Travelling in and around Thailand - Trains and Buses - Transportation Guides - Getting Around - Bangkok - Phuket - Chiang Mai
Traveling in and around Thailand can be done by air, train, bus, Tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis or regular car taxis
Many of Thailand's top tourist destinations have domestic airports. Chiang Mai in the north has an airport - if short of time then flying from Bangkok to Chiang Mai cuts out the long train/bus journey and it is not expensive to fly in Thailand. Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son in the north also have airports. In the south, the islands of Phuket and Koh Samui have their own airports and the beach resorts of Hua Hin and Pattaya. There are other airports on the southern gulf mainland, allowing access to other destinations in the south. Some Thailand airlines do flights to other countries surrounding Thailand.
Travelling by train is much more comfortable and much safer than travelling by bus. It is slower though and can be more expensive compared with the cheap tourist buses available. Overnight sleepers are available with air-con or fan-cooled carriages. The sleepers are very comfortable. Bedding is provided, and food and drinks are sold on the trains. There are basic showers and a choice of Asian toilets or Western toilets. It is usually best to book train tickets a few days in advance if possible. Trains do get booked up at weekends and over public holidays.
Public buses are very cheap. The basic orange ones stop everywhere and are quite slow. Just stick out your hand and flag them down. If in Bangkok, jump on quickly as they tend to pull away quite quickly. The seats may be a bit cramped for larger Westerners and it can be a pain finding somewhere to squash luggage in. For longer journeys it is worth considering getting the air-con buses which have reclining seats and a locker for luggage. VIP buses have fewer seats on the bus, so more room. Some of the air-con buses have toilets and free snacks. Private buses vary in comfort, facilities and reliability. Tickets for private buses can be booked at travel agents or at the bus station. Minibuses are sometimes used for hilly or winding routes.
Tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis or regular car taxis take people from place to place in towns. Tuk-tuks are small, noisy, open, three-wheeled vehicles. Negotiate a fare before departure or in the case of car taxis, ask if they will use the meter. If you catch a taxi or tuk-tuk from outside a major tourist attraction, or if you look as though you have just arrived in Thailand, they may try to overcharge you. The best way of finding out what prices should be is to ask a passer-by or ask at your guesthouse.
Sawngthaews are pickup trucks with two benches. They travel on set routes from place to place picking up and setting down passengers on request. If there a group of you, it is possible to charter the whole vehicle.
Hiring your own transport
Guesthouses rent out motorcycles or bicycles. There are many motorcycle rental places as well and these should have helmets. Take care though - accidents are common on the windy gravelly roads in the mountains or on the islands. Try to stick to tarmacked roads where possible.