Cambridge C2 Proficiency

C2 Proficiency - Reading: Multiple Matching

Getting Around Bangkok

Answer the questions 1-10 by referring to the article below. Choose from the list of methods of transportation in Bangkok (A-F) for each question.

Which of these forms of transport (A-F):

1. Require you to seek a particular color if you want to travel faster? 
2. Only covers the center of the city? 
3. Is potentially the most dangerous? 
4. Do you need to have good pronunciation for? 
5. Cause pollution problems? 
6. Is a tourist attraction in its own right? 
7. Will you probably suffer the most discomfort on? 
8. Can you perhaps use without paying? 
9. Offers a more expensive variety for foreign visitors? 
10. Can you enter when it is still moving? 

A. Skytrain

B. Boat

C. Bus

D. Taxi

E. Motorbike

F. Tuk-tuk


The Bangkok Skytrain (BTS, pronunced bee-tee-et in Thai) deserves a visit simply for the Disneyland space-ageness of it. Built in a desperate effort to ease Bangkok's insane traffic and pollution, the Skytrain covers most of downtown and is especially convenient for visiting the Siam Square area. There are two lines: the light green Sukhumvit line which travels along Sukhumvit road, and the dark green Silom line, which travels from the Silom area, interchanges with the Sukhumvit line at Siam Square (C) and terminates near the Chatuchak Weekend Market (N8).

There isn't, unfortunately, a station near Banglampu District (aka the Khao San Road area), but you can take a river ferry to Tha Sathorn for the Silom line terminus at Saphan Taksin (S6).

You must have 5 or 10 baht coins to purchase Skytrain tickets from the vending machines near the entrance, so hold on to them. Fares range from 10 to 45 baht depending upon how many zones you are travelling. Consult the map (in English) near each ticket machine. If you do not have coins, you may need to queue for change from the staff at the booth. If you are in town for several days, weigh your options and consider a rechargable stored-value card (200 baht), a "ride all you like" tourist pass or a multiple ride pass of 10 trips or more. They will certainly save you time, scrambling for coins, and maybe even money. Check for information with the English speaking staff.

By boat

A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist's agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, basically an aquatic bus plying up and down the river. The basic service plies from Wat Rajsingkorn (S4) all the way to Nonthaburi (N30) for 6 to 10 baht depending on distance, stopping at most of Rattanakosin's major attractions including the Grand Palace, the Temple of Dawn, etc. In addition to the basic service, there are express services flagged with yellow or orange flags, which stop only at major piers and should be avoided unless you're sure where you're going. The new signposting of the piers is quite clear, with numbered piers and English route maps, and the Central station offers easy interchange to the BTS Saphan Taksin station.

In addition to the workaday express boat, there is also a self-proclaimed Tourist Boat which stops at a different subset of piers, offers commentary in English and charges twice the price. The boats are slightly more comfortable and not a bad option for a hop or two, but don't get bullied into buying the overpriced day pass.

Canal boats also service some of Bangkok's many canals (khlong). They are cheap and immune to Bangkok's traffic jams, just watch your step when boarding and disembarking! One particularly useful line runs up and down Khlong Saen Saep, parallel to Petchaburi Rd, and provides the easiest access from the city center to the Golden Mount.

Finally, for trips outside the set routes, you can hire a longtail river taxi at any major pier. These are fairly expensive and will attempt to charge as much as 500 baht/hour, but with haggling may be suitable for small groups. To circumvent the mafia-like touts who attempt to get a (large) cut for every ride, agree for the price of the shortest possible ride (half an hour etc), then negotiate directly with the captain when on board.

By bus

Local buses, mostly operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA), are cheapest but also the most challenging way of getting around, as there is a bewildering plethora of routes, usually marked only in Thai. Bus stops usually list only the bus numbers that stop there and nothing more. They are also subject to Bangkok's notorious traffic, often terribly crowded, and many are not air-conditioned. The hierarchy of Bangkok's buses from cheapest to best can be ranked as follows:

  • Small green bus, 3.50 baht flat fare. Crowded, no air-con, no fan, famously suicidal drivers, not advisable for more than short hops.
  • Red bus, 4 baht flat fare. BMTA-run, more spacious and fan-cooled (in theory). Unlike other buses, a subset of these runs through the night.
  • White/blue bus, 5 baht flat fare. Exactly the same as the red buses, but operated by private concession.
  • Blue aircon, 8 baht for the first 8 kilometers, up to 20 baht max. BMTA-run and quite comfy.
  • Orange aircon (Euro 2), 10 baht for the first few kilometers, up to 20 baht max. BMTA-run, new and comfortable.
  • Purple Microbus, 25 baht flat fare, fixed number of seats so never crowded. Some of these are Skytrain feeder shuttles and you can get free tickets if you buy stored-card value of 200 baht or more.

Buses stop only when needed, so wave them down (arm out, palm down) when you see one barreling your way. In all buses except the Microbus, pay the roaming collector after you board; on Microbuses, drop the money into a slot next to the driver as you board. In all buses, keep the ticket as there are occasional spot-checks, and press the signal buzzer (usually near the door) when you want to get off.

By taxi

Taxis are a quick way to get around town, at least if the traffic is flowing your way. Almost all taxis are now metered: the hailing fee is 35 baht and most trips in Bangkok cost less than 100 baht.

If the driver refuses to use the meter after a couple of attempts, simply exit the taxi. Also try to avoid taxis that stay parked all day outside your hotel. The only two reasons that they are there: 1) To take you places where they can get their commissions (Jewelry stores, massage parlors, etc) and 2) To overcharge you by not using the meter. Your best bet is to walk to the road and catch an unoccupied metered taxi in motion (easier than it sounds, as Bangkok traffic tends to crawl the majority of the time). Be sure to either know the correct pronunciation of your destination, or have it written in Thai; taxi drivers in Bangkok are notoriously bad at reading maps.

By motorbike

When traffic slows to a crawl and there are no alternatives, the fastest way to your destination is to take a motorbike taxi. Bike drivers in colorful fluorescent yellow-orange vests wait for passengers at street corners and near shopping malls and prices are negotiable. That said, motorcycle taxis are suicidally dangerous and should generally be avoided except as a last resort, as accidents are far too common.

Some bikes do not travel long distances, but simply shuttle up and down long sois not serviced by other transport for a fixed 5-20 baht fare. These are marginally less dangerous, especially if you happen to travel with the flow on a one-way street.

The law requires that both driver and passenger must wear a helmet. It is the driver's responsibility to provide you with one, so if you are stopped by police, any fine is also the driver's responsibility. When riding, keep a firm grasp on the seat handle and watch out for your legs.

By tuk-tuk

Finally, what would Bangkok be without the dreaded and loved tuk-tuks? You'll know them when you hear them, you'll hate them when you smell them, these three-wheeled contraptions blaze around Bangkok leaving a black cloud of smog in their wake. For anything more than a 5-10 minute jaunt they really are not worth the price, and the price will usually be 4 or 5 times what it should be anyway (which, for Thais, is around 30% less than the equivalent metered taxi fare). On the other hand, you can sometimes ride for free if you agree to visit touristy clothing or jewelry shops (which give the tuk-tuk driver gas coupons and commissions for bringing customers). The shops' salesmen are pushy, but you are free to leave after five to ten minutes of browsing.

In case you actually want to get somewhere, and you're an all-male party, be careful with the tuk-tuk drivers, they will usually just ignore your destination and start driving you to some other place. Insist continually on going only to your destination.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Original Wikipedia article.

© 2001-2024