Travel to Bangkok
Flying to Bangkok
Flights to Thailand are available from several national and international carriers. The national airline is Thai (www.thaiairways.com), which flies from dozens of international locations. Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) offer international flights to and from destinations within Asia.
Flights are expensive during the peak season from November to March. Cheaper flights are available during the low season in May, June and September.
From London - 11 hours 30 minutes; New York - 20 hours (including stopover); Los Angeles - 18 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 19 hours 20 minutes (including stopover); Sydney - 9 hours 25 minutes.
Travel by road
Thailand has a reasonable network of roads and highways throughout the country, designated by numbers. Traffic in Bangkok drives on the left and the minimum driving age is 18 years. The speed limits are 60kph (37mph) in the city, 90kph (56mph) on main country roads and 120kph (74mph) on expressways. A national driving licence or International Driving Permit is required but long-term visitors staying over three months need to obtain a Thai driving licence.
Driving in Thailand is not for the faint-hearted as drivers tend to take risks and overtake on bends and hills, while buses and lorries drive as if they own the road. Driving at night is to be avoided as most heavy trucks travel at this time. The incidence of accidents is high and, when foreigners are involved in accidents, it is always assumed that it is they who are at fault and they are expected to pay the costs. Having said that, driving is the best way to see the countryside.
Emergency breakdown services
There is no national breakdown service but all car hire companies will provide a telephone number to their clients for use in case of a breakdown or emergency.
The national highways are all designated by numbers. National Highway 4 goes south to Hua Hin; National Highway 3 goes east to Pattaya; and National Highway 32 and 11 go to Phitsanulok.
Bangkok has three main bus terminals serving different areas of the country. Both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses operate, but the air-conditioned ones tend to be faster and to make less stops en route. Buses south to Hua Hin, Phuket and the Thai-Malaysian border operate from the Southern Bus Terminal, Boromratchonnani. Buses to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the north and Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai in the northeast operate from the Northern Bus Terminal (also known as Mochit), Kampaeng Petch 2 Road. Buses to Pattaya and Trat in the east operate from the Eastern Bus Terminal, Soi 40 Sukhumvit Road. You can book tickets at any terminal, through local travel agencies or sometimes through your hotel.
Time to city
From Hua Hin - 3 hours; Pattaya - 2 hours; Phitsanulok - 5 hours; Chiang Mai - 8 hours.
Travel by Rail
Bangkok is well connected by rail to other parts of Thailand and train travel is comfortable, safe and cheap.
The main station in Bangkok is Hualampong, Rama IV Road, which serves most of the long distance routes. The station has left luggage facilities, food and drink outlets, a taxi rank and even toilets and showers. It is advisable to book tickets for long-distance trains in advance (tel: 1690, in Thailand only or +66 2 224 7788). Noi Station across the river in Thonburi serves Kanchanaburi and a few destinations to the south so visitors should check which station to depart from.
Trains to Bangkok have air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned carriages. The four train lines run from Chiang Mai in the north, Nong Khai in the northeast, Pattaya in the east and from Surat Thani and Butterworth (Malaysia) in the south.
The State Railway of Thailand (tel: 1690, in Thailand only; www.railway.co.th) operates the four lines, all terminating in Bangkok. Tickets are unavailable to buy online but instead can be bought via several reputable ticket agencies.
From Pattaya - 3 hours 40 minutes; Chiang Mai - 12 hours; Butterworth - 21 hours 10 minutes.