Transport in Thailand

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A large number of buses, minibuses and taxis share the streets with private vehicles at Ratchadamri Road, Bangkok.
Tuk-tuks are one mode of public transport in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand.

Transport in Thailand is varied and chaotic, with no one dominant means of transport. Bus transport dominates in long distances and Bangkok, with motorbikes dominating in rural areas for short trips, supplanting bicycles. Road transportation is the primary form of freight transport across the country. Slow rail travel has long been a rural long-distance transport mechanism, though plans are underway to expand services with high-speed rail lines extending to several major regions of Thailand.

Domestic air transport, which until recently had been dominated by a select few air carriers, has recently seen a surge in popularity due in large part to the expanding services of low cost carriers. In Bangkok, Pattaya, and other large cities, public motorcycle taxi take people door to door. An overwhelming number of taxis can also be found in Bangkok. Since the country's first rapid rail transit line opened in 1999 in Bangkok, daily ridership on Bangkok's various transit lines has risen to over 800,000, with multiple additional lines either under construction or being proposed.

Private automobiles, whose rapid growth contributed to Bangkok's notorious traffic congestion over the past two decades, have risen in popularity, especially among tourists, expats, the upper class, and the growing middle class. A motorway network across Thailand has been gradually implemented, with motorways completed in Bangkok and most of central Thailand. Areas with navigable waterways often have boats or boat service, and many innovative means of transport exist such as tuk-tuk, vanpool, songthaew, and even elephants in rural areas.

Rail transport in Thailand[edit]

Second-class sleeping carriage of the State Railway of Thailand at Hua Lamphong Railway Station

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) operates 4,070 km of 1.000 m gauge railway line (372.63 km double track and 106.01 km triple track).

The SRT operates all of Thailand's national rail lines. Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong Station) is the main terminus of all routes. Phahonyothin and ICD Lat Krabang are the main freight terminals.

The SRT has long been popularly perceived by the public as inefficient and resistant to change. Trains are usually late, and most of its equipment is old and poorly maintained. The worst financially performing state enterprise, the SRT consistently operates at a loss despite being endowed with large amounts of property and receiving large government budgets; it reported a preliminary loss of 7.58 billion baht in 2010.[1] Recurring government attempts at restructuring and/or privatization throughout the 2000s have always been strongly opposed by the union and have not made any progress.[2][3]

Rail transport in Bangkok[edit]

Bangkok is the location of Hua Lamphong Railway Station, the main terminus of the national rail network operated by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). Trains travelling on the Northern Line to Chiang Mai, the Northeastern Line to Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani, and the Eastern Line to Aranyaprathet originate at the station, and so do some trains of the Southern Line, which terminates at Su-ngai Kolok and has a connection to Malaysia (the other Southern terminus is Thonburi). In addition to long-distance services, the SRT also operates a few daily commuter trains running from and to the outskirts of the city during the rush hour, but passenger numbers have remained low.

Rail links to adjacent countries[edit]

Rail rapid transit systems[edit]

Bangkok Skytrain exterior at Mo Chit BTS Station.
Bangkok Metro at Si Lom MRT Station.

Bangkok Metropolitan Region[edit]

Bangkok is served by three rail rapid transit systems:

The Skytrain is operated by Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company Limited (BTSC) under a concession granted by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) but the investment for the structure and system were fully supported by BTSC.

The MRT system is operated by Bangkok Expressway and Metro Public Company Limited (BEM) while whole project investments were shared by Mass Rapid Transit Authority (MRTA) and BEM, which all civil structures was provided by government sector and the system was provided by private sector (BMCL). The deal of contract between BEM and MRTA are under the concession agreement for 25 years operation.

Khon Kaen[edit]

Main article: Trams in Khon Kaen

In March 2016, government approved first tram project in Khon Kaen province where it would be their first private sector lead. The first phase of project will be North-South route with range of 26 km. Previously, it is used to be planned for BRT (bus rapid transit system) route. OTP (Office of Transport and Traffic Policy) would funding the project study for Khon Kaen University with 38 million baht. The Khon-Kaenpattanmong as private company will be main investor in the project and responsible for operation of network. Also, the structure for collecting network's revenue deems to share similarity with early day of BTS network. The project is expected for 8 months in study and begin its construction in 2017 for completion within next 1-2 years. For phase1, budget spending in this new network could be cost for 1.5 billion baht.[5]

Other Provinces[edit]

Road transport in Thailand[edit]

  • Total: 180,053 km (2006)
  • Paved: 98%

Thai public bus service[edit]

Buses are a major method of transportation for people, freight, and small parcels, and are the most popular means of long distance travel. Tour and VIP class long-distance buses tend to be luxurious, while city- and other-class buses are often very colorful with paint schemes and advertising.

There are fundamentally two types of long-distance buses in Thailand:

  • those run by The Transport Company, Ltd., (TCL), the state-owned bus company.[6] Known to Thais by the initials บขส (pronounced baw-kaw-saw), this 80-year-old company was formed by the government to ensure that citizens in even the most far-flung localities had access to the capital city, Bangkok. TCL buses are easily identified by the large golden coat of arms appliqued to each side of the bus.
  • those operated by private bus companies. These are too numerous to list and offer hundreds of routes in various service categories (express, VIP, local, air conditioned, etc.)

Public bus service in Bangkok[edit]

An air conditioned BMTA bus, one type of public bus services in Bangkok.

In Bangkok, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority or BMTA, is a main operator of public transit buses within Greater Bangkok area. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority offers bus and van routes throughout the city and its suburban provinces. Many bus routes in bangkok are run as co-buses by various private companies. Even many of the routes shown here also may have co-buses in addition to those from BMTA. Examples are the orange minibuses, and the cream-blue buses. The buses have the BMTA symbol on them, mostly seen below the driver's side window. These often follow slightly different routings from the main big BMTA-bus or do not run along the whole route.

BMTA currently operates the following bus routes in Bangkok and its metropolitan area namely Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon and Nakhon Pathom.

Local buses and Bangkok city buses come in various sizes, types, and prices, from half size, full size, double length, open window, fan, and air conditioned.

Bus rapid transit system in Bangkok[edit]
Main article: Bangkok BRT
A Bangkok BRT bus at the Sathon terminus

The Bangkok BRT is a bus rapid transit system in Bangkok. Of five routes that were originally planned, only one line has been operating since 2010, with the other routes either cancelled or expected to be cancelled. The 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) route has twelve stations in the centre of the road that give at grade access to the right hand side of the buses. Both termini connect to the Silom Line of the BTS Skytrain; at Chong Nonsi (S3) and at the newly opened Talat Phlu (S10). The buses used are all Sunlong SLK6125CNG buses. The flat fare is 5 baht.

Thai highway network[edit]

An overview map of Bangkok's expressway system.
Main article: Thai highway network

The Thai highway network links every part of Thailand. The four-lane highways often have overhead concrete pedestrian crossings interspersed about every 250 meters in populated areas. There are few on and off ramps on some eight-lane highways, most highways are separated by median with breakage for U-turns, except on major roads where ramp style U-turns predominate.

A number of undivided two-lane highways have been converted into divided four-lane highways and most highways are in good state of repair, greatly enhancing safety and speed. A Bangkok - Chon Buri motorway (Route 7) now links to the new airport and Eastern Seaboard.

Thai motorway network[edit]

Main article: Thai motorway network

The Thai motorway network is small. Coupled with Bangkok's extensive expressway network, the motorways provide a relief from regular traffic in Bangkok. The Thai Government is planning infrastructure investment in various "megaprojects", including motorway expansion to approximately 4,500 kilometers.

Thai expressway network[edit]

Thailand uses the expressway term for the toll road or highway network. Most of expressways are elevated with some sections on the ground level. The current expressway network covers major parts of Bangkok and suburban areas. Expressways are used to avoid heavy traffic jams in Bangkok and reduce traffic time, but are sometimes congested in rush hour.

Alternative transport[edit]

Includes tuk-tuk, taxi, van (minibus), motorbike taxi, songthaew, boats (in canals and rivers).

Air transport[edit]


Main article: List of airports in Thailand and Busiest airports in Thailand
  • Total: 103 (2012)

Major international airports

With paved runways

  • Total: 63 (2012)
    • Over 3,047 m: 8
    • 2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
    • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
    • 914 to 1,523 m: 15
    • Under 914 m: 5

With unpaved runways

  • Total: 40 (2012)
    • 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    • 914 to 1,523 m: 12
    • Under 914 m: 27


  • Total: 6 (2012)

Airlines of Thailand[edit]

Main article: List of airlines of Thailand


Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi Province
  • Principal waterways: 3,999 km (2011)
    • 3,701 km with navigable depths of 0.9 m or more throughout the year.
    • Numerous minor waterways navigable by shallow-draft native craft, such as long-tailed boats.

River and canal transport[edit]

In Bangkok, the Chao Phraya River is a major transportation artery, with ferries, water taxis (the Chao Phraya Express Boat) and long-tailed boats. There are local, semi express, and express lines for commuters, though the river winds a lot, which can make the trip much farther than by bus. There is also the Khlong Saen Saeb boat service, which provides fast, inexpensive transport in central Bangkok.


Ferry service between hundreds of islands and the mainland is available, as well as across navigable rivers, such as Chao Phraya and Mae Khong (Mekong). There are a number of international ferries.

Sea transport[edit]

In Thailand, the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea is a transportation system:

  • Trat - Ko Chang boat service
  • Surat Thani - Ko Samui boat service
  • Phuket - Phi Phi Islands boat service
  • Bang Pu - Hua Hin - Pranburi boat service
  • Bang Pu - Pattaya boat service
  • Pattaya - Hua Hin - Pranburi boat service

Ports and harbors[edit]

Merchant marine[edit]


  • Gas: 1,889 km
  • Liquid petroleum: 85 km
  • Refined products: 1,099  km (2010)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chantanusornsiri, Wichit (23 January 2012). "State railway to finally account for assets and liabilities". Bangkok Post. 
  2. ^ Mahitthirook, Amornrat; Marukatat, Saritdet (22 December 2010). "Getting on track needs strong political will". Bangkok Post. 
  3. ^ Bowring, Philip (23 October 2009). "Thailand's Railways: Wrong Track". Asia Sentinel. Asia Sentinel. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Neighbours to the west get closer | Bangkok Post: news". Bangkok Post. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Home". The Transport Co., Ltd. Retrieved 2015-01-10. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.