How to Navigate Around Bangkok Cheaply and Hassle-Free

Being the capital and the most populous city in Thailand, Bangkok is one busy place. With an area of 1,569 square kilometers and a population of over 8 million, it is a primate city in the country. Also, apart from the locals settling here are countless travelers from all over the globe who wish to see the top tourist destinations. In 2010, the Department of Tourism recorded 11.4 million foreign visitors not to mention the 26.8 million locals who visited the city.

Summing all up, it seems quite puzzling for someone to navigate around here for the first time without being lost (which is also good) or breaking the bank. Good thing I was able to find ample time to research almost all possible public transport routes available before hitting the road and this I would like to share to you.

If you want a cheap, fast and convenient way to go around, here are some suggestions:

Trains

There are six train lines operating within the city:

1. Airport Railway Link. This connects Suvarnabhumi International Airport to several train line stations e.g. Makkasan Station connects to Petchaburi Station of MRT, Phaya Thai Station connects to Phaya Thai Station of BTS SkyTrain Sukhumvit Line. Changing train lines are not really that difficult. Thanks to all the posted directions inside the stations. Fare is around 15-45 THB.

airport rail liml

2. BTS SkyTrain Sukhumvit Line. From the central Siam Station, this line runs northwards to Mo Chit Station and the other end runs eastwards to Bearing. You can connect to Chatuchak Park Station of MRT from Mo Chit Station or to Sukhumvit MRT Station from Asok. Fare ranges from 15-42THB depending on the distance. Prepare coins so you would not need to go to the counter to change your bills. You can also buy a 1 day pass with unlimited rides for 130 THB.

bts

3. BTS Skytrain Si Lom Line. This runs east and interchanges with the Sukhumvit Line at Siam BTS Station and then turns southwards from Ratchadamri. You can connect to Si Lom MRT from Sala Daeng or to Sathorn BRT from Chong Nonsi. You can also go to Saphan Taksin if you want to go to Chao Phraya River Central Station. Talat Phlu also connects to Ratchaphruek BRT.

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4. Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). This runs from Hua Lamphong Station near the State Railway Line all the way north. Bang Sue being the last station. It connects with both BTS line and Airport Rail Link. Fare ranges from 16-42 THB.

IMG_7661

5. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). I don’t know if I have to include this here because it’s not a train but moves and functions like a one. I mean, it has a dedicated road for the buses with stations similar to a train line. This runs down south from Sathorn Station then going west and going north again connecting to Talat Phlu of BTS Si Lom Line.

BRT

6. State Railway Transit. Located just beside Hua Lamphong MRT Station, the state railway takes you to places outside the city. It goes north to Chiang Mai, northeast to Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani and eastern to Aranyaprathet (near Cambodian border).

Hua Lamphong station just right beside Hua Lamphong MRT Station
Hua Lamphong station just right beside Hua Lamphong MRT Station

 Express River Boat

The express river boats ply the stretch of Chao Phraya River where tourists flock to see the elegant temples. It is cheap with a rate of 15 THB and up depending on where you’re going. It’s also practical to use express boats. Aside from being cheap, temples and other attractions are easily accessible just by taking the boat from station to station. There are several boat flag colors. To get here, try taking the BTS Silom Line going to Saphan Taksin. From there, the Central terminal is just a few minute walk.

an express boat near Wat Arun
an express boat near Wat Arun

 Buses

There are a number of buses plying the streets of Bangkok. They are numbered and colored properly depending on their routes. Fares range from FREE red buses (about half of them) to 24 THB. To see the complete list of bus routes with map, click here or if you want to see the bus numbers that connect to major train stations, click here. Make sure you go to proper bus stops with corresponding bus numbers. There are a number of bus routes too, from 1-88 and 501-516.

 

orange bus
orange bus

Tuk-tuk

Well, tuk-tuks are not really cheap unless you’re traveling with a group. Make sure to agree on the fare before getting in. Remember to haggle. A lot. I only took a tuk-tuk when I got lost and when I was really tired. You can find them anywhere.

IMG_0680

Taxi

Here goes the last option on earth of a backpacker. This might save you if you’re traveling with a group. Flag down rate is 35 THB. If the driver doesn’t use the meter, just point at the meter and say “meter”. If he still insists on a fixed rate, just smile and get out of the cab. Hail another taxi. Better to get a moving one than those idle near hotels and tourist spots.

Here are the maps of different train lines and the Chao Phraya River stations. Also, it’s a right hand drive country.

Chao Phraya River Map
Chao Phraya River Map
train guide
train guide
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