So this is the second time I’ve been to Thailand and this visit has only been eight days so far. No doubt that the longer I live here, my extent of travel options will broaden and I can learn to move around like a local. But after landing in Bangkok and getting ripped off from the get go, my husband and I were forced to hit the ground running and find ways to get around cheaply and relatively safely. Here’s what we discovered…
Who am I kidding? If you too have gambled with your life and stepped into one of these in Bangkok, you may realise that it is not the safest option of transport especially if said driver is careening around the wet corners with poor brakes. I will say that it is a much safer option than a scooter in Bangkok where as a tourist you may be asking for trouble if you’re not on the same wavelength as Thai drivers. So onto the affordable part: if you are street smart and don’t fall for the 200 baht tuk tuk trip as we did upon arrival, you should never end up paying more than 60-70 baht per trip. The metered taxis are only affordable when you insist that they switch their meter on which they are not in the business of doing.
When it comes to towns such as Phuket and any islands, I found that renting a scooter far outweighs any other mode of transportation. On Koh Lanta and Koh Samui you can rent a scooter for about 200 baht per day and ride that baby until the ends of the islands and around again. You don’t need to wait for any transport or try negotiate with drivers for transfers and you can visit any place you desire. Of course you’ll need petrol/gasoline which is sold for about 42 baht per litre and at every second store or place of business. Motorists are very respectful of scooters and drive extremely cautiously around them. To stay safe, wear a helmet. If you’re not convinced, pluck up the courage by observing all the moms and dads who fit their entire family of four on a scooter.
This is a good option is when you’re doing a long mission such as the trip from Koh Lanta all the way across Thailand to Koh Samui. Buses have been known to attract dodgy locals keen to pick pocket luggage along the route. These minibuses can use the car ferries available to the main land. They have aircon, you know whose travelling with you, your luggage is safe and you won’t need to switch to other transfers until you reach your new island destination. For example: we paid 700 baht from Koh lanta to Koh Samui which included two car ferries. Once we were on Koh Samui, we needed to get another minibus to our accommodation. Ask around at a few tour operators, often their quotes will differ by up to 300 baht.
From places like Phuket to Phi Phi there are other options such as speedboat or longtail boat to zoom you to the islands. While these are the more exciting rockstar options, there are way more expensive. So if you’re on a budget, be prepared to wait along with the rest of the motley tourists to get a seat upstairs in the outdoors. You can always have your luggage in sight if you so wish, but keep any hand luggage or valuables close to you. They are not the cleanest vessels ever and the toilets are usually scary. With the long-haul ferries, the motion of the ocean can be quite robust. Keep motion sickness tablets on you or ginger tablets. If you’re without, try order some ginger tea if available. Even in Bangkok, there is the option to hop aboard a private boat or a ferry-looking boat. If there are no other people aboard the boat, check the price. If you hear something like 800 baht, hop out quickly and take the perfectly ok public ferry which will take you all around the waterways for 15 baht. It’s one of the best ways to see the city and stay clear of Bangkok’s roads.
At the time of publishing:
1 ZAR = 3.4558 THB
1 USD = 30.68 THB (Baht)
1 Euro= 39.7525 THB
All photographs are copyright of The Travel Manuel.