Thai Transport

We have been here for over a month now and have already experienced all of the various ways in which Thai people get around. Although this can differ from place to place, the running pattern of transport tends to be standard taxi, Songthaew (which are know as bus and taxi, depending on where you are) and tuk tuks.

The other exceptions are of that are in Bangkok, where you have the Skytrain, which is like a monorail that goes to all of the main destinations in Bangkok on two different lines, which sits above street level. Very easy to understand and use, find out where you are going on the line, pay the fee which is shows to that destination and collect your ticket…done.

There is also the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) in Bangkok which covers further afield than the Skytrain and is similar to many countries Underground trains, however it only has one line (very simple to understand therefore). Again simply find where you are getting off, put into the machine the relevant fee and it will spit out a token like coin, which you scan over the barriers and then put into the slot on your way out at your destination. The Skytrain and MRT are both air conditioned, clean and very safe.

Another unique transport in Bangkok is the motorbike taxis! These can also be found in places surrounding Bangkok like Ayutthaya and are not for the faint hearted. Essentially you get on the back of a scooter/motorbike with a man in a high viz jacket, who knows the city like the back of his hand. Whizzing onto pavements, down back alleys and if your lucky, against traffic!!! You will see all the Thai business men and women using these, which kind of makes you think it is the best way to get about. You are certainly in the hands of experts.


Something that is seen all over Thailand (apart from Bangkok), is Songthaews (translates as two benches) which is essentially either a Toyota, Izuzu or Nissan pick up truck with the bed turned into a mini bus!! These are used as buses, taxis and if you do any trips which involve going off road, this is what will no doubt pick you up. They are all different shapes, sizes and quality! In Chiang Mai these are used as buses which circulate to various areas of the province, dictated by their colour. They are good fun, but can get a little bit hairy when you go off road, as the drivers don’t take it slowly! However considering the weight they are driving with and top heavy nature of the truck (which can hold 10 westerners or 20 Thais!), they drive them like touring car drivers, hitting every apex perfectly and understanding every corner they hit. If we were to drive these, i would dread to think the outcome!


Normal taxis do exist in Thailand, but again depending on where you are and which area you are staying in, you will or will not see them. In Chiang Mai for instance you will rarely see them in the old city, but step into the new city and they are everywhere as normal. In Bangkok they come in a range of colours which dictates the company they work for. They tend to be very cheap and if you are not in the mood for a loud, dusty and hot tuk tuk ride or motorbike taxi, than this is your answer. You need to get your haggling skills right though (as with everything over here) as the Taxi drivers tend to be a bit more stubborn.


Now when i visited Kathmandu (Nepal) rickshaws were the only way to get around and i was lead to believe that they were still a huge part of Thai transport. It certainly does not seem the case anymore, until we travelled further North we didn’t see a single one. In Chiang Mai you see the odd one or two, but it is fair to say the Songthaews and Tuk Tuks are certainly pushing them out. They are a great way to travel around and at the slow pace they go, you get to see so much than in a Songthaew or Tuk Tuk. The drivers are always atleast in their 70’s and have no hesitation in taking you wherever you want to go. Its sad to see they are disappearing as not only are they a great way to get around, but (not to be too eco warrior) they lower pollution emissions within those areas, which trust me in Thailand cities/towns, is needed.


Saving the best to last, the Tuk Tuk. These can come in many shapes and sizes, again depending on where you are. Here are some examples of ones we have seen so far in Thailand:

Standard Tuk Tuk (most areas):


Ayutthaya Tuk Tuk:


Sukothai Tuk Tuk:


Although they come in various shapes and sizes, they all serve the same purpose and the drivers are all as pushy as each other, shouting ‘tuk tuk, where you go’ as you walk by or even pull over to you whilst you are walking along the pavement minding your own business, it is never done aggressively though and easy to ignore if you are not interested. Your haggling skills really need to come into play here, the drivers are not as pushy as the taxi drivers, but certainly know the price they want and get to it in a jokey playful way. Before we came here we read a post on a forum about get these atleast once whilst you are in Thailand as they are pricey and there are easier ways to get about…….wrong. They are convenient, always there when you need one, friendly drivers and always know where you need to go. However with that said, beware of the scams, they will try and sell you tours, trips etc booked through the tourist information or a boat tour from a pier you have never heard of! Essentially don’t be an idiot, if it sounds to easy and to good to be true, then it most definitely is. They are great from getting from A to B and know every location on the map, use them every day if you have to and are that lazy, but my advice would be to book your trek, trip etc through an agent you find or have been suggested, but not from a tuk tuk driver.

I could talk about the various modes of transport a lot more, but have already written enough. I hope that this helps anyone visiting Thailand to understand the various transports and gives a little insight into how people get around over here, for those that aren’t. Thanks for reading.

—Stay Classy World—ACastling—

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