Tour, traipse and travel around Thailand
Many travelers baulk at the thought of negotiating prices or traveling as Thai people do. Don’t fear - it can be relatively straightforward, cheap, and yes, even FUN to get around using local transport, and you may even make a few new friends on the way.
These are fun for families and while bargaining the price may initially be slightly nerve-wracking, try not to worry too much - generally 30-50 baht should get you a few kilometres or more but it depends a lot on the local market. If you can, ask the people you share the tuk-tuk with. You may be able to get away with paying in USD, but it’s not recommended. Generally brightly colored, tri-wheeled and with a loud, diesel-powered engine, tuk-tuks are a quintessential experience in South East Asia. If you have a lot of shopping or want to transport something large including furniture, tuk-tuks are a decent option instead of a taxi. A little slower perhaps, but cheaper and it’ll get the job done. Be aware that some tuk-tuks won’t leave unless they’re half full, so try and find one that already has people in it.
Scooters, motoribikes and scooter-taxis
Several rental agencies and tourist companies will offer you great deals on taking a 125cc semi-automatic or automatic scooter to coast around the streets. These are perfect for smaller towns where the traffic is not so busy, to head to the hills or around islands. Scooters are also brilliant deals in terms of fuel efficiency, getting around smaller laneways and in the country-side, and are super-easy to park. For longer, off-road trips you can also hire 250cc motorbikes but it’s best you have some basic knowledge of how to fix them as some rural areas may not have a local mechanic nearby to help out if you breakdown.
Scooter-taxis are generally found in larger cities and towns. In Bangkok, be prepared - make sure the driver has a helmet and you strap it on securely. They should also have a storage case for your bag. Then hang tight - he will likely zoom off at 80km/hr directly into the crazy traffic. Not for the faint-hearted, those who care about their hair, or have to be in control. Relax and try and enjoy the thrill of the ride.
Bangkok metro system - the BTS and MRT
Bangkok’s Rapid Transit system covers the entire metropolitan area. There are two main lines, the blue and the purple lines, although the latter is only recently operational.
The Skytrain operates in the inner city area and is fast and efficient, running (as the name suggests) above the highways and roads so you also get a birdseye view of the city when you ride. Tickets are available at the stations and it operates between 6am and midnight.
Given Thailand’s British colonial heritage, the train system works fairly well. Sleeper trains, day seats and some faster express trains are generally good value. If you have the time, it’s worthwhile taking at least one longer train ride. Far more comfortable than night-buses with the option to see the countryside, read a book and even have meals and refreshments on board.
So while it’s fairly easy to get into Thailand, with visitors usually flying direct into Bangkok, or any of the many international airports at Phukhet, or Chiang Mai, getting around this cultural hotspot is part of the adventure you came for. Give it a try.