will be using the Skytrain a lot, get Stored Value Ticket, this will save you time queueing up to buy a ticket.

For more information, you can visit the BTS website:
http://www.bts.co.th/en/index.asp

Bangkok Subway (MRT)

In 2004, the Skytrain was joined by Bangkok's first subway. The single line travels from the Hualompong main train station down Rama IV road, then up Asoke / Ratchadapisek Road, and finally under Ladprao and Kampangphet roads to Bang Sue train station. The subway intersects with the Skytrain at Silom Road (Skytrain Saladaeng station), Sukhumvit (Skytrain Asoke) and Chatuchak (Skytrain Mo Chit). The subway is an alternate means of getting to Chinatown, and also gives good access to the Siam Society, Queen Sirikit National Convention Center and the Chatuchak Weekend Market (Kampangphet station).

 
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