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Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand

So you’re going to Thailand and you need to know what’s up with the transportation system over there.Here are the Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand. Well here is the basic run down of all the different forms of transport available and what you might expect. I’ve been on every mode of transport possible numerous times, but let me know if I’m missing something or if you have any other experiences or tips to share!


There are plenty of airports in Thailand to choose from. The cheapest airline usually ends up being Air Asia, but I always like to check Skyscanner too.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport: When you want to leave the airport you could get a taxi anywhere (be sure to ask which floor has the cheapest taxi. There are certain taxis that charge move coming from the airport). Or if you want, do what I do, just go down to the bottom floor of the Suvarnabhumi Airport and take the BTS to the city for very cheap. If you need to continue further than the BTS will go, then grab a cab at the last stop. Here is more information on getting transport from the airport into the city.

Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand

Cheapest way from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Khao Sarn Road:

Personally, this is my route from the airport to KSR, I think it’s the cheapest as well. Take the Airport BTS to Phaya Thai Station (I believe around 45B). Grab a METERED taxi to KSR, it should be around 70B.

Oh, and for the record, I’m a traveler who hates flying!


Oh, the trains are kinda fun! I actually don’t mind the trains at all. They do have one major downfall though: They are really slow. OK… I’m not sure if you really read an understood that, so I will say it again for dramatic effect: They are slow a hell….Especially when Bangkok is involved in your route.

Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
The train is full? Mai ben rai, I’ll sit on the floor at the back with the door wide open.

Short distances: The trains can potentially take double the time a mini van/bus would take. Some examples: When I lived in Ayutthaya, a minivan ride to Bangkok would be about an hour. The train would take two hours if we were lucky. Depending on the time and the traffic in Bangkok, it can take three hours.

Long distances: In my opinion, there’s no other choice but to get a berth (sleeper seat) on the long distance trains. It’s an experience sleeping in a little bed cabin thingy as you try to get some shut-eye as the train cart rocks you, to sleep? Maybe. Not for me, I’m a light sleeper. Either way- It beats sitting in a chair for over 10-15 hours!


– The upper berths are always cheaper, but they are also smaller.

– The toilets suck. It’s literally a hole in the ground where you can see the train tracks below…

– I’ve never taken the first class train, it’s a bit fancier I hear.

– There’s a food cart on the train but I think the food sucks, so I always bring my own snacks.

– It will be late. Guaranteed actually! If there’s some engine problems, bet on 2-3 hours of waiting.

– The train is usually the cheapest way to get around especially for shorter distances. The train from Ayutthaya to Bangkok is less than a $1.

For ticket times and costs this site is a pretty good source for Thailand train transport information. I would use it as a base though, there’s nothing like going to the train station and seeing what’s available in person.

– The trains don’t go far southwest. So if Krabi is your destination, I would just take the bus. It’s a pain to do train, then mini bus.

– I always feel like I will miss my train stop, but the train staff is usually pretty good at remembering the foreigners onboard and they make sure you get off at the right stop. That, and I always make friends with the people around me just so everyone knows where I need to get off in case I don’t see it!

– High season: Sometimes berth seats sell out a few days ahead of time, especial the Bangkok to Chiang Mai and reverse route. I would buy these earlier. Unfortunately there’s no online purchasing for train tickets at this time.

– If you’re going to Malaysia – You will be stopping in/departing from Hat Yai, Thailand. There are seats available for purchase online when heading to Malaysia through their website.


There’s tons of bus options. Far too many to name. Essentially there are two options in a more general sense, either private or government.

1.So if you take government buses, your transport will be cheaper, but also generally slower. It’s a good a option to get from A to B with the locals too.

2. The private companies vary – some are crappy and some are nice.

Options for purchasing a ticket:

-For convenience, you certainly could walk into any tourist information or tour place and buy a bus ticket to nearly anywhere.

– To save a few bucks (usually), you could just go to the bus station and buy it there.


If it’s not a hassle to get to the bus station, then just get it there yourself. But if it requires a long journey or if you need to leave at some ungodly hour, then just get it at a tour place. They often will pick you up from your hotel as well.

This is something to consider as well: Does the taxi to the bus station weigh out the amount you would save anyway?

Khao Sarn Road in Bangkok- I would suggest being very careful buying bus tickets in this area. I did it once for convenience and got a few, thankfully insignificant, items stolen from my bag. I have read and heard more stories about this as well. Their sketchy! Just go to the bus station.

Depending on your route, you could essentially show up at the bus station two or so hours before the last bus and buy your ticket then. I have done it plenty of times. Be careful doing this during high season and for the very popular routes. Of course this is recommended more for people who don’t have a serious plan to follow.


Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
One of the older mini vans

These are everywhere and you can take one almost anywhere. A minibus from Ayutthaya to Bangkok is 60B and takes one hour. A minibus from Chiang Mai to Pai is 150B and takes three hours around winding roads. They sometimes drive crazy, and by sometimes I mean all the time. Seat belts may or may not be available. They are generally cheap, always late, and something you want over with as quickly as possible.

Tuk Tuk

These are the little taxis that are usually waiting and yelling for you as you step off the bus, train, or when you are simply trying to enjoy a peaceful walk. I usually find a way to avoid using a tuk tuk to get around unless there’s a larger group of us. They are usually the most notorious for scamming tourists during their stay here. Here’s my advice:

-Don’t use the first guy that approaches you.

– Or the second.

– I aim for the dude that’s further from the crowd, just leaning on his tuk tuk, smoking a cig and not bothering anyone. THAT’S the tuk tuk driver I want.

– Always get a price before getting in the vehicle.

– Don’t fall for the scams in Bangkok. There’s plenty of them, not only involving tuk tuk’s.

Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
Shot from the back seat of a Bangkok tuk tuk

There’s nothing really wrong with using a tuk tuk, but personally have always used some other form of transport whether it’s a motorbike, songthaew or motorbike taxi because they are usually cheaper. Tuk tuks are awesome for a night out with a bunch of friends. The more people to split it with, the better.


Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
This is how you ride a songthaew when it’s full. Don’t look mom!

I love the songtaew! These are shared taxi’s that are essentially a truck with two parallel benches on either side of the back of the truck covered by a roof. These vehicles drive a route around the city and all you need to do it hail it down anywhere on its route. They are a super cheap way to get around town.


Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
Motorbike hustle in Bangkok

Be careful on these, the traffic can get psycho! But if you’re confident enough and have about $6 in your pocket you can rent a motorbike for the day and can transport your happy little self anywhere you want.

– Take pics/movie of your bike when renting it. ALWAYS!

– Check it out, drive it around for a minute, be sure they see you do all this. Just in case! There’s plenty of people getting snagged for $300+ “for a scratch they made.”

– It’s common practice that they hold your passport as a deposit, so doing the above would be smart just in case. If you don’t want to hand your passport over, they will likely request a hefty deposit, $100+ or so.

Motorbike taxi

I love these guys. They get you were you need to go quick and usually pretty cheap. A motorbike taxi dude will be wearing a neon vest, either in orange, pink, yellow, blue, or some other color depending on your area and city. Arrange a price before hand and hop on the bike.


This really only applies to Bangkok and its surroundings as that’s where the majority of metered taxis are. There are some in Phuket, but I’m not too affluent with the situation there. All I remember is that taxis in Phuket are ridiculously pricey. Back to Bangkok… The main point- Always get a metered a taxi. If he doesn’t want to turn on the meter, just ask the next taxi that comes by. Sometimes I have asked 5 in a row, but I always get one in the end. If you settle on a price, it will guaranteed be more than the meter.

Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
Taxis in Bangkok stand out


– I always pretend I know exactly where I am going. It helps that I can speak a bit of Thai, but either way, make it known that you know your route so they don’t drive around.

– My nifty trick: Pull out my phone and tell them I’m mapping their route. The funny thing is…I don’t even get 3g on my phone, so I’m bold-faced lying. It works though!

– If anything, it’s a good idea to at least have a screenshot of your route off Google. Your driver will likely have little to zero English skills, so handing them a map is a good idea. Make sure you have your map/destination or whatever in Thai too. They sometimes can’t even read Thai, no less English.

– Get the phone number of your destination. They are almost always willing to call and get directions if neither of you know the way/ you don’t have a map.


I almost forgot about boats! Obviously with a billion islands everywhere, boats are a must.

Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
Longtail boat on Tonsai

Speedboats- Oh boy, there’s been a few accidents with these guys, their not my fav. They go way too fast in my opinion. Sometimes they are inevitable, and they are the priciest of the bunch.

Longtail boats- Avoid going on them in bad weather and you should be golden. I’ve been on these hundreds of times and each boat is pretty rickety and always has leakage, but I always got to where I was going OK!

Ferries- Slow as molasses because they are transporting vehicles as well, but they get you from A to B. These are often included when you buy your bus tickets, so be sure to ask just to make sure. And make sure you get all the proper receipts/stickers (stickers are very popular for ferry rides, hang on to those tiny squares!!!). They forgot to give my friend and I stickers once and we nearly had to pay again!


Hitchhiking isn’t super popular, but it’s certainly an option. I’ve actually never technically hitchhiked, because I think that involves putting your thumb out and asking for a ride. However, I have been picked up and given a ride MANY times! Thais are super nice and actually, quite lazy, so they can’t fathom why anyone would walk anywhere and are usually willing to give you a ride. The more “out there” you travel, the more likely you will be to get a ride. My friend and I traveled a bit too far off the path one weekend and got seven free rides in two days! We didn’t ask anyone either. We were offer rides from our hotel neighbor, the coffee shop owner (who literally closed down her coffee shop to drive us!!!!! How freakin sweet!) and by people stopping to ask the two random foreigner girls who were walking in the road if they wanted a ride… It was a great experience and really showed how sweet the people can be here.

Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand
I guess a nice Thai picking you up is another way to get around… (in the back of a truck!)

Where will you go after Thailand?

Laos | Malaysia | Singapore | Indonesia | Philippines | Cambodia | Vietnam

Would you add anything else? Do you have any interesting Thai transportation stories?


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Transportation Info and Tips for Thailand

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  1. hi Nina
    great website. can you advise me if I want to see things like nature parks or the emerald pool, is there songthaws I can catch or do I have to go on an organized tour or rent a bike. would you recommend to ride a scooter if I haven’t ridden before and if I haven’t a licence is this a problem?

    1. Hey Melinda, there is public transport to some places but for others, you’ll need to hire your own tuk-tuk, tour, or drive yourself. If you haven’t been on a scooter before I would say be extremely careful. It’s a pretty common thing to do but it’s not really the safest, I can’t lie. You should at least have a license from your home country but I think you’re technically supposed to have an international one. If you dont have one I assume you’re not an experienced driver and therefore you should not rent a vehicle or any kind at all.

  2. I was told that the thumb up sign means something rude in Thai culture, so I was just waving my hand like you do when you want to take a cap. I have to admit that Thailand was one of the easiest countries I’ve hitchhiked in so far. 😉

    1. Nice! I’ve def hitchhiked a few times out of no choice (went too far off the path! Lol) but transport is soooo cheap I don’t see a point to do it otherwise. Glad it all worked out well for you!

      1. Agree. Transportation is cheap, and in countries like Thailand, or Iran there’s no poin to hitchhike, but on the other hand, it never gives you the experiences you can have while hitchhiking. 🙂

  3. Although it only applies to Bangkok, I love taking the Skytrain because it provides such a majestic view of the city.

    As for my most interesting Thai transportation, I let myself get duped by the ticket agent at the Eastern Bus Terminal in Bangkok. I wanted to go to Ban Phe to board the ferry for Ko Samet. I wanted to get to the beach as soon as possible so instead of waiting like 50 minutes for the next bus to Ban Phe, I bought a bus ticket for…. I don’t know where.

    And when I got “I don’t know where,” I got a ride on a scooter to Ban Phe – which was nervewracking.

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  5. Thank you so much for this post.
    I am going to Thailand in August as part of my RTW, and this post is very helpful.
    Have copied it and sent it to my email for future reference 😀

  6. Hi Nina,

    What a fun post! After living in Thailand for almost 22 months over the past 46 I haven’t taken a train yet. We fly in all the time and do the bus bit – or fly domestic – if we’re going pretty darn far. In Chiang Mai we walk everywhere in town and in Phuket, Koh Lanta and Pak Nam Pran we do the motorbike bit. Love riding the bike in quieter areas like Lanta because it’s a peaceful, stress-free way to enjoy the beauty of the Land of Smiles.

    Keep on inspiring!


    1. Thanks Ryan! Wow! No trains? Definitely try it out one day. The motorbike get’s a bit hairy sometimes, but on the islands it is pretty chill! But Phuket wouldn’t be on that list for me..It can get a bit scary there! haha.