Most people have heard how bad the traffic is in Bangkok, Thailand. Until you’ve spent any time in Bangkok, though, it’s difficult to imagine how bad traffic really is.
Stationary cars stretch for miles, getting through a red light can sometimes take over an hour and if you’re giving birth, try not to do it at rush hour as you will have your child in the car.
For long-time residents, many of us have learned how to avoid traffic jams or beat the traffic in Bangkok. For a visitor, follow these quick traffic jam avoidance tips and you’ll enjoy your stay in Bangkok that much more.
1. Avoid roads in Bangkok during peak hours – Just like other cities around the world, traveling at certain times of the day in Bangkok and avoiding the roads at other times makes beating traffic that much easier. In Bangkok, if you want to avoid sitting in a traffic jam, don’t get on the roads between 7am and 10 am or between 3:30 pm and 9pm on the weekdays. This, of course, can change if it rains (traffic is jammed all day in that eventuality) or on holidays but, overall, if you can keep your travel times to a minimum during rush hour, you’ll be a lot happier.
2. Take the BTS Skytrain as much as possible – Bangkok has an excellent sky train and underground train system that covers about 20% of the city. Particularly during rush hour, avoid taxis or driving and take the BTS sky train or MRT underground and, what could be an hour’s travel time in traffic, can be cut to 10 minutes on the train. Trains are cheap too and better for the environment.
3. Keep track of Bangkok traffic so you can avoid it. How? Using a locally-developed Blackberry app called iRoute which features real-time videos of Bangkok traffic situation, so motorists can decide the most appropriate route to take. But since this application is rendered in local language, it helps your local taxi driver more than yourself.
4. Take the motorcycle taxi. Although this alternative isn’t the safest, it’s often guaranteed to take you to your destination much faster and at a fraction of the cost you would have to pay for taxi ride. With local knowledge and years of experience saving passengers of time and embarrassment, drivers negotiate heavy traffic by using the outer lane and easily gets away from the pack once traffic light turns green. Motorcycle taxi drivers can easily be found on streets of downtown Bangkok. They are identified by their orange, blue or pink vests and position themselves as a group with, of course, their motorcycles nearby.
5. Get help from hotel staff when hailing taxis. To avoid getting ripped off by unscrupulous taxi drivers, it’s better to seek help from hotel staff hailing a taxi. These taxicabs are happy to run their meters as their partnerships with hotel doormen could mean mutual benefits. You don’t mind tipping 20 baht for the doorman’s effort, if you’re assured of an honest ride to your destination. And the taxi driver gets less idle time looking for passengers.
6. Take the expressway. Their names sound pleasant to the ears of motorists who are potentially stuck in the middle of a rush-hour traffic congestion. At a cost of 45 to 70 baht, you’ll be spared of the agony common motorists have to deal with on a daily basis: trapped in the polluted roads for hours.
It seems that to get away from traffic in Bangkok’s notorious roads requires more money (expressway), a bit of guts (motorcycle taxis) and common sense (railway option). But if it gets the job done, you’d be happy to make such concessions.