Click to see the Thai Proverb of the Day!
Now I take you to Phuket and the situation becomes more complicated. Apart from the Bangkok-style "tuk-tuk's" and the Hat Yai-style "tuk-tuk", there is a different kind of small vehicle again that is being called a "tuk-tuk" in Phuket.
The left hand side picture is clear enough, and I hope that I can clarify the right hand side picture now. In the Phuket-style "Tuk-Tuk" you also find two planks to sit on, but they are not located in the length direction of the car, but in the width direction. So the right hand side picture was taken while I was seated on the back plank (or bench) in the direction of the other seat, and behind that second seat you see the driver and the front window of the car.
For these small vehicles officially the same rules apply as for the "Song Taew's" in Chiang Mai: They should drive a fixed or nearly fixed route and you should be able to can jump on and off for a small fee. Sadly they do no longer stick to this official since several years, and nowadays you can only hire them as a "taxi". And only if they find your trip "interesting" enough! The only thing they really want is to sell you a "tour" for too much money. If they cannot find customers for such a tour, they prefer to stay still, instead of making an honest living as a taxi driver. How low can you go!
Buses in Phuket also have a different look than in Bangkok. They are made to a large extent out of wood:
The interior of these buses is very much similar to that of the "song taew's" in Chiang Mai, as both pictures clearly show you. These antique wooden buses (take one!) only drive fixed routes, as public buses in Bangkok do.
These wooden buses in Phuket are not exactly brand-new. While the driver stepped out, I took this picture of his seat and the controls. I doubt if this bus would comply to the safety regulations in my country. Be assured, however. Accidents with these buses are very rare, if they happen at all. On Phuket Island most accidents happen with motorcycles. So you can step into one of these buses without fear! If you want to be safe on Phuket, do not rent a motorcycle!
Since many years there have been touringcar-style buses in Phuket Town. The way they looked has changed every few years. Since September 2009 you will find the Pink buses there (see the pictures above, taken in 2010). This project seems to be highly successful, so they may stay for quite some time. It is the most convenient means of public transport in Phuket Town, since the tuk-tuk drivers refuse to drive fixed routes.
Whatever tuk-tuk drivers may say, they do come about every 15 to 30 minutes and they are comfortable. They charge only 10 Baht per ride, however long. The ideal way to see all of Phuket Town, I believe!
There are two routes for these "Pink buses". Line 1 goes from "Big C" to Saphan Hin and line 2 goes from "SuperCheap" to somewhat past Rama IX Park.
Find the stops of these buses at the bus stop signs, as pictured above (the stripes are interference patterns due to the sunlight).
They can be found everywhere in Thailand. The outside looks just like an (old) touringcar. Inside you will mostly find a TV. If there is no TV program to the liking of the driver and he does not have a suitable video tape with him, he will play audio tapes with Thai songs. These buses mostly are very, very old, but I hardly ever read anything about accidents, so they seem to be safe enough. Buy your long distance bus tickets only at the terminals in order to avoid paying too much or to buy a ticket for a bus that will never depart. (Advice of the Tourism Authority of Thailand).
The State Railway of Thailand is not exactly know
for its precision. They have three classes, and I would advise you to
take second or first class. Third class has -uncomfortable- wooden
seats and ventilators, if anything at all against the heat, second
class has "airplane style" seats and is good. It may have air
conditioning or ventilators, and first class has comfortable seats and
is air conditioned.
A disadvantage of using the train is that it stops often, and sometimes very long. So a train trip can take a long time. On the other hand, you can reach many destinations by train, and the State Railway of Thailand is known for its safety. If you are not under the pressure of time, use the train.
Above you can see examples of a third class (left hand side picture) and second class (right hand side picture) carriage in a Thai train.
You can also book excursions with the State Railway of Thailand. I have made two of these excursions in the third class. See the pages about the trip to the River Kwai and the Floating Market, easily accessible from the menu at the top. These excursions always use third class train cars, but they have their charm, because you are on a day out with the Thais.
To book these excursions, go to Hua Lampong Station in Bangkok. Do not use the service of the "scams" you will sometimes find in the hall, but walk towards the end of the hall (see the left hand side picture above). At your right hand -further than the Information booth on the left hand side picture- you will then find an office for advanced bookings and tours (see the right hand side picture above for the signs). From the spot on the right hand side picture you still have to walk a bit further.
On this picture you see the the place where the
above directions should lead you to. This is the room for booking of
excursions and for advance booking of train tickets.
I have had many questions about this service. Therefore I use three pictures to lead you there. Now you can't miss it any more, I hope!
Train tickets for the same day can be bought at the end of the hall, at clearly marked booths. You can see them on the picture above, with the "Information" sign on it. They are on the left hand side of that picture.
For your convenience, find the timetables of the State Railway of Thailand, as published on their site, on the page with the timetables
For the most attractive destinations by rail in Thailand, go to the destinations page.
You know how an airplane looks, I suppose. I mostly fly Thai
Airways International for my domestic connections. They are
reliable and safe and should be supported, being a Thai company!
There are also several smaller Thai domestic airlines. To mention just two: Bangkok Airways and Nok Air (a division of Thai Airways International). I have no experience with them myself, but they all seem to be reliable.