7 tips to use the BTS (skytrain) in Bangkok

BTS or Bangkok Sky Train is one of the most convenient ways to travel in Bangkok. Even with a limited reach, the traffic-free experience and relative reliability makes it the choice of transportation for 200 million passengers every year.

Using BTS is kind of straight-forward, as there are only two lines and a couple of connections only, but if you are a newbie you might find these tips useful. How many do you apply daily?

1. Respect the queues

Arrows on the BTS

Arrows on the BTS

Next to the rail and behind the yellow line you will find some arrows. They are there for a reason: to manage the queue. Notice that some arrows are for going in and others for letting the passengers inside exit the car. This queue is specially important during rush hour, when the train station gets overcrowded.

However, this is not the only queue you will find when using BTS. There might be queues to buy the ticket, to get change, to enter, to exit… everywhere. Try not to be “that guy” and respect the queues. You will get out of there, eventually, just be patient.

2. Be clever when buying your ticket

"New" BTS machine that accepts bank notes

“New” BTS machine that accepts bank notes

You will be surprised of how many times there is a ticket machine waiting for you, with no queue, at some dark spot of the station. This is more common on bigger stations, where the big crowd don’t let you see the whole picture at once.

Be aware that you have other options available apart from the outdated coin based machine. The “modern” machine allows you to use banknotes and buy several tickets at once, which is more convenient for groups. They are not on every station, though.

3. Position yourself

If you don't prepare to go out, you might not make it

If you don’t prepare to go out, you might not make it

The BTS waits for no one. Sometimes the doors will open only for a few seconds, or the people outside will try to climb to the train before you can even exit. The best you can do is prepare in advance and stand close to the door, on the side that the door will open, of course.

Don’t expect the other passengers to facilitate your way. Sometimes they are too busy, sometimes they don’t have any place to move and other times they just don’t care. Just make sure you don’t pass your station!

4. Know your exit

Exit sign on BTS station

Exit sign on BTS station

The exists from the BTS stations are numbered, so make sure you are going through the right one. There are maps available at the main hall which can guide you, along with signs showing the main attractions and connections of each exit. The staff will also assist you to chose the right one.

Remember that once you go out, there is no going back… unless you pay the minimum fee. So, if you miss the exit and go through the wrong side you might need to take a long walk up and down the stairs.

If you are connecting to Airport Rail Link or MRT (subway) don’t expect a proper connection. They are totally different transportation with their own processes, tickets and lines. Follow the signs to make sure you don’t get lost.

5. Avoid, when possible, rush hour

During rush hour it is difficult just to walk on the station

During rush hour it is difficult just to walk on the station

During rush hour the BTS works at full capacity. There are more trains, but also a lot more of passengers. If you can avoid the huge crowd trying to get to work in the morning around 9:00 or go back home in the evening around 18:00, do it. Otherwise, breathe and be patient.

6. Calculate if it is the best choice

BTS might not be the best option if you travel in a group

BTS might not be the best option if you travel in a group

BTS is very convenient but it is not very cheap. The fares keep going up, and the amount will add up if you are travelling on a group. You will need to calculate if it is worth it, as you can fit four people on a taxi and get a better use of the money. For that you obviously need to consider the distance and the traffic. You can try our taxi fare calculator for an estimate.

7. Look for the escalator

Most stations have escalators, at least to go to the upper floor. If you are too tired after a long day of sightseeing, find them and avoid climbing all the stairs. Some stations also have elevators, but they are far less common.

What other tip did we miss?


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