There are a lot of ways to get around Bangkok and it’s best to go with what you’re most comfortable with. I was in Bangkok for a little over a week and tried a ton of different ways to get around.
What? But taxi’s are available practically everywhere. Yes. They are. In Bangkok they come in all different colors including bright pink. And there’s a lesson with Taxi’s for Bangkok that should be noted. Before fully sitting down you need to make sure they turn the meter on. You know, that thing that figures out fare? A lot of taxi drivers will just toss out an amount when you say where you want to go. Haggle, ask for them to turn the meter on and if they say no, walk away. It’s can feel hard to do, but do it. Taxis can be a blessing in Bangkok, especially on days where it’s hot and the humidity is at 100%.
At DMK I grabbed a taxi to the Chern Hostel and for that ride I went to the 24 hour taxi stand and waited in line forever but I was given a little receipt and the people at the desk made sure the driver understood where I was going. I had to not just pay the meter fare but an extra 50 baht ($1.40) for the driver and any and all tolls. (50 and 70 baht for the two we went through)
On my way to the airport on my final day at 4am I asked the front desk to book a airport taxi for me the day prior and it was sitting outside waiting. For Chern hostel it was 400 bhat regardless of anything. No extra tip, no tolls. Exact. Which is about $11.20. Not as bad as some cities and I got there fast, because no one was out and about at 4am. Also note that during rush hour times they can be hard to flag down. So give yourself time if you have somewhere you need to be to catch one.
Khlong Saen Saeb (canal boat)
Aside from walking and using my own two feet this was the mode of transportation I used most often. The nearest train station was about a 20 minute walk away but the boat pier was closer and I mean come on you ride a boat, there’s no way I’d pass that up. Luckily the closest pier was also the start and end to the route, underneath Phanfa bridge. Which meant I just had to jump on whichever boat was docked.
For the Khlong boats you pay after the boat sets off. Someone will walk around the outside of the boat and you tell them where you’re going and hand them baht and they’ll give you change. It’ll probably be less than 20 baht. Every trip I took was about 7 baht (20 cents) but I stayed in about a 4 stop radius because near one of those piers was a train station. If you can get a seat it’s comfortable, the roof lowers so if you’re tall definably grab a seat so you’re not having to hold on and bend lower.
Also keep in mind the direction you’re going. That way if you want to go home you don’t end up going further because there tends to be only one pier for each stop and boats from both directions will stop at the same spot. Taking a photo of the pier you started at is the best way to remember and you can show it to a worker if you need.
I took this only a few times because it wasn’t near my hostel but it was near one of the Khlong boat stops. It’s pretty easy to use. There are ticket desks and change desks where people work but you can also use a machine. Each stop has a number, select the number and put the same amount of baht in and you’re good to go. The ticket will be gone once you reach your destination. No food or drink is allowed on board, but it’s nice and air conditioned which is great.
Tuk Tuk’s can be found almost anywhere and this is where you have to have a haggling backbone. As a general rule Tuk Tuk’s overcharge but tend to be more than willing to haggle. I never took these on my own, but one of my hostelmates had a grand time on her first day with a cheap Tuk Tuk tour around the city of Bangkok. But be careful, sometimes these can be scams, same if they say some big tourist site is closed and suggest to take you somewhere else. Use your common sense and know that you can always just walk away from them.
Tuk Tuk’s can be found en masse near tourist sites and you’ll be asked in an almost constant stream (if you look like a foreigner) “Where are you going?”
Tuk Tuk’s are usually brightly lit, decorated three wheeled vehicles that are a bit like the back of a car added to a motorcycle. They’re fun, but tend to be cramped with any parties of 3 or more. Unless you can grab a bigger one.
Sŏrng tăa ou
Think of a pick up truck where the back has been fitted out with lights and loud buzzers and seats and you have the Sŏrng tăa ou. I took this once with a guide. It was only about 5 baht to get from the floating market to the river pier to get home. It can be a bit confusing if you don’t know where you’re getting off or how much it costs, so if you can find out before hand.
There are a lot of different types of boats on the river. You can tell the difference based on the color of their flags. A blue flag tends to be a tourist flag which is a bit more expensive but everything is in English and you won’t get lost. Plus you can get an all day pass and just hop on and off around the river.
If there isn’t a flag it’s a local boat and will stop at every stop. Yellow and Green are express for commuters and Orange just goes to the main stops.
The river also hosts a lot of other boats, bright ones for hire, hotel shuttle boats for the 5 star hotels near the river, river cruises, and the river crossing ferry that just goes from one side of the river bank to the next. Which is the best way to get to Wat Atrun from Wat Pho/The grand palace. It’s about 3 baht.
These are the ways I got around. Biking, motorcycles, buses, and uber are other popular ways to get around that I didn’t try. Instead I stubbornly would walk where I was going a lot of the time. (Like the one time I walked over two miles to the zoo).