Getting Around in Bangkok

Walk This Way

You can walk in many places but often sidewalks are crowded and shell-pocked, with tired dogs and hyped vendors leaving only a thread-thin path down the pavement. Add in the heat, humidity and pollution, and you can conclude Bangkok is not a good walking city.

Taxi!

That's cool with us, because taxis are everywhere and very cheap. Starting fare is 35 baht (under US$1 in 2004) and unless you get snared by Bangkok's Matrix-sized traffic jams, even cross-town trips are cheap.

Unless you speak Thai, it is best to have your destination written out in Thai, as most drivers do not speak English. We always found the drivers to be friendly and to work hard to figure out where we wanted to go, but sometimes the language wall was just too serious.

Be sure and “remind” the driver to turn on the meter by pointing at it and saying “meter” to avoid negotiating your fare at the (wrong) end of the ride.

Tuk-Tuk

We can't say the same good stuff for the tuk-tuks. These are three wheeled open-to-the-air motorcycle taxis and yes, your kids will want to ride in them. They hang out near the tourist places and the drivers will often call out to you.

OK, heck, it was fun to ride-once-in a tuk-tuk. They have no meter, so negotiate the fare before you drive off. You are riding in the open air, so all that yummy Bangkok air pollution is being rammed down your throat and into your eyes at 35 mph. You also have nothing between you and the incoming traffic, so suggest to your driver that he avoid any accidents or tipping over on turns. It seems many of the drivers are young and may have acquired all their driving skills from Super Mario bouts, so be advised.

You'll still want to try it once, but do be careful…

Buses

Buses go everywhere and cost just pennies, but without speaking Thai and/or having a sense of adventure can be hard to figure out. Some are air conditioned and a bit more expensive, some are insanely crowded, but with taxis as cheap as they are, you probably won't have too many reasons to check them out.

The SkyTrain

A fairly recent addition to Bangkok is the SkyTrain, pretty much like a subway up in the air. We found it sort of but not exactly went where we wanted to go, and used it mostly as a way to shorten a cross-town taxi ride rather than as a one-stop transport method as you might do in London, Tokyo or NYC.

The stations are all elevated and all have stairs, though with some looking we found an elevator at all the places we checked. If the journey is only a few stations and you are three or more, a taxi might be about the same price and easier.

You can find a route map for the Skytrain online.

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