Buses and Boats in Bangkok, a Quick Guide to Getting Around like a Local

Buses and Boats in Bangkok, a Quick Guide to Getting Around like a Local

By Admin / May 09, 2024 / Living in Bangkok

Bangkok is renowned for its lively streets, and its extensive bus and boat network provides an opportunity to experience the city's distinct and energetic spirit. Being able to navigate Bangkok like a local may be a fulfilling experience, offering a glimpse into daily life and the chance to uncover hidden city gems along the way.

Whether you're a visitor or a resident, knowing how to navigate the bus and boat systems in Bangkok is a handy skill. We at VERSO are here to help you explore the city with confidence and ease, drawing on our local expertise.

What are the Buses Like in Bangkok?

Bangkok's public buses offer a window into the heart of the city. You can find both the original red and multi-colored buses, as well as the new air-conditioned blue ones.

Riding the buses in Bangkok is an affordable and authentic way to explore the city, allowing you to immerse yourself in the real Bangkok experience. The journey may present some challenges, like impatient drivers, pushy conductors, and crowded buses, but these are all just part of the daily life for many people in the city.

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) plays a crucial role in providing bus services not only within Bangkok but also to neighboring provinces like Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani. With over 100 routes and a fleet of 3,000 buses, including regular, air-conditioned, and private buses, the BMTA ensures extensive coverage for commuters.


Source: Original Bangkok red bus, Public transportation in Bangkok, Sawasdee Thailand

How Do I Use the Bus System in Bangkok?

To get around Bangkok's bus system effectively, it's a good idea to learn about the key routes that are most useful for you. Each of the 100+ routes offers a different view of the city. From the historic temples of Wat Pho to the lively markets of Chatuchak, there's a bus route for every kind of adventure.

Memorizing the most useful bus numbers and their colors will help you identify routes. Be sure to carry small change for fares as often there is no other way to pay and be mindful that air-conditioned bus fares vary by distance. To blend into the local culture, be ready to offer seats to those in need and adhere to bus etiquette to support a harmonious environment for all passengers.

For a successful bus journey in Bangkok, try to remain attentive and proactive throughout the ride. Press the buzzer to signal your stop, keep a record of essential destination details in Thai, and seek assistance from the bus conductor when unsure about locations.

Navigating Bangkok's bus system can be overwhelming for newcomers, but with resources like the BMTA map, ViaBus Application and assistance from locals or even the BMTA Hotline (1348), you can navigate the extensive network with ease.

What are the Types of Buses in Bangkok?

Regular buses typically charge around 8-10 Baht, while expressway buses may cost slightly more. Air-conditioned buses, distinguished by their cream-blue color, offer a more comfortable ride starting from 15 Baht. Other buses, in yellow-orange, have varying fares ranging from 13 to 25 Baht based on the distance traveled.

By matching the bus number with its corresponding color, you can avoid confusion and ensure you stay on the right route. Something that is particularly confusing to the novice is that buses with the same number but different colors may not follow identical routes.

How About the Boats in Bangkok?

The routes in Bangkok are primarily limited to waterways, but the city's boats offer a unique and efficient mode of transportation. These boats provide a glimpse into Bangkok's vibrant waterways. The boats, known as "long-tail boats" or "river taxis," are a common sight along the Chao Phraya River and its canals.

These long and narrow boats are powered by a propeller at the end of a long driveshaft, giving them their distinctive appearance. The open-air design of the long-tail boats allows passengers to enjoy the scenic views of Bangkok's riverside attractions during their journey.

Additionally, there are commuter boats and tourist boats available, catering to different needs and offering a diverse range of experiences for travelers exploring Bangkok's water routes.

What are the Types of Boats in Bangkok?

To use the boat system effectively, travelers can opt for different types of boats based on their preferences and destinations.

Bangkok boasts a variety of boats that cater to different travel needs and preferences, enhancing the overall experience of exploring the city's waterways.

Long-tail boats,which you can pick out by their extended propeller shafts and open-air design, are a popular choice among tourists and locals alike. These traditional boats offer a scenic mode of transport along the river.

Commuter boats from the Chao Phraya Express Boat Service, identifiable by their colored flags, provide a practical and efficient way to navigate the Chao Phraya River, with frequent stops at key locations.

Tourist boats, such as the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, are equipped with multilingual guides and comfortable seating, offering a more leisurely and informative journey. These boats are ideal for sightseeing and learning about Bangkok's rich history and culture.


Source: Boat Schedule, from Chao Phraya Express Boat Service

VERSO’s Insider Tips for a Smooth Ride

To make your bus or boat journey even more enjoyable, here are some of our insider tips:

  • Timing is Everything: Avoid rush hours to experience a more relaxed journey.
  • Seat Selection: Opt for window seats to enjoy views of lively street scenes.
  • Stay Alert: Listen for announcements and keep an eye on landmarks to know when to get off.
  • Local Etiquette: Be courteous to fellow passengers and offer your seat to those in need.

One of the joys of bus or boat travel in Bangkok is the opportunity to explore hidden gems off the beaten path. Venture beyond the tourist hotspots and discover local markets, authentic eateries, and cultural landmarks that showcase the true essence of the city. Engage with locals, immerse yourself in the vibrant street life, and let the rhythm of Bangkok guide your adventures.

Where is Your Next Stop?

While there are undoubtedly more efficient and comfortable methods to move around Bangkok, getting the hang of bus and boat travel involves more than just getting from A to B. With these modes of transportation, you can fully immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the city and embrace its essence. You'll not only travel across Bangkok like an expert but also make lifelong memories of your trip by using our quick guide to engage with the native way of life.