The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (Tel: (02) 246 09 73. Internet: www.bmta.co.th) operates an extensive bus network. Buses run throughout the city between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. The air-conditioned yellow and orange Euro II buses are equipped with petrol-saving engines to reduce city air pollution. Limited night buses are also used between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Timetables can be found almost everywhere in hotels and bookstores.
The city also has an underground network (Internet: http://www.bangkokmetro.co.th/).
The Bangkok Transit System BTS also operates shuttle buses that run on six different routes between 6.30 a.m. and 10.30 p.m. (Internet: www.bts.co.th/en/service.asp).
There are numerous public transport options in Bangkok that are very affordable. Most visitors use taxis and the so-called tuk tuks , taxis on three wheels.
The Bangkok Transit System (Tel: (66) 26 17 60 00. Internet: www.bts.co.th) operates the Skytrain suspension railway that runs through the city on two lines. The Sukhumvit Line runs from On Nut along Sukhumvit Road to Siam Square, Phaya Thai Road, the Victory Monument and Mo Chit. The Silom line begins at Saphon Taksin, runs through the banking district in Silom, Siam Square, and ends at the National Stadium. Trains run between 6 a.m. and midnight, every 3-4 minutes during peak hours, and every 5-6 minutes otherwise.
Tickets can be bought from machines. There are seven zones. Multiple tickets are available for 10, 15 or 30 trips. A one-day pass is also on offer as well as tourist cards for three days.
Taxis can be hailed on the street. Licensed taxis have yellow and black license plates. Taxis with taximeters have a taxi sign on the roof. However, visitors should make sure that the taximeter is also switched on. The basic fee is calculated for the first three kilometers, after which a kilometer price is added. For taxis without a taximeter, the fare must be agreed in advance. As a passenger, you pay for a possible toll. You should also always have enough small change with you for the fare.
It is also possible to request a taxi from the hotel porter, then a fixed price will be agreed and paid at the hotel before departure. If you rent a taxi for a longer trip, the fare should definitely be agreed in advance, even if the taxi is equipped with a taximeter. Taxi drivers often speak little or no English and you should have your address written down in Thai. Tipping, rounded up to the nearest 5 or 10 B., is not necessarily expected, but willingly accepted The taxi number is 16 61.
These three-wheeled taxis for three passengers are quite common on the street. They are ideal for short trips. However, you should agree on the fare before you get on. The drivers are not always familiar with the area. The number of tuk tuks in the city has been declining recently, but is still found near hotels and visitor attractions.
The Chao Phraya Express River Taxi river taxis (Tel: (02) 222 53 30) go up and down the Chaophraya River daily between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. and are therefore more like buses than taxis. The fare is very cheap, tickets can be bought at the pier or on the boat. Many other small boats are just used to cross the river.
Since traffic often comes to a complete standstill at peak times, motorcycles are now used as taxis, because they can move past the cars through the traffic jams to get to their destination. Unfortunately, accidents are not uncommon. You have to wear a helmet provided by the driver. The drivers usually wait at crossroads and can be recognized by their red vests.
Driving in the city
You need a lot of patience and a certain amount of assertiveness to drive a car in Bangkok. Few visitors rent a car, because you also need good local knowledge to get around. Since the traffic is very heavy and there are many lanes, you should know in advance which lane to take.
There are some expressways with clearly marked descents that run across the city, but traffic also comes to a standstill there during peak hours (7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
Traffic signs and the markings of entrances and exits often change during the day without warning. Local drivers, especially taxis, buses and motorcycles, often behave aggressively and ruthlessly on the road.
Many of the large shopping complexes and hotels have their own parking spaces. The Siam Center on Rama I Road is particularly convenient and is open 24 hours a day.
Many visitors to Thailand now rent cars, but not very often in Bangkok itself because of the traffic chaos in the city already mentioned. Drivers must be at least 21 years old and have had their driver’s license for at least two years. You also need an international driver’s license and must first have a waiver of damage compensation in the event of a collision and theft insurance. However, these are mostly included in the rental price; payment must be made by credit card.
Avis has a branch on 2-12 Wireless Road (Tel: (02) 255 53 00 4. Internet: www.avisthailand.com),
Budget on 407 Vibhavadee Rangsit Road (Tel: (01) 239 49 92. Internet: www.budget.co.th),
Hertz in the Charnissara Tower (Tel: (02) 267 51 61 (Internet: www.hertz.com).
Spice Roads (Tel: (02) 712 5305; www.spiceroads.com ) rents bicycles.