The BTS Skytrain System is one of the best ways to get around Bangkok! Depending on where you are going, it can save you a lot of money compared to using a taxi, tuk-tuk, or Uber/Lyft/Grab in Bangkok. Personally I use the BTS a few times a week, since I live fairly close to a station. If you are coming to visit in Bangkok it is good to keep in mind how far your hotel or hostel is from the nearest BTS station. Nothing sucks more than having to walk a long time just to get to one!
So to begin, the BTS Skytrain starts to run at 5am on most days, and closes around midnight. I will post the more detailed schedule below! The BTS runs 365 days a year as well.
The BTS has 2 main lines, both connecting at Siam. Siam is the station with the most commotion and traffic, since there are many people trying to change trains. The BTS connects with the Airport Rail Link which connects you to the Suvarnabhumi Airport, (BKK). This is the airport most international guests will come into. As for the other airport Don Mueng, (DMK), there will be a BTS open closer to there in the upcoming years as the BTS is expanding rapidly throughout Bangkok, which I am very looking forward to! The BTS also connects with the Bangkok MRT. MRT is Bangkok’s government run Subway system. So the BTS is above ground, MRT below. I have not used the MRT since being in Thailand. But when I get the chance, I will make another post about that too.
Buying tickets to use the BTS is very simple. You have 2 options…
- Paying with cash- Paying with cash is good for people who are not sure how often they will be using the BTS System, or if you don’t plan to stay in Bangkok very long. To pay with cash, you will need to know how to use the ticket machine. First off this machine only accepts Thai coin currency. Therefore if you only have Thai Baht in paper dollars, you will need to go to the change kiosk on the side, and someone will change your paper to coins for you. Then you can go to the machine and purchase the ticket. The ticket machine has instructions written in English, and is pretty self explanatory. If you buy a ticket there, you will need to know how far you are going so the machine can put that much money on your paper card. So after you receive your card you will go through the ticket gates. NOTE- These gates are MEAN!! They open for approximately 4 seconds so DO NOT mess around once you put your ticket in. (It hurts when they close on you). So if you are using the disposable card tickets, when you enter the gates you will stick your ticket in, and it will pop back up on the top for you to take to your final destination. Once you arrive at your final destination, you will insert it again, and you don’t get it back. One bad thing about this is during busy traffic hours (7-9am and 5-7pm) the lines for these ticket machines can get pretty lengthy.
- Paying with Rabbit Card- I recommend this for people who plan to stay in Bangkok for awhile, and plan on using the BTS to commute often. You will be able to skip the line at the ticket machine, and just scan your card and go! I plan on making a full post about the Rabbit cards since there is a lot to know about them. But to shorten it up it is like a transportation debit card. You put a larger amount of money on it, so you don’t have to spend time buying the ticket. Then when you walk through the gates, you just scan and walk. The screen will show how much money you have left on your Rabbit card.
There are currently 35 stations, and 52 cars between the 2 main lines. Waiting for the BTS is not really a major pain. A train comes at least usually within 2-4 minutes or so. We have never waited anything crazy like 10 minutes for a train. This is really nice about the transportation system here. When we visited Kuala Lumpur, we always had wait 10- 20 minutes a train to come. It was really infuriating. Another thing that is nice about the BTS Skytrain is it is always heavily air conditioned!! With so many people that take the BTS, and just the heat in Bangkok, this makes the BTS feel like heaven.
Seating in the BTS skytrain is like what you would imagine in most public subway/skytrains. It is very well kept and clean in Bangkok. That probably is because there is a no eating or drinking rule for passengers. In Thai culture be aware that if you are a young healthy person, you should be willing to give up your seat to an older person. You will be kinda glared at if you don’t. When you do give up your seat they are very kind and appreciative. Also note that there is a seat on the train that says it is for monks. For those of you who don’t know monks are not allowed to touch any females, that is a reason why this seat is specified for them. So if you are female, try not to sit in the seat next to this seat if there is a monk already sitting there. When there are no monks on the train, anyone is free to sit in that pre-designated spot. In Thai culture it is also very normal for guys to give up their seats to any females that are standing. Whenever Poom and I ride the BTS if there is only 1 seat left, it will more than likely go to me, since Poom is polite and doesn’t want others to think he’s being rude or selfish. So those are just some common “rules”- though they are not mandatory, they are just more polite.
English accessibility- You do not have to speak Thai to ride the BTS. All signs have Thai and English translations. As well as all announcements are made in Thai, then in English, so it is very very easy to use compared to taking a taxi, where chances are- their English is in the little to none category.
As far as elevator/escalator access to BTS stations go, I believe all stations have an elevator from the ticket floor, to the trains which is on the 3rd level. I am not quite sure if they all have elevators that go from the ground level, to the ticket level. Many BTS stations have at least 1 escalator going up, but usually do not have one going down, so you have to walk down the stairs. Overall they seem to be very wheelchair/handicap friendly as they also have a designated wheelchair spot in the train for those who would need it.
Security- All stations have security checks that happen before you get on the train. There is an officer there to check any large backpacks or suitcases. If you are carrying a small purse or small backpack, they usually won’t stop you to take a peak inside, or wand you down with the metal detector. If you have large suitcases, be prepared to open them after you scan your ticket to get in. As I mentioned earlier the gates are only open for a few seconds, so if you have a large suitcase, you can go to the far right, or far left side and slide your suitcase through while you go through the gate, and not get crushed. Then get your bag and show the officer. There is also security officers on the train level floor. I’m not really sure why, but they blow their whistles when a train comes for you haha.
Shopping!- Yes you can even do some shopping while you use the BTS. In each station there are usually some food/drink places. I’m not talking like full out restaurants, KFC, etc. But more like a small sushi, waffle, tea, coffee place. Some BTS stations, Siam for example have small kiosks where you can buy some cheap clothes, accessories, phone cases, makeup, etc. These are usually pretty cheap compared to getting them in a big mall! Just note, that these are not places that will give you your money back if you want to return it. And also since it is street clothes, most are made in the “One size fits all” category.
BTS website- The BTS official website is very very useful for foreigners. They have a Thai and English version of the website. If you are wondering why it only comes up in black and white, it is due to the King’s passing last year and is meant for respect of the Royal family. Anyways, there are a lot of cool things you can do on the website. If you want to know how much it will cost you to go from Point A to Point B, just use the map and it will tell you exactly how much you will pay. There is also an option for travelers in Bangkok to get directions to get to Bangkok’s most popular tourist destinations along the BTS lines. I highly recommend looking over this website before coming to Bagkok, just so you can get an idea of how much things will cost you here, as well as finding fun things to do while you are here! The official website is https://www.bts.co.th/
Overall the BTS Skytrain system connects a lot of Bangkok together. Many stores and businesses are located just walking distance from the BTS. I hope on your next trip to Bangkok you consider experiencing Bangkok’s BTS system. And I hope you found this helpful and informative, as I made a lot of mistakes my first few times taking the BTS by myself. Thanks for reading!!