Destinations > Asia > Thailand

Transportation in Thailand

Flag of Thailand

Getting there by Air

Main Thailand Airports

Bangkok International Airport (BKK) - located 30 km (19 mi) east of the city. Transportation to and from the airport by bus, express buses or taxi. Bus transportation is available also directly to other Thailand cities and tourist destinations. Airport facilities include: duty-free shop, bank, exchange office, post office, drugstore, first aid, internet, tourist office, car rental, left luggage.

Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) - located 4 km (2.5 mi) southwest of the city. Transportation to and from the airport by taxi. Airport facilities include: bank, exchange office, car rental, shops, restaurants.

Phuket International Airport (HKT) - located 32 km (20 mi) northwest of Phuket. Transportation to and from the airport by taxis. Airport facilities include: duty-free shop, exchange office, post office, first aid, tourist information, car rental, left luggage.

Approximate flight times are: 20 hours from New York (connect in Beijing, Hong Kong, London), 17 hours 20 min from Los Angeles, 11 hours 15 min from London, UK, 9 hours 15 min from Sydney, Australia.

Getting there by Car

Road entry into Thailand is open from Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos. There are six border crossings from Cambodia, five from Laos and four main crossings from Malaysia. Passenger vehicles can be brought into Thailand for tourist purposes for up to six months. Rental cars are not permitted through the Malaysian border.

Getting there by Rail

There is a train connecting Bangkok with Butterworth (near Penang) and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Singapore. The ride from Singapore takes about 48 hours. The Oriental Express, running the same route once a week, is another option, but it's a luxury class and extremely expensive.

Getting there by Bus

Long distance air-conditioned buses operate from neighboring Malaysia and Laos to border crossing towns in Thailand. There are also regular buses from Singapore to the southern city of Hat Yai.

Getting around by Air

Domestic air transportation can be the best option for visitors who need to travel longer distances. Airfare is reasonably priced, in some cases it's even cheaper than a bus or a train ticket. Thai Airways is the biggest and most reliable carrier, running regular services to 15 domestic airports. Thai Airways is also a member of popular Star Alliance. There are several budget airlines that offer lower airfare than Thai Airways: AirAsia, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, SGA Airline, One-Two-Go. The best prices are usually offered when booking in advance, at least one or two weeks.

Getting around by Bus

Most of the inter-city bus services are provided by the government's bus company BKS where fares are cheap and the comfort is reasonable. Tickets for air-conditioned coaches can be booked in advance. Tickets for regular, non-air conditioned buses cannot be purchased in advance. There are also private coaches, moderately priced, air conditioned and with bookable seats.

Songthaew are truck-based vehicle with passenger benches along both sides. They are used as local buses that run established routes.

Getting around by Train

Thailand has an excellent railway network that links all major cities with the exception of Phuket. The network is run by State Railways of Thailand (SRT) and covers four main lines the northern, southern, northeastern and eastern as well as a line serving Thon Buri, River Kwai Bridge and Nam Tok. There are 3 ticket classes available and three different train types - ordinary, rapid and express train. Prices depend on both class and train type. Express trains don't have the 3rd class and the first class is only available on rapid and express trains. First class provides 2-berth sleeping compartments with individually regulated air conditioning, second class has air conditioning on some trains and their cost is comparable to a 1st class bus. It is recommended to pre-book the trip, especially for the first class or for sleeper berths in the second class. Booking can also be done on-line on the SRT website.

Getting around by Car

Thailand has a relatively good network of roads and highways with all major roads paved. Similar to Malaysia, traffic moves on the left. All official road directional signs are in both Thai and English.

Car rentals are available in all major cities and towns through local and international companies. Local companies are often cheaper than international chains, but usually have older fleet. The minimum age for driving is 21 years. A national driver's licence and International Driving Permit, valid for three months, are required.

Taxis and Tuk-Tuks

Metered taxis are available in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. In Bangkok the display 'taxi meter' sign. Other areas of Thailand don't have metered taxis so it's recommended to agree on the price beforehand. Some taxi drivers will not turn on the meter - travelers should always insist on using it to avoid being charged double or triple.

Tuk-Tuk is a three-wheeled taxi that operates without a meter. It's convenient on short distances and cheaper than taxi, but the price should always be negotiated before the trip.

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