Bangkok's Metropolitan Rapid Transit or the MRT as it's more commonly referred to was opened in 2004.
With 18 expanding stations and two major lines it provides transport through Bangkok and the metropolitan area.
The MRT operates trains through an underground network linking with the airport rail link and the BTS.
Though the MRT is not connected to as many tourist locations as the BTS it does provide several essential stops. The airport, Hua Lamphong railway station, Chatuchak Weekend Market and Sukhumvit among many more.
Did you know?
Over 410,000 people ride the MRT in Bangkok everyday
The MRT stations are fitted with floodgates in the event of flooding during the monsoon season.
There are 35 MRT stations all linked together around Bangkok however they are underground and usually only identifiable by chrome railings outside alongside a small roofed building. It's easy to find an MRT station linked to a BTS station as the MRT is usually just outside the BTS station at ground level.
Automated escalators and footsteps link footpaths to the below ground stations where you can purchase a ticket/token. These stations often provide easy methods to bypass crossing Bangkok's busy roads without buying a ticket.
Download a full sized version of this Map of Bangkok's MRT and BTS stations
MRT stations are usually at ground level and then descend underground. At each entrance there's a security scanner and a guard. You have to let the security guard look inside your bag no matter how small it is.
This can be awkward and difficult with a lot of luggage but generally the guards are very polite. Simply unzipping one section and letting them shine a torch in is enough.
Firstly it's not a ticket. You will get a small black plastic circular token the size of a coin. This token uses RFID contactless technology to let you enter the platforms. You can also purchase a 1, 3, and 30 day pass directly from a person at one of the kiosks.
1) The most common method and easiest for tourists is to simply insert coins and/or notes into the ticket/token machines located just before the barriers to get a token.
Each machine has a large touch screen that is available in Thai or English. Simply touch the screen to activate it and press "English" on the top right hand corner. The screen will display a map showing the MRT route and stations. Simply touch the circle beside the name until it goes green to display the price you need to pay. The screens need to be long pressed rather than short pressed.
When you know the value of the token insert either a note into the flat slot under the coin slot or use coins for the coin slot at the top. If using notes stick with 20 baht notes that are in good condition. The machines will except 100 baht notes but you will get all your change in coin!
Once you've inserted the correct change the small black token will be dispensed into a tray at the bottom of the machine on the left hand side. After a 3 second delay your change will drop down into the right hand side of the tray.
2) You may skip the machine altogether and purchase a token directly from a person at one of the kiosks in the MRT station. This works well if the MRT is busy.
3) 1,3 and 30 MRT passes are available at the kiosks but are not great value for tourists unless you plan to take many MRT trips in one day.
A one station ride costs 16 baht. While a full journey on a single line costs 42 baht. However if you use two separate lines on one journey the cost can rise to 70 baht.
There's a pricing chart at every ticket booth which is in Thai and English.
You can also purchase two types of prepaid MRT tickets known as MRT Plus and Mangmoom.
MRT Plus costs 180 baht which is equal to 100 baht in travel value plus a 50 baht card deposit plus a 30 baht issuing fee. They can be topped up thereafter with a minimum of 100 baht.
Mangmoom costs 150 baht which is equal to 100 baht travel value plus a 50 baht card deposit. They can be topped up thereafter with a minimum of 100 baht. Can be added value 100 THB/Time at ticket offices.
Both cards are available at ticket booths at stations and in come convenience stores.
Now that you have the small black plastic coin sized MRT token don't drop it! They tend to bounce. Proceed to the metallic barriers. Hover the token above the red panel and the barrier will open up. Make your way through. Simple as that. You keep the token as it's not placed anywhere. Don't lose it!
Proceed down or onwards to the train platform you need. The platforms are generally named with the last station on the line and there is a station map on the platforms.
The MRT platforms have yellow lines near the a row of plastic windows with metal frames. Above them are info screens with advertisements and a small notice showing when the next train will arrive.
Thai's queue in relatively straight lines for the MRT skytrain. There's no pushing or skipping the queue!
When the MRT train approaches (roughly every 10 mins) it will stop and the plastic screen on the platform will open 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 blue 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.
Usually you will have to go up some steps or up an escalator to the exit barriers.
Approach the metallic barriers with your token in hand. Notice that there is small slot just big enough for the token to slip into. Place the token over the slot until you here a click, then drop it in. The barrier will now open and you can walk through.
Using Bangkok's MRT is relatively easy and straight forward. Here are some tips that will further help you along.
- The MRT is a great way to get rid of your small change
- If you're with a group of people then having one person purchase all your tickets rather than individually will help with the queues (you can buy more than one token when using the machine)
- 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 token
- The MRT can get very busy during certain hours (4pm-8pm)
If you want to know about how to get around Bangkok then the following guides will help: