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Guide of transport to travel around Thailand

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General information about transportation in Thailand

The transport network in Thailand is quite dense and can take you almost anywhere in the country at least by bus. The bus is the most popular mean of transport and the most used by Thai people. There are also many minivans companies. The train serves the four cardinal points but not all major cities. For instance, there is no train to popular tourist destinations such as Phuket and Sukhothai.

Twenty towns in Thailand have an airport with at least one connection to Bangkok but not always daily flights. To go to the Thai islands, there are ferry companies or speedboats, sometimes local or longtails boats for short distances.

For transport in Bangkok, besides the famous tuk-tuks and multicolored taxis, you have several public types of transport: metros, Skytrain, buses, Chao Phraya Express boats or boats on the khlongs, the small water canals running through the city. The metro network is extending a lot lately.


Public transport in Thailand

trains thailand

Trains in Thailand

The train is certainly the cheapest mean of transport in Thailand. The third class tickets are very very cheap. But the trains are also very slow, their average speed is about 40 km/h and Thai trains are almost always late. But traveling by train in Thailand is pleasant if you have time and are not in a hurry. There are several levels of comfort from the 3rd to the 1st class and several types of trains faster or slower. All major country destinations are not accessible by train. But there too there are some new route projects, especially rapid trains to Lao. Trains hotline: 1690

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Buses in Thailand

For long distance journeys, the bus is the No. 1 mean of transport in Thailand, it takes you almost anywhere in the country. The bus network is very dense and bus deparures are frequent. Generally, the public bus company (Transport Co. Ltd) offers the cheapest tickets. But there are also many private companies offering regular buses and 'VIP bus', more comfortable. Except some local buses covering smaller distances, most buses are in excellent condition and have aircondition. Thailand public buses hotline: 1490

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Domestic flights in Thailand

About twenty cities in Thailand have an airport. In general, there is at least one flight to and from Bangkok but not always daily flights. Taking the plane to travel in Thailand is a good way to avoid long journeys on the road or rails and it is not necessary a lot more expensive. Low cost airlines and especially Nok Air often offer promotions on their websites. Bangkok has two airports so be vigilent and go to the right one to not miss your flight!

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Boats and ferry in Thailand

Thailand has many beautiful islands and apart from Koh Samui and Phuket which have their own airport, you must necessarily take a boat to get there. A ferry, a shuttle boat, a night boat or a longtail boat sometimes, there are several choices. Bus + ferry formulas also exist, particularly to reach the most popular islands from Khao San Road in Bangkok (see our search tool). Websites like 12go also offer to book a combination of train or bus + ferry to reach most Thai islands.

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minivan thailand

Minivans in Thailand

Besides buses, there are many companies offering air-conditioned passenger minivan services. Faster, they can take between 12 and 18 passengers. Their rates are a little higher than a bus ticket. Please note that there won't be a lot of room for your legs if you are tall and drivers sometimes drive not really carefully. And you may have to pay an extra seat just for your luggage.

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Taxis and car with driver apps in Thailand

There are not taximeters in every Thai cities. Far from it. And some cities only have a few. Only in Bangkok they are so numerous in circulation that we can see them almost all the time and everywhere. For a few years the smartphone apps to order taxi or car with driver have flowered in the country. If GRAB is undoubtedly the leader, BOLT intends to challenge it.

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songthaew thailand

Songthaew in Thailand

The songthaews are collective taxis or local buses. They are pickups or trucks with wooden benches at the rear where passengers sit. You pay according to distance. It is a mean of transport for small distances. In some cities, songthaews are used for the local bus network. To get in, you vawe at them when they come and pressed the call button when you want to get off. In some tourist areas, it is important to negotiate the price with the driver before getting in.
transports bangkok

Using public transport in Bangkok

In addition to the famous tuk-tuks and taxis, Bangkok has a system of public transport that is a very good option to avoid traffic jams and get around at the best price. Do not hesitate to take the skytrain and the subway (air condition), or the Chao Phraya Express boats, the shuttle boats on the klongs (Bangkok's canals) or buses to get around Bangkok. I especially recommend you to use BTS and MRT metros when it is possible. THe metro network in extending and will be very huge and usefull to go everywhere in Bangkok in the next years.

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bangkok angkor

Direct buses to Cambodia

For a few years, there are direct buses to Cambodia from Bangkok Nothern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit). You are supported from A to Z and just have to do cros the border and get your visa by yourself and then climb back in the bus to continue your journey to Siem Reap, the nearest city of Angkor or Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia.

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Individual transportation in Thailand

taxi thailand

Taxis in Thailand

Taxis in Thailand are expected to have a counter (taximeter) and start it as soon as you get in. If they do not want to use it, insist! it is mandatory. There is a starting fee plus a price per kilometer. Otherwise, even if you are very good at bargaining, you will always pay more than the price with the meter. It also is possible to hire a taxi to make very long journeys and to use apps lige GRAB to order a taxi in major cities. Note that all cities in Thailand do have taxis. Outside of Bangkok, taximeters are quite rare.

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tuk tuk thailand

Tuk-tuks in Thailand

The tuk-tuk is probably the best known means of transport in Thailand. It is a tourist attraction. Contrary to what one might think, this is not always the cheapest transport in Bangkok. Often a taxi ride costs less (and it has air con). But it's still a pretty funny way of getting around in Bangkok and you must take a tuk-tuk at least once when coming to Thailand. It's part of the folklore! Always negotiate the price with the driver before getting in.

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moto taxis thailand

Moto-taxis in Thailand

There are motorcycle taxis almost everywhere in Thailand. They are much more common than four wheels taxis. The drivers are easily recognizable with their colorful vests (usually oranges). Thai people use them a lot. Moto-taxi is the cheaper and faster individual means of transport. But only a few drivers offer helmet to their passengers. Always ask for one !

samlaw thailand

Samlaws in Thailand

The Thai word 'samlaw' (or samlor) means three wheels. It is also used for tuk-tuks but we are here talking about pedicabs. The passengers take place in a kind of basket with a shot bench. These rickshaws usually accommodate only two passengers, three tops. They are not anywhere in Thailand and less and less numerous but they still exist. Their drivers are working hard and earn only a few bahts so if you have the opportunity, use them to help them support their family. It is nice sometimes to go a little slower and take the time to look around you.

longtail boats thailand

Longtail boats in Thailand

Longtails boats are elongated boats propelled by a motor with a long metal bar looking like a tail. That explains their name. They are not particularly dedicated to the transportation of passengers but sometimes they offer their services to transport people or take them for a tour. In Bangkok, for example, numerous longtail boats offer visiting the klongs, the small canals running through the city and on all Thailand islands, they will make you discover the area. You can hire them for a ride or a one hour tour, or a day trip.

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Taking a night train in Thailand

night trains thailand

The atmosphere of Thailand night trains is nice and quite cofortable for a cheap price. For the price of a cheap hotel night you have a night sleep and a transport. To be sure to get a sleeper, it's recommended to book your tickets in advance via booking websites like 12Go (or SRT official website).

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Departures from Khao San Road

khao san road bangkok

Khao San Road is known as the backpacker's area in Bangkok. Travel agencies and transportation companies offer bus or ferry + bus packages from Khao San Road to the popular Thai islands like Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan... but also to other destinations in the country.

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Directs buses from Bangkok to Cambodia

bus bangkok cambodia

There are direct buses from Bangkok to Phnom Penh or Sieam Reap (the city near Angkor) in Cambodia with border crossing included in the trip. Buses depart from Mo Chit Northern Bangkok BUS Terminal. The number of seats is limited so it is better to book in advance on 12Go.

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Book your Thailand train tickets online

travel advice thailand

If you prefer to organize your trip and book your train tickets before departure, know that this is possible via the website12go that I personnaly tested and validated. Advance booking is especially recommended for sleepers in night trains but can also be a good idea for some super Express trains.

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