Traffic in Bangkok can get pretty bad. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 6am and there are already many, many vehicles on the road. Luckily for me, my hotel, the office, and my new apartment are all near the BTS Skytrain, so the traffic doesn’t really bother me.
Bangkok’s light rail system is very easy to use. It comprises both the BTS Skytrain and the Bangkok MRT. I use the BTS Skytrain everyday to get to work from the hotel. Once I move to my new apartment though, I’m planning to walk home instead. I need whatever exercise I can get, to be honest.
Below is a map of Bangkok’s mass transit system. Not all places in the city have access to a train station. As an example, the tourist spots of Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and the Grand Temple aren’t easily accessible by train. Plans are in place though to increase the number of lines and extend some of the existing ones.
Here’s quick guide on using the BTS Skytrain. I’ll write about using the Bangkok MRT in another post. The main difference between the 2 though is that the BTS Skytrain is elevated above ground and the Bangkok MRT is a subway system.
When you get to a BTS station, you have the option to either get a ticket through one of the vending machines, or through the ticket booth. I highly suggest you get your ticket through the vending machine, as the lines for the ticket booth are almost always as long as in the photo below. The booth is where you can buy the stored-value Rabbit card though, which is helpful if you’re planning to take multiple trips on the BTS.
There are 2 types of ticket vending machines. The one below is the most common one, and it only accepts coins. It doesn’t accept 2-baht coins though, which is a bit annoying but understandable considering that the 1-baht and 2-baht coins are very similar in size.
To use the machine, you first have to look at the Fare Information table which you see in the picture above on the right. Once you see the fare you need to pay to get to your destination, you press the button for that amount in #1. You then insert the coins in #2, your ticket comes out in #3, and whatever change you have comes out of #4. Make sure you select the right fare amount or you won’t be able to exit the station gates.
There are a few ticket vending machines like the one below that also accept paper money. These are very easy to use as well, though the lines are a bit longer here. Like the other vending machine, this one also doesn’t accept 2-baht coins. It accepts paper bills up to the 100-baht denomination.
All you have to do is select your destination on the touch screen under #1, then insert your fare in #2. Once you’ve paid, you take the ticket that pops out in #3, and any change is dropped into the container in #4.
Once you have your ticket, you proceed through the station gates. You tap your ticket on the blue square thing you see below, and the small monitor will show your ticket balance. Some turnstiles go both ways, so just check in case someone is trying to use the same gate as you.
Inside the gates you can see some shops, and occasionally there are ATMs as well. Don’t linger too long though, as I think there’s a time limit on how long you can stay inside the station.
Then you go up the escalators or stairs to the 3rd level. Once you reach the next level, you’ll see the train platform. Everyone is well-mannered and lines up. You have to be a bit careful as not all of the stations have platform gates like they have here in the BTS Asoke station.
Here’s what the train looks like when it arrives at the station.
People on the platform give way to people who are exiting the trains, and people on the train near the doors sometimes get off to make it easier for people in the middle to exit. In Manila, I had to fight with disorderly people on the MRT almost everyday. I’ve never even come close to doing that here, even during rush hour.
Here’s what it looks like inside the train on a Sunday. It can get even more crowded and packed on weekdays.
Above the doors is a panel that shows you where the train is. The red lights are the stations that have already passed, and the green lights show you the stations that are upcoming.
Once you get off the train, you have to go down the stairs back to the 2nd level. Signboards let you know which exit you need to take for various buildings and landmarks.
One of the things I love about the BTS is the Skywalk that connects some of the stations. The Skywalk is on the 2nd level next to the station entrances, and they are kind of like pedestrian overpasses only much cooler. This section of the Skywalk goes from the Ploenchit station all the way to Siam station — 3 stations away! I love it because it encourages walking, and it’s not as hot as having to walk on the streets below.
I really, really wish the new light rail lines they’re building in Manila would be more like this. There’s no hope for Manila’s MRT, but hopefully the new lines will be better. There’s always hope, I guess.