Visiting Thailand? You made the right choice!
Where else can you have everything you want as a tourist from a country than here? There is something to do, visit and see for any traveller. Whether you are a newbie, a veteran or a family or group of friends looking for a place to get the most out of their holidays, you can be sure that you will not be disappointed. The question now is what are the best Thailand travel getting around tips for reaching all of the things you absolutely must see and have your breath taken away by?
Thailand is more than a green surface you can see on a map, surrounded by spotty islands or a place where the sun shines every day for half a year until it is ready to make place for the monsoon and the ineffable rice padded fields. You may be told that Thailand’s successful tourism is largely due to strong and focused marketing campaigns and this may be partially right. Still, the Amazing Thailand brand lives up to its name and will give you exactly what it promises: awesomeness.
Thailand Travel – How to Get Around…
…and live in Thailand as a local. If you want to experience to the fullest, then dare and explore its very moving arms across the country. It’s easy, fun and unforgettable and you have several choices to get it done. Public transportation is the only choice if you truly want to immerse in the Thai way of living. Below we will review and point out the little known about each type of public transportation.
The railway network in Thailand is very well developed and it covers four main routes: north, north-east, south, east, linking pretty much all the corners of the country with each other. Surely, it almost never arrives on time, but that’s just one of its charms, isn’t it? Being spacious, comfortable, friendly, the delays cannot be seen as an issue, on the contrary, it gives you more time to be lured into this fascinating country’s landscapes. Bangkok, the heart of the network, has several railway stations of which Hualomphong is the biggest.
Depending on your travel preferences, you have the option of booking one of the three classes: first class, second class and third class trains. The first class and the second class sleeper trains have air conditioned cars (though the 2nd class may have fan-cooled cars), while the third class provides only fan-cooled train cars.
You can expect for the first two classes the same comfort and privacy you’ll get in any western country. The third class, the one mostly used by Thai themselves, since it’s the cheapest and sometimes even free for Thai citizens, is also the slowest, but most intriguing in terms of cultural insights. You will have access to the entire diversity of Thai population and their way of living will unfold in front of your eyes and make it impossible for you to forget or regret your Thailand travel.
The rail ticket fares are advantageous and the best thing to do is to book it in advance – we have enough experience with the trains in Thailand to know this to be true, regardless what other information you may find on the internet on the subject. If you’re interested in rail timetables, train fares, online railway ticket booking, simply click here.
The public buses network is dense and widely spread, connecting all and each city, town or small village in Thailand. So, no matter where you wish to go, you can be certain to find a bus ready to take you there. Besides, they are safe and a good choice, especially the buses that are provided by the state company called Baw Khaw Saw (BKS) and leaving from dedicated BKS bus stations. The private buses companies do not have the highest reputation and they have their departures from tourist centres – although Thai people are known to be fervent practitioners and do not steal, there are some reports regarding this kind of practices on the private bus companies taking tourists to the Khao San Road.
There are several classes for the public buses and the good news is the majority of them have air conditioning. There are still some ordinary buses, without aircon, that stop in every station of every village, but they are less and less common.The aircon buses have two classes, second class and first/VIP class, each a good option for long-distance travel.
The second class buses will have more stops, but the seats are still reclining, but you don’t have enough space to move around. You get 1-2 bottles of water and some sweet cakes for free. The bus fares are acceptable for the most part, though the roads are not really smooth and sleeping might be challenging for some.
The first or VIP class can be really comfortable and not that expensive, compared to the prices you can find elsewhere in the world. You will have a host or a hostess offering you bottled water, some cakes and headphones for the seat-incorporated DVD player. It’s top class indeed, you have some space to stretch your feet and the seats can recline enough to give you a good level of comfort. It’s not the train berths, but they are good enough.
Another way of getting around in Thailand is via the internal flights network that has many domestic airlines, providing flights for the major tourist destinations in Thailand. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket or Samui are some of the places where you have an airport connection. There are two airlines offering regular internal flights, Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways. The first is partly state owned and ranked as a four star airline, while the latter is supposed to be a “boutique” airline, meaning it offers better services at higher prices. Other smaller, low-cost companies, are Nok Air, Air Asia and Orient Thai (aka One Two Go).
The ticket fares for the flights vary greatly, depending on which company you choose. For example, from 4000 THB for Chiang Mai > Bangkok to about 1000 THB. Please note that the prices shown for the low-cost companies, if they are really low, they might not include any luggage fares, only hand luggage. This means that by the end of your booking, the price will increase should you wish to carry a 20 kg bag.
The boats, or the long-tail boats as known by the locals, are mostly used in Bangkok and from Bangkok to the islands or in other central/southern areas. The boats are 8 to 10 meters long and while they may vary in shape or size, they invariably have an internal engine, a wheelhouse and a shelter for the passengers. You can also sit and make videos on the front “deck” if you like. They are really common in Bangkok and can give you a different understanding and view of the city itself.
If you are on the islands and want to reach another island or a secluded beach, you can take a long tail or other, more modern, maritime vessels such as speedboats. The fares are negotiable for most of the routes, but there are also routes with fixed prices. We list some of them here, here and here.