Transport Options for Bangkok
Bangkok traffic is legendary. It has actually vastly improved over the last decade considering the additional volume of cars on the road and the rising middle class. During the 90’s the jams were so intense that schoolchildren were rising at 3 or 4am to get to school on time.
Those days are less frequent now but from time to time with no rhyme or reason (apart from rain storms when the traffic seizes to halt and taxis aren’t available) the Bangkok gridlock happens. It could be something random like a small accident miles away with the offending vehicles legally obliged to block the middle of the road till the police arrive or a snarl up can just come out of nowhere.
What Are the Alternatives?
Car with a Driver
For the senior expatriate package it’s not unusual for a car and driver to be included. Many Westerners are not used to being driven as they prefer to driver themselves, but for the busy executive a driver means an extra hour or so in the day where work can be done sitting in air conditioned comfort in the rear of their vehicle, while their driver takes on the Bangkok traffic.
The other advantage of a driver is just turning up relaxed and in fine spirits. This isn’t always the case if driving oneself.
Taxis are ubiquitous in Bangkok. There was a time when just stretching out a hand on the road led to a handful of taxis competing to draw to a halt and get the customer, but the balance has evened out in the last few years.
Taxi travel is inexpensive and relatively comfortable. Most taxis are safe and modern vehicles, with air conditioning and fairly knowledgeable drivers though there will always be the exception of a driver fresh from the North East who is clueless about Bangkok.
The only time when Taxis are super scarce is during a tropical rain storm. During these times Thais are extremely averse to getting wet and even those who use public transport will jump in a taxi to save from being soaked on the way to the station.
Demand is very high during these periods, and so if possible, find a place to take in a coffee or a bite to eat and let the rain subside.
The motorbike or ‘motorcy’ taxi is a firm Bangkok favourite. They’re inexpensive, fast and flexible. In over two decades we’ve never seen a pillion passenger in an accident and we think this speaks volumes about the appreciation for passenger safety.
It’s the motorbike taxis on their own who seem to push the speed limit too fast and entangle themselves in a collision. Motorbikes are brilliant as way of zig-zagging across a snarling city when time is tight and the traffic is even tighter.
Even the most pampered executives will jump on a bike to get to an important meeting or get away from the rush hour traffic from time to time.