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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Bangkok, Thailand: Transportation Made Easy

I want to be a certified backpacker; well at least I’m trying to be one...

I want to experience exploring in a new place with all my things just packed in my backpack. Thailand is a popular destination for backpackers and I thought this will be a good start for me to be one.

suvarnabhumi airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport

TRAVEL TIP: Ride all the local transportation as much as possible, be closer to the local people, and get acquainted with the place’s culture, up close.

I want to share with you how transportation system is like in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok. It’s good to see that even though Bangkok has progressed greatly over the years, they still haven’t seized their early mode of transportation, the Bangkok State Railway. Now I agree with the ideas I've known before that train systems are the city’s road to industrialization.

I’m amazed of Bangkok’s State Railway because it is still fully operational and still offers a lot of train routes heading to various places of Thailand.

Bang Sue Station Thailand
Bang Sue [bang-soo] Train Station

For instance visiting Ayutthaya City on the northern part of Thailand, you can ride a train from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station via the Northern Line. The trip takes around 90 minutes and costs around THB 20 for a 3rd class yet a comfortable seat. The train regularly departs everyday from 6:30 AM so no need to be worried not to catch a train ride. :)

Bang Sue Station
Ayutthaya Bound Train Station
Bang Sue ticketing officeTicket to Ayutthaya

When you are a first time traveler in Thailand just like me, arriving Bangkok’s airport and going to the city central is very convenient. After passing through the Thai Immigration and getting your luggage, exit the arrival area and go to the main lobby. Then head down to the Basement to which the Airport Rail Link (SARL) is located.

Airport Rail Link
SARL Train at Bangkok Airport
From the airport going to the last train station of SARL, Phaya Thai Station, it will only take around 30 – 45 minutes and costs around THB 40THB 50. Not only you will pay less, you will still have equal comfort!
SARL ticket vending
Train token vending machine
SARL train platformSARL train thailand

TRAVEL TIP: Roaming around Bangkok, there are a lot of transportation options to choose from. It depends on what area you want to go and what’s the cheapest and safest option to have. If the place you wanna go is near the Bangkok MRT Stations or BTS Stations, I highly suggest riding the Bangkok Trains. It is fast, convenient, highly-organized and safe. Well the downside is that it is a bit expensive.

SARL train turnstile
Train turnstile using contactless token
Petchaburi StationMRT Bang Sue
Petchaburi Station                           Bang Sue Station

If the place is not near the train stations, the TAXI should be your next option. There are a lot of “colorful” taxis in Bangkok. Yes, I did mean it is colorful. Always politely ask the driver to use the taximeter rather than them dictating the price. If they don’t agree with this suggestion, put on your smile, get out of the taxi, and politely say thank you. There are a lot of taxis available in the city so it would not be a problem.

Diamond Plaza Thailand
There it is, the PINK Taxi!

TRAVEL TIP: The taxi’s flag down rate is THB 35 and increments regularly depending on the distance and time it takes for you to arrive at your destination. You may find some online Bangkok Taxi Calculator to have an idea prior.

Crossing the famous Chao Praya River, you can easily go to Wat Arun from Tha Tien Pier, near Wat Pho Temple, through their express ferry. The ferry operates regularly until 8PM and it only costs THB 3.

Tha Tien Pier
Tha Tien Pier
Going to Wat ArunExpress Ferry

Last mode of transportation I would recommend is the Tuk-Tuk. Tuk-Tuk is very and cheap but some tuk-tuk drivers tend to fool you around especially when you’re new in Bangkok.

Yes, I am a living casualty of their “tuk-tuk moves”. It may cost you cheaper but be mindful though because they might bring you to some places first such as the Information Center, expensive River cruise trip, and other places to which they can earn referral commissions.     

Thai tuktuk
Yes, he did his "Tuk-Tuk moves"!
Thai tuktuk_02tuktuk

Visiting Cambodia from Bangkok, there are a lot of options to choose from heading to the border, Aranyaprathet; bus, taxi, and train. Well, what are the pros and cons? Check out my “opinion table” below about the transportation options:


TRAIN
BUS
TAXI
Availability
Departs Bangkok's Hua Lamphong twice everyday 
(5:55 AM and 1:35 PM)
A lot of buses available going to Aranyaprathet
Available anywhere and anytime
Travel Time
5 - 6 hours
4 – 5 hours
3 – 4 hours
Comfort
3rd class non-airconditioned seats
Air-conditioned seats
Air-conditioned seats
Safety
SAFEST
Somehow safe 
 (but takes a lot of stops)
Very Safe
Price
THB 48 (cheapest!)
THB 230
THB 2,000


Hua Lamphong Station Thailand
Hua Lamphong Station

Aranyaprathet Train

Thailand rural areas

I highly recommend riding the train because it is very safe, heads directly to Aranyaprathet without detour stops, passes the rural areas of Thailand, and the best of all - you will surely meet fellow tourists and backpackers alike! :)

Browse more information about Thailand from here:

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