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Commuting in Bangkok: Transportations and Apps I Used More While in BKK

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

I'm trying to recall all my past personal trips, and most of the time I used the train system to go around the city. It's my "comfort zones". But there are some provinces in Korea that doesn't have a train system, so I will either go for a bus or hail a cab when impatience kicks in.


In Bangkok, I was expecting that I'll be using a train card again aka the Rabbit Card, as much as I've overused my Korean T-Money or Singaporean EZ Link. But instead, there are far better transportation options during the time I've spent in this beautiful city.




Commuting Around BKK



🚊 VIA TRAIN: I already bought my Rabbit Card (reloadable transportation card) online before this trip, and conveniently claimed it at the airport's Klook kiosk (along with my local sim). Price via Klook at that time is Php 428, and it is already preloaded with 200 Baht. BUT! Hindi ko siya halos nagamit guys. πŸ˜… Even the airport railway going to my hotel hindi inaaccept ang Rabbit card so I still paid in cash. 


When I posted this on my Instagram, a lot of recent Bangkok travellers agreed with me that it's better to use taxi or motorbike hailing apps in this city, but I also received a few comments that they've maximized Bangkok's BTS (train system). So I won't close doors for you, the train might still be a good option depending on where you will be staying and going (my area Pratunam does not have a train line).


Meanwhile, about my Rabbit card, I should have spent my balance in participating stores like Japan's Donki and at the Burger King (both I went to during this trip), but I didn't know I can use the card in these stores at that time so sayang. 


The few times I tried to hop on a train just to use my Rabbit card, I ended up taking a taxi on the next stop lels.


TinyTan spotted while navigating one of BKK's train stations!


Would have wanted a photo here, but this will do!


This huge train station is not so busy compared to Siam, etc



It's also amusing to see Thai actors advertisement billboards while commuting!


πŸš– Transportation Hailing Apps: In this trip, I used my GRAB app the most! Yes I am still using the same app I use in Manila, it adjusts to your new location accordingly. 


Some travelers use the GrabeBike option, which is super sulit sa price and iwas BKK notorious traffic. But your Tita prefers JustGrab (it will get the nearest car or marked taxi to pick me up). 


I thought price is similar to my Manila Grab rates, averaging ako ng mga Php 300 per ride while in Thailand. But a friend Maddie commented on my Instagram post that 350 Baht or around PHP 600 can last you 25+ km, while this rate in Manila can only take us from 10 to 15 km. So I guess I still got value for my money!


My expensive Grab fares, well compared to my daily buses and trains in other trips.



I also used Grab going to farther destinations, including Ancient City (which is outside BKK na), and heading to the airport. Both required expressway toll of usually around 50-70 Baht. 


The Grab drivers also use the chat option of the app to look for you, and usually they communicate in Thai language. But thank you technology, Grab has a translate feature! If we still can't find each other, I just take a photo of a landmark and send it through the app too. I never had a problem locating my driver.


*Side kwento! While waiting for my Grab early in the morning around 5am for my 6am tour meet-up time, I saw my taxi with three clueless foreigners inside the car haggling with my driver. Later on my driver realized it wasn't me when they were changing the destination, but can't communicate with the foreigners. So I intervened and talked to them that it's a pre-booked taxi and they should download a Grab app too. But the tourist told me "Thailand is scary, they can't understand English" and even asked if I can take them to their destination with my taxi (Kids nag mamadali din ako for my tour!) πŸ˜…. So I told them sorry I am also just a tourist here hahaha. When I was in the cab na, my driver was just scratching his head and chuckling so I laughed too. πŸ˜… I tried to converse with my non-English speaking driver with what just happened, and alam nyo ano padin sumalba sakin to carry a coversation!? Good ol' PAPAGO and Google Translate app! 


Thank you to my Korea trips, ang dami kong baong apps na useful din here in Thailand!


Anyway, riding a Grab is not the cheapest option but it's super convenient and iwas din sa fare scare when you just hail a taxi or tuktuk sa road. I paid in cash coz hindi gumana GrabPay ko here, but I think if connected naman your credit card sa Grab that will work too. 


Steering wheel on the right can be a bit disorienting for PH travelers hehe


🚍 BUS: Speaking of "trained in Korea" lol, I also used the bus several times in Bangkok. The skill came in handy lalo na after the Golden Disc Awards  na wala ka talagang mabobook na Grab sa dami ng tao. To know which bus number/s to take, I rely on my trusty Google Maps app. Usually there are 1-3 bus number options. I choose yung pinaka less ang walk. There is also a monitor screen on the bus stop where you will find the bus numbers and their timed arrival. Buses have their number marked sa taas, very easy to spot.


I know medyo common knowledge na itong how to use Google Maps for commuting, but posting nadin here a sample in case I have first time travellers or for those intimidated to try the bus! :) This app is also useful for walks and for trains. (click pic to enlarge)



Ito yun sinasabi kong monitor sa bus stops. You'll see the bus number on the first row, tapos kahilera nya sa dulo yung ilang minutes pa before it arrives. Kaya tip ko sa friend ko na first time mag commute noon in Seoul to always "Just look UP!" Tingala lang, andun halos lahat ng signages, monitors, etc with all the info that you will need.



For buses, you hand your cash payment to the bus conductor. Hindi din nag work dito yung Rabbit card ko. Parang dito din sa Pilipinas, the bus conductors will go around to collect payments. They have a tube thing na parang mahabang rolyo ng tissue paper where they pull a ticket. Just show your map for your destination or stop, then pay. Super affordable pa ng bus fares. My farthest na was from the GDA venue Rajamangala National Stadium heading back to Pratunam area na 24 stops and around 50 minutes travel time, and I only paid 20 Baht or around Php 33. 


Bus stations are also nearer my stops, compared to train stations na usually may long walks pa.


The bus conductor and the driver


I even took a non-aircon bus. A young passenger helped me communicate with the conductor regarding my stop


FINAL NOTES:


Buti nalang I posted an Instagram about commuting in BKK before I blogged this, so I got other ideas and tips also from fellow travellers, thankyouverymuch. A few suggested Bolt and inDrive apps instead of Grab coz they are cheaper daw, something to consider when I go back to Thailand. :)






Hindi nadin ako nag attempt mag public TUKTUK. A lot of the travel vlogs will say super overpriced daw so nvm, but I had a city tour with Klook na part ang tuktuk ride sa package which is much better and less risky sa presyuhan since paid for na sya.



Also pala, the heavy TRAFFIC! Hindi ko alam if anong mas masamang traffic condition but grabe din ang time on the road while in BKK. Waiting for booked Grab will take a while din, parang Manila ish din yung experience but syempre sa Bangkok unfamiliar zone so nakaka kaba. So whenever may mga set time talaga ako na hinahabol like for a tour bus or for the concerts or lalo na for the airport na bawal ma late, talagang hinahabaan ko nalang yung lead time. Mas okay na maaga talaga kesa panic, haggard, and late!



And as with any other  trips and destinations, prepare to WALK a lot so wear the comfiest shoes. Do not be afraid of getting LOST, coz it's part of your traveling adventures. But continue to stay SAFE by being extra-aware of your surroundings, and may the navigation gods be always in your favor! :)



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