Guide to Transportation in Thailand

transportation in thailand

When traveling around Thailand, it is useful to be aware of the different methods of Thai transportation available.

From hire cars to tuk-tuks and from planes to ferries, there are many ways to travel around Thailand. The best form of transport depends on the part or parts of the country that the individual is visiting.

Find the advantages and disadvantages of each type of Thai transport in this quick guide.

What Is the Best Way to Get Around in Thailand?

There are various forms of transport available in Thailand. The best way to travel around the country depends entirely on where the visitor is going and how far the journey is.

Overseas travelers staying in Bangkok may choose to use local public transport or try riding in a tuk-tuk to get around the city, while others may need to make their way between different towns, cities, or even islands.

Thailand has a range of transport options available for every visitor’s needs.

Flying Around Thailand

Thailand has plenty of domestic flights available between major cities and various islands. Flying may be the most expensive way to travel, but it is also the quickest.

Airlines operating in Thailand include:

  • Thai Airways
  • Thai Smile
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Thai Lion
  • AirAsia
  • Nok Air

The cost of flying varies, but flying to island destinations tends to cost more than flights within the mainland.

What Are Trains Like in Thailand?

Thailand has a developed and good-quality rail network covering 4,500 km (2,796 miles) of the country. Thai trains are cheap and both first and second class feature air-conditioned carriages. However, they can be slow and stop for long periods at certain stations.

Bangkok also has a light rail network as well as a subway, both of which provide a regular and reliable way to avoid traffic.

Traveling Around Thailand by Bus

The extensive public bus system in Thailand is a cheap transport option and many of the main routes feature comfortable, air-conditioned buses (these may cost a few baht more than non-air-conditioned vehicles).

Buses in Thailand tend not to be a particularly fast way to travel, with multiple stops per town. They frequently pick up passengers from the roadside even when there are not any bus stops.

It is advisable to tell the driver where you are going as many stops lack signs indicating their location.

Bus routes in Thailand are numbered and most tourist maps will include them.

Tourists are advised to keep their belongings close on crowded public buses.

Thailand also has various “tourist buses”. These are typically for long-distance journeys, including overnight travel, and can be combined with ferry tickets to Thai islands (e.g. Bangkok to Ko Phi Phi).

Tourist buses are more expensive than public buses, but are more direct. They usually only stop at tourist areas and do not stop to pick up passengers between these locations. Tickets can be purchased from the many travel agents in Thailand.

Bangkok Airport Buses

Visitors to Bangkok can get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the city via any one of 4 special bus services:

  • Service A1, Airport-Silom Road
  • Service A2, Airport-Sanam Luang (Grand Palace)
  • Service A3, Airport-Sukhumvit 55 (Soi Thong Lo)
  • Service A4, Airport-Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lampong)

Can You Hire a Car in Thailand?

Visitors to Thailand can rent a private car or van for a safe and comfortable way to get around the country. International car rental companies have branches in major cities like Bangkok.

In order to hire a vehicle, the individual must be in possession of an international driving license.

The one drawback of hiring a car in a major urban center is the traffic. Bangkok is particularly congested during peak hours and public transportation can be a quicker option for visitors who are staying in the city.

However, travelers heading to other parts of Thailand may prefer the freedom of a hire vehicle.

Traveling by Boat and Ferry in Thaliand

Thailand has a number of options for getting around by boat.

Bangkok was once known as the “Venice of the East” due to its many canals or “khlongs. Although many of these have now been closed and paved over, there are still a number of khlongs and waterways around the city, including the Chao Phraya River. These can be traversed by shuttle boats.

Travelers who wish to visit any of the Thai islands can take a ferry from one of the coastal ports. Most hotels and hostels can offer assistance to guests in booking ferry tickets and have current schedules available.

Alternative Forms of Transport in Thailand

There are various other methods of travel available in Thailand.

Although taxis are more expensive than public transport, they are safe and useful for getting around in cities like Bangkok. They often come in bright colors, such as pink, green, or yellow, and are easy to spot and flag down.

There are both metered and non-metered taxis. Travelers riding in a taxi without a meter should remember to negotiate the fare before the journey, as drivers tend to overcharge.

Metered taxis can be hired for the whole day for 1,000 – 1,500 Baht. In Thailand, when riding in a taxi the passenger pays any freeway tolls.

An alternative to a taxi is a tuk-tuk. These motorized rickshaws are noisy, open, and expose the passenger to the exhaust fumes of the surrounding traffic. However, they tend to be faster than other road vehicles during peak hours in Bangkok due to their ability to weave between traffic.

Taking a tuk-tuk in Thailand is perceived as a fun and unique way to get about Thai cities. Due to their popularity, fares have risen and are now similar to those of normal taxis.

Motorbikes are another option for beating traffic jams. Some motorcycle taxis provide a helmet for passengers and are a quick way to travel during peak hours. However, the safety record of motorcycles on the main thoroughfares is not stellar, although taking a journey down the back lanes and secondary streets can be a pleasant experience.

How to Arrive in Thailand

Most international visitors choose to fly to Thailand, although it is also possible to arrive by land or by sea. Many cruises around Southeast Asia stop at Thai ports. Thailand also shares borders with Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, which can be crossed by road at designated crossing points.

Before traveling to the country, it is important to have the correct documentation to enter. Many foreign nationals will need to obtain a visa for Thailand.

Check the eligibility of your nationality against the Thailand visa requirements.