Explore Thailand Like A Local: Tips On How To Get Around

blue and yellow auto rickshaw on road during daytime

Welcome to Thailand, where the abundance of transport options can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. From tuk-tuks and motorbikes to longtail boats and domestic flights, getting around can be an adventure in itself. But fear not, we’ve got you covered with our insider tips on how to navigate Thailand like a local.

Immerse yourself in the local culture by taking public transport like the BTS and MRT in Bangkok, or hop on a longtail boat for a canal tour. Rent a motorbike and explore the countryside, or fly domestically to destinations like Phuket or Chiang Mai. With our guide, you’ll be able to travel with confidence, safely and affordably.

The Best Ways to Get Around Bangkok

Bangkok is a sprawling city with heavy traffic congestion and a maze-like network of streets. It can be daunting for first-time visitors, but there are several transportation options that make it easy to get around.

Public Transportation

One of the best ways to get around Bangkok is by using the city’s modern public transportation system. The BTS Skytrain and MRT subway lines cover most of the city center and many popular tourist destinations. Both systems are reliable, cheap, and air-conditioned, making them a great way to avoid the city’s heat and traffic. You can purchase single-use tickets or rechargeable transit cards at any station.

If you plan to use public transportation frequently during your visit, consider purchasing a day pass or a Rabbit Card, which offers discounts and cashless payment options.

Taxis and Tuk-Tuks

Taxis and tuk-tuks are a common sight on Bangkok’s streets, but they can be tricky to navigate for first-time visitors. Taxis are plentiful and relatively cheap, but you should always insist on using the meter rather than negotiating a price with the driver. Tuk-tuks, on the other hand, are more expensive and less comfortable, but they offer a more adventurous way to get around.

Be aware that some taxi and tuk-tuk drivers may try to take you on a detour to a tourist shop or scam you in other ways. Always agree on a price or insist on using the meter before getting in, and be wary of anyone who tries to persuade you to deviate from your planned route.

Motorbike Taxis

If you need to get around quickly and don’t mind a bit of excitement, motorbike taxis are a popular option in Bangkok. They’re cheap, fast, and can weave through traffic with ease. However, they can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced riders or those not accustomed to Bangkok’s chaotic traffic. If you choose to use a motorbike taxi, always wear a helmet, agree on a price beforehand, and be aware of the risks.

Overall, Bangkok’s transportation options offer convenience and affordability for getting around the city. By using a combination of public transportation, taxis, and tuk-tuks, you can explore the city like a local and avoid the frustrations of traffic congestion.

Navigating Thailand’s Rail Network

If you’re looking for a scenic way to travel around Thailand, the country’s rail network is a great option. With routes connecting major cities and towns, as well as some more remote areas, taking the train is a comfortable and affordable way to get around.

Thailand has a few different types of trains, from basic local trains with wooden seats to luxurious overnight sleeper trains with private cabins and dining cars. Some of the most popular routes include the Bangkok to Chiang Mai train, which takes about 12-15 hours and passes through beautiful mountain scenery.

Booking tickets for Thai trains can be done online or at the train station. However, it’s best to book in advance as popular routes can sell out quickly, especially during peak travel season. If you’re planning to travel overnight on a sleeper train, we recommend booking a private cabin for added comfort and security.

Thai train stations can be busy and confusing, especially if you don’t speak the language. However, station staff are usually helpful and signs are often in English. If you’re unsure about where to go or what to do, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Overall, traveling by train in Thailand is a great way to see the country while avoiding the stress of traffic and driving. Just be sure to book your tickets in advance and arrive at the station with plenty of time to spare.

Discovering Thailand’s Islands by Ferry

Many of Thailand’s most beautiful islands are only accessible by boat, providing a unique and breathtaking perspective of the country’s coastline. Ferry travel is a popular and cost-effective way of getting around Thailand, with several ferry companies operating daily services to popular tourist destinations in the Gulf of Thailand, the Andaman Sea, and beyond.

Booking tickets for a ferry ride in Thailand is generally straightforward and can usually be done online, at the pier, or through a travel agent. It’s recommended to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak season or busy travel periods.

Before you embark on your island-hopping adventure, it’s important to be aware of the ferry schedules and routes. Ferries usually operate from early morning until late afternoon, and schedules can change depending on the season. Always double-check the departure times and arrival locations to avoid disappointment or disruption to your travel plans.

Koh Samui to Koh Phangan Ferry

The ferry ride from Koh Samui to Koh Phangan is one of the most popular routes in Thailand. Koh Phangan is well-known for its Full Moon Party, attracting thousands of tourists each year. To get there, you can take a ferry from Koh Samui’s Nathon Pier or Maenam Pier to Thong Sala Pier in Koh Phangan. The journey usually takes around 30-45 minutes, depending on the weather conditions and type of ferry you choose.

Ferry Company Departure Time Travel Time Ticket Price
Raja Ferry 07:00, 11:00, 13:00, 16:30 45 minutes 250 THB
Seatran Discovery 08:30, 10:30, 13:30, 16:30 30 minutes 300 THB
Lomprayah 08:00, 09:00, 12:30, 15:00 20-30 minutes 400 THB

Note that the prices and schedules may vary depending on the season, so it’s always a good idea to confirm the latest information before booking your tickets.

Overall, ferry travel is a fun and convenient way of exploring Thailand’s many islands and coastal destinations. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or a party scene, the ferries are an affordable and flexible transportation option to get you there in style.

Riding the Roads: Renting a Motorbike in Thailand

If you’re looking for an adventurous way to explore Thailand’s roads, renting a motorbike could be a great option. Not only does it give you the freedom to go where you want, when you want, but it can also be an affordable option for budget travelers.

However, before you hit the road, it’s important to understand the potential risks and take some precautions to ensure your safety.

Pros and Cons of Renting a Motorbike

One of the biggest advantages of renting a motorbike is the freedom it provides. You can explore remote areas that may not be accessible by public transportation, and you can move at your own pace.

However, it’s important to note that motorbikes can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced riders. Thailand has one of the highest road accident rates in the world, and motorbike accidents are unfortunately common.

Additionally, some rental companies may require you to leave your passport as collateral, which can be risky. If your passport is lost or stolen, getting it replaced can be a costly and time-consuming process.

Staying Safe on a Motorbike

If you do decide to rent a motorbike, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk:

  • Wear a helmet at all times, and make sure it fits properly.
  • Stick to well-traveled roads and avoid driving at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and anticipate potential hazards.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

Choosing a Rental Company

Before you rent a motorbike, it’s important to do your research and find a reputable rental company. Look for companies that have good reviews and a clear rental agreement.

It’s also a good idea to check the condition of the motorbike before you rent it. Make sure the brakes, tires, and lights are all in good working order, and take photos of any existing damage to the bike.

Scenic Motorbike Routes

If you’re looking for some scenic routes to explore on your motorbike, there are plenty of options in Thailand. One popular route is the Mae Hong Son Loop, which takes you through beautiful mountain scenery and charming villages.

Another option is the road from Chiang Mai to Pai, which is known for its stunning views and winding roads.

Whether you’re an experienced rider or a beginner, renting a motorbike can be a great way to explore Thailand’s roads and experience the country like a local. Just make sure you take the necessary precautions and choose a reputable rental company.

a woman is walking through a subway station

The Best Ways to Get Around Bangkok

Bangkok is a bustling city with a diverse transportation system. The most popular options for tourists are the BTS Skytrain, MRT subway, taxis, and tuk-tuks. Here are some tips on how to navigate Bangkok’s busy streets:

BTS Skytrain and MRT Subway

The BTS and MRT are both reliable and efficient options for getting around Bangkok. The BTS covers most of central Bangkok, while the MRT mainly serves the eastern and western parts of the city. Both systems have English signage and announcements, making them easy to use. You can purchase single journey tickets, day passes, or stored value cards for multiple rides.


Taxis are readily available throughout Bangkok, with metered fares starting at 35 baht. It’s important to make sure the driver turns on the meter and avoid getting in unmarked or unlicensed taxis. Traffic can be heavy during rush hour, so it’s best to avoid traveling by taxi during peak times.


Tuk-tuks are a popular option for short trips or sightseeing. They are typically more expensive than taxis, and fares are usually negotiated beforehand. It’s important to agree on the fare before getting in, as some drivers may try to overcharge tourists. Tuk-tuks can be a fun and adventurous way to explore the city, but they are not the most practical option for longer journeys.

By using a combination of these transportation options, you can navigate Bangkok like a local and make the most of your time in this vibrant city.

Exploring Thailand’s Waterways by Longtail Boat

If you’re looking for a unique way to experience Thailand’s natural beauty, consider taking a longtail boat tour. These traditional boats are a staple of Thai waterways, and offer a leisurely and authentic way to explore canals, rivers, and other bodies of water.

Types of Longtail Boat Tours

There are many different types of longtail boat tours available throughout Thailand, each with its own unique experience and sights to see. In Bangkok, you can take a canal tour and discover the city’s hidden waterways and charming neighborhoods. In Chiang Mai, a longtail boat tour along the Mae Ping River offers a glimpse of rural life and stunning mountain views.

Type of Tour Description
Canal Tour A leisurely tour through Bangkok’s canals, or “klongs”, to explore the city’s hidden waterways and charming neighborhoods.
River Tour A scenic tour along the Mae Ping River in Chiang Mai, offering a glimpse of rural life and stunning mountain views.

Booking a Longtail Boat Tour

Longtail boat tours can be booked through tour companies, hotels, or directly with boat operators. It’s important to do your research and read reviews to ensure you’re booking a reputable and safe tour. You should also confirm the price before setting off to avoid any misunderstandings.

Tip: Negotiating the price may be possible, especially during low season or if booking directly with a boat operator. Just remember to be respectful and fair in your negotiations.

Staying Safe on the Water

While longtail boat tours can be a fun and memorable experience, it’s important to prioritize your safety on the water. Make sure your tour operator provides life jackets and that you wear them at all times. Avoid standing or moving around the boat while it’s in motion, and listen carefully to the boat operator’s instructions.

It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen and a hat, as the sun can be intense on the water. And don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views!

Renting a Car in Thailand: Tips and Tricks

For those looking for the ultimate freedom when exploring Thailand, renting a car can be a great option. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Driving in Thailand

Before hitting the road, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the rules of the road in Thailand. Drive on the left-hand side of the road, and be aware of the different types of vehicles and road conditions you may encounter.

It’s also worth noting that traffic in Thailand can be chaotic, especially in major cities like Bangkok. Be prepared for heavy traffic, particularly during rush hour, and exercise caution when driving.

Choosing a Rental Company

When choosing a rental company, it’s important to do your research. Look for reputable companies with good reviews, and avoid any that have negative feedback or seem untrustworthy.

Be sure to read the rental agreement carefully before signing, and ask questions about anything that isn’t clear. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions, including insurance coverage and any additional fees or charges.

Insurance Coverage

Speaking of insurance, it’s important to make sure you’re fully covered before getting behind the wheel. Most rental companies offer basic insurance coverage, but it’s worth considering additional coverage for peace of mind.

Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the insurance policy carefully, including any exclusions or limitations.

Tips for Safe Driving

When driving in Thailand, it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. Here are some tips to help you stay safe on the road:

  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Observe speed limits and traffic signs
  • Avoid driving at night, especially in rural areas
  • Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
  • Be aware of motorbikes and tuk-tuks, which may weave in and out of traffic

Scenic Drives and Road Trip Routes

Thailand is home to some incredible scenic drives and road trip routes, from the Northern mountains to the Southern islands. Here are just a few suggestions:

Route Distance Highlights
Chiang Mai to Pai Loop 240 km Spectacular mountain views, winding roads, picturesque villages
Bangkok to Hua Hin 220 km Coastal scenery, beach resorts, historic landmarks
Phuket to Krabi 170 km Tropical beaches, limestone cliffs, national parks

Whether you’re exploring the cities or the countryside, renting a car can be a great way to experience Thailand on your own terms. Just be sure to follow these tips and exercise caution on the road.

FAQ: Common Questions About Getting Around Thailand

Traveling around Thailand can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if this is your first time visiting. To help you plan your trip, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked questions about getting around Thailand.

Is it Safe to Ride a Motorbike in Thailand?

Renting a motorbike is a popular way to explore Thailand’s scenic countryside, but it can also be dangerous. Thailand has some of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world, and many of these accidents involve motorbikes. If you do decide to rent a motorbike, make sure you wear a helmet and protective clothing, familiarize yourself with the local traffic laws, and drive defensively.

What’s the Best Way to Get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?

There are several transportation options available for traveling between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but the most popular are by train, bus, or plane. If you have time, taking the train is a scenic way to see the countryside, especially if you opt for an overnight sleeper train. Buses are also affordable and comfortable, but the journey can take up to 10 hours. If you’re short on time, flying is the fastest option, with several budget airlines operating daily flights between the two cities.

Do Thai People Speak English?

English is widely spoken in tourist areas of Thailand, but outside these areas, it can be more challenging to communicate. It’s always a good idea to learn a few basic Thai phrases before you go, such as “hello” (sawatdee), “thank you” (khob khun), and “how much?” (tao rai?). You can also download a translation app on your phone if you need help communicating with locals.

What’s the Best Way to Get Around Bangkok?

Bangkok is a bustling city with heavy traffic, so getting around can be challenging. The best way to get around Bangkok is by using the city’s public transportation system, which includes the BTS skytrain, MRT subway, and the Chao Phraya Express Boat. Taxis and tuk-tuks are also available, but make sure you negotiate the fare before you get in, as the prices can vary widely.

Do I Need to Tip in Thailand?

Tipping isn’t mandatory in Thailand, but it’s appreciated in many service industries, such as restaurants, cafes, and hotels. If you receive good service, it’s customary to leave a small tip of around 10% of the total bill. You don’t need to tip taxi drivers or street vendors.

What’s the Best Time to Visit Thailand?

Thailand has a tropical climate, with hot and humid weather year-round. The best time to visit Thailand depends on your interests and itinerary. If you’re planning to visit the beaches in the south, the best time to go is between November and February, when the weather is dry and sunny. If you’re planning to explore northern Thailand, the best time to go is between November and March, when the weather is cooler and drier.

We hope these frequently asked questions have helped you plan your trip to Thailand. Remember to always be respectful of local customs and traditions, and have fun exploring this beautiful country!

More resources:

Some of the best beaches can be found in Thailand
Travel Thailand Cheap



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