GUIDE TO BANGKOK BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTS
How many tourists/Travelers venture into Bangkok only by using public transport? I haven’t seen many.
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
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!
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.
1)HOW TO GET TO WAT PHO/GRAND PALACE TEMPLES BY BUS
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.
Turn right at the Burger King sign, and after 300mt you’ll find the big road (Picture here below)
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!).
2) HOW TO GET TO MBK SHOPPING CENTER 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.
3) HOW TO GET TO PRATUNAM AREA BY BUS
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”)
4) HOW TO GET TO CHINATOWN AND SILOM AREA BY BUS
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.
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”.
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!