First of all, it is good to know what kind of transportation you can get in Bangkok. There are numerous types of public transportation, but the average visitor or resident uses only 7 of these, metered taxis, tuk tuks, buses, boats, river taxis, motorcycles, and taxis (non-metered).
Let’s start with Tuk Tuks. Aren’t those little three-wheeled taxis cute, painted in bright colors and featured so much in anything to do with Thailand? They are very cute until you get stuck in traffic, behind the number 36 bus at about 2pm and they inhale more smoke in 10 minutes than the average smoker in a lifetime… ho ho ho you will say for the kids Isn’t it fun… while your kids bury their heads in their daddy’s armpit because it smells fresh compared to the air around them? It’s ok Try a Tuku Tuk once, don’t go too far and then leave them as a bad idea. Outside of Bangkok they are much more fun. You have to haggle with the Tuk Tuk drivers, the price is set beforehand and they will generally always rip you off, take a taxi.
Taxis (with 4 wheels) come in two types, metered and non-metered, although some non-metered actually have a meter hidden behind a panel in the dash below the radio… Taxis are great, sit in the air-conditioned luxury and watch the Smiths die of carbon monoxide poisoning in a Tuk Tuk. If a taxi driver refuses to use his meter, tell him to take a walk, get out, don’t be fooled. Check where you are standing, if it is outside a nice big hotel, then walk down the street a bit and hail a taxi. Unlike US or European taxi drivers, they do NOT have to pass TESTS to become a taxi driver, within days of being in Bangkok you will know Bangkok better than many taxi drivers…again if the driver doesn’t seem to know where it is you go, get out… another thing, make sure you know where you are going and have a rough idea of the route, otherwise a less honest taxi driver will take you on a tour of the back roads “the shortcuts”. If you are going a long way, take the toll, it costs 20-40 baht (you pay) and will save you hours of travel. Calling a taxi by phone costs an additional 20 baht, airport taxis cost an additional 50 baht. And yes, there is a REGULATED taxi rank at the airport outside the main assembly area. Don’t get suckered in by the taxi and limo salesmen. Oh yeah, then there are the taxis without a meter… well if you want to use one, feel free… it will cost you the same as a Tuk Tuk, but at least you will have air conditioning… .possibly.
The buses, there were once red buses, blue buses, green buses and Air Con buses, then micro buses and then deregulation and now there are so many buses that I really don’t know what they all are… anyway, yeah going to use a bus, GET A BUS MAP. Then always use the Air Con buses, unless the place you’re going to isn’t on one of their routes or you’re on such a tight budget that 8-15 baht per person might mean you have to run out of food. Other buses range from 3 Baht to 20 Baht. Don’t bother asking the driver where you want to get off, to them you are a lower life form (all passengers are), ask another passenger. A word about getting on and off the buses. Do it FAST, buses sometimes don’t stop at the bus stop, they “slow down” in the middle of the road and let out a stream of potential hit-and-runs in the middle of traffic, okay, I’m exaggerating a bit, but when you have its stop, make sure you are already close to the door and you can run towards it. Don’t expect the people who get on to open the way for you, that kind of common sense often fails people who use the buses, their goal is to get on quickly and get a seat before everyone else… which brings seats… don’t be fooled into thinking that being a “gentleman” will thank you… oh no, you’ll see pregnant women standing around while snotty youngsters from school take the seats, you’ll see old women laden with groceries standing while sweaty teenagers hoard the seats…its a dog eat dog first come first serve world on the buses and if you take one of the non air conditioned buses you will eventually see a poor person pass out…then they get a seat.
Motorcycles. Yes… I want to get somewhere fast, take a motorcycle taxi, get married and have children… buy life insurance and a good helmet. Most MB taxi drivers will do their sole intent to scare you to death, to see if they can fit your bike through a gap that is obviously closing faster than they are moving and to see how fast they can go. in an open space. stretch of road…they have no fear (or sanity)…your life is in their hands and soon you will wish it wasn’t. It is the law in Thailand that all cyclists MUST wear a protective helmet… some of the helmets you see would not project a small child falling out of a 3 wheeler. Thai law says you have to wear a helmet, but as far as the law goes…it can be done with paper…if you intend to use MB Taxis a lot then get a helmet…I did, I It saved face when the inevitable finally happened and I skidded across the road after being run over by a pick-up truck… if you can avoid MB taxis then do so. If you’re in Bangkok long enough, you’ll eventually be able to learn which MB taxi teams (yes, they work as a team) are safer than others (or luckier than others). Take a look at the motorcycles they drive, a scratched accident will be a good indication that the driver has kissed the asphalt several times, a new motorcycle, a green horn that is still waiting for its first brush with death… if you go in a motorbike and the driver drives like crazy, tell him to stop and get off.
I have to admit I have very little experience with boat transport in Bangkok, but from what I’ve been told, if you can get a canal or river taxi then go for it, they are fast, generally clean, less polluting and of course Of course, there are fewer vehicles to hit. Prices vary depending on how far you go.
In summary, I would suggest that if you plan to travel to Bangkok: – get a map, take metered taxis, always know the general route and even the price range to your destination… oh, and don’t travel between 8am and 9am , or 3 pm and 4 pm, or 7 pm and 8 pm… you won’t get anywhere very, very slowly.