Whether you choose to travel by air, train, bus or boat, travelling around Thailand is straight-forward. In many cases, booking tickets can be done online and is often the easiest option for flights. In the main tourist areas you can also find tour offices/travel agents who can make travel arrangements for you. They will charge a small commission, but this can still be the most convenient way to book boat and bus tickets.
Carry ID with you
Thai people are required to carry their ID card and as a tourist you should have your passport with you when travelling domestically. In some instances you may also be asked to show your passport when buying tickets in person e.g. for train travel.
Thailand is well served for domestic flights with a number of carriers connecting destinations across the country. Fares on low-cost airlines often compare favourably to the price of a bus or train ticket. This is especially true if you book in advance and take advantage of promotional fares.
When flying in or out of Bangkok, keep in mind there are two airports. The main international airport is Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) which is also used for some domestic flights including those operated by Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways and VietJet. The other airport is Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) and is used by low-cost airlines including Air Asia, Nok Air and Thai Lion Air. If you need to connect between Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, it’s approximately a one hour trip by bus or taxi.
Domestic airlines have booking counters at whichever Bangkok airport they use in addition to the destination airport they serve. However, booking online in advance is usually the more convenient option:
- Air Asia
- Bangkok Airways
- Nok Air
- Thai Airways
- Thai Smile (part of Thai Airways)
- Thai Lion Air
Train tickets can be purchased in person at any of the main railway stations. For shorter journeys (e.g. Bangkok-Ayutthaya) and third-class seats you won’t need to book in advance. On popular overnight sleeper routes (e.g. Bangkok-Chiang Mai) it can be advisable to book in advance, especially if you are travelling around dates of the main Thai public holidays or at the weekend during the high season.
Train tickets can be booked online via the official State Railway of Thailand (SRT) website:
The SRT D-ticket site is in Thai and English and seats on popular long distance routes (e.g. between Bangkok and Chiang Mai) can be booked up to 30 days in advance. Travellers need to register on the system using their passport number, but the booking process is relatively smooth. Tickets are issued with a QR code which can be scanned to see the digital version. The website advises travellers to print out a hard copy of the tickets, but it seems that most conductors will accept the digital version if you show it on your phone or tablet.
Only a certain allocation of seats are sold online with SRT holding some seats back so they can be bought in person. This means that sometimes the D-ticket system may display that no tickets are available online, but they may be available at the railway station. Travellers can call the SRT hotline in Thailand to check for availability:
SRT hotline: 1690 (English spoken)
Most Thai bus companies don’t have an English language website and even those that do, the sites tend to be slow and frustrating to use. There are countless bus operators in Thailand, but it’s worth noting that not all operate to the same safety levels. Among those with a good reputation are:
There are various third-party booking services where bus tickets can be bought online, but if you are in Thailand it can be convenient to book at any tour office. Alternatively you can purchase tickets in person at the bus station you are travelling from.
Boats and ferries
Ferries and boats can easily be booked in person once you are in Thailand. This also allows for some wiggle room should you decide to change travel plans at the last minute.
As with buses, it’s worth researching reviews and safety procedures of the company you intend to use. Some of the best-known companies include:
Good to know
The air-con on long-distance buses and trains can get chilly very quickly. Blankets are normally provided on these routes, but a sweatshirt or light jacket can come in handy.
Buses, trains and planes do get busier around the dates of public holidays (especially Songkran and New Year) and booking tickets in advance is recommended.
Boat and ferry times may change due to weather or demand, so always keep this in mind when planning travel connections.
Although Covid rules in Thailand have been relaxed and there is no longer any requirement to wear a face mask in public, you may still be requested to wear one on public transport.
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