It’s all about the getting there – travel and transport in Thailand

27 06 2010

This post is the latest in our travel language specials for Travelfish.

You can plan to go to all the fantastic and wonderful places you can dream of (or find in the pages of Travelfish) but without the language to get there you’re going to be a bit stuck – particularly if you want to go beyond tourist centres like Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Samui and along lesser trod paths to enjoy the fabulousness of Thailand beyond the obvious.

So, to help you along the way, we bring you a concise guide to transportation in the Land of Smiles.

As long as you don’t mind a rather liberal attitude to punctuality, Thailand has a very good transportation infrastructure.  Bus stations are always bustling with people, trains regularly leave Bangkok for the provinces, and once at your destination you can always find a minibus, tuk tuk, or song teaw (those peculiarly Thai covered pick-up trucks with two benches in the back for passengers) to get you where you want to be.

Let’s start with the types of vehicle you’ll find here.


Train: รถไฟ rót fai

Bus: รถ เมล์ rót may/รถบัส rót bàt

Airplane: เครื่องบิน krêuang bin

Boat: เรือ reua

Long tail boat: เรือ หาง ยาว reua hăang yaao

Speedboat: เรือเร็ว reua réaw / สปีดโบ้ท sa-peed boat

Minibus: รถ ตู้ rót dtôo

Tuk Tuk: ตุ๊กตุ๊ก dtúk-dtúk

Bus taxi thing: สอง แถว sŏng tăew

Rickshaw: รถลาก rót lâak or สาม ล้อ săam lór

Motorbike: มอเตอร์ไซค์ mor-dtêr-sai

Taxi: แท็กซี่ táek-sêe

Have a look at one of our previous lessons ‘Taxi Thai Plus’ for some help in saying where you want to go.

Once you know what kind of transport you’ll be taking you need to know where to get it.  The main kinds of terminal are listed below.

Terminals and Stations

Train station: สถานีรถไฟ sà-tăa-nee rót fai

Bus station: บขส bor kŏr sŏr.  These are the initials of bor-rí-sàt kŏn sòng or Transport Company, and is the colloquial (and therefore universally used) term for bus station.  If you want you can use the literal สถานี รถโดยสาร sà-tăa-nee rót doi săan.

Airport: สนามบิน sà-năam bin

International terminal: อาคาร ระหว่าง ประเทศ aa-kaan rá-wàang bprà-tâyt

Domestic terminal: อาคาร ภายใน ประเทศ aa-kaan pai-nai bprà-tâyt

Boat pier: ท่า เรือ tâa reua

Bus stop: ป้าย รถ เมล์ bpâai rót may

Minibus pick-up point: คิว รถตู้ kiw rót dtôo

Again, use these with the language in our ‘Taxi Thai’ post to tell your taxi/tuk tuk/motorcycle driver that you want to go to one of them.

Once you’re at the station you’ll want to buy your ticket.


Ticket: ตั๋ว dtŭa

Return ticket: ตั๋วไปกลับ dtŭa bpai glàp

Single ticket: ฅั๋วเที่ยวเดียว dtŭa tîeow dieow

1st class: ชั้นหนึ่ง chán nèung

2nd class: ชั้นสอง chán sŏng

Air-conditioned: แอร์ air

Fan: พัดลม pát lom

Standard: ธรรมดา tam-má-daa

Here are some phrases to help you:

One single ticket to Nan: ฅั๋ว เที่ยว เดียว ไป น่าน dtŭa tîeow dieow bpai Nâan.

Second class air con: แอร์ ชั้น สอง air chán sŏng

Now, once you have your ticket you will probably have to navigate your way around the station and get on to bus/boat/train that will take you off to paradise lost – or possibly some full moon party somewhere.  It is very wise to check with the driver/pilot/guard that your vehicle is going where you think it is.

A couple of these phrases should do the trick:

This vehicle is going to [place] isn’t it?: รถ คัน นี้ ไป [place] ใช่ ไหม rót kan née bpai [place] châi măi

Where is this vehicle going?: รถ คัน นี้ ไป ไหน rót kan née bpai năi

Where is the vehicle going to [place]?: รถ ไป [place] อยู่ ไหน rót bpai [place] yòo năi

And a few extra little phrases that will help you along your way:

What time does the train to [place] go?

รถไฟไป [place] ออกกี่โมง rót fai bpai [place] awk gee mohng

What time does the bus from [place] arrive?

รถที่มาจาก [place] จะมาถึงกี่โมง rót têe maa jaak [place] ja maa teung gee mohng

How much does a ticket to [place] cost?

ค่าตั๋วไป [place] ราคาเท่าไหร่ kâa dtŭa bpai [place] raa-kaa tâo rài

How long is the journey to [place]?

ใช้เวลาเดินทางไป [place] กี่ชั่วโมง chai way-lah dern taang bpai [place] gee chua mohng?

So, I hope this little lot will help you while you discover the Land of Smiles in all its glory.  After all, as Buddhist Thailand knows better than most: life isn’t about the destination it’s all about the journey.

Anki flash cards for this lesson are available to download for free here.

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