Arriving in Thailand, as Europeans we can be a little surprised by such a large circulation. Scooters mingle with cars, tuk tuks, bicycles and pedestrians who are desperately trying to cross. Here are the means of transport in Thailand that you will find and a few tips to find the one that best suits your needs.
Transport in Thailand: By land
Obviously, you will find the same taxis that we have at home. Personally, the only time we took one that was at Krabi Airport to reach the hotel. We didn’t really have the choice not to take a taxi because we arrived late at night. So, for the ride from Krabi Airport to Ao Nang we paid 700bath. This is the most expensive of trasnports in Thailand, but we must admit that the car was comfortable (Honda), with air conditioning (not to be overlooked) and the driver respects the rules of the road (yep, it’s not obvious for all the drivers here in Southeast Asia!).
Taxi for day trips
For your excursions or day trips, special taxis will pick you up from your hotel to take you directly to your destination (e.g. from Chiang Mai to the elephant sanctuary) or to the beach or harbourif you’re going to the islands (e.g. Ao Nang). In this car you sit sideways, and you find all kinds of decorations according to the tastes of the driver. It can carry up to 9 people and it often happens that when there are too many people they ask some brave men – ehem Alberto! – to stand in the back and actually out of the car (if the road is short).
Minivan (either trips or hotel)
We happened once to have a minivan for a trip which was an hour away from our guesthouse. It was rather good as it had very comfortable aircon. The second time was in Bangkok for an airport-hotel transfer.
This is the famous tuk tuk we heard a lot about before arriving in Thailand. We saw many of them in Bangkok, but honestly with the traffic in the capital and all those scooters overtaking in very imaginative ways, we didn’t really feel like trying a tuktuk there. So we waited to be in the south of Thailand to get onto one. We were staying 2km from the beach of Ao Nang so our bungalow included a tuk tuk service available to take us into the center when we wanted to. This is a simple scooter with a structure to sit on the side. We enjoyed taking the tuktuk when there was not much traffic. However, when you’re 3 or 4 people onboard we must admit that it has difficulties accelerating! Give it a try at least once if you are in Thailand.
Before arriving to Thailand, we intended to rent a scooter in Chiang Mai for our excursions away from the tourists and at the times we wanted, but once there, all changed. Sure you will find garages or even individuals renting scooters at all street corners and in general for ridiculous prices (about 200 baht a day). So far so good! But on our first day in Chiang Mai, when we took a taxi for a tour we were witness to a scooter accident involving tourists …. So scary. So we never rented the scooter, specially because neither of us had driven one before, and in Thailand we also drive on the left side of the road, plus all the traffic… We preferred to be “safe” and enjoy our holiday, so shared taxis did the trick! Besides , the prices are tempting but many agencies offer no insurance and if there is a accident everything will be at your expense …
Yes, even bicycles can be rented and of course still cheaper than scooters! We went cycling in the morning once as part of a visit to a village far from the traffic in the vicinity of Chiang Mai. It was very nice to visit in a different way but otherwise we wouldn’t have rented a bike, specially not in a city with the traffic and the high temperatures!
Transport in Thailand: By water
The most popular boat in Thailand, the ones we see in pictures and postcards! They are made of wood and each of them has its original plus; they decorate the bow with garlands of flowers or colored pieces of cloth which make all the charm of the boat. Besides the fact that they are beautiful, we used them several times to get to the islands. They have a capacity of about 25 people, though some are smaller. It is much slower than the speedboat but nice. We advise you not to sit at the back of the boat as it moves more, and you’ll also have the engine noise and the smell of gasoline, so the front is perfect! Then just some little advice to those with seasickness: do not take this kind of transport, we saw several people being seasick. If you have the money and you do not like too much the tourist crowds, it is also possible to rent a longtail boat with a driver for a day to take you to the islands you want.
A modern boat which has a capacity of 50 people. They take you faster to the islands but there’s no originality in their designs; and also those ships are filled to the top with people. We took it once to give it a try, but not any more. You also pay the speedboat ride more expensive because they are faster than longtail boats.
Yes, it is possible to rent kayaks when you are on the islands of Thailand, which we did and really appreciated! We toured Koh Hong island and we entered the magical inner lagoon at low tide, when motor boats are not allowed to come in, so we were completely alone and we enjoyed it a lot! For the kayak ride, there was a guide that accompanied us all along to tell us where to go and tell us stories about the place. Besides, it is possible to take a kayak for two and a paddling instructor just for you (you’ll pay more, but it’s possible!). And they even offer a service for physically impaired and lazy people, where someone will paddle for you! We would definitely do it again!
Ferry in Bangkok
It’s another kind of public transportation that you can find in the capital, Bangkok. They sail up and down the Chao Praya for almost no money. It’s a cheap and relaxing way to discover the city under a new angle. They stop every 200 meters along the river; so it’s easy to get on and off whenever you want.
Transport in Thailand: by air
We wanted to try the skytrain in Bangkok ! The ticket is cheap and you have a great view of the center of the capital. We took it to Lumpini Park . It is large, bright, spacious, and fast!
With this low cost company we traveled inside Thailand (from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, then Chiang Mai to Krabi, and finally Krabi to Bangkok). It’s roughly the Ryanair of Thailand. We paid about 30 euros per person, a very reasonable price for the number of kilometers traveled ! They are not as punctual as Ryanair; one of our flights had a 30-minute delay but it was nothing serious. We have heard that the best company for travelling inside Thailand is Thai Air, but we were more than happy with Air Asia!