Thailand transportation has a nice combination of modern and traditional means of transport. There are several transport options within the country, including buses, rental cars, trains, and even traditional options such as tuk-tuks and songthaews. What's more, you can also opt for unique elephant rides as a means of transport, but that option is limited to rural areas. Thailand also has a wide variety of two-wheeler transport including motorcycle taxis, so there's no need to worry when it comes to Thailand transportation options during your vacation.
Thailand has an extensive railway network covering approx. 2,860 miles. Except for Phuket, the trains in Thailand link all major towns and regions. Trains operate on four major routes, from Chiang Mai in the north to the southernmost regions of the country. Operated by the State Railway of Thailand, trains are a safer mode of transport than other options, but they can be very slow and often prone to delays. These are divided into classes, where first-class trains amount to some form of luxury travel and third-class trains are cheap ways to travel through Thailand. It is recommended to pre-book tickets, especially for slower trains. You can get help from a travel agent to book tickets online, or you can do so yourself by visiting the official E-Stars site.
Compared to the slow trains, buses in Thailand are much faster, thanks to the extensive road network. With around 32,000 miles of national and provincial roads, the transport mode options are only getting better. Apart from buses, travelers will find taxis, songthaews (a type of a minibus), and lightweight vehicles such as the tuk-tuks, which look like Indian auto rickshaws. However, buses are generally chosen for long-distance transport. The city of Bangkok has an extensive network of buses offering local transport services. For instance, a regular Bangkok bus service is operated by the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority, a state enterprise which provides major routes to the urban areas of the city. However, travelers can also choose private minibuses, and there are air-conditioned luxury buses that charge a fixed rate regardless of the distance traveled within Bangkok.
When choosing a bus in Bangkok, avoid local travel agencies selling fake "VIP" bus tickets. These are nothing but tickets of dubious minibus services that lure visitors into pricier restaurants and guesthouses for higher commissions; you will likely encounter such nagging private bus operators in Bangkok's Khao San Road, so be aware of this while in that area of the city. The best way to travel is to opt for the Baw Kaw Saw (BKS) government bus service, which is very comfortable, safe, and inexpensive.
Buses in Bangkok can be distinguished by their color and class. The ordinary red-stripe bus in Bangkok is very slow but cheap. The air-conditioned bus service has typical blue-colored buses that are slightly pricier than ordinary ones. One of the best options is to select the metrobus in Bangkok. It is generally operated by private companies in conjunction with the BKS. The metrobus service charges a fixed rate and is favored by most tourists because it does not overfill seats.
Another affordable and safe Thailand transportation option is a car rental. Travelers can also look for rental cars to make their Thailand trip more extensive and travel outside the capital. There are many Thailand car rental services that provide driving services at a fairly reasonable price, and tourists can also opt for a self-driven car with or without insurance. You can choose cars, vans, and jeeps from various tourist cities including Bangkok, Chang Mai, Phuket, and Pattaya. If you are looking for a cheap Thailand car rental service, choose a local company. But be careful and check whether the rented vehicle is insured when signing the contract. Many travelers select international companies such Avis and Hertz to minimize hassles and ensure that insurance is included with the car rental package.
When driving a rental car, always make sure to follow traffic rules and drive on the left hand side of highways and roads. You should also have an international driver's license when selecting any international or local Thailand car rental service.