TYPICAL-Bus-IN- Bangkok-colorful-pink-with-no-air-con-

Bangkok by Bus: A cheap way to see the top sights,or simply get Lost!

ASIA, BLOG, THAILAND, USEFUL GUIDES 34 Comments

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GUIDE TO BANGKOK BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTS


How many tourists/Travelers venture into Bangkok only by using public transport? I haven’t seen many.


public pus transportation in bangkok guide for tourists travelers. how to visit bangkok by bus

On the public Bus!

 


In this article I’ll show you not only how to not get ripped off by taxis and Tuk Tuks, but also to enjoy THE REAL THING. I’ll tell you which buses goes to the main attractions, how not to get lost (or why you should try to get lost at least once), fares and tips. All personally tested by me.



  TIPS TO GET AROUND BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT


TYPICAL-Bus-IN- Bangkok-colorful-pink-with-no-air-con-


1| CARRY SMALL CHANGE WITH YOU:


The conductor will collect the fare (or a lady passing among the people with a small cilinder), always have small change with you.
A 100-baht note on an air-con bus is acceptable, but not so much on regular or smaller buses (500 and 1,000 baht notes are a big no-no).


2 | KEEP THE RECEIPT: 


After buying the ticket they will give you a small receipt. Keep it as sometimes they will ask you to show it again.


3 | ALWAYS TELL YOUR DESTINATION: 


This way, you will pay according to it (on Air con buses) and they also let you know where to get off!


4 | CALL THE BUS WHEN IT IS APPROACHING: 


No matter if you are right at the bus stop, when you see your bus coming, do like the locals, either run towards the entrance or call it by waving your hand clearly! If you don’t do that, you are very likely to  miss it.


5 | GET READY TO JUMP IN AND OUT: 


Most of the buses don’t really stop and you need to run and jump in (and out) when they are still moving. A little balance and quick reflex will do the trick!


Ready to jump on!

Ready to jump on!


6 | TRY TO ASK FOR DIRECTIONS: 


It is very unlikely that you’ll find anyone who speaks good English in there, but from time to time there will be someone who understands a bit, and they are all very kind and willing to help the “Farang” (read: Stranger/tourist).


You’ll find yourself surrounded by concerned people trying to understand where you need to go or to get off. All this may sound a bit “Uncomfortable” for a normal tourist but it’s all part of the experience!


7 | GET A MAP:


I am actually against any map, but the bus one, provided by BMTA website is pretty useful if you are too scared jump into  the unknown, without a small parachute.


8 |WHERE IS THE BUS STOP?


Get ready! not all the buses have a “proper” bus stop, just try to ask on the streets, and if you have a specific destination in mind, go to the main road and the first bus that stops there, run to the front door and ask the conductor..and good luck with that! 🙂


9 | WRITE THE NAMES OF PLACES AND ROADS IN THAI: Better ask your hostel for that


I jumped on a bus and asked for the “Grand palace Temples”, sure they’d understand such a simple request. A blank stare into their face brought me back to the reality: Thai people use their Thai names for streets and attractions. At least learn a few words like WAT (temple), and you’ll be in better shape.



 

A VERY SPECIAL MISSION:

For 5 days I moved only by using  public buses and  boats

 


After my 7th time in Bangkok I was sick and tired of Tuk Tuks negotiations and scams and  taxis with a taxi meter that is always “broken”. I simply wanted to try to move like a local.


Well let me tell you something: My plan worked wonderfully, now I love Bangkok and can’t wait to be back for more (very soon! I’ll be back by the 6th of December).


Below is a practical list on how to get around Bangkok by bus. I will specify the bus numbers and where they can take you. Starting point: The Backpackers paradise Khaosan Road.


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1)HOW TO GET TO WAT PHO/GRAND PALACE TEMPLES BY BUS


Giant Reclined Buddha at Wat Pho

Giant Reclined Buddha at Wat Pho


Directions from Khaosan Road: Go to the end of the street where there is a Burger King Sign, turn on your right and after 300 mt you’ll find a huge Road called”Ratchadamnoen Klang Road”.You need to memorize this street very well, as most of the buses you need passes from there.


burger king khaosan road JPG


Turn right at the Burger King sign, and after 300mt you’ll find the big road (Picture here below)


Bus road bangkok OK PICASA


How to get there:For the temples (Wat Pho and the Grand Palace complex)  bus number 203 going to the  direction on your right. You’ll need to cross the road  and immediately on your right there is a  blue old Bus stop sign.


Cost of the ride by bus: 13 baht (o.40$) with air conditioning.


Cost of the ride by Tuk tuk: at least 100 baht ( (if less, beware: there is a scam where the driver takes you to a shop and insist that you buy something, don’t fall for that! I did once and when I refused to go to the shop he just yelled at me to get off, leaving me in the middle of nowhere and in a dark street!).


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2) HOW TO GET TO MBK SHOPPING CENTER BY BUS


bangkok-mbk-shopping-centre-by-bus


Warning: At least save the money by going there by bus, because as soon as you enter you will be LOST forever my friend. Anything you need, anything you could think of, you’ll find it in there!


How to get there: From Khaosan Road,same path to Ratchadamnoen Klang  Rd, but this time no crossing the road. Just go to your left and catch the Bus n. 79.  It will take around 20/30 minutes depending on the traffic, but it’s a very enjoyable ride with air con. And you won’t find a single tourist on the bus. I promise.


Cost for the ride: 13 baht no air con. 16/18 baht with air con.


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3) HOW TO GET TO PRATUNAM AREA BY BUS


The revolving Roof deck in Pratunam bayioke bangkok by night bangkok view, bangkok by bus

The revolving Roof deck in Pratunam


Pratunam is my personal paradise, as I’ve been here so many times and, apart for the shopping, you can find the most amazing revolving roof top view (Highly recommended at sunset for stunning pictures!).


How to get there: Same  Road from Khaosan, same direction as for the MBK (on your left). Bus numbers: 511, 60 or number 2.


Cost for the Ride: 13 baht no air con, 16/18 baht with air con.


Same advice as before: tell the driver where are you stopping (I always say, Baiyoke tower or “Shopping Centre”)


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4) HOW TO GET TO CHINATOWN AND SILOM AREA BY BUS


Chinatown-Bangkok-Thailand

Chinatown-Bangkok-Thailand

 


How to get there: From Khaosan Rd, same bus n. 203 to the temples, then bus Number 1 going in direction to the Silom Area.


Disclaimer: This may Not be the easiest way to reach Chinatown. I discovered it by accident. I went off from a public boat on a random pier (more about it on a separate post on public boats in Bangkok) and I found myself in the Silom area, after wandering around i tried to get back to Khaosan Road.


I decided to jump on the first bus coming my way. Bus number 1.  I had no idea where it would take me.


Italian Gestures: signs against bad luck

Italian Gestures: signs against bad luck


I had my Italian gesture for good luck in action, and I enjoyed the ride so much! it ‘s been one of the most freeing experience of my life!


I always wanted to jump on a random bus and see where it led. Well, bus number 1 was definitely my lucky one as it went trough some amazing places, including the hearth of Chinatown.


I can’t even start to tell you the incredible sensation of VICTORY when I realized that from Chinatown , the bus went straight to the Grand Palace! I felt like a lioness, I was literally  roaring inside!


My adventure went well after all. From there I took the usual bus number 203 (CAREFUL! I took it the wrong direction as it goes around the huge grand palace complex), but in the end I arrived safe and sound at my hotel in Khaosan road! What an exciting ride!


Tip: bus number 1 is a safe choice if you want to make sure you stay in well known areas, but it will give you the thrill to see some very fascinating parts of Bangkok unknown to the “Public”.


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MY FINAL TIP


Embrace the adventure and Enjoy it, even if you get lost! or may I say, you should hope to get a bit lost.


Sometimes the best things happens when you are not looking for them. Don’t be afraid to risk a bit (always using your judgment of course, as don’t go to dodgy areas by night and always have a copy of your address and passport with you, and some money to grab a taxi in case of emergency).


Talk to the locals on the bus, they will be in most cases, very friendly and happy to try to communicate with the only western person on the bus. Doesn’t matter if you don’t really understand each other. A smile goes a long way.


Enjoy the ride, look around you, be curious, jump off the bus when you feel like exploring by foot. Go with the flow


 

As Tolkien wisely said: “Not all those who wander are Lost”


What do you think? any direct experience? or would you like to add some more tips! leave me a comment below, would be great to see how you managed the experience!

I put all my effort to write this for you, like it and make me happy!
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Comments 34

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  2. Thanks for creating this, great guide! Just FYI, the BMTA website link in #7 is broken – or their website is down, but you get a 404 Page Not Found error when you click it.

  3. I have been to Thailand/Bangkok about 14 or 15 times and am planning my next trip this Sept. I absolutely love the country and almost always travel alone. I have been to Bangkok so many times I am beginning to run out of things to do without repeating some things. I agree that some of my best travel adventures when traveling other countries is to just take off and wander getting lost in the process. As long as you have your hotel information with you and some money (and stay out of dodgey areas) you can always get back to your hotel. After all, one of the adventures of traveling is getting out of your comfort zone. I’m going to try your ideas on getting around by bus and look at it as an adventure when in Bangkok. Just found your website. Looking forward to reading more of it and updates.

    1. Glad to see that there are other people who like to experience some adventures, that’s the right spirit! 🙂

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  6. Hello clelia. It’s very an interesting experiece u’d got. I’ll go to bkk in the end of july. Thanks a lot 4 ur detail info. This my second trip to bkk and I hope I’ll have fun as u did there

  7. Finally I got what I wanted to find out about the local travel in Bangkok. I have been to BKK for 4 times and I used to stay in Pratunam area only as I am alone. All the bus routes are the same even if I stay at Pratunam? Why do you prefer staying at Kahoson Road? This area is also like Pratunam? Kindly give me some more tips as I will traveling to Bangkok for 3 days from 05/06/15.

    I am Premkumar from Bangalore, India.

    1. Hey Premkumar! Glad that you found what you were looking for. I always stay in Khaosan road because I prefer the vibe of the area which is more for backpackers really and it’s also easier (for me) to move around Bangkok.
      Pratunam is also a nice area, the buses also follow the same routes but to make sure always follow my advice and ask the driver (or someone at the bus stop) where you want to go!

      Hope it helps!
      Cheers

      Clelia

  8. Wow, you like your buses, well done Clelia. I always use MRT and BTS when in BKK, river taxi from Saphan Taksin to Wat Arun/Wat Pho. Have to agree with tuk tuk drivers, but taxis are usually ok, apart from the lower Sukhumvit and other tourist areas. I always stay in phraram 9 area, less farang, taxi better:-)

    1. Probably I’ve not being lucky with the taxis, as i always had bad experiences with them. But at least I know my tricks now. And I still take the buses whenever I can. I simply love them!

  9. Great site you have got here.. It’s hard to find high-quality
    writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals like
    you! Take care!!

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  11. So glad i found your website! I was actually looking for Bangkok’s Bus map and stumbled upon your article. Guess what? i want to try your way and just get lost and see what happens.
    Great philosophy love it :=)

  12. Great article! I tried the buses experience in Bangkok too and i found it very enjoyable. Much better (and cheaper) than the Tuk Tuks.
    Can’t wait to go back to Bangkok asap.

  13. Such a great article full of useful information. Glad i found it as i’m heading to Thailand very soon and honestly my idea was to avoid the usual tuk tuks. I will definitely try the buses for once. Sounds a very fun experience.
    Ps: Had a look at your website and loved it! Good job

    Moren

  14. WOW… Great info here… I am defnitilly book marking this page 🙂
    By the way, you are going back to Bangkok on the 6th, I will be arriving on the 8th, let me know if you would like to get lost together… That is my kind of attitude 🙂

    1. Ha Mo! as i told you..we are going to get lost at the airport!, I like this too about Bangkok, you have no idea on how many people i met on the streets and then again at the airport in Bangkok. Seriously. It’s amazing how small the world is after all. See you somewhere around the world..
      Stay safe!

  15. We took the bus to Chinatown, too. Not sure it was anything special as bus rides go, but Chinatown was amazing. Best part of Bangkok, if you ask me. Never had any idea at all what was going on there, which was fine.

    1. Tom, the buses are “my cup of tea” in terms of adventure and relaxation. I just love them. So yes they are not spectacular or anything, the opposite maybe. Chinatown wowed me big time too. I wasn’t expecting what i saw, all the lights and so many peoples and things going on. I hope i have time to explore it in depth when i’ll be back in December.

  16. Awesome info Kle! We also explored Bangkok by bus. It costed us about $1 to get anywhere. The buses were shaky and crowdy, but we still enjoyed the budget ride. The driver was so nice and we asked the lady who was collecting the money for direction and she let us know when we should get off. Everyone’s so polite and kind! Tuk tuks suck! 🙂

    1. I knew you would, that’s the spirit i like! i honestly didn’t find them so crowdy, apart for when i was coming back from the Mbk and Pratunam, but if you wait for the next one, it is always a bit better and i could be seated in about 5 minutes 🙂
      Yes everyone in there is so nice, they probably see us as the “Bangkok Attraction” of the day, and are so willing to help!

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