Bangkok by bus · Bangkok by bus
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Bangkok by bus
Bangkok by bus
When buying tickets for buses out of Bangkok, it's best to skip travel agents and their private buses, and get the tickets for public buses directly at Bangkok's three public bus terminals. These buses are cheaper, safer, faster, more comfortable and won't scam you onto a clapped-out minibus halfway along the way or to a bedbug-infested hotel at the end. Each of these long haul bus terminals serve a different direction. They are purposefully located in off-central locations, so the long-haul buses avoid the heavy traffic congestion in the centre of the city.
The largest, busiest, and most modern terminal is the Northern Bus Terminal, ☎ +66 2 936-2841(-3), also known as Mo Chit. The upper floor serves the Isaan region in the northeast of Thailand; the ground floor serves Northern Thailand, and shares some destinations with Ekkamai (including Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat). The bus terminal is a fair hike from BTS station Mo Chit or MRT station Chatuchak Park. Motorbike taxis do the trip for a fixed 30 baht fare (bargaining is pointless), while tuk-tuks charge whatever they feel like — when bargaining, remember that a real taxi with air-conditioning will cost you about 45 baht (assuming little traffic). You can also take bus 77 and pay the 7-baht flat fare on board (this bus also goes from the terminal via Victory Monument, Pratunam and Silom Road. If you have a considerable amount of luggage, the easiest, if not necessarily fastest, option is to take a taxi directly to or from the bus terminal.
Buying tickets here is reasonably easy; find a window with your destination written on it (in friendly Roman letters), pay the fare in big numbers on the same window, and you'll get a ticket on the next available departure. Note that blue writing means 1st class, red means 2nd class (avoid on longer trips), and tickets for destinations in Isaan are sold from the third floor. Ask the information desk on the first floor if you need help, or any of the BKS staff, easily identifiable thanks to their natty white shirts with gold buttons. Now just find the departure stall and you're on your way. If you have time to kill, there are two fairly decent air-conditioned food courts at both ends of the main terminal building, plus KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and lots of 7-Eleven outlets.
The Eastern Bus Terminal, ☎ +66 2 391-2504, also known as Ekkamai, is a relatively compact terminal right next to Ekkamai BTS station in Sukhumvit. Ekkamai serves destinations in Eastern Thailand, including Pattaya, Rayong, Ban Phe (for Ko Samet), Chanthaburi and Trat. If you're heading for Ko Chang, there is a specifically designated stop for it between Chanthaburi and Trat. You can also get a bus to the Cambodian border crossing at Poipet, look for the bus to Aranyaprathet and tell them you are going to Poipet when you buy the ticket.
Then there's the Southern Bus Terminal, ☎ +66 2 894-6122, also known as Sai Tai, that serves all destinations west and south of Bangkok from its somewhat inconvenient location on the Thonburi side of the river. In December 2007, the terminal moved to a new, even more remote location, at Phutthamonthon Sai 1 Road in northern Thonburi. Long-distance buses leave from here to destinations throughout Western Thailand (including Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi) and Southern Thailand (including Krabi, Phuket, Surat Thani, Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan, Hat Yai, and many others). The new terminal is a fairly pleasant airport-like structure with air-conditioning, electronic departure monitors (in English), a few bank offices, and a KFC. Unlike the rip-off operators at Khao San Road, all buses from here are public, well-regulated, cheap, and reasonably safe. Just buy your tickets at the numbered desk with your destination posted on it (almost always in English).
Getting to the terminal is a bit of headache, as public transport is limited. The easiest option is to take a metered taxi, but if you're going there in the evening, especially during workdays, be prepared to fight a serious traffic jam — getting there can take 30 minutes or a full hour from the city centre. A taxi ride from Khao San Road should end up around 120 baht in favourable traffic conditions. Ignore touts — unlike what they might say, there really is no "faster" way when all the roads are congested.
From Victory Monument BTS station, the terminal can be reached with pale orange air-conditioned bus 515 (17 baht). When approached by an onboard bus attendant ticketer, just say "Sai Tai". After quite a ride, the large bus terminal will be on the left side about 9 km (5.5 mi) after crossing the river (you won't miss it and probably will be told as well). Getting there by bus actually does not take much more time than taxi (it's almost the same in the likely case of a traffic jam), but the ride is much cheaper, especially if alone. Bus 556 from Suvarnabhumi Airport no longer goes from there, but from Makkasan above ground electric train station. There are also white minibuses (30 baht) from various points around Bangkok, eg. from Ramkhamhaeng (near Rajamangala National Stadium). There are inexpensive shuttle buses and slightly more expensive (but quicker loading and a bit faster) minibuses to and from the Northern Bus Terminal as well.
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Bangkok Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.