Motorcycle Taxis (Motocyc)
Motorcycle Taxi’s or Motocycs as they are called by the Thais are one of the unique aspects of Bangkok. Motocycs are scooter taxis that often operate in front of condos and apartments and near soi’s, BTS and MRT stations. They usually operate at the beginning and end of sois as many people use them to get from apartments to the main road and back.
Motocycs can be recognized by the orange vests that they are required to wear.
They are perfect for a quick ride down the soi to your apartment or to go somewhere fast in traffic. They are by far the fastest transport in Bangkok. Fares depend on distance, 10, 20, 30 Baht for a standard ride. You can also ask them to pay bills for you or do other small errands for a fee.
The law requires you to wear a helmet, but you may not always be offered one unless there are police controls in the area. You can ask the driver for a helmet if you don’t want to ride without one. In any case it’s the drivers responsibility and you will not be fined if stopped by the police. The motocyc driver on the other hand gets a fine, which sometimes can make you wonder how much of the day’s wage is lost. Tipping in such a circumstance will certainly put a smile on the drivers face.
Motocyc drivers are usually reliable people, but there is the occasional bad apple that drives too fast or seems unstable, particularly in tourist areas, but most of the time they are a great resource in handling day to day transport and chores. Motocyc drivers that belong to a condo or busy traffic point are usually the best as they rely on return customers and trust. Be careful with motocyc drivers around tourist spots as they will, in rare cases, charge you more or be in on scams, as they likely have to pay for a ‘permit’ to operate in the area. Look at the condition of the motorbike. Is it well maintained or does it have a lot of items hanging from the handlebars? There are many different motorbikes used, but the most comfortable bikes to ride on are the automatic scooter style bikes. Avoid the bigger motorcycle styles as they are more difficult to maneuver and don’t have as good passenger seats.
A Tuk-Tuk is a motorized tricycle or rickshaw similar in style to what you see in Asia, but with a 2-strokes motor instead of pedaling power. Tuk-tuks, produced in Thailand and unique to the country, used to be the best choice before metered taxi’s were introduced. Many are colorfully decorated and can be fun to ride in once in a while. They are not comfortable, though, and you sit outside breathing in all the smog. This Bangkok institution lost most of its customers after metered taxis were introduced in the city and now they mostly act as tourist attractions. The fare is negotiable but often comes close to that of a taxi, so usually they are not really worth it, unless you are looking for that part of the Bangkok experience.
Canals are still a part of the Bangkok transport system, particularly the Saen Saeb canal which is used by speed boats to ferry people from the Banglamphuu area to the Sukhumvit and Siam area. This Bangkok canal has a large speedboat longtail service aimed at people commuting and not at tourists. The speedboats themselves are small and cramped for Western size people, but they are actually the fastest way to beat traffic to the Banglamphuu area and carry up to 100 people on small benches. Whatever you do, be careful not to get wet or even worse fall in the water as the canals are very polluted and toxic! Tickets are bought on the boat and cost from 6 to 20 Baht. It’s an enjoyable and unique experience. When getting on and off be careful to grab hold of something as the ledge you step out onto is quite narrow. It’s also a good idea to signal that you are getting off to other passengers in good time, as the boats only stop for short time at the piers.
The canal runs parallel to Petchburi Road and turns up to meet Ramkhamhaeng to end past Sri Nakarin Road. There is a stop near Siam Square and Central World.
The boats operate from early morning (around 6 am) to late evening (11 pm).
There are several commercial boats operating on the Chao Praya river. They are usually large modern boats taking people up and down the river on a regular schedule. Some of them go as far as Nonthaburi and as long south as Taksin Bridge (Sathor). The cost is less than 20 Baht and tickets can be bought on the boat or at the pier. They are very enjoyable and comfortable methods of travel because of the fresh air and scenic ride. Several maps can show you the piers. The staff at the piers usually speak English as the ferries are popular with tourists.