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Home Travel Guide Thailand Travel Guide Thailand Transportation: How to Get to & around

Thailand Transportation: How to Get to & around

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Thailand, one of the most popular tourist countries in the world, has a very well-developed transportation system. Tourists can get to Thailand by various transportation methods, among which the airplane is the most convenient and fastest one. There are direct flights to Thailand from almost every part of the world.

Visitors can also reach Thailand by land from neighboring countries, such as Laos, Malaysia, and Cambodia. Of course, you could choose to take a ferry if you plan to enter Thailand from Malaysia. Taxis are the main means of transportation for intra-city travel. Light rail is a very economical way of transportation just in Bangkok. The Tuk Tuk is the most common way to get around Thailand for short distances. Read on to see details including times and prices.

Getting to Thailand

Thailand is well-connected to the rest of the world by air, land, and water.

1. By Air

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is the air transportation hub for the entire country and Southeast Asia. Direct flights to Bangkok are already available from most cities around the world, including London, Paris, Amsterdam, Vancouver, Sydney, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Besides, many other popular cities in Thailand have also established airports, the most commonly used of which are Phuket and Chiang Mai airports.

Bangkok Airports

Bangkok has 2 international airports, Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Don Muang International Airport.

Don Muang International Airport (DMK), aka the old Bangkok International Airport, has been replaced by the newly-built Suvarnabhumi International Airport as Bangkok’s main airport. However, some international flights still take off and land at Don Muang Airport, especially those of some low-cost airlines.

Officially opened in 2006, Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) is the largest air transit center in Southeast Asia.

Direct Flights to Suvarnabhumi International Airport

From

To

Flight Time

Airfare

London

Bangkok

11h 30m

/

Paris

11h 45m

/

Amsterdam

11 hours

/

Vancouver

15h 55m

/

Beijing

05h 05m

USD 1700-2500

Hong Kong

02h 40m

USD 145-250

Tokyo

06h 45m

USD 240-360

Seoul

05h 40m

USD 155-200

Singapore

02h 50m

USD 120-280

New Delhi

04 05m

USD 155-250

Phuket International Airport (HKT)

Phuket International Airport is located in the north of Phuket, about 32km from the city center, and has the second highest visitor throughput in Thailand due to the large number of tourists visiting Phuket.

American and European countries like the USA, UK, France, and Canada do not have direct flights to Phuket. People can fly directly to Phuket from Seoul, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, etc. It takes about 6 hours and 20 minutes, 4 hours and 40 minutes, 3 hours and 45 minutes, 1.5 hours, and 9 hours and 15 minutes respectively.

Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX)

Located about 4 km southwest of downtown Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai International Airport has two floors, with an arrival hall for international and domestic passengers on the second floor and a departure hall for international passengers on the second floor. Chiang Mai Airport is small in size but has a great infrastructure, including cafes, chain restaurants, pharmacies, and many shops for Thai silk and other handicrafts.

Tourists can take direct flights to Chiang Mai from Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh, and other cities.

2. By Train & Bus

Visitors can travel to Thailand from Malaysia by train: Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) – Padang Besar (Malaysia) – Bangkok (Thailand).

The journey time from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar is about 6 hours and the ticket price starts from 640 baht (USD 16.7). At Padang Besar, you will take an overnight train to Bangkok for 17 hours and train tickets start at 900 baht (USD 23.5).

In addition, tourists can get to Thailand by bus from neighboring Southeast Asian countries, such as Laos, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

★ Laos – Thailand

The direct overnight bus from Vientiane to Bangkok usually departs at 18:00 with a fare of about 248,000 kips (USD 14.4).

There are two daily buses from Vang Vieng to Bangkok, departing at 9:00 am and 1:30 pm respectively, with fares ranging from 230,000-280,000 kip (USD 13.4-16.3), depending on soft seats or sleepers.

There is also a bus (sleeper) to Chiang Mai from Vang Vieng, terminating at Chiang Mai International Terminal. The fare is 350,000 kip (USD 20.4).

Malaysia – Thailand

Buses run daily between 8 am and 9 am from Kuala Lumpur to Hat Yai, a city in southwestern Thailand that is an important transportation hub to Bangkok and the southwest. The fare is about 20 USD.

Cambodia – Thailand

Tourists can take a bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok, with a final stop near Khao San Road, and the journey takes about 9 hours.

3. By Water

There is a ferry service between Malaysia and Thailand. When you arrive in Thailand by ship, you will need to register for entry. Many waterway entry points do not allow for Thai visas on arrival, so you are advised to get a visa in advance.

Alternatively, you can inquire about which ports of entry are available for a Thailand visa on arrival before you depart. Most tourists choose to arrive in Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, or Pattaya from Malaysia.

Getting to Thailand

Once you are in Thailand, domestic travel is quite easy. The country’s well-developed public transportation network can get you anywhere you want to go, by plane, train, bus, and ferry.

Even when traveling in urban areas, you have various travel options, including taxis, buses, tuk-tuks, subways, and BTS Skytrain.

1. Planes

There are more than 35 airports in Thailand, of which Suvarnabhumi International Airport, located in Bangkok, is the largest and most modern international airport in Thailand. The airport currently serves more than one hundred airlines with an annual international passenger volume of approximately 51.23 million. Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways offer the largest number of domestic flights.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai is one of the most popular routes in Thailand, usually taking 1 hour and 20 minutes, with fares fluctuating between USD 30 and USD 50 (depending on low and high seasons).

The flight from Bangkok to Phuket takes about 1.5 hours and costs about USD 34 each way, and the flight to Koh Samui takes 1 hour and costs about USD 111.

2. Trains

Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Train Station is the central station for train travel in Thailand. Centered in Bangkok, Thailand’s railroads radiate outward on four lines.

The Eastern Railway Line extends to Aranyaprathet in Cambodia, which is about 255 kilometers and takes 7 hours for express trains. The Northern Railway Line goes directly to Chiang Mai, with a special express train travel time of about 14.5 hours. The Northeast Line to Nong in Laos is about 624 km. The Southern Line runs along the Malay Peninsula in the Gulf of Siam for about 990 kilometers, passing through Hua Hin to Hat Yai.

Thailand’s other international rail railway from Bangkok, through Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and finally to Singapore, offers a unique travel experience in all of Asia. The facilities and services on the Asia Orient Express are comparable to those of a five-star hotel. Luxurious, comfortable and leisurely, this train provides tourists with picturesque scenery along the way.

3. Ferries

The ferries in Thailand are a great way to see the country. There are several types of ferries, including Slow Boats, Tourist Boats, Orange Express Boats, and Blue Express Boats, with Tourist Boats offering plenty of seating and English commentary. Visitors can take the ferry from along the Chao Phraya River to the southern and northern ends of Bangkok. The Tourist Boat operates from 9:30 am to 4 pm. A day trip ticket costs 150 baht.

4. Long-distance Buses

Long-distance buses cover all parts of Thailand, with Bangkok Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) being the busiest station, from which most buses to northern Thailand depart. One of the most popular routes is from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, and Mukdahan. The road trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai usually takes about 9-10 hours, with a 30-minute stop for a free meal.

In addition, Mo Chit 2 also provides bus routes to the northeast and northwest of Thailand, as well as to some tourist destinations in the south, such as Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya, and Elephant Island. Another large bus station in Bangkok is the Southern Bangkok Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai), which provides bus service to tourist destinations in southern Thailand.

5. Urban Buses

Buses are a fairly budget way to get around and there are usually two types, air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned, with the former costing twice as much as the latter, between 13-15 baht. Bus stops in Thailand only have the bus route written on them, not the name of the stop, so you are strongly advised to buy a local transport map (about 50 baht).

Most buses operate between 5:00 am and 11:00 pm. Buses in Bangkok are quite crowded during peak hours, so try to avoid the 7:00-9:30 am and 3:00-6:00 pm.

6. Bangkok BTS Skytrain & MRT Subway

The Bangkok Mass Transit System Train is one of the most affordable and fastest ways to get around traffic jams. It has two routes – Silom Line and Sukhumvit Line with in-station transfer at Siam Station and the cost varies from 15-40 baht each way depending on the distance.

The MRT Subway covers different parts of Bangkok and takes visitors to places that are not accessible by BTS. Only one route is currently in operation, from Hua Lamphong Station to Bang Sue Station, with 18 stops, including the airport.

Both the BTS and MRT Subway run from 5 am to 12 pm. However, during peak hours (6 am-9 am; 5 pm-8 pm), the MRT Subway runs every 5 minutes!

7. Taxis

Cabs are basically available in all major popular tourist destinations in Thailand to provide short-distance transportation services for tourists, but the charges vary from city to city. Note that when taking a cab, always ask the driver to charge by the meter before getting in.

In general, taxi fares in the islands and seaside cities are slightly higher than inland cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, starting at 100 baht. In Bangkok, taxi fares start at 35 baht and cost about 220 baht from Suvarnabhumi International Airport to the city center.

8. Songthaews

The Songthaew is also a common mode of transportation in Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai, the southern islands, and the northern mountains. It is a four-wheeled passenger vehicle that resembles a small truck, with the backspace converted into a carriage and two rows of seats on either side. They usually stop at the roadside when you wave. It’s cheap, starting at just 10 baht.

9. Tuk-tuks

The most convenient way to travel short distances in Thailand is by tuk-tuk, which is not very spacious and can only accommodate 2-3 people. If you are carrying luggage, it is not recommended.

In general, the price for a 10-minute ride in cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai is about 20-40 baht, while slightly more in the islands and beach towns.

10. Motorcycles

Motorcycles can be found in every corner of Thailand. Due to the large number of people engaged in motorcycles, the price is very low, but the safety factor is not as high as that of taxis and buses. The price of a motorcycle ride depends on the distance, and usually does not exceed 100 baht.

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