The City of Angels (Kreung Thep in Thai) is an amazing city, one of the few places in the world where a 400-year old temple can be right next to a skyscraper, and this curious mix of old and new makes Bangkok a city like no other. A city that is home to almost 10 million people stretches on both banks of the Chao Phraya River, yet there are hidden sides to this unique metropolis that the average tourist would never see, and one of those secrets are the river boat taxis that run through a complex network of canals.
The Riverboat Taxis
They run much like buses and with stops every few hundred metres, it is a very quick way to travel around the city, and if you would like to explore the canal network, you can buy a map from a corner store. Aside from the travel aspect, riding on the riverboat taxis gives you a glimpse of how the Thai people live, as there are timber houses on both sides, and don’t be surprised if you see children bathing in the water, women washing clothes and the old men sitting around a coffee stall.
The BTS Skytrain
The BTS Skytrain network consists of several lines that intersect and the network covers the central areas in the city and provides quick and cheap travel, and the trains are full during the morning and evening rush hour, as locals prefer to use the BTS as opposed to taxis and buses. You can board the Skytrain at Suwannaphumi Airport and it will take you right into the city centre, and a 4-star hotel in Bangkok won’t break the bank. The best area to stay is Sukhumvit Road, where you have a lively night market, bars and restaurants, as well as up-market shopping malls.
There are thousands of taxis that you can simply hail on the side of the road. Bangkok taxis have a minimum levy of 35 baht, then the fare rises on a set scale, which is a combination of time and distance travelled, but a ride across the city would not cost more than $15, even with heavy traffic – something this city is famed for.
Aside from the taxis, you can ride in a Tuk-Tuk, a strange 3-wheeled vehicle that runs on LPG, which is very popular with the tourists, and they are everywhere and it can be quite a thrill riding in a small vehicle that can turn on a sixpence. The market traders use the Tuk-tuks in the very early hours, as they buy goods from the major markets, but it is generally tourists who like to ride around the city in an open-air Tuk-Tuk.
The motorcycle taxis offer the quickest way to get from A to B and they are very busy during peak rush hours, and riding as a pillion passenger is not for the faint of heart, as the experienced rider weaves in and out stationery traffic. The rider would supply you with a crash helmet and there’s no set charge, rather you have to negotiate (and it is more expensive in the peak times) with the rider.
Bangkok is a city to explore and there is plenty to see and do, so you can spend a few days visiting temples, riding on the riverboat taxis and the Skytrain, which will allow you to travel around very cheaply.