Wondering how to make your Thailand itinerary work? Luckily, you can explore the country with relative ease, thanks to its extensive and efficient transportation network.
Thailand offers a wide range of transportation alternatives, allowing you to effortlessly navigate its bustling cities, serene countryside, and stunning islands.
Travelling by train is an ideal way to explore Thailand since it combines comfort, affordability, and scenic views. Thailand's train system is well-developed, making it a great form of transportation for travellers who want to explore the country's various landscapes and regions.
With a combination of comfort, affordability, and breathtaking views, train travel is an ideal way to experience the country's diverse landscapes. The State Railway of Thailand operates the majority of train services, connecting major cities, towns, and even remote areas.
The popular overnight sleeper trains let you make the most of your time while saving on accommodation costs. Rest in excellent sleeping accommodations and wake up refreshed at your destination.
The train services are classified into three main tiers. First Class has private, air-conditioned compartments designed to comfortably accommodate one or two passengers. Many of these compartments come equipped with an en-suite washbasin, and passengers have access to toilets and showers within the carriage.
Second Class offers sleeping berths that are either fan-cooled or air-conditioned. These berths are versatile; by day they serve as seats, and by night, an attendant transforms them into beds, ensuring privacy with curtains. The berths are designed as upper and lower slots on either side of an aisle.
Third Class, on the other hand, is more basic, used patronized by locals. It consists of wooden or cushioned benches without any sleeping arrangements, making it a less appealing option for overnight trips.
Many of the sleeper trains in Thailand are equipped with both Western-style (sit-down) toilets and traditional Asian-style (squat) toilets. The cleanliness of the toilets can vary throughout the journey. It’s best to carry your own toilet paper or tissues, as these might not always be provided or could run out during the journey. Bringing hand sanitiser can also be a good idea.
Many of the routes have a dining car; otherwise, vendors frequently walk the aisles, offering a range of snacks, drinks, and even meals. These are usually good and reasonably priced.
Thai trains have a good safety record, however, keep an eye on your belongings and overall surroundings particularly in Second Class. And word of caution for those with tight schedules… Thai trains have earned a reputation for often running behind schedule, so prepare to be flexible with your itinerary.
Tickets are available at train stations, can be procured through travel agents, or booked online via the SRT's official website. Given the popularity of certain routes, especially during peak tourist seasons, advanced booking is recommended.
Experience Thailand's coastal regions, islands, and river systems in a fun and enchanting way—by boat! If you're looking at ferries, which are a staple for boat transport, you'll find they offer a seamless connection between the mainland and many islands, including popular destinations like Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi, and the Phi Phi Islands.
Safety should always be at the forefront of your mind. Always check for the availability of life jackets and make sure you know how to wear them correctly. Stay updated on weather conditions, especially during the typhoon season, as sudden weather changes can disrupt boat schedules. If you're thinking of chartering a private boat, it's also a good idea to assess the boat's condition and inquire about the crew's experience.
Beyond regular ferries, Thailand presents you with various boat options. Long-tail boats, a traditional means of water travel, are frequently found along the coastlines and rivers, offering shorter trips or custom tours. If you're in a hurry, speedboats are an option but tend to be pricier.
Be mindful of boat capacities. During peak tourist seasons, some boats might be overloaded, which poses a safety risk. It's always wise to steer clear of boats that seem excessively crowded.
When it comes to purchasing ferry tickets, many routes allow for on-the-spot ticket buying. However, especially during the high tourist seasons, it might be beneficial to book in advance to ensure you have a spot. Don't forget to keep your belongings in waterproof bags or pouches; you never know when a splash or sudden shower might occur.
Buses are a popular and convenient way to travel for tourists in Thailand. There are various bus types to cater to different preferences and budgets. Choose the level of comfort that suits you, from regular non-air-conditioned buses to air-conditioned tourist coaches and VIP buses with extra amenities.
Thailand's bus network connects the country's major cities, towns, and tourist attractions. Buses run on scheduled routes, so it is important to double-check the schedule ahead of time. The majority of bus terminals have information boards or people who can help you with schedules and routes.
For nighttime journeys, choose reputable bus companies with good safety records. While bus travel in Thailand is generally safe, accidents are not unheard of, especially on overnight routes. In terms of etiquette, Thai people are usually quiet on public transportation, so keeping conversations at a low volume and setting phones to silent mode is appreciated.
Buses depart and arrive at central bus terminals in Thailand's cities and towns. These bus terminals are typically well organized, with separate sections for various destinations. Make sure you arrive at the correct terminal for your intended route and leave plenty of time before departure, especially during peak times.
For the most convenient and direct mode of public transportation, hop into a taxi, which is surprisingly affordable compared to other countries.
There are more taxis in larger Thai cities than in rural regions, but in locations like Bangkok, all taxis have meters, so you will not be ripped off. Taxis are not as common elsewhere in Thailand, and they do not always have meters, so agree on a price ahead of time to avoid being overcharged.
Grab, an app-based ride-hailing service similar to Uber, is also available in Thailand. With clear pricing and driver information displayed, Grab offers a hassle-free and less worrisome transportation option.
Looking for the quickest way to get around, especially in heavy traffic? Hop on the back of a local's motorcycle and zoom through the city on a motorbike taxi.
Most motorbike taxi drivers in Thailand wear orange jackets, making them easy to spot. Remember to agree on the fare upfront. Motorbike taxis are perfect for fast and budget-friendly travel, especially if you do not have any bulky bags.
The tuk-tuk is one of the most well-known modes of transportation in Thailand. Three-wheeled, frequently brightly coloured, and ornately decorated tuk-tuks are immediately recognized on the streets of Thailand.
You may easily call a tuk-tuk on the side of the road or find them stationed close to popular tourist destinations, markets, or transportation hubs to get around the city.
Since tuk-tuks often don't have meters, it is normal to negotiate the fare. Before starting your trip, you must agree on a price with the driver since locals often overcharge them, so be sure to negotiate a fair price.
Keep in mind that tuk-tuks are best suited for shorter journeys and are not typically recommended for long-distance travel.
For those who want to experience local culture and daily life in Thailand, riding a songthaew is a popular and unique mode of transportation. Basically, a songthaew is a pickup truck or minivan that has two rows of seats added to the back.
Due to the large number of tourists going to popular locations, songthaews are regularly seen in tourist areas. The ability of these vehicles to comfortably transport numerous passengers at once makes it simpler to transport people.
While there may be waiting times before the songthaew has enough passengers, the advantage is that the expense of the trip is distributed among a larger group, leading to lower costs.
Bangkok and other places in Thailand have quite distinct travel costs.
Taxis are common throughout Bangkok, and fares start at $1 (30 THB) and increase from there. Most places in central Bangkok are likely to cost no more than $5 (150 THB).
BTS and MRT rates range from $0.75 to $1.50 (20 to 40 THB) per ride, depending on the length. If you want a more accessible transportation option, buses cover the most ground in Bangkok.
Fares range from $0.25 to $0.75 (6.50 to 20 THB) based on the route and kind of bus.
Many tourists love the excitement of riding tuk-tuks, although taxis are typically cheaper unless you know how to bargain - up to $1 (30 THB) for a ride.
If you’re just getting around on a short trip, motorcycle taxis are used for short trips or down neighborhood roads for $0.25 - $0.75 each ride (10 - 20 THB).
Bus tickets outside of Bangkok cost:
$23 (700 THB) for a VIP ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (10 hours).
The standard class from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes 10 hours and costs $12 (370 THB).
$27 (820 THB) for a VIP ticket from Bangkok to Krabi (12 hours).
Standard 12-hour flight from Bangkok to Krabi: $12 (370 THB).
The four-hour local bus ride from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet (four hours to the Cambodian border) costs $7 (210 THB).
The first-class sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (12 hours) costs $40 (1,250 THB) per passenger and includes a bed and air conditioning.
The third-class train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes 12 hours and costs around $8 (250 THB).
Motorbikes may be rented for around $7 (210 THB) per day across Thailand.
Prices are current as of August 2023.
Thailand still has a long way to go in terms of accessibility for disabled travellers when compared to countries such as the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. However, if you have a medical problem or impairment, you may still enjoy Thailand. It just requires some extra planning.
While not all tourist destinations in Thailand have ramps or convenient wheelchair access, Thai people are often friendly if you ask respectfully for assistance. Language barriers can be as difficult as physical ones, so consider hiring an officially certified tour guide for at least part of your trip.
Although it may be more expensive than exploring independently, it can help you avoid potential problems.