Bangkok Mass Transit System or the BTS or Skytrain as it's more commonly referred to was opened in 1999. With 35 expanding stations and two major lines it has become a crucial and safe method for getting around the city.
The skytrains operate on an elevated rail platform linking major areas of importance within central Bangkok. It also links in several places to Bangkok's other transport system the MRT.
The BTS skytrain is an excellent way to get around Bangkok's main shopping centers and it also links to the river boat pier at Saphan Taksin.
Did you know?
Over 600,000 people ride the BTS in Bangkok everyday
The BTS trains are provided by Siemens AG
There are 35 stations all linked together around Bangkok so finding one is not that hard as they are above ground. They are also often linked with MRT (light railway stations) You'll generally see the huge concrete pillars and skytrain tracks before a station.
Automated escalators and footsteps link footpaths to the elevated stations where you can purchase a ticket. These stations often provide easy methods to cross Bangkok's roads without buying a ticket.
Download a full sized version of this Map of Bangkok's MRT and BTS stations
There are four ways to buy a ticket for the BTS skytrain.
1) The most common method and easiest for tourists is to simply insert coins into the ticket machines located just before the barriers.
Beside each machine is a map showing your present location and the rest of the BTS stations. Each station is represented by a name and number. On the ticket machine press the number of the station. A price that usually corresponds to the station number will appear. Insert your coins (coins only) into the machine until it counts down to zero. A thin credit card sized ticket will then appear from a lower slot.
If you only have notes go to the kiosks located beside the barriers and they will give you changed (this is normal).
2) Newer ticket machines now accept notes.
3) In the event of a ticket machine breakdown the kiosks will give you a ticket but you can't normally buy directly from them.
4) Purchase a Rabbit card or a monthly / Weekly pass for the BTS. This is possible from the kiosks but it often does not work out cheaper for short stay tourists.
The cost of a BTS ticket depends on the number of stops you intend to make. One stop costs 16 Baht. While 59 Bhat covers an entire BTS ride. This makes the BTS skytrain quite expensive compared to other public transport options. However, you can buy full day passes.
A full day pass on the BTS costs 140 Baht and can used for as many stops as you like for one working day. Children under 90cm are free. There is no elderly discount for tourists.
Buying a Rabbit Card
You can also buy a Rabbit card for 100 Baht and top it up to use the main lines. However for tourists a Rabbit card and be more hassle than it's worth. The BTS Skytrain has a franchise system for some of its lines which charge differently. The result is you need to top up your Rabbit card again for those lines. Moreover the cost of buying a Rabbit card for short stay tourists negates and benefit. Buying a day pass generally works out cheaper. International credit cards are not reliably used in the BTS stations.
Now that you have the credit card sized BTS ticket proceed to the metallic barriers. Choose one of the ones with a big green tick showing. This indicates it's an entry point. The Red X's show exit points coming from the other side.
Place your ticket into the lower slot on the barrier. The ticket will be taken in and pop out on top as the red barrier pulls back. Take the ticket back and quickly walk through. Don't delay too much as the barrier only stays open for about 2.4 seconds.
At the back of the BTS ticket is a small map showing you all the BTS stations. Helpful if you forget the direction you are going.
Proceed up or onwards to the platform you need. The platforms are generally named with the last station on the line. So if you need a station before that one, then go to a platform with the last name on that line.
The BTS platforms have yellow lines near the track- do not attempt to cross them! Wait in an orderly line behind the yellow arrows pointing towards the tracks.
Thai's queue in relatively straight lines for the BTS skytrain. There's no pushing or skipping the queue!
When a skytrain approaches (roughly every 10 mins) it will stop with the doors directly in front of the yellow arrows on the ground. As the doors open wait until passengers disembark fully before entering.
Inside there will be bright yellow seats to sit on and cool air conditioning. Or if there are none available there are handrails that you should hold on to.
Do not lean on the doors.
There will be a map above the doors showing you where you are and the next stations. There are also announcements telling you what station is next.
As the station you want approaches an announcement will be made. Be prepared to leave promptly. Once the train stops the doors will open and you can exit. There's usually a bit of a rush here. Feel free to hang back and let the crowd go in front of you.
Usually you will have to go down some steps to the exit barriers. Just like when you went through first insert the ticket into the slot in front of you. The ticket will not reappear this time but the barrier will pull back so you can exit.
Using Bangkok's skytrain is relatively easy and straight forward. Here are some tips that will further help you along.
- The BTS is a great way to get rid of your small change
- The BTS does not take 2 baht coins
- If you're with a group of people then having one person purchase all your tickets rather than individually will help with the queues
- If you miss a stop or go in the wrong direction just get off at the next stop and move platforms. There's no need to buy a new ticket
- The BTS can be very busy during certain hours and best to avoid if possible (4pm-8pm)
- Siam BTS stop is usually busy with all lines converging. Take your time in finding out what line you need
If you want to know about how to get around Bangkok then the following guides will help: