05 April 2009
Find useful information on different kinds of transportation available when travelling in Thailand.
The extensive train network makes travelling in Thailand easy. Thais have 3 basic classes of seats (plus a premium for "speed" / limited stop express trains); 3rd Class (wooden slat seats not recommended for long journeys without a pillow), 2nd Class (air conditioned, sometimes with berth option where the seats convert to beds), and 1st Class (private 2-person). The express trains have dining cars, but order your food from the Thai!
Local Buses ("Songthaews")
Many larger towns have local bus services, where you can travel 10 miles or so for just 20 to 30 baht. These buses are normally blue with open sides (clear polythene blinds are lowered when it rains), and you can stop them anywhere on the road where they pass. In fact, if you are coming to the end of the route and want to be dropped off closer to your destination, the drivers will normally do this for an extra 10 baht. In less populated areas, these buses tend to be smaller, often red. All of these buses have one thing in common. The passengers sit on wooden benches placed along of the bus length. On the larger buses, there are 3 benches (with one in the middle). If the benches are full, you will be expected to hang onto the back!
Driving in Thailand is comparatively easy, even a pleasure once you are outside Bangkok. And there are many self drive hire companies where you can rent a car for the low price. It is generally much cheaper to rent while you are in Thailand. Driving is on the left hand side of the road in Thailand and most road signs are both in Thai Sanskrit and English. Motor bikes are also readily available. But the number of accidents with "Farangs" (foreigners) is high due to a) Inexperience, b) Renting too fast bike, c) Hitting a stretch of road that has just had its first rain in 5 months. So, if you are not a competent motorcyclist. Do not rent a bike in Thailand. You can always rent a bicycle and use the local buses to get to the place you want (local buses will allow you to tie your bike to the roof rack).
Long Tail Boats
These predominate around the rivers / canals of central Thailand, and also around islands. You should always make sure they have life vests. Prices will vary enormously depending on where you rent it. Don't forget a travel insurance for having holidays in Thailand!