Transportation in Thailand – What You Need to Know
We’ll be talking about transportation TO Thailand in a minute, but to start, let’s focus on transportation IN Thailand, and what you need to know before landing in the land of smiles. Thailand truly is a land of adventure and with limitless options to push your limits, test your boundaries and get you out of your comfort zone. And while playing with Tigers or jumping off of waterfalls might be the first things that come to mind, how about just getting around? Transportation in Thailand poses all sorts of fun and exciting challenges, so we’ve decided to break down all of your options while on holiday.
No article about Thailand, transportation related or not, would be complete without talking about the Tuk Tuk. Easily the most liked mode of transportation for most travelers, the Tuk Tuk is a wonderfully exciting motorbike on wheels. Traditionally a 3 wheeled vehicle built on a motorbike body, there is no thrill quite as great as the first time you travel by Tuk Tuk. (see Should I Drive a Motorbike in Asia?)
Second, and by far the most popular mode of transportation in Thailand is the motorbike. During our nine months living in Phuket we drove our little motorbike everywhere and absolutely loved it! While perceived as a very dangerous choice, we actually felt very safe (Marina might disagree here a bit when we first arrived) and never – knock on wood – got in a serious wreck. I did slip once in the rain, but luckily Marina was not with me and I did not hit anything. Parking can be an absolute nightmare in Thailand, especially larger cities like Bangkok and tourist hubs like Phuket, so never having to worry about where to park was very nice.
The bus is a great way to get around, and incredibly cheap. Backpackers and locals rely heavily on the local bus system to get from point A to point B but it is surprising more tourists and families do not jump on the bus. You can easily pay $20 for a ride in a taxi which would cost you less than $1 in a local bus. Often packed, it might not be the most comfortable ride of your life, but c’mon, you’re in Thailand, live a little and experience life as a local. So make sure to book the “luxury” bus if you decide to jump on a long haul trip from Phuket to Bangkok, you’ll be glad you did.
You could always get a car, but I definitely do not recommend it. Some people simply feel safer driving a car, and I have to admit that when Marina and I returned to the states after driving a motorbike for almost a year, sitting in a car felt very secure. Unfortunately, the cars are extremely expensive to rent or buy and gas is about $4 a gallon. So while a motorbike struggles to fit a gallon of gas, a car will cost you a lot to fill up and might be more of a hassle with all the whizzing motorbikes and no parking!
Ahh the train, one of our favorite ways to travel. The train system in Thailand is not as complete or comprehensive as it is in some western countries, but it sure is a fantastic way to get around, go long distances and see the country while you are at it. Marina and I loved taking the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiangmai, and at about $35 per person, it was a cheap, fun and relaxing way to see the country. We were able to sleep in our private bunk bed cabin and watch the sun rise over the northern Thailand countryside after a fun night in the “party” car with traveling we met from all over the world. So if you have the time and even a small sense of adventure, ditch the plane and jump on a train.
Finally, you can fly anywhere you like in Thailand. Smaller airlines like Nok Air, Air Asia and Bangkok Airways fly regularly to just about any city you would want to go to all over Thailand. If you want to plan a trip TO Thailand, many companies offer brilliant hotel and airfare packages including Travelbag, who offer complete packages starting at around $750.
So there you have it, the complete guide to all your transportation options in Thailand. Remember, to stay safe, always wear a helmet and most importantly to have fun! Thailand is one of our favorite places on Earth and while tourism is growing year after year, there are always hidden gems all over the country to discover.
*Post may contain info from travel partners we work with.
Jeff Johns is the co-founder and editor of Latitude 34 Travel Blog. Through 65 countries on 6 continents he has accumulated a seemingly endless stream of odd information, interesting stories and helpful tips and tricks to better travel. Jeff’s goal is to visit all 204 countries on Earth before he is too senile to remember them all.
A graduate of the Visual Journalism program at the Brooks Institute, his true passions lay in honest visual storytelling, documentary filmmaking, Thai food and a good laugh.
Together with his girlfriend Marina, they run Latitude 34 Travel Blog as a source of helpful information for those who love to travel or those who simply dream of it. If you have a comment or suggestion, send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll respond super fast!