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Getting There & Around
Getting There & Away

It may be a bit pricey to get to Thailand by air, but once you're there you can take advantage of bargain-basement flights. Just bear in mind that flights in and out of Thailand are often overbooked so confirm, confirm and reconfirm. Buses are a sterling way to get around - they're fast (often terrifyingly!) air-conditioned and comfy. There are even women-only buses. However, there have been bad reports of the service on buses booked from agencies on Thanon Khao San. If you want to get to Malaysia, there are train services.

The bad news is that it can be quite expensive flying to Bangkok, depending on your point of departure; the good news is that once you're there you can shop around for an inexpensive return ticket. A host of international carriers land at Don Muang, Bangkok's major airport terminal. Flights in and out of Thailand are often overbooked so it's imperative that you reconfirm ongoing flights as soon as you arrive. The departure tax on international flights is waived if you're in the country for less than 12 hours.

Overland travel from Malaysia is popular and there are four border crossings between Thailand and Malaysia, two on the west coast, one in the centre and one on the east coast. It's not possible to buy through-fare tickets for rail journeys between Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, unless you ride the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express, but the trip can be made on express trains via the Thai-Malaysia border at Pedang Besar. The journey usually requires an overnight stop in Butterworth (Malaysia) in order to comfortably make train connections.

There are plenty of crossing points between Thailand and Myanmar, Laos or Cambodia, but very few border crossings are made - officially, at least.

It's legal for non-Thai foreigners to cross the Mekong River by ferry between Thailand and Laos at the following points: Nakhon Phanom (opposite Tha Khaek), Chiang Khong (opposite Huay Xai) and Mukdahan (opposite Savannakhet).


Getting Around

The only fault of the trains that ply around Bangkok is slowness - otherwise, they're a delightful option: cheap, comfortable and efficient. Motorbikes are popular, but if you want to take to the roads, even in a car, beware of the anarchic Thai traffic. A cruisier option is to take one of the many forms of taxis - there are cars, rickshaws both of the motorised and the people-powered variety, and small pick-ups.
Trains are comfortable, frequent, punctual, moderately priced and rather slow. Sleeping berths are a bargain and a wonderfully comfortable way to traverse the countryside.

Buses are phenomenally (read hair-raisingly) fast, well serviced and air-conditioned. Beware of booking private buses from agencies on Thanon Khao San; the service on such buses can be unbelievably bad. A unique feature of Thai public transport is the women-only buses that revved up in June 2000 - an attempt by the government to protect female passengers from crime and sexual harrasment.

Local transport includes taxis, tuk-tuks (motorised rickshaws), samlors (bicycle rickshaws) and songthaews (small pick-ups). Taxis are (mostly) metered in Bangkok and songthaews tend to run regular routes, but samlors, tuk-tuks and taxis outside Bangkok require bargaining and agreement on a fare before departure

Cars, jeeps or vans can be rented in Bangkok and large provincial capitals. Thais drive on the left-hand side of the road - most of the time.

Motorcycles can be rented in major towns and tourist centres. Always check the condition of the bike thoroughly before you take off, and remember that the Thais are notorious scoff-laws when it comes to road rules.


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