The transport system in Thailand is prolific and almost dizzying, with layers of companies, classes and options. You can travel by plane, train, taxi, or bus, but don’t think you only have four options to choose from – each type has its own tier of choices. Once in a city, your options expand further with motorbike taxis, songteows, and tuk tuks. Following is a quick breakdown of each major type of long-distance transport you’ll need to choose from:
Flights in Thailand
Bangkok is a major Southeast Asian hub, and flights in and out of the country are plentiful. Budget carriers traveling to and from regional hubs and small local airports are also easy to come by and are a good option if you’re on a shorter trip. For more info check out our Flights to Thailand page as well as the Airports page.
Trains in Thailand
Long-distance train is a superb way to travel across Thailand. Trains here are affordable and comfortable, and offer a true Thai experience without being crammed into the back of a minibus. In a first-class sleeper car you’ll have a private compartment with two beds, while a second-class sleepers are open, usually with benches that convert to bunks. Regular second-class seats are available for shorter travel, often with air-conditioning. Third-class seats are perfectly fine for day trips but it would be wise to avoid an all-nighter, as seats don’t recline and cars are often packed.
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Bus Travel in Thailand
It gets a bit more complicated when we try to break down the bus system. Private companies offer services, as does the Thai government. While it can seem confusing, the good news is that most private companies have relationships with guest houses and hotels, so you can book straight through your accommodation. Often these buses are the “First-Class, VIP, Air-Con” variety. Government buses range from that type all the way down to rickety local rides that stop for anyone waving a hand.
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Taxis in Thailand
Hiring a taxi to take you from Bangkok to a resort town such as Pattaya or Hua Hin is another way to save time on a shorter holiday, particularly if you’re not traveling far enough to warrant a flight. Though far more expensive than taking the bus, taxis are nevertheless cheap by western standards and offer the convenience of door-to-door service.
Photo Credit: Rene Ehrhardt, Flickr