I have to say I am very impressed with the public transport system of Bangkok. Anyone that is used to commuting in London or any busy city would know how hard it can be: overcrowded trains, hot and stuffy carriages, masses of people… A lot of the times when you arrive in a new city trying to work out how to get where can be a bit overwhelming. Unless you use taxis all the time of course, but for most people that is not a viable option.
While staying in Bangkok we used trains, metro, boats, taxis and tuk-tuks. The only thing we didn’t feel brave enough for were the buses! (mainly because the bus timetables, destinations etc. are tend to only be written in Thai, whereas the train and metro system are all signposted and announced in English). Everything else, especially the train and metro system were incredibly easy to get used to. The system is easy to understand, cheap, and hallelujah! all trains have air conditioning.
In England I really don’t like aircon. I travelled on enough trains in the middle of summer when the temperature outside is just about in the low twenties and the train companies insist on having the aircon on trains, freezing you in the process. On the other hand, the tube is notorious for being too hot even in winter as there is no air conditioning on there whatsoever. So it is the two extremes, never just quite right.
Well, luckily in Bangkok they managed to solve this problem, which means you can always find a respite from the city’s 33 degree heat while travelling from one destination to the next.
For the few days we spent in Bangkok we got by on buying single journey tickets for the city trains each time we had to travel. There are ticket offices and English language ticket machines on most stations. Next time we’re in Bangkok we’ll probably look into the daily or weekly ticket options. But if you have no itinerary, like we didn’t this time, and just plan your activities day by day, then buying your tickets as and when you travel is perfectly good and still quite a cheap way of getting around.
I also loved the efficient boat service they have running on the Chao Phraya river. There are some major tourist attractions that are mostly reachable by boat, so experiencing a ferry ride down the river is usually on the cards for most visitors to Bangkok.
Tuk-tuks are a great way to get around! I was a bit apprehensive at first, but everyone should try it at least once for the experience. All tuk-tuk drivers we came across were really friendly, were prepared to barter the price, and they fly through the city when there’s not much traffic. Another great thing about them is that they are everywhere and all the time, so you never have to feel lost or stranded when the trains no longer run at night; there’s always a friendly tuk-tuk driver to get you where you need to be.