Bus Travel

The guide to the buses and bus routes of Bangkok
by Bangkok Mouth


The Bangkok bus service is far better than many people give it credit for, but I just wish that someone would have the foresight to put the names of the destinations on the front of the buses in English. Well, as yet it has never materialized, so those of us who have been here for years and never bothered to learn how to read a single word of Thai, continue to commit as many of the route numbers to memory as possible and we get by.

Non-air buses are 3.5 to 5 baht. Cheap in other words. Now, the air-con buses are much more comfortable and an altogether more civilized way to travel, but the major disadvantage is that you have to state your destination to the conductor ( tickets are 6-20 baht depending on distance). Alternatively you can use my trick and when the conductor comes, plonk the minimum fare of 6 baht in his hand and look the other way. You will rarely be challenged because the last thing a conductor wants is to get into an awkward conversation with a foreigner who can't pronounce Thai place names. Air-con buses are either blue or orange. Bear in mind that minimum fare on the brand-spanking new orange buses starts at 8 baht. Traveling by bus gives you a wonderful opportunity to witness the fumbling social etiquette of the Thais as they are faced with the dilemma of who to offer their seat to. No , donít get your hopes up, because they sure wonít offer it to you. Rule of thumb is that you give up your seat to pregnant women, handicapped, elderly and even very young schoolchildren (which I donít agree with). And if a monk should get on the bus with his saffron robes, people canít give up their seat quick enough. Passengers are bouncing up and down like Pamela Anderson on a pogo stick. I usually manage to avoid all this commotion by pretending to be asleep.

More Official Bus Info

The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, operates bus services in Bangkok. The authority currently offers 136 routes serving every part of the city and the nearby provinces. Currently, more than four thousand buses ply the cityís streets, of which around 2,800 are regular buses and around 1,200 air-conditioned buses.

An additional 1,862 privately owned regular and air-conditioned buses, and 1,580 mini-buses are operated under the BMTA. For the budget traveler, bus is the cheapest way of getting around, but itís not always the most convenient. Traffic congestion in Bangkok can be very frustrating, especially if itís your first visit here. In addition, there are no specific schedules for the services, so nobody can predict when the next bus will arrive. It really depends on the traffic situation at the time.

Buses in Bangkok come in a bewildering number of sizes, colors and varieties. Fares vary with each different type of bus. ē Non-air conditioned regular bus (red-cream color) is the cheapest bus service with a 3.50 baht fare for any journey. With the air pollution and heat in Bangkok, traveling on these buses can be a trying experience, especially during daytime and rush hours. Services usually start at 5.00 am and go through to 11.00 pm. On certain well-traveled routes, services run all night but the fare is 5 baht and again itís impossible to predict what time the buses will come. Some red and cream buses travel on the Expressway, in which case the fare is 5.50 baht. These buses usually have a yellow sign in the front.

Other types of regular service buses in white-blue color and privately owned mini-buses in green run on some routes. The fare is 5 baht for any distance. The green mini-buses are notorious for the nerve-wracking maneuvers of their drivers.

ē Air-conditioned buses (cream-blue color) are slightly more convenient than the regular buses. The bus fare depends on the distance traveled, but ranges from 6 baht up to 16 baht. Services usually operate from 5.00 am to 11.00 pm.

ē Air-conditioned buses (white-pink color) are only available on some routes. The fare is 10 baht and services usually start at 4.30 am to 10.00 pm.

ē Euro II bus (yellow-orange color) are also air-conditioned and relatively new. Services starts run from 5.00 am to 11.00 pm. The fare ranges from 8 baht to 18 baht depending on the distance.

ē Micro-bus (purple or red color) is an alternative privately owned bus service. The 20-seat passenger buses come in air-conditioned comfort. The fare is a flat 20 baht regardless of the distance. Micro-buses stop taking passengers once every seat is filled, so everyone is guaranteed a seat.

Watch out for pickpockets and bag-slashers on Bangkok buses. Keep your wallet in your front pocket and your bags in front of you at all times. For more information about the routes contact 184. For micro-bus information, call +66 2 379 5145

Q: What do you think about the bus service in Bangkok?

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