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.
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.
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.
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.
- Check out the maps, fares and timetables on the website www.bts.co.th.
- For a step by step guide to buying tickets see Thailand Life’s answer to How do I buy tickets to use the Sky Train in Bangkok?
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.
- See more information about the Chao Phraya Express Boat
- Location of Phra Ahtit Pier near Khao San Road: