Travelling around ThailandHolidays in Thailand
Travel About Thailand
Travelling in Thailand is cost effective and effective, if not always fast. If you are not travelling by aircraft, long haul trips in Thailand can be strenuous, especially if the budgets are limited to tough seating and no AC. Nevertheless, the broad spectrum of transportation makes travelling in Thailand much simpler than elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Busses are quick, inexpensive and common and can be very luxury; combinations are slow, but safe and provide more sleep for night rides; in addition, you are likely to travel a more attractive landscape by train than by car on days. There are four major types of bus, the most comfortable way to travel around the state.
Considering the increasing order of comforts, speeds and costs, they are regular coaches ( "red thammadaa"; not air-conditioned, mostly orange) and three kinds of climatic coaches ( "red air" or "red thua"; mostly blue): second-class, first-class and Vip. Common and many climate busses are operated by Baw Khaw Saw (BKS), the state-controlled transportation operator, while private, licenced climate busses (red rut, usually translates as "join buses"), some of which run from Baw Khaw Saw terminal, also serve the most common long-distance traffic lines.
You should be aware that long-distance night busses, in which some riders allegedly take amphetamine to remain alert, seem to be more than justly injured in the number of crashes; for this reason, some riders choose to take the night trains and then make a short journey to their destinations.
For most of the lines, almost all connections from Bangkok, the second-class busses (bawaw sawng; watch out for the "2" on the side of the vehicle) have superseded the traditional busses as the primary workhorse of the Thai system, although you will still see many of them on short distances in more isolated parts of the state.
No matter if it' s climate control or not, these base busses are unbelievably cheap, usually run in natural light, bag as many passengers as possible and often stop, which is very slow. Otherwise the indicated coach stations are often characterized by salas, small, open wood constructions with benches, which are situated at distances along the city' s major road or on the outskirts of a proper housing estate, e.g. on the city' s roads.
If there is only a departure hall on the "wrong" side of the street, you can be sure that busses travelling in both direction will stop there for all expecting travellers; just keep your bags on the right side of the street to warn the coachman, and sit in the shadows.
Fewer bus and coach companies usually operate first-class (baw nung; pay attention to the "1" on the side of the vehicle) and VIP coaches. They are the best choice for long haul trips: you usually get certain seating, there is a bathroom and on the longest trips you can get covers, sandwiches and non-stop DVD.
The other nomenclatures for top performance are also used, especially by privately owned join companies: Many of the long-distance lines are unlike public transport busses, and run from the same Baw Khaw Saw coaches. Large privately owned airlines such as Nakhon Chai Air (t02 936 0009), Sombat Tour (t02 792 1444) and Green Coach (t053 266480), which are based in Chiang Mai, have approximately similar tariffs, but of course with more room for fluctuation in prices, and provide similar amenities and levels of quality.
Unfortunately, the opposite is the case for a number of smaller, privately owned, non-licensed businesses that have a bad image for quality services and convenience but are prepared for international travelers with cheap rates and schedules. Thanon Khao San's long-distance coaches from Banglamphu to Chiang Mai and Surat Thani are an example; although promises of V ip coaches often deplore shoddy equipment, inefficient climate control, less than helpful (even aggressive) riders, delays and a terrifying sense of security on these lines - and there are also often stories of baggage stealing and even the sputtering of "sleeping gas" so that carry-on baggage can be pulled without disruption.
In general, it is best to take the public or privately owned chartered coach company from the major coach stations (which have a good name with their frequent clients in Thailand) or to take the rail instead - the added convenience and safety is definitely a worthwhile part. You can buy a ticket for all coaches at the terminal of departures, but for standard and second-class coaches it is common to buy them on the boat.
There are first- class and V.I.P. coaches available from a dedicated train/bus terminal or offices, and you should book your favourite route one night in advance. 2. A 700 km drive from Bangkok to Chiang Mai will cost B600-800 for V.I.P., around B500 for premium quality A/C and B400 for second-class A/C.
Long-haul coaches often run in groups at the same hour (e.g. early in the mornings or at night) and leave a five or more hour break during the afternoon without any service. TAT's regional office has updated schedules for busses on occasion, but the best resource besides the actual station is wthaiticketmajor.com, which offers 360 route schedules in English and useful information on how to buy them.
Among the available purchase methods are on-line purchase via the website, by telephone at 02/262 3456 (payment within five hour, e.g. at any 7-Eleven branch) and purchase at 83 large postal outlets (as shown on the website), among them the GPO in Bangkok, the Ratchadamnoen postal service in Banglamphu and the Thanon Na Phra Lan postal service opposite the Grand Palace in Ratanakosin.
Besides their important inner-city roles (see Public Transport), Songthauveve' s route from major cities to nearby outskirts and communities and, where there is no frequent coach traffic, between small towns: some have Thai language targets, but few are numbers. You will find the "Terminal" near the store in most cities; to collect one between the locations, simply mark it.
They do things with a little more elegance in the far southern hemisphere - stock cabs link many of the big cities, although they are being unstoppably superseded by more convenient air-conditioned mini-buses (rot turu, which means "cupboard trolley"). Many similar privately owned, air-conditioned mini -buses now appear throughout the entire nation, usually from small office space or sidewalks in the city centers or from the streets around the Victory Monument in Bangkok.
It travels quicker than a bus, but often at breaksneck speeds, and is unpleasantly narrow when fully loaded - not perfect for travelers with large backpacks who may have to spend more. Thanon Khao San. These are usually under license and must maintain their reputations with their Thai full size bus customers, but as with full size coaches ( "tickets and timetables"), you should beware of privately owned nonlicensed bus operators offering minivans only to Bangkok's Thanon Khao San minivan.
You will often be taken to an accurate location (e.g. a specific guesthouse) by long-distance song-taews and air-conditioned minivans if you give them sufficient warning in advanced. Usually, the costs of interurban Songthatews are similar to those of air-conditioned vans, which may be a bit more.
The railway system operated by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) comprises four major routes and several secondary routes. Bangkok is connected to Chiang Mai via Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Phitsanulok and Lampang. Eastern Line also has two offices, one leading from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet on the Kambodian frontier, the other connecting Bangkok with Si Racha and Pattaya.
Souvenir Line stretches over Hua Hin, Chumphon and Surat Thani, with junctions to Trang and Nakhon Si Thammarat, to Hat Yai, where it forks: one line leads down the western coastline of Malaysia, via Butterworth, where one normally changes to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore; the other leads down the east side of the promontory to Sungai Kolok on the Thailand-Malaysia frontier (20 km from Pasir Mas to Malaysia's inner line).
Tough, wood or thin upholstered third grade seating is much less costly than busses (Bangkok-Chiang Mai B121 or B221 with A/C) and is good for about three inches. In long-haul vehicles, you usually have the possibility of second-class moorings (Bangkok-Chiang Mai B381-431 or B491-631 with A/C) with daily moorings that can be converted into comfy, curtain-mounted bunk beds in the afternoons. Lower bunk beds, which are more costly than top ones, have a few cc more room, a little more shadow from the car headlights and a windows.
Top-of-the-range travel (Bangkok-Surat B1063-1263 per person) usually means a two-person bedroom with sink-cool. Then comes the deceptively designated express railroad ( "B20-110" supplement), which will take fifteen hrs from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, for example; the express (supplement B150), which will cover the Chiang Mai line in about the same period; and the special express (supplement B170-190), which will cover the floor in about fourteenh.
Almost all long-distance railways have restaurant wagons, and the railway personnel also take the food to your seats. Any trip in Thailand can be booked at the railway stations in any large city, and it is now also possible to make reservations at least two full working day in advanced at SRT in Thailand on-line at wthairailticket.com.
Otherwise you can make pre-orders via the web at renowned Thailand tourist agents such as Thailand Focus (wthaifocus.com) or Thailand Train Tickets (wthailandtrainticket.com). You can book a train from Bangkok personally at Hualamphong station. Security levels are generally just about sufficient, but there has been a small number of sinking in recent years - prevent trips on vessels that are significantly crowded or in mishap.
Thaiyairways (thaiairways.com) and Bangkok Airways (wbangkokair.com) are the most important full-service carriers in the domestic airline system, which covers about two dozens of destinations in all parts of the state. The most important low-cost contest is Air Asia (wairasia.com), Nok Air (wnokair.com), which is partly held by Thai Airways, and Orient Thai (formerly One-Two-Go; wflyorientthai.com); Thai Airways is also building a new low-cost boom, Thai Soir.
For example, a trip from Chiang Mai to Phuket by Thai Airways or Air Asia may take two hour, compared to a few day trips by commuting rail and/or air. Bangkok to Chiang Mai with Thai Airways is about B4000 for a fully fexible economical plane fare, but you can find on the same routes with the "low-cost" airlines under B1000 (with limitations on changes) if you reserve upfront.
When you plan many internal trips, you should consider the air passes available from Thai or Bangkok Airways - their complicated terms and rates are published on their web sites. In most major cities there is a kind of public transportation system, consisting of a bus system, songsthaews or even long tail boat, with fixed tariffs and itineraries, but not fixed timetables - in many cases the cars are waiting until they are full before they depart.
Some major cites like Bangkok, Khorat, Ubon Ratchathani and Phitsanulok have a public transportation system that usually runs to the outskirts and from morning to noon. In midsized and large citys, the major traffic roles are often performed by song-taews. They vary in form and dimensions from city to city - and in some places they are known as tuk-tuks, not to be mistaken for the smaller tuk-tuks that work as personal coaches. But they all have the treacherous two opposite banks on the back.
Songthaew's regular route is followed in some cities, especially in the north-east, and in others such as Chiang Mai, they act as municipal cabs that pick up a number of passengers who travel in about the same directio onn and bring each of them directly to their destinations. The fare within the cities is B10-20, according to the city.
A further major Thai hallmark, these sleek, aerodynamic vessels are driven by ear-splitting diesels - sometimes tailor-made, more often adopted from automobiles or lorries - which power a prop fitted on a long axle that is pivoted for steer. Long dinners transport between eight and twenty passengers: As a rule, you have to rent the whole vessel, but on favourite regular itineraries, for example between small coastal isles and the continent, it is less expensive to waiting until the skipper has reached his destination.
There are also many different types of cabs, and in larger capitals you can often opt for a tuk-tuk, a Samlór or a motorcycle cab. One thing all hired carriers have in common, Bangkok cabs and one or two northeastern capitals, is that you have to set the ticket prices in advance: although almost always the riders overestimate their first fares, they count on travel and daytime and distance as well. If consecutive riders mock the ticket, you know that you were mistaken.
The three-wheel open tuk-tuk is the classical Thai automobile called after the sound of its agonizingly quiet engin. Primarily coloured tuk-tuks blow through the city with two-stroke motors, race quicker than any two-wheeler. They' re not as chancy as they countenance, and can be an amusing way to get around as long as you're not too choosy about mufflers.
The fare is about 60 for a mid-length trip (over 100 in Bangkok), regardless of the number of travelers - three is the safest limit, but six is not infrequent. It' s a good idea to watch out for tips on how to prevent getting fucked by Bangkok-Tuk-Tuk-Tuk riders. Slowly and much more handsome than tuk-tuks, samlor still travel in one or two cities across the state.
Another permit is the motorised samlor (often referred to as "skylab" in north-eastern Thailand), where the rider is dependent on a motorcycle and not a bike to take the passenger to their final destinations. Motorcycle tok-taxies are even quicker and more dangerous than tuk-tuks, both in cities and in remote areas. They have the advantages of avoiding congestion in cities - where riders are marked by colored, unnumbered waistcoats - but are obviously only really suited for the individual traveler, and motorcycle cabs are not the simplest means of transportation if you carry a bag.
On the other side, in isolated areas they are often the only alternatives to hitchhiking or hiking and are particularly suitable for getting between coach stations on major highways, to car-free isles and to old trails and old trails. In the cities, motorcycle taxis can be charged at B10 for very brief rides, but for rides in the surrounding area the costs increase sharply - expect at least B200 for a 20 km roundabout.
In spite of first sightings, a high number of accidents and the apparent chaos that characterises Bangkok's streets, it can be quite easy to drive in Thailand. Much of the road, especially in the north-east and southwest, is remarkable unpaved. The main trails are clearly signposted in German, but this only holds true for some side streets; unfortunately there is no perfectly good maps in German.
Thailand's most reckless and hazardous traffic participants are coach and truckers, many of whom are driving ridiculously quickly, taking the roadside, racing around corners on the wrong side of the street and relentlessly using their horn; even more serious, many of them are filled up with amplihetamines, making them in the truest sense of the word aweigh.
Long-distance and truckers are at their hardest after nightfall (many of them only travel at night), so it is best not to travel at all - another danger is the unavoidable flow of unlighted bikes and motorbikes into and around towns and villages and badly signposted construction sites that are often not made secure or stopped by unaware trafi c.
Pay particular attention to those driving off side streets when you can be sure that they will give way. Gasoline (nam one, which can also mean oil) currently cost about B38 per liter, gasoline that can be used in most car rentals (although it is definitely a good idea to check), B36 per liter. Large petrol filling station are the least expensive petrol station (hai tem), and many of them also have restrooms, minimarts and canteens, although some of the low age petrol filling station on the major road ways only deal in gas.
You can still hire a vehicle or air-conditioned van with chiang mai in some parts of the countryside, which costs from about B1000 for a full days outing on the spot, more for a longer days outing, up to about B3000 per night for a multi-day outing, which includes paddock and gasoline.
At B1000-1200 per days you can rent a car. You will never be asked for a driver's license, but be careful - Thailand's streets are not really the right place to start learning motorcycling from the ground up. Bicycles around 100 ccm, either fully automated or stepped, are best for novice cyclists, but not really suitable for longlogs.
When you' re on the rough road, you'll certainly need something stronger, like a 125-250cctrailbike. The daily rent is usually around B150-200 for a small bicycle and B500 for a good Trailbike, although you can negotiate for a long termrent.
Tenants will often ask for a security and your ID or debit cards; it is not often available, so it is a good idea to make sure that your trip policy will cover you for possible accidents. To get professional advise on motorcycle tours in Thailand visit the website of David Unkovich (wgt-rider.com). There are many possibilities for biking tours in Thailand, whether you are choosing the length of the land from the Malay border to Chiang Rai or an adventurous trip on the gravel track in the hills around Chiang Mai.
The majority of Thailand's streets are in good conditions and clearly marked; although the west and north boundaries are hilly, the remainder of the land is unexpectedly plainn. Sidewalks ( "Nebenstraßen") (marked by three-digit numbers) are cobbled but have far less transport than the major arterials.
Transport is reasonably good and your own security is not a big issue as long as you "ride to survive"; however, a dog can be a bother on secondary streets, so it is probably a good idea to take an injection of RISPEN. If you are not travelling to the most remote areas around the Myanmar frontier, you are seldom more than 25 km away from meals, lodging and ashore.
Bangkok is very busy, so it is worthwhile to take the first 50-100 km by coach or rail to your departure point. Long-distance busses, cabs and most airplanes transport your bicycle free of cost. A number of organised cycling trips are also available, both in the country and in the north of Thailand (see Hiking and other open-air pursuits in Chiang Mai).
One very useful source in German is wbicyclethailand.com, while with Mr Pumpy (wmrpumpy.net) there are some detailled but timed reports from the Asian Bikers about some bicycle tours in Thailand. 26 " tires are widely used and highly recommendable throughout Thailand; dual-use tires (combined street and off-road tires) are best suited for tours. For suitcases and gear, the most important thing is to carry lightweight luggage.
Wear a few replacement parts, but don't exaggerate with too many parts and parts; parts are inexpensive in Thailand and most issues can be quickly resolved in any bicyclestore. It is also possible to buy in Thailand: The offer is favourable and the price is usually lower than in the West or Australia.
The best shop in Bangkok is Probike 237/2 Thanon Rajdamri (near Soi Sarasin next to Lumphini Park; Tel02 253 3384, wprobike.co. th); Velo Thailand also sells aluminum wheels of foreign brands and MTBs for 300 per days. Good Mountainbikes you can also hire via the Bangkok cyclist Spice Roads (t02 712 5305, wspiceroads.com) for B280-400 per days.
Also in Chiang Mai there are some good shops (see also Wiangmaicycling. org): It is not common to dock on bus and train lines, but in other places the local people are dependent on frequent passers-by (e.g. local forest officials), and you can also make use of this "service".