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Traveling in Thailand

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9 months 1 week ago #7 by Matthieu
Matthieu created the topic: Traveling in Thailand
Traveling in Thailand is fairly easy comparatively to other Asian countries and this is due in big part to the great road infrastructures and many transport facilities: regular departure times, wide range of alternative options, low prices... Depending on your preferences and time flexibility, for a given destination, you can usually opt for a van, a bus, a train or even sometimes a plane. Let us discuss a bit more in details about each option.

VAN
Vans are ideal for short journeys of up to 5 or 6 hours (Bangkok to Hua Hin, Prachuap Kirikhan, Kanchanaburi or Nakhon Ratchasima for example). They leave regularly, they rarely exceed 200 THB/person and they are a faster option than the bus. Sometimes even too fast. Do not hesitate to tell drivers to slow down. Thailand is infamously known for being at the top list of countries with the highest number of road-traffic-accident-related death (though these often involve motorbikes).

Vans leave Bangkok from any of the three bus terminals:

• Ekkamai Bus Terminal, just a few steps away from Ekkamai BTS station in the city, for going East (Pattaya, Rayong, Koh Samed or Koh Chang in particular);
• Mo Chit Bus Terminal, 2 km West from Mo Chit BTS station for going any other directions (Nakhon Ratchasima, Lopburi, Kanchanaburi, Hua Hin in particular);
• Southern Bus Terminal, also know as Sai Tai, on the far West of the city, mainly for going South (Hua Hin, Prachuap Kirikhan and further).

Vans used to leave from Victory Monument but the Government moved all van terminals to bus terminals with an objective to ease traffic in the city center.

Although vans have indicated departure times, they usually leave only when full, which may be a few minutes early or many minutes later!
It is not possible to book seats in advance. It is based on first-come-first-served basis. But since there are usually departures every 15 min to 1hr, this causes rarely more than just a little annoyance.


BUS
Buses offer more space and comfort than vans but take longer as they drive slower and often stops on the way to take or drop passengers. You can usually expect an increase in the journey duration by 30% by bus compared to van.

For long distances and/or overnight journey, this is a no-brainer: buses are way more suitable. From either Mo Chit or the Southern Bus Terminals, they serve every part of the country. To go North, opt for Mo Chit Bus Terminal and to go South opt for the Southern Bus Terminal.

Some private bus companies may have an additional departure point option such as their own office, but still pass by one of the two main bus Terminals. This is the case for Sombat Tour (many destinations to all directions) for example whose office is located near Mo Chit Bus Terminal or Niomit Tour (specialised in Ranong) whose office is located near Khao San. Buses from Lomprayah (specialized in island destinations) depart from Khao San, where their booking office is.

While you may very well be able to find a seat last minute, it is recommended to book in advance to avoid any bad surprise. To do so, you can either give a call or visit the various bus company offices or use one of the booking platforms such as 12go.asia/en where you can not only book a bus but also a plane or a train. Depending on the travel company, it is often possible to pay in cash at Seven Eleven when booking via 12goasia.

At the time of booking for a long distance bus journey, you may have the choice between non VIP and VIP XX where XX is the number of seats in the bus. The lower the number of seats, the more space.


TRAIN
Trains are a good alternative to buses for both short and long distances, though they do not offer the same range of destinations. They are best suited if you wish to go somewhere on the way to Chiang Mai, Vientiane (Laos) or the Malay border. Bangkok main train station is Hua Lamphong located right in the city, near China Town. The underground city train (MRT) serves the train station making train journeys particularly convenient at times of heavy traffic. A good blog on using trains in Thailand is the following: www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm


PLANE
And if you are in a rush, you can still consider flying with one of the many local or regional airlines such as Thai Airways, Air Asia, Thai Lion Air, Nok Air or Bangkok Airways.
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