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Buses and Trams

Thailand - Buses and Trams

When travelling by bus in Thailand there is normally a conductor who can ensure that you have the right ticket and get off at the right bus stop. There are both air conditioned buses and non-air conditioned. In Bangkok some buses charge a fixed fare, no matter how far you are travelling. The red buses which are not air conditioned are cheaper than those that are as they are the ones that usually charge by distance. Fares are reviewed regularly but are the equivalent of just a few US cents. It is worth noting that it is usual to be asked to pay the same fare for a child as you would for an adult.

The standard of buses is generally very good in Thailand but it is worth noting that the driving quality is not always the best and you cannot always get a seat, so if you have to stand then you should ensure that you have a firm grip on a rail.

If you want to travel from one city to another in Thailand then you have a choice of a private or government bus. Private buses are generally in good condition, with air conditioning and other comforts. Ordinary buses are not of the same quality but are not normally in poor quality. Some older buses still have wooden floors and if you are travelling in a rural area then you may find that the buses are a lot less luxurious. You may be lucky enough to travel on a Super VIP Deluxe bus, where the seats recline and passengers can watch a film while travelling, although drivers do tend to switch films off part way through if they decide that they want to listen to loud music. If you are travelling on an ordinary bus there is a ‘hostess’ who hands around food and drinks as well as facecloths in a morning. On overnight trips passengers are given blankets and there are free meals for passengers at designated bus stations along the way.

It is common for the police to stop buses and check that drivers are not driving under the influence of drink or drugs. On long distances it is usual for there to be a second driver on board so that they can have proper rests, although if the bus is stopped and there is no second driver it will not be allowed to continue. It is also common practice for rice sellers and other traders to bribe the drivers to stop in their town so that they can get on board the bus and sell their goods to the passengers. The bus then cannot go anywhere until he is finished.

The city of Bangkok has a number of bus terminals to choose from and each will have their own ticket office and information desk. Many people use the central bus terminal. In recent years the bus terminals have been modernised and reorganised to reduce the traffic congestion that used to be a problem around the terminals. Other towns and cities may only have one bus terminal but there are very few that have none.

There is generally no need to book a ticket in advance if you wish to travel during the week but if you want to travel at weekends or close to public holidays then you may not be able to travel if you do not reserve your seat in advance. Bus terminals are the best places to purchase tickets if you need to book in advance but if not you can simply board the bus and pay the conductor for your ticket.

Taking luggage on a Thai bus is usually fine but occasionally the luggage handler may ask you for a few baht to look after your bags. Most people do not mind paying this although this practice does not happen on all buses and it does ensure the safekeeping of your bags.

Private buses are easily recognisable as they are often decorated with bright murals featuring cartoon characters. Private buses are also used by temples and charities at certain time of year to travel around and distribute monies or clothes to the poor.

Useful Resources

Central Bus Terminal Bangkok
Tel: + 66 2936 1897
Email: info@transport.co.th

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