Bangkok – the ultimate transportation guide

how to get around bangkok by train

Bangkok is not quite my backyard, but I’ve been there enough times to have a favourite train line. Do you frequently get stuck in traffic in the city of Angels? Here’s a breakdown of the different modes of transportation available in Bangkok, and all the hacks you need to get around, fast.

Bangkok is a city that doesn’t sleep – there’s always something to do around the clock. People are always moving around, whether going for a local breakfast at 6 am at the market or drinking at a hip pub late at night. 

So, how do these people get around? Bangkok offers a variety of options to get around, from taxis, bike taxis, trains (there are several lines) and buses. My favourite way is to walk around this city, but this is not for everyone. Let’s start with the basics; what to do when you first arrive!

Getting from the airport to the city 

Don Mueang – take the red line to central Bangkok.

The SRT Dark Red Line starts at the new Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal heading north for 26 km via Don Mueang and terminates at Rangsit in Pathum Thani Province. This is a fairly new line that connects the second-most popular airport in Bangkok to the rest of the city. Here are the details you need: 

  • Connects Bang Sue Grand Station (now called Krung Thep Aphiwat Station) and Rangsit, with a stop at Don Mueang Airport for easy airport access.
  • Two branches are the Dark Red Line to Rangsit and the Light Red Line to Taling Chan (extension under development).
  • Hop on to the MRT subway system at Bang Sue Grand Station (interchange) to get to your hotel in the city.
  • Operates from 5:30 am to midnight, with train frequency varying by time of day.
    • Peak hours: 12-minute train intervals
    • Non-peak hours: 20 to 30-minute intervals 
  • Note: Further away from the city centre of Bangkok, compared to Suvarnabhumi Airport. 

Suvarnabhumi (pronounced Suwan-nabhum)

The Airport Rail Link (ARL) (Thai: รถไฟฟ้าแอร์พอร์ต เรล ลิงก์) is an express and commuter rail line in Bangkok, Thailand. The line provides an airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport, via Makkasan Station, to Phaya Thai Station in central Bangkok.

  • Single line with eight stations, including Suvarnabhumi Airport Station, Phaya Thai Station (BTS connection), and Makkasan Station (MRT connection).
  • Travel time from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Phaya Thai Station is approximately 30 minutes.
  • Tickets can be purchased as single-trip tokens (at the counter or at automated tellers) or using a pre-paid Smart Pass for a more convenient option.
  • Operates daily from 6:00 am to midnight.
    • Peak hours: 10-minute intervals
    • Non-peak hours: 12-minute intervals 

Getting around Bangkok: Trains

Bangkok BTS

The BTS Skytrain: Bangkok’s BTS Skytrain is a clean, elevated rapid transit system that zooms above the city streets, offering a convenient and scenic way to navigate Bangkok. It’s operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit System PCL (BTSC).

  • Easy to access major tourist destinations, shopping centres, and business districts.
  • Fares are based on distance travelled and can be paid for using a Rabbit Card (stored-value card) for a faster and more convenient experience.
  • Operating hours are generally from 5:30 am to midnight.
  • Ticket Options:
    • Single Journey Tickets: Purchased at vending machines using coins or banknotes. Prices start at 17 baht for the shortest distance and reach a maximum of 47 baht for longer journeys (8+ stations).
    • Rabbit Card: A stored-value card offering a more convenient and slightly cheaper way to travel. You can top up the card with cash and avoid queues for single-journey tickets. While fares are still distance-based, using a Rabbit Card might provide a slight discount compared to single-journey tickets.
The types of lines
  • The BTS Skytrain consists of three lines: the Sukhumvit Line (light green), Silom Line (dark green), and the recently opened Gold Line (gold).
    • Sukhumvit Line (light green): This is the longest and busiest line, running northwards and southeastwards. Key destinations include:
      • Northbound: Mo Chit (Chatuchak Weekend Market), Saphan Khwai (Chatuchak Park), Victory Monument, Siam (interchange with Silom Line), Phloen Chit (Central Embassy), Asok (Terminal 21), Nana (Soi Nana nightlife area), On Nut (Mega Bangna shopping complex), Bearing (eastern terminus).
      • Southeastbound: Siam (interchange with Silom Line), Phrom Phong (Emquartier shopping mall), Thong Lor (trendy restaurants and bars), Ekkamai (Japanese restaurants), Phra Khanong (industrial area), Kheha (southern terminus, Samut Prakan province).
    • Silom Line (dark green): This line serves the central business district (Silom and Sathon areas). Key destinations include:
      • Westbound: National Stadium (western terminus), Rajdamri (Lumphini Park), Sala Dang (Silom nightlife area), Sathon, Saphan Taksin (iconSiam mall, connection to ferries across the Chao Phraya River), Chong Nonsi (business district).
      • Eastbound: Siam (interchange with Sukhumvit Line), Saint Louis (Silom Complex shopping mall).
    • Gold Line (gold): This is the newest and shortest line. It connects:
      • Westbound: Krung Thon Buri (interchange with MRT subway)
      • Eastbound: Klong San (IconSiam Mall)


Bangkok’s MRT system consists of several lines, each serving different areas of the city. Here’s a breakdown of the currently operational lines:

  • MRT Blue Line (Chaloem Ratchamongkhon Line) – (Blue): This is the most extensive and central MRT line, forming a quasi-loop around central Bangkok after its 2020 extension. Key destinations include:
    • Westbound: Bang Sue (interchange with SRT Dark Red Line), Tao Poon, Phahon Yothin (Ari neighborhood), Lat Phrao (Chatuchak Weekend Market area), Kamphaeng Phet (Chatuchak Park), Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, Ratchaprarop (Pratunam Market area), Hua Lamphong (main railway station).
    • Eastbound: Si Lom (Silom nightlife area), Sukhumvit (interchange with BTS Sukhumvit Line), Phra Ram 9 (Rama 9 Road business district), Thailand Cultural Centre, Phetchaburi, Lak Song (eastern terminus).
  • MRT Purple Line (Bang Sue – Khlong Bang Phai Line) – (Purple): This line primarily serves the northern and western suburbs. Key destinations include:
    • Northbound: Bang Sue (interchange with MRT Blue Line and SRT Dark Red Line), Tao Poon, Khlong Bang Phai (northern terminus).
General Information about MRT Lines:
  • Clean, well-maintained, and offer a comfortable underground travel experience.
  • Operating hours are generally from 6:00 am to midnight.
  • Easily connect between MRT and BTS lines at interchange stations like Silom and Sukhumvit/Asok.
  • Fare System: Similar to BTS, fares are based on the distance you travel.
  • Ticket Options:
    • Tokens: Purchased at vending machines using coins or banknotes. Prices start at 16 baht for the shortest distance and increase based on your destination.
    • MRT Pass: A stored-value card similar to the BTS Rabbit Card. It offers convenience and a slight fare discount compared to tokens. You can top up the card with cash for further journeys. Unfortunately, the MRT card and Rabbit card cannot be used interchangeably.
    • Visa Card: do you have a Visa card with you? You can easily tap in and out of MRT stations with your visa card. 
Important to Note:
  • Prices mentioned are starting points and may vary slightly depending on the exact stations you travel between.
  • Both BTS and MRT offer discounted fares for seniors, students with a valid ID, and people with disabilities.
  • While both systems are affordable, BTS might be slightly cheaper for shorter trips due to its capped fare of 47 baht. MRT fares can exceed this for longer distances.

For the most accurate and up-to-date fare information, I would recommend checking the official websites of BTS Skytrain and MRT closer to your travel date.

Taking private transport

Getting around Bangkok via public transport is a lot less hassle than taking the trains, I’ll give you that! However, I will say that this may not be the best option for two things: your wallet, and your time. Here’s a guide to get taxis in Bangkok.

Price-wise grabs in Bangkok are not particularly expensive, but it can add up quickly if you’re booking Grab rides every day. Time-wise, Bangkok has some EPIC traffic jams. You can easily get stuck for more than an hour; I speak from experience.

Grab – bike and car

Grab is a rather easy option in Bangkok, both car and bike. However, because of the insane traffic in Bangkok pretty much 24/7, here’s what you need to be prepared for:

  • Super long wait for your car to even arrive, think 20 to 30 minutes at worst and 15 minutes at best. This could vary depending on where you’re staying. If your hotel is in a popular or busy part of the city, then get ready to wait longer. 
  • Getting stuck in traffic is a definite guarantee unless you’re in the grab at 5 am or 6 am. 
  • Grab bikes are a flexible option, but they can be very dangerous because there will be no helmets, and riders tend to whizz past traffic quickly and carelessly.
  • Price: Cars are a lot more expensive than bikes. Think 150 baht vs 50 baht, minimally.


Unfortunately, Grab has not included tuk-tuk rides in the app, which is a pity considering they do so well in Cambodia. 

  • Driver WILL overcharge you, that’s just how they work 
  • Tuk-tuks are not immune to traffic jams. You WILL get stuck and have to breathe in the dust, smog and carbon monoxide until you can move. At least with bikes, you keep moving.
  • It’s an experience; I’d recommend doing it once but not more than that.

Getting around Bangkok by foot

This is my favourite way to get around the city. It’s the best thing to do in the morning when you’re on the hunt for coffee at one of my favourite cafes, if you’re like me. Witnessing Bangkok slowly awakening is a true pleasure (for me, anyway). 

  • If you’re staying in central Sukhumvit area (Asok/Nana/Phrom Phong) or in Silom, most places are very walkable 
  • Always use your Google Maps to guide you; in all my trips, Google Maps has only let me down once when it wanted me to cross a small drain by foot in a remote part of the city. 
  • Ask the locals for directions if you’re lost, they’re always keen to help you. 
  • Making donating a lifestyle in BKK: I always buy fruits and snacks for security guards at the hotel or condo where I’m staying. They become friends and are always happy to help you when you need it. 
  • It’s best to use a combination of methods to get around; I usually take the train and then walk the distance to my destination from the station, OR I take a grab bike to take me further in. 
  • The heat in Bangkok can be unforgiving, make sure you sunblock and stick to walking during sunrise and sunset. Afternoon walks are doable, but heatstrokes are also a possibility in Bangkok.
  • Avoid walking around lonely sois alone at night. While Bangkok is generally safe, it’s best to be smart about travelling in general when in Asia.


Bangkok offers a wide range of transportation options, from efficient public transit to flexible private services. Combining different methods is often the best way to navigate the city’s traffic and explore its diverse neighbourhoods, enhancing your overall experience in the Thai capital.

Remember, the key to mastering Bangkok’s transportation is to remain flexible, patient, and open to new experiences. With this guide in hand, you’re well-equipped to navigate the City of Angels like a seasoned local. So go ahead, embrace the adventure, and let Bangkok’s dynamic energy carry you through its bustling streets and serene corners alike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.