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Public Transport in Thailand (Part 3)
Part 1

This is the third page of a set about Public Transport in Thailand. These pages are mainly meant to given a visual impression, but some of them also give some detailed information. There also are some practical hints.



I continue with the means of public transport, specific for Bangkok.

The Skytrain

Skytrain in Bangkok Interior of Bangkok Skytrain

This means of public transport in Bangkok was opened on 5 December 1999, HM the Kings's 72nd birthday. Expect Thai people to say "Sa-ky-train". Anyway, I heard this several times. See my language tips page (Rule 3) for the reason why. Expect a fee between 15 and 45 Baht, dependent on the distance you travel. It is to be hoped that this "Sky-train" will relieve the roads of Bangkok a bit, but to be honest, I still could hardly notice this in 2010 (11 years after the opening!).

View from Bangkok Skytrain

The price that has been paid at the expense of the City is high: On some streets there is hardly any daylight left under its rail system! The view from the skytrain is at some places good, but not really impressive from most places.

Bangkok Skytrain station Nothing is allowed!

The stations of the skytrain are quite modern, which is not very surprising, as the system was only opened in 1999. The operator has chosen to keep the stations "clean", as can be seen from all the "forbidden" signs. I would not call the stations clean, but almost sterile, without hawkers being allowed!

Skytrain shuttle bus

Because the skytrain does not yet reach very far and because the operators believe that is the main reason why the skytrain is not being used as much as they would like (in my opinion the price is more an obstacle!), free shuttle buses are provided to bring you a few stops further. In most cases these shuttle buses will bring you to the nearest shopping center.

Click here to go to the site of BTS for all information you could possibly want about the Skytrain (new window)



Now I take you out of Bangkok to see some of the means of Public transport in other parts of Thailand.

Chiang Mai


You will find the normal Bangkok-style tuk-tuk's in Chiang Mai too, but only a few of the Bangkok-style taxi's. You will also not find any buses in Chiang Mai (with the exception perhaps of buses, hired by tour companies, but I would not call that "Public Transport"). Most bus- and taxi-like public Transport in Chiang Mai is carried out by "song taews" (literally " two planks". Let us take a look:

Song taew cars in Chiang Mai Inside a song taew car

On the left hand side you see two "song taew's" one in red and one in yellow color. The red ones are the most common ones. But different colors do also exist. As you hopefully see, there are two planks, opposite to each other, where the passengers can sit upon. And the right hand side picture shows you a view inside-out, on which picture you can clearly see the two planks.

Many of them drive a fixed (or almost fixed) route through Chiang Mai and you can jump in and out wherever you want, for a fixed rate per person. This is a low rate and no bargaining is allowed.

The second purpose of these cars is to rent them as a taxi. In that case you have to bargain hard, but mostly the result will still be a bit disappointing. You should realize, however, that a crowded "song taew" can easily carry 10 persons, and if they put a third plank in the middle (which they sometimes do) it can hold at least 15 persons. So if you want to hire it for 2 persons, you have to pay enough to make that attractive for the owner!

Hat Yai


Hat Yai tuk-tuk

Sometimes things can be very confusing in Thailand. You have seen on the previous page what they call a "tuk-tuk" in Bangkok. Here you see what they call a tuk-tuk in Hat Yai and other Southern places. You will have to take things like this for granted in Thailand I am afraid... A Hat Yai-style tuk-tuk is much like a "song taew" in the North!

Korat

Samlor in Korat Tuk-tuks in Korat

In the north-eastern city of Korat the three main means of public transport are pictured above. In the city you will find samlors, buses and the Bangkok-style tuk-tuk's. There are no taxi's at all. So if you arrive per train, you will only see tuk-tuk drivers at the station to bring you to your hotel. Believe the drivers when they tell you that there are no taxi's! It is the simple truth.

Bus terminal in Korat

For tours over longer distances from Korat there are buses. The picture above shows you just a small part of the very large bus terminal. Theoretically there are "standard" buses as well as air-conditioned ones. But my experience has shown me that the air conditioned ones may not depart at the time they should. They may not be there at all. Therefore take the first bus that leaves for your destination, whatever type is is.



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