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How To Use The Skytrain In Bangkok

Updated on April 7, 2013

The Skytrain: A Quick Way Of Getting Around Bangkok

Bangkok is a famously congested city. Never-ending traffic jams that sometimes continue round the clock can be very frustrating and stressful. However, since the opening of the skytrain there is a quick and hassle-free way of travelling around the central areas of Bangkok.

Although negotiating the Bangkok skytrain is easy, it is useful to know what one is dealing with before the event, so in this lens I hope to give people an idea of what things to be aware of when using the skytrain.
 

If you want some idea of what to do when in Bangkok, try a few of the things on this lens 10 Memorable Things to See/Do in Bangkok.

Bangkok Skytrain Map - A Useful Map For Navigating The Skytrain

Expressway & Skytrain Map of Bangkok
Expressway & Skytrain Map of Bangkok

One of the first things travelers need to know before using the skytrain is which parts of town it serves. Although the Bangkok skytrain coverage is not extensive, it does greatly assist travelers in getting around the city center and a map can help plan with travel connections.

This map of Bangkok highlights the skytrain along route and stations along with elevated expressways.

 
Bangkok Skytrain Poster on Amazon.com
Bangkok Skytrain Poster on Amazon.com

What Exactly Is The Bangkok Skytrain?

The skytrain in Bangkok is an elevated railway with all stations also elevated above major roads. Its official name in English is The Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) and its Thai name "rot fai fa" translates as "skytrain".

The skytrain opened on 5th December 1999 and extensions have opened since adding 2 further stations to the Silom line in May 2009, a further 5 stations to the Sukhumvit line in August 2011 and a further 4 stations to the Silom line in January 2013.

You can learn a little more about the skytrain here: Bangkok Skytrain.

These Things Are Not Allowed On The BTS Skytrain System

A few things are not allowed on the skytrain or on the stations.

1. No Littering

2. No Unlicensed Selling

3. No Smoking

4. No Animals (Except Guidedogs)

5. No Eating or Drinking

6. No Flammable Products

As one enters any skytrain station, one must pass through a security scanner which is attended by a security guard. Occasionally they will ask to look inside your bag before allowing entry to the station.

No photos used to be on the list but seems to have disappeared and certainly no one gave me a second look as I took the pictures for this lens.

Skytrain Change Booth
Skytrain Change Booth

How To Get Change To Use In The Ticket Machines

The unit of currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht and it is essential to have some to be able to buy your ticket. Whilst a few skytrain stations have exchange bureaux one cannot count on them all around the route, so come armed with some local currency.

However, there are change booths on every station so that travellers can exchange banknotes for coins in order to use the ticket machines. Also at these booths, multiple journey tickets can be purchased; there is little financial advantage in doing so but getting one means that during busy periods you will not have to queue at the ticket machines - the queues get quite long at rush hour!

So, go to the booth and obtain a sufficient number of coins to use the ticket machine: remember, it is a CHANGE booth not an EXCHANGE booth.

If you do wish to check out exchange rates I find this to be a fairly reliable currency converter: Oanda.com

Buy Your Ticket - There Are Basically Three Steps Here

1. Select your destination.

2. Find out what fare zone that destination is in.

3. Press the button for that fare zone on the ticket machine and pay.

1. Select Your Destination

This is done by taking a look at the skytrain map which is next to every ticket machine and look for your required destination. The station that want to go to will have a number between 1 and 6 on it.

The number on your station is what you need to know for step 2.

2. Find out what fare zone that destination is in.

This is easily done by looking at the fare information chart which is above every skytrain map (the map you just got the number from). Look at the number that you obtained from the map and you will see that a fare ranging from 15 to 40 baht corresponds to that number.

Get your coins ready for step three.

3. Press the button for that fare zone on the ticket machine and pay.

Press the button on the ticket machine that corresponds to the fare zone obtained in step 1. The fare will be displayed but you will already have the correct coinage because of step 2. Put the correct fare in the coin slot, using 10 or 5 baht coins.

You will receive your ticket and any change will come as 5 baht coins.

Skytrain Ticket
Skytrain Ticket

Now You Have Your Ticket

Skytrain tickets are about the size of a credit card and made of flexible plastic. On one side they have a picture; this one is concerning safety on the skytrain.

Don't be alarmed if your ticket does not look exactly like the one pictured, the designs change from time to time; frequently they show tourist attractions around Thailand.

Skytrain Ticket Barrier
Skytrain Ticket Barrier

Negotiating The Ticket Barrier - It Seems Tricky For Some!

For anyone that has used a similar system this really should not be an issue, you just put the ticket in the slot at the front, it reappears from the slot at the top, the barrier opens and you walk through taking the ticket at the same time.

However, on the first day the skytrain opened, most Thais had never seen such a system and the whole thing ground to a halt only an hour or so after the opening due to people not being able to deal with the ticket barrier.

As is apparent in this photo, one enters through the barrier with the green arrows displayed. The exit barriers display a red cross.

On the Skytrain Platform

On skytrain stations one must go up another level from the ticket machine and ticket barrier onto the platform. There are stairs and elevators on every station and there are lifts for the disabled but one must speak to a security guard first about this.

Once on the platform, for reasons of obvious safety, one is required to stand behind the yellow line marked about 30 centimetres from the edge of the platform.

One will also notice some other markings on the platform. These indicate where one should stand when the train stops at the platform. Basically, one is required to stand just to the side of where the doors will be when the train stops (the train always stops at exactly the right place), and to let people off of the train before getting on.

One more thing to remember is that when the skytrain is busy, people politely queue to get onto the train, as can be seen here:

Very civilized.

Skytrain Station Sign
Skytrain Station Sign

Getting Off The Skytrain

Once one is travelling in the correct direction to the intended destination, listen to the announcements telling passengers which station is being approached. The announcements are in Thai and English. There are also many maps of the skytrain network in all train compartments so that passengers can follow their progress.

The journey time between stations is just a few minutes.

For further confirmation that you are at the correct station, just look out of the window to see the signs on the platform, like the one pictured.

Once off of the train head down the stairs, through the ticket barrier and make ones way back down to the street. If you have bought a single journey ticket, after inserting your ticket into the ticket barrier, the barrier will open but your ticket will not be returned. If you want a souvenir ticket, you will have to buy another one, or get one from the BTS website shop.

Some skytrain stations have bridges which cross straight into shopping malls, Prom Phong, Siam, National Stadium and Sala Daeng all spring to mind.

Using The Bangkok Skytrain, BTS, Video Clip

Skytrain Extension Opens In August 2011

The extension to the Bangkok skytrain route from On Nut to Baring (Sukhumvit Soi 107) will officially opens on 12th August 2011. The whole skytrain network will be tested throughout June 2011 with passengers and a promotional fare.

This adds more than 5km to the original skytrain network, penetrating to the eastern flanks of the city of Bangkok.

I will soon add to this webpage to include the new developments in the skytrain network.

Which Stations For Which Places?

BTS Bangkok Skytrain Station
BTS Bangkok Skytrain Station

Unfortunately, the Bangkok skytrain does not really go near many of the main tourist attractions but it does service the main shopping areas quite well. Here I will outline some of the stations that allow passengers to alight near certain places of interest.

Sukhumvit Line

Mo Chit - Mo Chit Bus Terminal, MRT Station & Chatuchak Market.

Victory Monument - Victory Monument and Markets.

Ratchathewi - Short Taxi ride to Pratunam Market & Baiyoke Tower.

Siam - Siam Square & Siam Paragon Mall.

Chit Lom - Central World.

Nana - Lower Sukhumvit Restaurants, shopping and Nightlife.

Asok - Soi Cowboy & MRT Station.

Phrom Phong - Emporium Mall.

Ekkamai - Ekkamai Bus Terminal.

Silom Line

National Stadium - National Stadium & MBK Mall.

Sala Daeng - Silom Shopping, Lumphini Park & Patpong Road.

Saphan Taksin - Central Pier for River Bus.

Wong Wien Yai - Western bank of the Chao Praya river.

The Bangkok Skytrain Operating Hours

Skytrain Schedule.

The Bangkok Skytrain operates services between 6am and midnight every day of the week.

Trains are frequent and at the busiest time of the day, there are trains every 3 minutes to deal with the large numbers of passengers that now use the skytrain in Bangkok.

Here Are Some More Bangkok Maps to Help You Get Around

Although I have not used it myself, many people tell me that the Nancy Chandler map shown here is a really useful one.

BTS website
BTS website

Bangkok Skytrain: BTS Website - The Official Skytrain Site

For all the information on the Bangkok Skytrain check out the official BTS website where you can find full details of ticketing, stations, proposed extensions to the skytrain route and other information.

For tourists who wish to have a souvenir of their time on the Bangkok Skytrain, the BTS website also has things for sale, including T-shirts, postcards and souvenir tickets: BTS Shop.

Have You Used The Skytrain In Bangkok?

BTS Bangkok
BTS Bangkok

Is the skytrain a good way of getting around Bangkok?

See results

Bangkok Skytrain News - What Is Happening With The Bangkok BTS

Bangkok Skytrain Tracks
Bangkok Skytrain Tracks
Bangkok Transport
Bangkok Transport

Are You Going To Be Traveling Around Bangkok?

If you are traveling around Bangkok, or planning to do so, and the skytrain does not get you where you want to go, there are other options for transport around Bangkok.

This page about Bangkok Transport will give you an idea of some of the options for beating the traffic jams in Bangkok.

Alternatively, you can read my account of being stuck in the traffic and know that you are not alone if feeling stressed out by sitting in a marathon traffic jam; Stuck In A Bangkok Traffic Jam.

Top Ten Best Things To See And Do In Bangkok

Top 10 Bangkok (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide)
Top 10 Bangkok (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide)

This useful little book lists many top tens for Bangkok: top ten temples, top ten restaurants, top ten markets etc. which gives the traveler a wealth of ideas for things to do on their trip to the Thai capital. I have used this book and it really does get you to the best attractions, restaurants and other places, often suggesting some unusual and seldom-visited spots.

 
Five Great Things About Thailand
Five Great Things About Thailand

Reasons to Visit Thailand

Five Great Things About Thailand

Thailand is a great country to visit or to live in. The relaxed pace of life and low cost of living make it both a pleasant place to be and a cheap one. Here I will highlight just 5 things that make it a great place.
5 Great Things About Thailand

Thanks for reading about the Bangkok skytrain, if you have anything to say about it, or this lens, please comment here.

Thanks for Visiting - Please leave a comment here

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    • MrMojo01 profile image

      MrMojo01 5 years ago

      Great lens, I have been to Bangkok twice and never taken the skytrain!

    • profile image

      philoc 5 years ago

      Great page and thanks for the information.

    • alidabdul profile image

      alidabdul 5 years ago

      I'm planning to visit Bangkok next year, this skytrain guide lens really help me

    • eTravelSense profile image

      eTravelSense 5 years ago

      Using public transport in a foreign country can be scary. Excellent detailed lens, well done!

    • profile image

      Lindrus 5 years ago

      Very detailed and informative lens - thanks! Quick and easy transport is a problem in Bangkok and I just wish that the sky train would be more developed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've never been to Bangkok, but would love to visit. The skytrain looks like a great mass transit system.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      great post, thanks for sharing this.

    • Sawasdee Kub profile image

      Sawasdee Kub 6 years ago

      BTS is the best way to get around in Bangkok.

      It's cheap and great services.

    • deyanis profile image

      deyanis 6 years ago from Oz

      Bangkok Sky Train is undoubtedly one of the world's best sky train. I used it every time I go on holiday in Bangkok and it's inexpensive. --- Blessed ---

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      great advise :) love it

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 6 years ago

      some really great advise, hope to get to use the sky train some day

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Not all BTS stations have elevators.

    • profile image

      aston morgan 7 years ago

      That's really good ....................

    • nickupton lm profile image
      Author

      nickupton lm 7 years ago

      Thanks to everyone for their kind comments on this lens being selected for lens of the day.

    • profile image

      EdyWij 7 years ago

      Thanks for the tip. Never been to Bangkok. Gonna use your guide until then.

    • profile image

      EdyWij 7 years ago

      I have never been to Bangkok. Thanks for the tip.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Congrats on your LOTD. Wonderful lens.

    • RoundTrip profile image

      RoundTrip 7 years ago

      Great lens, really brought back memories from our time in Bangkok. Can't wait to go back again.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image

      James Jordan 7 years ago from Burbank, CA

      This made me really want to go there! Great Lens!!

    • profile image

      ShortSaleRealtor 7 years ago

      Hi 5 to your great lens

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Nick! Congratulations on getting Lens of the Day! A very well put together lens. And to the rest of the readers here, I highly recommend Nick's lens on what NOT to do in Thailand.

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      First time I come here and I'm impressed! Love the "people politely queue to get onto the train"... something that our occidental societies should learn!

      Congratulations on your LOTD!

      Dom.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hey Nick, congratulations on getting Lens of the Day! I see it is 82 degrees in Bankok - wish it was that warm here too!!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      I went to Bangkok before the skytrain opened and would love to go back. Awesome city, one of my favorite places I've travelled. Congrats on LOTD

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 7 years ago from Concord VA

      Very interesting lens. Thanks for sharing it. Congratulations on LotD!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      This is great. The lens is very informative. Thanks for the great pictures too.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This is very well presented and a great resource for users of the The Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) - Skytrain. For other readers, it is very interesting. Congrats on a well deserved LotD

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      great LOTD! very well put together and informative...5*...wish there was a train lens like this for all major cities of the world...I could have used it a couple of times...nice that it also includes English wording signs.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Congratulations on LOTD!

    • stacy mcdaniel profile image

      stacy mcdaniel 7 years ago

      Congratulations on lens of the day! Good lens with lots of information.

    • profile image

      nattyno 7 years ago

      Fantastic ! If I ever go to Bangkok I will be shure to come back to this lens before I depart.

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 7 years ago

      I have just come from there and loved it. To be quite honest I never even noticed the Skytrain, I must be blind. Perhaps I was just too busy looking at other stuff. Congratulations on LOTD and well deserved.

    • profile image

      Mart903 7 years ago

      Congratulations on a quite informative, nicely illustrated, and very useful great lens of the day! 5 stars

    • nickupton lm profile image
      Author

      nickupton lm 8 years ago

      Thanks for your kind comments and blessing.[in reply to susannaduffy]

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Wonderfully done :) We have 2 versions of that skytrain here in the Philippines :)

      5*

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Another fabulous lens from you but what else do I expect? All of your work is fabulous. Blessed by an Angel today (squidoo.com/october-blessings)

    • Laddoo LM profile image

      Lloyd Pinto 8 years ago from Mumbai

      Very informative lens. I have bookmarked this as I will need this information as I am planning to travel to Bangkok pretty soon. Rated and Faved!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      The skytrain is good. The MRT is also very good.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 8 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Wonderfully practical lens for travelers. The Sky train is great depending on where you are!

      You're officially blessed!