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Getting around in Thailand

You’ll find a real gamut of transportation options in Thailand, from Bangkok’s modern Skytrain system to tuk-tuks, with plenty of options in between. While the traffic in Bangkok can be wretched, rural areas still offer generally good roads with zero snarl. So be flexible, and hop the tuk-tuk, subway, taxi, ferry, bus, train or plane that will best get you where you want to go. There’s plenty to explore!

Thais like to travel during their national holidays, such as Lunar New Year and Songkran, so if you’re going to be in the country during a major holiday, plan your Thailand transportation options well in advance. Read on to learn more about getting around Thailand.

Getting around Thailand

By flight

Flying is obviously the most expensive but quickest way to get around. You can get pretty much anywhere in the country in two hours or less, making flying the perfect choice for people who are rushed for time.

Thai Airways is the largest (and costliest) carrier, but there are numerous budget airlines, like Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways, Thai Lion, AirAsia, and Nok Air. But avoid some of the smaller budget airlines like Orient Thai, as their safety records are pretty spotty.

Flights around Thailand generally cost 1,400-6,600 THB ($44-200 USD). Flights to the islands tend to be costlier than those between large cities like Bangkok and Phuket. Flights to Ko Samui are always more expensive than anywhere else, thanks to monopoly pricing by Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways.

Here are some sample fares (as of February 2019) so you can get an idea of how much flights cost:

  • Bangkok to Chiang Mai – 780 THB/$25 USD (one way), 1,560 THB/$50 USD (round-trip)
  • Bangkok to Phuket – 735 THB/$30 USD (one way), 1,311 THB/$42 USD (round-trip)
  • Bangkok to Koh Samui – 3,715 THB/$119 USD (one way), 7,274 THB/$233 USD (round-trip)
  • Chiang Mai to Phuket – 1,561 THB/$50 USD (one way), 2,997 THB/$96 USD (round-trip)

If you book early, you can save on fares as the budget carriers usually offer around 30-50% off tickets when they have sales — and they always have sales (especially Air Asia).

Keep in mind that each airline has different baggage fees and policies – budget airlines typically charge extra for like credit card processing (the stupidest of all fees), baggage fees, and preferred seating.

By train

Traveling by train in Thailand can be a very enjoyable experience, particularly on short, scenic jaunts such as the stretch between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. Unlike long-haul buses, trains often fill up quickly in Thailand; try to book your ticket several days in advance to get the class you want.

Thailand has a mixed assortment of trains running the rails, so whether you end up with a new, modern carriage or a squeaky, aging one is simply a matter of luck. Regardless, trains are better than buses for both scenery and the freedom to stretch the legs.

There are three classes of travel: first class is the most expensive and is available only on night trains. Second class is quite comfortable and has softer seats, as well as air-conditioned cars. Third class is bare-bones cars, with hard seats and no A/C. However, these are the cheapest seats around! 

Sound not interesting, but the third class is the one you should try (especially for the short trip) as you will meet more interesting people and there are always vendors coming on and off selling delicious and cheap food.

For overnight trips, travelers typically default to second-class sleeper cars. An attendant will come around to convert the facing bench seats into two bunks with privacy curtains. Top bunks are slightly cheaper but shorter in length; travelers with long legs will be cramped.

There’s no high-speed train in this country so don’t be in a rush if you’re traveling Thailand by train!

That said, traveling by train gives you plenty of time to admire the countryside of Thailand if you are not in a rush. The trains are spacious, there’s always food and drinks available, most of the cars have A/C, vendors get on and off at each stop to sell meals, fruit, or drinks, and the scenery as you cruise through the tropical countryside is out of this world.

It’s also crazy cheap, especially if you take the day train. Heck, even the night train is super cheap! Here are some example fares for both day and night trains:

  • Bangkok to Chiang Mai – 890 THB/$28 USD (day train), 1,011 THB/$32 USD (night train)
  • Bangkok to Chumphon – 550 THB/$17 USD (day train), 920 THB/$28 USD (night train)
  • Bangkok to Surat Thani – 858 THB/$26 USD (day train), 1,058 THB/$33 USD (night train)
  • Bangkok to Ayutthaya – 30 THB/$1 USD (day train)
  • Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai – 866 THB/$27 USD (day train), 1,131 THB/$35 USD (night train)
  • Ayutthaya to Lopburi – 30 THB/$1 USD (day train)
  • Bangkok to Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) – 425 THB/$13.50 USD (day train), 1,010 THB/$32 USD (night train)
  • Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) to Surin – 300 THB/$9.50 (day train)
  • Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) to Ubon Ratchathani – 243 THB/$7.75 USD (day train), 593 THB/$19 USD (night train)

Booking at least one day in advance is strongly recommended for second- and first-class seats on all lengthy journeys, and sleepers should be booked as far in advance as possible (reservations open sixty days before departure). 

You can make bookings for any journey in Thailand at the train station in any major town, and it’s now also possible to book online, at least two days in advance, at SRT’s 
The website is allocated only a limited number of seats, but it allows you to pay by credit card and simply print off your ticket.

You can buy train tickets through a travel agent (there’s a slight upcharge) or directly at the train station. You can buy tickets the day of travel — there’s always space, especially on the day trains. That said, if you are looking for a bed on the night train, I would book at least three days in advance to ensure you have a reservation, especially during high season.

You can see train schedules and ticket prices on the State Railway of Thailand website ( or the two below websites:

By bus

As trains don’t go everywhere in Thailand, taking the bus is your second-best option. Actually, buses are the widest form of transportation here. You can go anywhere in Thailand by bus. Though they often show bad Thai movies with the sound turned up too loud and blast the A/C, they are a comfortable and spacious ride.

If you’re taking a day bus, note that they often stop in multiple towns along the way to pick people up and drop them off, and they also pick up people by the side of the road. Don’t expect to move in an efficient or quick manner. They aren’t in a rush.

Be sure to tell them exactly where you want to go, because often there are no signs when you pull into bus stations.

There are also “tourist buses” that, while more expensive, are usually a lot more convenient. They are usually best for long distances (they tend to travel at night), and when combined with island ferry tickets (say, Bangkok to Ko Phi Phi). They are more expensive than local buses, but they are more direct, and you don’t have to worry about where you are or if it’s your stop.

They usually pick up in the tourist area and drop you off in the tourist area of the next place — plus there’s no stopping to pick up other people along the way.

You can book these via the many travel agents that line the tourist areas of town.

Here are some sample fares for bus routes in Thailand:

  • Bangkok to Chiang Mai – 534 THB/$17 USD (day bus), 830 THB/$26 USD (night bus)
  • Chiang Mai to Pai – 150 THB/$5 USD (day bus)
  • Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai – 229 THB/$7 USD (day bus), 312 THB/$10 USD (night bus)
  • Lampang to Chiang Rai – 237 THB/$7.50 USD (day bus)
  • Bangkok to Phuket City – 643 THB/$20 USD (day bus), 998 THB/$31 USD (night bus)
  • Bangkok to Chumphon – 373 THB/$12 USD (day bus), 427 THB/$13 USD (night bus)
  • Bangkok to Surat Thani – 858 THB/$27 USD (day bus), 1,058 THB/$33 USD (night bus)
  • Bangkok to Hua Hin – 289 THB/$9 USD (day bus), 400 THB/$12 USD (night bus)
  • Bangkok to Trat – 350 THB/$11 USD (day bus), 390 THB/$12 USD (night bus)
  • Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) to Surin – 291 THB/$10 USD (day bus)
  • Surin to Ubon Ratchathani – 200 THB/$7 USD (day bus)

By ferry

While you won’t be using the ferry to get around Thailand, it will definitely be an important mode of transportation when you’re exploring the islands. Due to the well-established travel trail, booking your ferry ride is simple and straightforward – you can often book tickets online or just show up. Most hostels and hotels will be able to help you with this if you need assistance. They will also have the most up-to-date schedules.

Here are some example routes and fares to help you plan your trip:

  • Koh Tao to Koh Samui – 500 THB/$16 (one way)
  • Surat Thani to Koh Phangan – 625 THB/$20 (one way)
  • Phuket to Koh Phi Phi – 780 THB/$25 (one way)
  • Krabi to Koh Lanta – 550 THB/$17 (one way)

By long tail boat

Wherever there’s a decent public waterway, there’ll be a longtail boat ready to ferry you along it. Another great Thai trademark, these elegant, streamlined boats are powered by deafening diesel engines – sometimes custom-built, more often adapted from cars or trucks – which drive a propeller mounted on a long shaft that is swivelled for steering. 

Longtails carry between eight and twenty passengers: generally you’ll have to charter the whole boat, but on popular fixed routes, for example between small, inshore islands and the mainland, it’s cheaper to wait until the boatman gets his quorum.

Renting a car

We wouldn’t recommend getting behind the wheel in the congested Bangkok or Chiang Mai city centers, but in other areas renting a car is an interesting option if you like exploring on your own. Just be aware that Thais drive British-style, on the left-hand side of the road, with the driver sitting on the right side of the car.

All the major rental companies operate in Thailand, including Avis, Budget, National, Sixt and Hertz. There are also numerous Thai rental firms.

You may be able to get away with just using your regular driver’s license, but if you’re renting from a local agency, you might be asked for an International Driving Permit, which can be obtained from AAA offices in the U.S.

You’re typically not allowed to drive a rental car from another country into Thailand. Check with your rental car company for any other restrictions, such as rules against driving on unpaved roads or beaches.

You’ll also find motorcycles or scooters available for rent in some locations, particularly on the islands. It’s typical for local rental shops to require you to leave your passport when renting a scooter. Be sure to wear a helmet (it’s the law) and drive very carefully. According to Tourism Thailand, motorbike accidents are the top cause of deaths of foreigners in Thailand, and the roads on Koh Samui and Koh Phangan can be particularly dangerous.

By taxi

Taxis in Thailand are often cheaper and more comfortable than going by tuk-tuk, assuming you ensure that the driver uses the meter. Just because the sign on top says "Taxi Meter" does not guarantee that the driver will use the meter — many will adamantly refuse. Don't get caught by surprise; confirm the meter usage by speaking through the window before you get inside.

If your driver won't turn on the meter and instead tries to negotiate a fare with you, simply walk away! Chances are there will already be three additional taxis queued behind him. To increase your chances of finding an honest driver, there are a few, do these two things:

  • Hail taxis that are on the move. The ones parked around tourist areas must pay into a hierarchy to sit there.
  • Choose a driver who is wearing dress clothing. Drivers who wear shorts or T-shirts are most likely part of the local taxi "mafia." You can also judge the appearance of the vehicle. Older, banged up taxis should be avoided.

You'll be expected to pay a surcharge for leaving the airport, and you will also be expected to pay any tolls encountered. Have cash ready or tell the driver you don't want to use the "expressway."

Renting a motorbike

A popular form of transportation in Thailand is motorbike, such that many Thai are familiar with riding bikes from a very early age and you’ll see families packing every member on the bike. To see a family of three and four on a bike is not uncommon.  Renting a motorbike is also a popular past time for tourists, who want to explore further destinations.

However, many tourists come to Thailand without knowing how to drive one and try their hand for the first time. This can be dangerous and most motorbike accidents among tourists happen due to the negligence and inexperience of the tourist.  Watch the below video for tips on how to rent a bike, drive one, and common scams to watch out for.

By motorbike taxi

Even faster and more precarious than tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis feature both in towns and in out-of-the-way places.

In towns – where the drivers are identified by coloured, numbered vests – they have the advantage of being able to dodge traffic jams, but are obviously only really suitable for the single traveller, and motorbike taxis aren’t the easiest mode of transport if you’re carrying luggage. 

In remote spots, on the other hand, they’re often the only alternative to hitching or walking, and are especially useful for getting between bus stops on main roads, around car-free islands and to national parks or ancient ruins.

Within towns motorbike-taxi fares can start at B10 for very short journeys, but for trips to the outskirts the cost rises steeply – reckon on at least B200 for a 20km round trip.

By songthaew

Songthaews are covered pickup trucks with bench seats in the back, and they're as ubiquitous in Thailand as tuk-tuks.

You'll generally encounter two kinds of songthaews: ones that ply fixed routes around a locale and ones you hire as you would a tuk-tuk. In the case of the latter, you'll need to confirm the fare before you get in.

Common destinations (the airport, bus terminal, etc) likely have fixed rates; you won't be able to haggle. You may be able to negotiate fares for other destinations (e.g., your hotel), but the driver is allowed to pick up other passengers along the way. By default, Songthaews are one of the slower transportation options in Thailand.

The red songthaews seen circling places such as Chiang Mai and many of the islands often follow a set route. Fares are fixed and very inexpensive. Locals just seem to know the system, but you won't find it on signs or advertised. You'll have to confirm with the driver where they're going before you get in. Don't delay them too long; much like Jeepneys in the Philippines, they're often crammed with locals who need to get somewhere!

By tuk tuk

Riding in a tuk-tuk at least once is a unique experience not to be missed while traveling in Thailand. In Chiang Mai and other places where taxis are rare, tuk-tuk may be your primary transportation option.

Listening to your fast-talking driver try to up-sell you, meanwhile, sucking in exhaust fumes are all part of the "fun." If you're really lucky, your Redbull-crazed driver will treat you to a few high-speed misses. Tuk-tuks don't have seatbelts for passengers, but you do get a metallic dollar sign to stare at.

That said, know that even though tuk-tuk means "cheap cheap" in Thai, they often cost more than safer, air-conditioned taxis - particularly for foreign travelers. Because tuk-tuks don't have meters, you'll have to negotiate your fare before getting inside, otherwise, expect to pay way more than you should.

Tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand are famous for their scams. Never agree to stop at shops the driver recommends along the way — this is a classic scam in Thailand.

By samlor

Tuk-tuks are also sometimes known as samlors (literally “three wheels”), but the original samlors are tricycle rickshaws propelled by pedal power alone. Slower and a great deal more stately than tuk-tuks, samlors still operate in one or two towns around the country.

A further permutation are the motorized samlors (often called “skylabs” in northeastern Thailand), where the driver relies on a motorbike rather than a bicycle to propel passengers to their destination. They look much the same as cycle samlors, but often sound as noisy as tuk-tuks

By cycling

The options for cycling in Thailand are numerous, whether you choose to ride the length of the country from the Malaysian border to Chiang Rai, or opt for a dirt-road adventure in the mountains around Chiang Mai. Most Thai roads are in good condition and clearly signposted; although the western and northern borders are mountainous, the rest of the country is surprisingly flat. 

The secondary roads (distinguished by their three-digit numbers) are paved but carry far less traffic than the main arteries and are the preferred cycling option. Traffic is reasonably well behaved and personal safety is not a major concern as long as you “ride to survive”; dogs, however, can be a nuisance on minor roads so it’s probably worth having rabies shots before your trip. There are bike shops in nearly every town, and basic equipment and repairs are cheap. 

Unless you head into the remotest regions around the Burmese border you are rarely more than 25km from food, water and accommodation. Overall, the best time to cycle is during the cool, dry season from November to February and the least good from April to July.

The traffic into and out of Bangkok is dense so it’s worth hopping on a bus or train for the first 50–100km to your starting point. Intercity buses, taxis and most Thai domestic planes will carry your bike free of charge. 

Intercity trains will only transport your bike (for a cargo fare – about the price of a person) if there is a luggage carriage attached, unless you dismantle it and carry it as luggage in the compartment with you. Songthaews will carry your bike on the roof for a fare (about the price of a person).

Local one-day cycle tours and bike-rental outlets (THB30–100 per day) are listed throughout this book. There are also a number of organized cycle tours, both nationwide and in northern Thailand. A very useful English-language resource is, while Biking Asia with Mr Pumpy ( gives detailed but dated accounts of some cycling routes in Thailand.


Public transport being so inexpensive, you should only have to resort to hitching in the most remote areas, in which case you’ll probably get a lift to the nearest bus or songthaew stop quite quickly. On routes served by buses and trains, hitching is not standard practice, but in other places locals do rely on regular passers-by (such as national park officials), and you can make use of this “service” too.

As with hitching anywhere in the world, think twice about hitching solo or at night, especially if you’re female. Like bus drivers, truck drivers are notorious users of amphetamines, so you may want to wait for a safer offer.

How Long Does It Take to Get Around Thailand?

Trying to figure out how long it will take you to get from point A to point B? Here is a distance and time chart so you can get an idea of how long it takes to get from place to place.



AIR (Hrs) BUS (Hrs) RAIL (Hrs)
Bangkok - Chiang Mai 230/115 1:15 10 13
Bangkok - Phuket City 840/525 1:25 12 N/A
Bangkok - Chumphon 466/290 1 8 8:15
Lampang - Chiang Mai 99/61 4:05* 1:45 2
Surat Thani - Bangkok 641/398 1 11 12
Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai 199/124 4* 3:40 N/A
Ayuthaya - Bangkok 81/50 N/A 1:30 2
Bangkok - Koh Samui 763/474 1:15 13-14** 13-16**
Chiang Mai - Krabi 1,465/910 4 27 24
Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani 609/378 2:30 10 11

*No direct flights.
**Includes ferry

Online planning

The website or as a very useful, and generally accurate, Plan Your Trip function that allows you to compare train, plane and bus travel (including costs and schedules) between cities in Thailand.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is Thailand safe for tourist?

Thailand is generally a safe country to visit, but it's smart to exercise caution, especially when it comes to dealing with strangers (both Thai and foreigners) and travelling alone. 

  • Assault of travellers is relatively rare in Thailand, but it does happen. 
  • Possession of drugs can result in a year or more of prison time. Drug smuggling carries considerably higher penalties, including execution.
  • Disregard all offers of free shopping or sightseeing help from strangers. These are scams that invariably take a commission from your purchases.

Here is our full guide of Thailand safety and precaution.

Q. When is the cheapest time to fly to Thailand?

Logically, you'll find the cheapest flights to Thailand from May until October, which happily covers the school holidays. This does come at a price, however – the southwestern monsoon rolls in from mid-June and sticks around for the whole summer.

According to, the cheapest flights to Thailand are usually found when departing on a Monday. The departure day with the highest cost is usually on a Friday.

Moreover, Thailand flights can be made cheaper if you choose a flight at noon. Booking a flight in the morning will likely mean higher prices.

Simply follow this, sometimes you can have the promotion of 40-50% discount.

Here is how the book the cheap flight to Thailand 

Q. What is the main transportation in Thailand?

Transportation in Thailand is very chaotic and varied. Motorbikes and bicycles are the main mode of transport in rural areas and are generally used for short distances. While bus transportation dominates in Bangkok and for long distances. 

Q. Is there UBER in Thailand?

Uber in Thailand has shut down its app services since April 8, 2018. On March 26, 2018, Uber noted that it would be transitioning its services and combine its operations with ridesharing service Grab. So, this means that there is no more Uber in Thailand since 2018.

At the moment, the best alternative to Uber in Thailand was Grab. Now when Uber is gone the most convenient way to book a taxi or a private driver in Thailand is by using the Grab mobile app.

Q. Is it easy to drive in Thailand?

Driving in Thailand can be done by tourists as long as you hold a valid driver's license in English from your country of origin or a valid International driver's license. 

In Thailand, vehicles drive to the left-hand side of the road and speed limits are expressed in kilometres per hour.

Hence, if you also come from the country driving at the left-hand side of the road, it will be much easier for you to drive in Thailand and vice versa.


We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Thailand, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

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Chiang Mai
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Hua Hin
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Chiang Rai
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Koh Samui
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Check out all the must-see places and things to do & see

Luxury Holiday
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Wellness & Leisure
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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

Honeymoon Vacation
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

Family Vacation
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The combination of fun and educational activities

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Cycling & Biking
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

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Search for your nationality below to see our special Thailand travel tips & advice for your country. CONTACT US if you cannot find yours.


Taking a cruise on the fascinating Mekong River offers a unique and memorable travel experience. The Mekong River, one of the longest rivers in Asia, flows through several countries, including China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Each destination along the river offers its own distinct cultural, historical, and natural attractions. In this article, we will go over what you can expect when cruising the Mekong River. 


International travelers to Thailand will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or ATK test results from October 1st, 2022 onward.

In a new move to attract travelers during peak season, Thailand is doing away with the requirement of needing vaccination certificates or Covid-19 negative results in the case of unvaccinated passengers. Additionally, those infected with Covid-19, but have mild symptoms don’t need to isolate from next month. The same applies to those who test positive but display no symptoms.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced these changes on Thursday after the National Communicable Diseases Committee (NCDC) had a meeting on Wednesday.

Instead of isolating those who have contracted the disease would be required to wear a mask, socially distance themselves from others and wash their hands frequently for the first five days. They also need to stay away from those who are immunocompromised and vulnerable.

Dr. Sophon Iamsirithaworn, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, informed that since the present Covid-19 mutation doesn’t cause serious symptoms in most people, disease control measures can be relaxed.

National Security Council secretary-general Supoj Malaniyom added that the new measures are being put in place to help improve the economic conditions of the country.

“The primary aim will be to ensure the economy is back on track so people could earn their livelihoods once more,” he said.


How long to spend in Thailand may seem like a ridiculous question to address, but if you have plenty of time and aren’t sure how much to dedicate, this blog will definitely help you out. 

How long can you stay in Thailand? 

Well, as long as you like! From 10 days to a month, there are various ways you can travel across Thailand and uncover its secrets. Advising an ideal trip length for Thailand is a bit of a complex challenge, as it depends on several factors such as the places you wish to visit, the activities you plan to join, or if you want to combine Thailand with its neighbor countries. 

Stay tuned! We are going to sort all these things out including the step-by-step guide to create the best itinerary in Thailand.

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