No doubt, even those who have never been to Bangkok have heard of the traffic – one of the biggest problems in the city. A great number of cars on the roads, traffic jams and completely “crazy” bikers –this is what Bangkok’s roadways are full of. However, there transportation infrastructure in very well developed, so it is a good idea to learn it to be able to move freely around the city.
In Bangkok airport you will see a pointer to the taxi fleet. All that is needed – is to go to the first floor and go out to queue to take a taxi to the desired area of the city. The line moves very quickly, despite the huge number of people. You need to report the number of people who are going with you and get a small check, which will have a number in it. Numbers are displayed on a scoreboard at each site. The taxi drivers here speak English. However, for the best service, be ready to show them a map or give the phone number of the hotel or other place where you are headed. The driver will then contact the staff, to communicate in Thai and will be able to know exactly where to take you. Also from the airport you can take an Airport line of the Sky Train. However, with children and suitcases – it is not the best idea, though it will be cheaper. A taxi from the airport cost us 430 baht, and we got to our hotel in about half an hour.
On the first day we decided to “try out” the local subway or MRT, as it is called here. There is a pass control in the subway, and when the “gate” makes specific sound, you need to show your bag or backpack. Do not worry nobody is going to “dig” into the contents. They will just turn on their flashlight, have a quick look, smile and say thank you. Then you should go to the checkout. The fare is determined by the stops, so you have to know exactly where you are going. You cannot buy a return ticket. However, you can buy a travel card for three days or a month and go an unlimited number of times in any direction. The cost of such travel for 3 days is 230 baht, for a month – about 1,000 baht. Next to the cash register there is a height gauge – in order to check the height of children. Children above 120 cm in height pay the same fare as adults and children whose height is from 90 cm to 120 cm needa children’s ticket, and children shorter than 90 cm can use the subway for free. So, when you tell the cashier the number of tickets and the station where you are going, he will tell you the amount and give some black round tokens, tokens must be attached to the gate at the specified location, and they will open – so you can go in the right direction. In Bangkok, there is only one branch of the subway, so it is quite difficult to confuse the directions. Subway maps indicating the stations, at which you can interchange with the Sky Train or the airport branch, are located everywhere. When you exit the station, you need to throw your token into the slot, and the gate will open. Children love the whole procedure.
What if you mixed up the station? Do not panic if you come farther than you said at the departure station. You can’t go through the gate since they are closed and will make a certain sound. You will be approached by the metro staff or you can walk up to the counter and say that you have mixed upthe stations. If they do not understand you, you will be shown a map, and you just need to show the stations. If you have passed the correct station, you will have to pay a few baht – and that’s it. To avoid all these problems, it is better to study the map in advance, but even if such a situation arises, everything is resolved quickly and “painlessly”)))
The Sky Train or BTS is a popular form of transport. This is the same as subway, butabove-ground. From the window you can admire the magnificent views of the city, beautiful buildings, gardens and palm trees.
There are two branches and Airport link. The system works similar to the subway. The only difference is that you have to get your pass from a special machine where you insertcoins. Coins are available from the cashiers, exchanging paper money. Having approached the machine, you choose the price (it is listed on the maps, which are located next to the machines) and insert the required amount of coins. As a result, you get a card, which is your pass.
Transportationstaff is always ready to help, if you have any problems with the input or output. Close to Sky Train stations there are usually taxi parks so that you can easily get toyourfinaldestination, or you can stop a taxi passing by waving your hand.
The stops on the subway and onSky Train areannounced in Thai and English. Also on screens around the carriage, you can see the name of the current and the next stop. So, this should not be a problem. In any case, you can always ask for assistance at the subway, the staffisalways willing to help. In the subway carriages and in Skytrain it is quite cool, and I usually take a light jacket for my daughter – but if youare not going very farit is not that cold and this is unlikely to be a problem. In public transport it is forbidden to eat and drink –it is important to remember this.
There are also buses, but we have not yet taken advantage of this means of transport. There are also tuk-tuks, and bikes with drivers (you sit in the back seat). Once we eventried a bike, and though I am terribly afraid of any motorcycles and mopeds, I really enjoyed it. On the big roads, I would not risk riding a bike – it is too risky for me, especially if you are with young passengers. When my daughter and Iwere looking for a house, being in a different district, and found it was too far to walk to. So, the girl on the bike offered her help. She went very smoothly and gently, there were almost no cars on the road, and I really enjoyed the first bike ride of my life. However, when you see these motorbikes on the crowded roads in several rows, side-by-side with the machines –it is an eerie picture. But then again, it depends. If you’ve been on a bike or moped and do not feel uncomfortable, as I do, then you are likely to enjoy this type of transportation. The bike can be taken for rent. Although, I still think, this transport on the roads of Bangkok is unsafe. However, it is cheap way, it costs just around 15-20 baht, if you are travelling in one district.
In general, the transport infrastructure in the city is fairly well developed; there are couple of new metro stations which are currently under construction, so that in the future, for sure, it will bemore convenient to move around in Bangkok. It is just that the city is enormous, and it often happens that to get to a certain area you can take onlya taxi. Taxi drivers refuse to go on long distance trips, so you need find the closest MRT or BTS station and from there catch a taxi to get where you want. It’s good to have your own map to show the taxi driver, but still it doesn’t give you a 100% guarantee that he will be able to figure out exactly where you want to get, especially if you are “lucky” to meet a driver who does not speak any English, but that’s another story. Taxis in Bangkok deserve special attention, so we’ll talk about it in another post.