Bangkok Bus Services
One of the cheapest forms of transport around the city is the Bangkok bus services. Although sometimes difficult to understand the timetables and exactly where each bus stop is, it is certainly a fun experience and will save you a lot of money. Travelling long distances on a bus is a popular choice for many backpackers exploring Thailand too, as there are good connections to and from many surrounding cities and it is a cheap way to travel the country.
There are many types of inexpensive Bangkok bus services available in and around the city. Bus routes are very extensive too, and can be mind-boggling to first-timers. Make sure you first equip yourself with the MBTA map (available at most bus terminals). When in doubt, ask a local, policeman or you can also phone the BMTA Hotline for assistance on ‘184’.
Operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) is charged with providing a bus service to people living and working in Bangkok and the nearby provinces (i.e. Nothaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan and Nakhon Pathom Provinces). There are also privately-owned buses operating under the BMTA with a total of, 4,015 regular and air-conditioned buses and 827 minibuses including 2,306 small buses which provide services in lanes (Soi). An average of 1.05 million people use these services daily.
Local Bangkok Bus Services Information
Regional buses, operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority – or simply BMTA, are the most inexpensive but also the most used method of navigating around Bangkok. There is an overwhelming wide variety of routes, usually marked only in Thai. Even Thai’s have a hard time with these, however at least they can call the 1384 Bus Path Hotline, which is only in Thai. Nevertheless you can also utilise Google’s transit planner function on Google Maps to plan your bus journeys. Please note, nevertheless, that the bus arrival times on Google Maps may not in fact associate to the real bus arrival time. Bus stops list just the bus numbers that stop there and absolutely nothing more.
The local buses are likewise based on Bangkok’s infamous traffic – frequently extremely crowded, and many are not air-conditioned. If you want to get somewhere rapidly and are not prepared to become lost, the buses ought to be avoided (keep in mind that taxis are more affordable than most local buses in the West). Nevertheless, they produce an excellent experience if you’re not in a rush and you do not mind being the centre of interest.
But for the intrepid, and those remaining in Khao San Road, where buses are the only practical means of public transportation, the main resource for decrypting bus routes is the BMTA website. It has current if slightly incomplete listings of bus paths in English, but no maps. Another website in English which also includes a path coordinator is Transit Bangkok. You can also ask your guest house about which buses to take if you’re going to a certain destination. As a printed referral, the 69 baht invested in the Bangkok Bus Map by Street is an excellent investment if you’re going to travel by bus more than once.