Buses and Taxis in Thailand

Information on bus, taxi and tuk-tuk transport services in Thailand...

The government subsidises the Transport Company, which provides bus transport all over Thailand. Buses operate between BKS bus depots and there are five different standards of bus ranging from air-conditioned direct services to a slower non air-conditioned bus that makes frequent stops. This slower means of transport can often be inexpensive and suitable for travellers on a budget.

There are also many private companies that operate bus services between big towns and cities. They range from small minibuses to full-size coaches and can be booked or boarded at bus depots, hotels or travel agencies in the major tourist centres.

In some towns, there are a number of privately owned Songthaew buses. They are blue pick-up trucks with bench seats and a cover. They operate along set routes, but will stop anywhere on that route to drop off or pick up passengers.

When waiting for a bus, it is necessary to wave at the driver as the bus approaches to signal him or her to stop. Payment is made to the driver when disembarking the bus. To get off, signal the driver by ringing the bell. The fare is typically between THB 15 to 35 for a designated route depending on the distance travelled.

Animals are not allowed on public buses. On private buses it will depend on the individual company whether they accept animals or not.

Taxis

It is easy to find a good value taxi in Bangkok, but there may be fewer metered taxis operating in some other regions of Thailand. However, depending on the traffic and whether their shift is about to finish (often around 16:00) drivers may refuse to take passengers. Drivers may also be looking for passengers going in a certain direction or may not want to do a long trip.

Never travel in a taxi if the meter is broken or the driver doesn't switch it on; just wait for the next one to arrive. The meter always starts at THB 35 before any distance is travelled. It can be a good idea to have a map of the destination with the street names in Thai script or ask a Thai speaker to write the destination in Thai so that it can be shown to the driver.

It is possible to book a taxi in advance, but always give plenty of notice.

Motorbike Taxis

Motorbike taxis can be the quickest means of transport but also the most dangerous. Always insist on a helmet as it is law for both driver and passenger to wear one. Agree a fare before departure, although normally motorbike taxis offer value for money. Official drivers wear a coloured vest, but this is by no means any guarantee that the driver is safe.

Travel by Tuk-tuk

Tuk-tuks serve as taxis in some tourist areas of the country and can often be found on beach-front roads and in major cities. In some areas they are small, open-sided, red mini-vans with bench seating (for example in Phuket). In Bangkok they are basically a motorbike with three wheels and a cover. Prices are generally fixed, especially when taking a tuk-tuk from a long queue waiting for a fare. Bargaining is possible; it is highly advisable to carry this out in a friendly manner and to agree a price before departure. Fares are relatively high.