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Thailand Transport

There are certainly a large number of ways of getting around Thailand. From the highly efficient internal / domestic air network, to the cycle powered rickshaws of the north. How you get to your destination will depend on how much time, comfort and scenery you desire. And also, unfortunately, security and safety!

On the negative side, be advised that city to city tourist coaches tend to have less experienced drivers who are pushed, frequently beyond safety limits, to get to where they are going as fast as possible. That thieves often target these buses (standard ploy is to be a friendly Thai offering you some snack for free, including sleeping dope, and then rob you as you sleep). Also, motor bike and "tuk tuk" taxis mostly like to drive fast. Although, they have little or no passenger safety systems / protection in the event of an accident. Also understand that taxi drivers will almost certainly take you to expensive / poor value shops & hotels where they get a commission from, if you do not specify a destination (even then, they often still will, telling you the shop / hotel you asked for is now closed when it is not). So be careful and insistent!

Thai web site owners, have you checked out our Featured Sites Page?

"Siamfiles" - Don't be shy to suggest extra text, links or other information.

Fortunately, the pluses far, far outweigh the minuses. Even to the extent we whole heartily recommend you try a "tuk tuk" at least once - but maybe outside of Bangkok. On the subject of Bangkok, you will find all the useful transport links for that city on Our Bangkok Page.

For this, you should visit our Flights Page. But it is worth pointing out the internal airlines to look out for are Thai Airways, Bangkok Air and Andaman Air. If you need a limousine company from Bangkok Airport, try the Image Limousine Company. For a different type of flying, why not try the Chiang Mai Flying Club - a wonderful and very friendly site! Also, the Thai Flying Club.

The Thais have an extensive train network (visit the Thai State Railway site here). They have 3 basic classes of seats / fares (plus a premium for "speed" / limited stop express trains); 3rd Class (non aircon - wooden slat seats not recommended for long journeys without a pillow), 2nd Class (air conditioned, sometimes with berth option where the seats convert to beds), and 1st Class (private 2-person aircon compartment). The express trains have dining cars, but order your food from the Thai (sandscript written) menu or else you will pay more!

Inter Town Coaches
The government run "Baw Kaw Saw" bus company, have an extensive bus network. You can find out more about this on their website here (although the page is in Thai, click the links and you will be taken to route / schedules which are partly in English). Other, private companies such as Nakhonchai Air Bus Company also run tourist class coaches.

Local Buses ("Songthaews")
Many larger towns have local bus services, where you can travel 10 miles or so for just 20 to 30 baht. These buses are normally blue with open sides (clear polythene blinds are lowered when it rains), and you can stop them anywhere on the road where they pass. In fact, if you are coming to the end of the route and want to be dropped off closer to your destination, the drivers will normally do this for an extra 10 baht. In less population dense areas, these buses tend to be the size of a small van, often a rusty red. All of these buses have one thing in common though. The passengers sit on wooden benches running the length of the bus. On the larger buses, there are 3 benches (with one in the middle). If the benches are full, you will be expected to hang onto the back!

Ferry services generally are for the islands (Koh Samui, Koh Phi Phi, etc.), plus trips to Burma. You can find many Thai ferry schedules here.

Self Drive Hire
Driving is comparatively easy, even a pleasure once you are outside Bangkok. And there are many self drive hire companies including the likes of Budget Rent-a-Car. Although, it is generally much cheaper to rent while you are in Thailand and from a local company (the going rate for a small jeep like vehicle is around 700 baht a day including insurance during the low season, 1000 baht during high season, with discounts for weekly rentals). Driving is on the left hand side of the road in Thailand and most road signs are in both Thai Sandscript and English.

Petrol / Gas / Benzine costs around 18 baht a liter / litre. Driving under the influence of alcohol is not allowed (although the police will not generally check someone unless there is an accident). There are frequent police road checks for correct documentation, wearing of safety belts etc. Though, interestingly / ironically, police will not fine you for not wearing your seat belt if it is "check paperwork roadblock day"! You will require an International driving permit. And you should be aware, if you have an accident with a Thai, the presumption will be that it is your fault.

The average speed on Thai roads is very slow, due to the number of slow moving vehicles such as bikes with side cars. Ancient / overloaded trucks and "tuk tuks" kerb crawling for business. Give way to the left at roundabouts / traffic circles. But everyone seems to have "I have right of way, not you", "The law / rules apply to you, not me", and "I want to get in front of you, because I am going slower than you" mentality in towns. So drive with a cool heart, and take it easy. Be very careful of motor bikes using the motor bike lanes but driving the wrong way (because they do not have far to go, or if they are turning right at a junction as they will not have to wait so long).

Motor bikes are also readily available. But the number of accidents with "Farangs" (foreigners) is high due to a) Inexperience, b) Renting too fast a bike, c) Hitting a stretch of road that has just had its first rain in 5 months (thus causing the oil on the road to rise and create a virtual ice rink). So, if you are not a competent motorcyclist. Do not rent a bike in Thailand. You can always rent a bicycle and use the local buses to get to the place you want to use it (local buses will allow you to tie your bike to the roof rack).

Apart from Bangkok and airport taxis, "Taxis" in Thailand means a "tuk tuk" or samalor (rickshaw). In the north, a tuk tuk will cost you around 30 to 50 baht for a cross town journey. In tourist Phuket, 200 baht! One of the very best ways to see Chiang Mai, is to use a bicycle rickshaw. In Bangkok, often you have no choice but to use overcrowded public buses or a tuk tuk. A tuk tuk is like a small songthaew, but often with only three wheels (but with padded seats if you are lucky).

LongTail Boats
These predominate around the rivers / canals of central Thailand, and also around islands. They are not suitable for choppy seas and you should always make sure they have life vests (also, if you rent one, make sure you qualify it is a private rental, or you may find yourself cramped in a boat only just above water level). Prices will vary enormously depending on where you rent it.

All opinions stated here are the opinions only of and, although made in good faith, should not be relied upon without proper prior verification (don't sue us if our advise makes your trip go "pear-shaped"!).

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