Hop on a bus in Bangkok and you can go to almost anywhere in the city. The extensive network of buses connect the downtown area with the whole of the Thai capital. A ride on an air-conditioned vehicle costs a little more, but that said, whichever bus service you use, it is a very economical way to travel when compared to the costs of taxis and rental cars. Most buses run from 5:00 am to 11:00 pm, but some offer a 24-hour service.
The BMTA (Bangkok Mass Transit Authority) is the main operator of public buses in the Greater Bangkok area under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. It has a large fleet of more than 3,500 air-conditioned and ordinary buses operating on over 100 routes.
Additionally, there are many privately-owned regular and air-conditioned buses, minibuses and small buses that operate under the BMTA.
Most bus destinations are written in Thai, so to work out which buses go where, look at the bus number, the bus colour and the type of bus. Note that buses with the same numbers but of different colours don’t necessarily go to the same places.
On average, more than one million people use Bangkok’s buses every day.
Advantages of Taking the Bus in Bangkok
- They are a really cheap way to get around.
- You don’t need to tell the driver where you need to go.
- You don’t do the driving. Sit back, relax and take in the sights as you travel to your location.
Before getting on a bus in Bangkok, read the tips, advice and essential information below:
Types of Buses and Bus Fares in Bangkok
Cream-red regular buses – 6.5 baht.
White-blue regular buses – 7.5 baht.
White-blue air-conditioned buses – the fare depends on the distance travelled. The lowest fare is 10 baht while the maximum you will pay is 18 baht.
Yellow-orange (Euro 2) air-conditioned buses – the fare depends on the distance travelled. The lowest fare is 11 baht and the maximum fare is 23 baht.
Beige-red regular expressway – the cost is 8.5 baht.
Beige-red regular overnight – the cost is 8 baht.
You can also purchase weekly or monthly passes, which can add up to some terrific savings if you plan to use the buses a lot during your time in Bangkok.
- Weekly passes for regular buses: the cost is 100 baht.
- Monthly passes for regular buses: the cost is 400 baht.
- Weekly passes for air-conditioned buses: the cost is 200 baht.
- Monthly passes for air-conditioned buses: the cost is 800 baht.
If you want to travel to the capital’s suburbs use a public minibus. They are fast and cheap and can be found in the parking lots beside Victory Monument Square. You can also find minibuses at the Southern Bus Terminal. One of the reasons that makes them a speedy way to travel is that they use the elevated expressways and in so doing avoid traffic jams. Another reason is the drivers themselves – many drive fast.
The minibuses depart every 15 to 30 minutes and usually only do so when they are full of passengers. Minibuses also travel to destinations outside of the city, including Pitaya, Samut Sakhon and Hua Hin. To see where they’re going, read the destination sign on the dashboard.
How to Use Bangkok’s Bus System
Bus route maps are available for free at tourist information centres, hotels, guesthouses and book stalls.
Confusingly, not all bus stops have signs that say they are actually a bus stop. Ask locals to point you in the right direction. If you see a small group of people standing on the side of a road, that’s usually a reasonable indication that there is a bus stop there.
Just because you are at a bus stop, don’t expect the driver will automatically stop for you. To get the driver to stop, gently wave your arm up and down with your palm facing downwards.
Once inside a bus, keep moving to find your seat so as not to block the doorways.
Fares are collected by an attendant after you board. Tell them where you are going and you will be informed of the price. It’s useful to carry some small coins with you as the attendant may not change large notes. Keep hold of the receipt because it could be checked during your journey.
If you are not sure where you need to get off, just ask the fare collector. It is a good idea to write down in Thai the name of the places and roads you want to go to.
You can sit anywhere on a bus, but passengers are expected to give up their seats for the elderly, pregnant women, monks and small children.
To get the driver to stop, press the buzzer before you reach your intended stop.
Try to avoid using buses during the morning and evening rush hours when many of the city’s streets are at their congested worst.
Bus Routes and Destinations
Here’s a quick look at a handful of popular bus lines in the city and some of the popular destinations along their routes:
15 – National Stadium, Siam, National Theatre, the Mall Tha Phra
21 – Rat Burana Old Market, Bangkok Train Station (Hua Lamphong)
27 – Min Buri Market, Chatuchak Park, Victory Monument
59 – City centre, Victory Monument, Elephant Tower, Don Mueang Airport
74 – Patina Pier, Central World, Victory Monument
79 – Democracy Monument, Siam Square, BTS Siam, Central World, Southern Bus Terminal
To travel by bus to areas outside of Bangkok, go to one of the city’s three public bus terminals.
The Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit), which is the largest and busiest and serves northern Thailand and the Isaan region in the northeast of the country.
The Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai), which serves destinations to the south and west of the capital.
The Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekkamai), which serves eastern Thailand.
Purchase your bus tickets directly from the terminals, rather than travel agents with their inflated prices.