If you’re heading to Bangkok and you’ve done a bit of research, it is likely you will have heard of tuk tuks being a very popular way of getting around in Thailand. When it comes to getting somewhere quickly, tuk tuks are very good as they can weave in and out of traffic. If you have a lot of luggage though, there’s not going to be much room left for you and your friends. Make sure you’re ready to bargain with the driver before you get in and start your journey … they will almost always quote a price that is over the going rate so if you know roughly how much it would be in a taxi, you will be able to get a fairer price.
If a tuk tuk doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are plenty of other ways to travel, ways that are tried and tested by the locals.
This is the cheapest and easiest way to get around any Thai city. You can hire a scooter for about $5 a day and you can then go anywhere you want, at any time! If you don’t feel particularly confident driving a scooter, especially where there is heavy traffic, you can get a scooter taxi. You can spot these a mile off – the drivers usually wear brightly coloured vests to distinguish themselves.
What’s one of them when it’s at home?? Simply put, it’s like a covered pickup truck with benches inside for passengers to sit on. They can be found in a lot of the urban and beach areas and there are no official stops for them, they can just be flagged from the side of the road. Trying to figure out where they are going can be a bit confusing! If unsure, it is best to ask the driver so you don’t end up in the opposite direction to where you want to go. When you want to get off, just press the buzzer to let the driver know, then go round to the driver’s window to pay. With the songthaews, you pay a fixed fee depending on how far you have travelled.
If you have a lot of luggage with you, a taxi may be the way forward. Ask the driver to run the meter for your journey, you will probably end up paying less than you would in a tuk tuk and there is no need for awkward haggling.
When you get in to your taxi, try to make a note of the cab number, the colour and the name of the taxi company. That way, if you were to lose anything or forget anything when you get out, you will have a better chance of tracing it again. If this does happen, there is a taxi call centre you can call on 1644.
Be prepared to embrace slow and inconsistent journeys
You need to look at the transport system in Thailand as an adventure! It is difficult to find transport timetables online and even harder to book seats before you travel. You will quickly find that trains and buses are often late, slow and overcrowded, meaning that standing toe to toe with your fellow travellers in the aisles will be a frequent thing! (A good way to make new friends?) You may know never the easiest way to get somewhere, or when you will actually arrive, but once you stop worrying about all this, you’ll realise just how much fun the craziness of the transport system is!
One last tip …
If you make an effort to communicate with your drivers, you will notice a difference in how you are treated by them. It is not hard to learn a bit of basic Thai, it is a sign of respect and will be greatly appreciated by the locals! (Learn a few of the basics here!)
By showing that you have made the effort to at least try and learn some basic phrases, you may find that this encourages your driver to take the shorter route versus the longer one, or to give you a cheaper price. It will get you more help at bus and train stations and helpful advice from any passersby that you may stop along the way. Plus, you’ll feel great being able to speak to these wonderful people and it is them who make Thailand amazing!