You booked your flights to Thailand and you’re starting the planning session? Here’s everything you need to know when it comes to transportation in Thailand. Backpacking Thailand sounds fun, but getting around the country isn’t always super easy! (Sometimes, I wish I could snap my fingers and teleport myself elsewhere.)
This guide will be perfect for you especially if this trip is your first one in Southeast Asia. I’ll explain the different types of transportation available in Thailand as well as how to get around the country. Depending on the time you have, you might have to prioritize shorter options, but if you do have enough time, take a look at the budget-friendly options too.
Before we start with all this blah, blah, I’d like to reassure you. Traveling around Thailand isn’t too dangerous. It’s easy to get “ripped off” as a tourist, but I’ll make sure to tell you all about the scams. That being said, traveling by bus, flight, train or van with reputable companies should be all good!
Understanding the Different Transport Options in Thailand
If it’s your first trip to Southeast Asia, you might not be aware of all the options yet when it comes to transportation. Ever heard of a tuk-tuk? Motorbike drivers? Or even songthaews?
As soon as you land in Thailand, you’ll be amazed by the options available to get around a city. These options are great and affordable if you’re looking for a ride to the city or for short distances.
What’s a tuk-tuk?
A tuk-tuk (also known as a rickshaw) is basically a three-wheel scooter and is used as a taxi in Southeast Asia. There’s no fixed price for a tuk-tuk, you basically have to negotiate your price with the driver. Ideally, you’re going to negotiate before sitting in the tuk-tuk. You can normally fit 1 to 2 (or maybe 3) people in a tuk-tuk.
What’s a motorbike taxi?
If you only have a backpack, a great option to consider is the motorbike taxi driver. This option is perfect if you’re traveling solo. In Thailand, most of the motorbike taxi drivers were an orange jacket so they are easy to recognize. Similar to the tuk-tuk drivers, you should always agree on a price beforehand.
What’s a Songthaew?
A Songthaew is basically a small truck/pick-up adapted with seats in the back. These are normally super cheap and used by locals too. As you are sharing the ride with other people, it shouldn’t be too expensive. Obviously, you also need to agree on the price first.
What about “normal taxis”?
I’m not a big fan of taxis in Southeast Asia as this it’s easy to get scammed. Some taxi drivers could drive you in wrong directions, ask for extra money or bring you to shops instead of your hotels. To avoid these scams, I normally prefer to use Grab as it shows you a fixed price beforehand and reviews from previous customers. Grab is a popular app in Southeast Asia, but you will need the Internet to be able to use it.
Now that you can reach your destination in a city, let’s take a look at the option when it comes to getting around Thailand.
How to Get Around Thailand by Flight
The fastest option to get around Thailand is obviously by flight. Although, it’s not necessarily the cheapest. It is worth checking though because sometimes you can get a flight for $10 more than the bus and you could save plenty of your precious time in Thailand.
How to Get Around Thailand by Train
Another fast way to consider which is also budget-friendly is traveling around Thailand by train. It’s more comfortable than the bus and it gets you to your destination faster. Although, the bus would still be cheaper. I’d say it’s the best mid-range option when it comes to getting around Thailand.
You can check trains and book your tickets on 12GO. Note that trains aren’t running everywhere in Thailand.
How to get around Thailand by Bus (or Van)
The most budget-friendly option when it comes to getting around Thailand is by bus. You can normally take the overnight buses too if you’re covering a long distance (which could make you save money on accommodation too). It’s not the most comfortable option, but I used to travel on overnight buses a lot when I was a bit younger.
you are wondering how to travel to Thailand by bus and more importantly how to find the right companies and all, it’s pretty easy!
I normally use 12GO to find the right bus for my Thailand travels. The website is easy to use and it gives you plenty of options to pick from. Buses in Thailand are pretty popular, so you could always just show up at the bus station and get a ticket there too.
I mentioned “vans” above. What did I mean? For shorter transfers, sometimes you’ll get a van instead of a bus. I had a van from Krabi to Koh