Tag Archives: BTS

Skytrain (BTS)

The Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) was officially opened on the 5th December 1999. It had been under construction, in one for form or another, for a decade before finally being completed. The name by which it is commonly known, ‘Skytrain’, was coined by the local press.

The Skytrain has been extended twice since 1999, once in 2009 and again in 2011 and now extends 30.95 km across the City. The system has two lines: the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line. The Sukhumvit Line currently has 21 stations going from the North of the City (Mo Chit) to the South East of the City (Bearing) stretching almost to the metroplitan limits of the Sukhumvit Road. The other line, the Silom Line, has 8 stations and runs from the National Stadium in the centre of the City to the West of the City over to the other side of the river (Wongwai Yai).

Diagram courtesy of www.bts.co.th

As the digram above shows, the term Skytrain refers to the elevation of the track above ground level at an average of 12 metres. The Stytrain largely follows existing roads in Bangkok. As well as being a great way to beat the traffic on the congested Bangkok roads, for tourists this elevated position provides excellent views of the City. Even if you have the money to pay for taxis, it is well worth using the Skytrain as you will see so much more than you would at road level – as well as travelling much more quickly on long journeys.

Navigation on the Skytrain

Navigating the Skytrain is very simple. Select the correct line and then select the correct direction of travel by referring to the end station on the line. For the Sukhumvit Line you head towards Mo Chit if you are going North (ie from Sukhumvit to Siam Square) or Bearing if you are going South. For the Silom Line you head towards Wongwian Yai if you are heading West (ie from the city centre to the Silom area) and towards National Stadium if you are heading East.

The Skytrain has its limits in terms of coverage of the City. It won’t take you to the Grand Palace or Khao San and it won’t take you to the airport.

To get to the international airport take the Sukhumvit Line to Phaya Thai BTS station and change to the Airport Link. You will need to buy a new ticket.

To get to the Grand Palace or Khao San take the Silom Line to Saphan Taksin BTS station and exit the station to Sathorn Pier. From there you can take the Chao Phraya Express Boat onwards to destinations on the river. You can buy the ticket on the boat.

Fares for the BTS

From the perspective of tourists the BTS system is incredibly good value for money. Although, from the perspective of Thai’s who are on an average income the fares are expensive and many people are forced to struggle to and from work on the buses which are a fraction of the cost.

To purchase single journey tickets you must use the coin operated machines before the barrier gates. They are simple to use with a useful explanatory map beside each machine. The way you buy a tickets is to select the number of zones you wish to travel and insert coins. They don’t take notes. If you need change every station has a kiosk where you can get change.

There are six zones. As of June 2012 a journey in 1 zones costs 15 THB ($0.5), 2 zones 20 THB ($0.67), 3 zones ($0.83), 4 zones ($1), 5 zones ($1.17) and 5 zones ($1.67). For the journey from Siam Square BTS station to Nana BTS station (near Soi 7 on the Sukhumvit Road) you travel 2 zones and therefore pay 20 THB.

You can also buy a Day Pass from the kiosk for unlimited travel in any 24 hour period, these cost 150 THB ($5). For longer stays, purchase a 30 Day Smart Pass for 30THB. Once you have the Smart Pass you can buy a block of single journey tickets which you must use within 30 days of purchase. For travel over a period of a week or more this is by far the cheapest way to buy tickets. Thai Commuters all use a Smart Card. There are different packages: 15 trips for 375 THB ($12.50), 25 trips for 575 THB ($19.16), 40 trips for 840 THB ($28), or 50 trips for 1,000 THB ($33.33).

Getting Around Bangkok

There are lots of forms of transport in Bangkok: boats, taxis, trains, metro, even motorbike taxis; but this article will focus on the fast, efficient, and modern public transport system which is fully accessible to the first time visitor.

Airport Link

Opened in 2010, this service shuttles visitors between the main Bangkok airport (Suvarnabhumi) and the centre of modern Bangkok in under 30 minutes. Unless you are travelling to stay near the river in old Bangkok, this is the fastest and cheapest way to get from the airport into town.

The first train leaves at 06.00 and the last train leaves at midnight.  The station is really easy to get to as it is located in the basement of the main airport building. Take the lift or the escalator.

Bangkok Airport Link Train

Bangkok Airport Link Train

Fares are 15 to 45 THB depending upon which station you travel to in Bangkok. For travel to Central Bangkok we recommend two stations on the Airport Link:

  • Makkasan: From here you can connect to the MRT (metr0) which will take you to Bangkok Train Station, Sukhumvit Road and the Silom Road.
  • Phaya Thai: From here you can connect to the BTS (sky train) and this is the best station for onward travel to riverside locations and the main shopping area of Siam Square as well as the Northern Bus Terminal.
  • For full timetable information visit the website airportraillink.railway.co.th.

BTS Sky Train

The sky train (BTS) is a great way to travel around the City. Not only is it quick, cheap (20 to 40 baht a trip) you also get a fantastic view of the view. The only disadvantage is that it doesn’t run to the Khao San area or to where the Grand Palace and other historic monuments are located.

The BTS system has two lines. The Silom Line runs from the National Stadium station in the centre of town to Wongwian Yai station in the east of the city. This line is useful for going to Silom (Patpong night market), Siam Square (shopping area) and Saphan Thaksin (where you can connect with the boat service). The other line is the Sukhumvit Line which runs from On Nut at the top end of the Sukhumvit Road to Mo Chit in the north of the city. This line is good for getting from Sukhumvit to the shopping centre of Siam Square.


BTS Skytrain in Bangkok

Tickets are available for purchase via coin operated vending machines in every station. If you haven’t got the change every station has a kiosk by the entrance gates where they can give change and sell three day tourist passes.

MRT Metro

The metro system, known locally as the MRT, has a single line running from Bang Sue train station in the north of the city to the main train station Hua Lamphong in the south. Hua Lamphong is the train station for trips north to Chiang Mai and trips south to Hua Hin and onto Surat Thani, for connections to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

The metro system is very useful for going to Chatuchak weekend market (Chatuchak Park is the stop) and to the main Train Station (Hua Lamphong stop). You can also connect to the Airport link at Petchaburi stop if you don’t mind a 10 minute walk. Petchaburi is one stop from the only MRT station on the Sukhumvit Road (Asoke station).

Chao Phraya Express Boat

This is our favourite part of the mass transit system. It is cheap and reliable, and takes you up and down the main river in Bangkok connecting the BTS system with major tourist attractions like the Grand Palace (Tha Tien Pier) and the Khao San Road (Phra Ahtit Pier).

This is a commercial commuter service rather than a tourist service and the system can be a bit bewildering. There are four different services, which you can identify by the flag on the roof of the boat. Our advice is to take only the Orange Line (orange flag) or the boats with no flag. These services stop at every pier and cost 10 to 20 baht depending on which services you take and how far you go. You can buy tickets on the boat. Another option is to buy a 150 baht one day tourist passes from the kiosk before you board. They have special tourist boats with guides giving a commentary as you travel, the staff in the kiosk will alert you when the right boat comes.

A good way to use the service is to travel by the BTS to Saphan Thaksin station. You can follow the signs to the pier from the BTS station. From there ask the helpful girls in the kiosk to let you know which boat goes to the Grand Palace. You might have a wait for up to 20 minutes. You pay 18 baht on the boat and get off at Tha Tien pier. From there it is an easy 5 minute walk to either the Grand Palace or Wat Po for the reclining Buddha. Please give it a go. It is both fun and cheap.

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