Navigating your way through Bangkok is a hussle if you’re new to town, with a maze like infrastructure and crowded roads. To get around, there are many public transportation options, from River Express boats to the Skytrain. Each option comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
The most obvious option is taking a taxi because they are everywhere. No matter at what time of the day, you will never have to wait more than a few minutes till a taxi pulls over to pick you up. They are good for medium to long distances if you travel with a group and a lot of luggage. Taxis are however not always the best option. Traffic jam is horrible in Bangkok and a short distance ride can turn into an hour long trip. Taxi drivers also don’t always follow a proper road etiquette but that counts for almost every public transport driver. During the late night hours on popular tourist spots, taxi drivers often turn of the taxi meter and will charge you much more than the day fare and you might have to negotiate a bit to get the price down. On long distances the Taxi driver might opt to take the highway and you will need to pay for the toll way fees.
The Skytrain also known as the BTS. This is probably the best way to travel across the city for medium to long distances. There are two lines: the Sukhumvit line and the Silom line with an interchange station at the Siam station at the heart of the city. The skytrain is elevated and soars above the traffic jams so you can get to some of the main areas in the city quickly. Around 7 AM and 5 PM when people go to and from work, the BTS gets crowded and it will be difficult to find a place to sit. The skytrain is also connected to the airport railway-link at the Phaya Thai station which gives easy access to Suvarnabhumi airport.
Only recommendable if you want that one-time Tuk Tuk experience or if you don’t look like a tourist. If you do look like a tourist, than the Tuk Tuk drivers will charge you 4 times the normal price, decide to drive you all the way around to have you stop at some gemstore for which they get commission or try to persuade you to go to a different hotel for which again they will get commission.
The fastest way to get around town, but also the most dangerous and only recommendable for short distances. They usually drive only in their own area assigned to them and prices are cheap if you don’t ask them to driver further. For longer distances outside of their area they will charge you much more and it might be cheaper to take a taxi.
The cheapest transport option but not that convenient. Busses can get fully packed with people and it will be difficult to find a place to sit. The bus drivers follow a tight schedule and often have to race through the streets to reach their quota. If you don’t have a seat, then be prepared to get a good grip on the railing to prevent yourself from dangling through the bus. Not recommended if you travel with a lot of luggage.
Chao Phraya Express
A fast and moderately convenient way to travel on the Chao Phraya river. This large river goes from the north through Bangkok and flows into the Gulf of Thailand in the south of Bangkok. The boat line connects to the BTS at the Sapan Taksin station and goes all the way north to China Town, Khao San Road and some of the famous temples such as Wat Pho and Wat Arun. It is also a fun way to travel as you get a nice view on the city from the river.
Khlong Saen Saep express boat
Traveling on this boat on the canal is quite an experience. The boat transports thousands of people every day through a small but long canal from the north-east side of Bangkok to the west and back. The boat ride on Khlong Saen Saep is cheap and fast and will give you a completely different view on Bangkok with local people going on their daily routine in the wooden huts and slum houses next to the canal. On the other hand, the boat gets extremely packed with people and then there is the super foul water. The Klong Saen Saep is basically an open sewer with pitch black water and that water gets freely splashed onto the boat and into your face.
The MRT is an underground railway line that mainly connects the outer areas of Bangkok outside of the city centre. There is currently (2015) only 1 MRT line and it has three stations that connect to the BTS lines at Sala Daeng station, Asok station, and far in the north of Bangkok at Mo Chit station.