Is Bangkok transport safe for getting around and what are the different kinds of transport? Bangkok is a big, bold, capital city, and being at the heart of Southeast Asia it is also diverse and busy! Covering over 1,500 square kilometres there’s a lot of the city to explore, whether on your own, in a group or on a mission as part of our Amazing Race events.
Public transportation is rated to be much safer than any other mode of transportation. Let’s take a look at the different methods of transportation and which should be the safest.
Bangkok Transportation Safety – Trains
BTS Skytrain – Bangkok Mass Transit System
It’s clean, efficient and easy to navigate, and more importantly, it’s fast! Running on two lines throughout the city’s main areas and over the river and beyond. When road traffic has come to a standstill you are best getting the Skytrain. Plans began for this system back in the early ’80s and it was opened in 1999.
Access is via escalators or stairs and there is a lift for the elderly or physically disabled. Tickets are bought from machines or kiosks located at each access gate. We found if you are going to 3 or more stations/locations it’s best to buy a one day pass. Not only does this save money, but during rush hour it avoids those extra long queues.
When using a one day pass passengers simply slide the card across the top of the entree gate machine. A one day pass can be used up to midnight. There is also a BTS connection from Suvarnabhumi International Airport making it quick, convenient and a way to avoid the taxi queues.
It’s best to avoid using the BTS during rush hour from around 7.30 – 8.30 am and 5.50 – 6.30 pm as it becomes too crowded.
MRT – Metropolitan Rapid Transit
As well as going overground you can avoid the chaotic roads by heading underground. The MRT line crosses the BTS at Asok and there’s a short walk between the two stations at BTS Sala Daeng and MRT Silom using the skywalks. Between the two you can cover most of the city.
It works the same way as the BTS and was fully launched in 1988. Unlike the BTS all stations are equipped with restrooms, and the stations they operate between 5:30 am to 1:00 am daily.
Bangkok Transportation Safety – Using The Roads
Bangkok Taxis and Safety
Unless you’re pushed for time, it’s rush-hour, raining or a Friday, flag down a cab. Taxis are not recommended during rush hour. Always make sure the meter is running (required by law) and if for any reason you don’t feel at ease with the driver, jump out and hail another.
The city has no shortage of cabs unless you’re heading for a tourist hot-spot. You need to have some idea of the area you’re heading to as surprisingly, most taxi drivers only know certain parts of the city. All taxis have a surcharge and the biggest problem could be communication as many speak very little English.
We suggest avoiding taxis parked outside hotels and tourist area hotspots as many will attempt to fix a set fee without using the meter.
Tuk Tuks – Three Wheelers and Safety
Ideal for those ‘just around the corner’ trips, these small auto-rickshaws are fast, fun, and a little hair-raising at times. A tuk-tuk has become an icon and the most recognisable form of Bangkok transportation. They’re perfect for nipping in between traffic lanes and cars in the tourist areas such as Chinatown, but remember if it’s a 10-minute ride it shouldn’t cost more than about 60-80 THB. Prices are usually inflated by the driver and you need to negotiate and haggle with him to get the price down.
If this is your first time in Bangkok a tuk-tuk ride would be a fun experience but you’ll soon discover it could be a lot cheaper using a taxi or train.
For safety, we wouldn’t recommend using them in rush hour as you would be breathing in the hazardous fumes from other engines around you especially the buses!
Bangkok Buses and Safety
They are plentiful, cheap if not free, and cover the whole city. The issue is working out which bus goes where can be confusing. Without a bus route map or local help forget it, but when you do get to use one, you’ll be amazed at how organised Bangkok’s bus system is. Buses are the most affordable way to travel around the city but you can find the conductors and drivers a little aggressive.
They even come in pink!
The red buses are probably the cheapest form of transportation anywhere in Bangkok and fares can be as low as 8 baht. Fares are collected by the conductor and you should always have some small change handy. As with other open forms of transportation don’t be surprised to be sweating and breathing in fumes as there is no air conditioning and the windows are always open!
Warning: buses typically drive off or sometimes even slow down without stopping as you’re trying to get on or alight.
Bangkok Motorbike Taxis and Safety
Convenient but at times unbelievably dangerous! Let’s be honest, this has to be the most dangerous form of transportation especially if you’re not wearing a crash helmet. If you’re going from one end of the road to the other then hopping on a motorbike taxi for 20 THB can save you a sweaty walk but always wear a helmet! Sometimes there are police roadblocks which will give on the spot fines for anyone not wearing a helmet and this is your responsibility as much as the driver.
Women are known to sit side-saddle when wearing skirts buy it’s always best to sit with one leg either side. Don’t be tempted to go a long distance or ride a bike on big busy roads! Use the other much safer forms of transportation.
You can easily recognise a motorcycle taxi driver as they wear orange vests with large numbers on them. Fares start at around 10 baht and there are a few that may try to inflate the price however, most prices are fixed and at most stops, there are boards displaying the prices.
Bangkok Rivers and Canals
The main pier is located near Saphan Taksin BTS and probably the easiest place to pick up a boat. You can hop on and off riverboats all day and look out for the three Express Boats which zip up and down the river. These are usually a tenth of the price from other boats. Most piers are marked in English and you’ll soon find it can be the cheapest and most convenient way to get to some of Bangkok’s main attractions such as Wat Arun.
Although a little more expensive we would highly recommend using the tourist boats as they are less crowded and in most cases, you can get a seat. A one day pass is available at around THB 150 for an unlimited day use.
Using Chao Phraya River Boats
Bangkok is a city of waterways, and the canals have water taxis going up and down them constantly. These noisy boats get packed to capacity during the commuter rush-hour and you usually have to stand, so they’re not the most comfortable way to get around. However, they’re affordable and fast. and range from hotel boats, taxi boats to the famous long-tail boats.
Long Tail Boats James Bond style.
These are the fastest ways to travel along the river and can be privately hired. To charter a long-tail boat most people need to haggle and prices can range between THB 800 to over THB 3000.
Life jackets should be provided and we do recommend you wear one, although in all my years of being in Thailand I have not yet heard of a long tail boat sinking in the Chao Phraya River!
There are times when you may feel a little nauseous by the rocking of the boats or whenever the boat slows down and the engine fumes happen to blow in your direction.
As with tuk-tuks it’s an experience you simply have to encounter while in Bangkok, Thailand.