First off, simply put, you will never win the Bangkok traffic war but you can surely win your fair share of battles. Let’s face it, Bangkok has some of the worst inner city traffic in the world. During rush hours some roads and sois get so backed up you could literally take an hour to drive in a car a distance which would take 10 minutes walking. Whether you drive your own car or take one of the 100s of 1000s of Bangkok taxis you will no doubt routinely face situations where you wished you weren’t in the car. Here are some of the most common ways Bangkok residents beat the traffic.
On the Move
BTS Skytrain or MRT Subway
Most new or temporary residents of Bankgkok try to rent or buy condos near the city’s many public metro stations for the simple reason convenience of beating the traffic. Even though the price of properties near Bangkok’s MRT subway or BTS skytrain are significantly higher than those further away from the metro stations, most residents gladly trade the increased rental prices for the ease of beating the traffic by using the BTS and the MRT. In addition to being very efficient and comfortable, the Bangkok metro stations are very safe compared to making your way on the Bangkok streets. The only downside to using the Bangkok metro is you are definitely not the only one who is trying to beat the traffic, and using the BTS or MRT at rush hour can be very crowded and often uncomfortable, but in general it will almost never take longer to get from point A to point B on the BTS compared to in an automobile.
While BTS skytrain quietly glides above the traffic, the MRT travels safely under the traffic, Bangkok motorbike taxis take you through the traffic like a hot knife through butter. At first glance most new Bangkok residents may assume that motorcycle taxis are incredibly dangerous but they are not as dangerous as you may think as most motorcycle taxis in Bangkok have very short routes from one part of a small area to another. Bangkok residents usually use motorcycle taxis to get from their condo or apartment to the BTS station instead of walking or use them when they are late for an appointment. The best part of using a Bangkok motorcycle taxi is the cool breeze and cheap fares (usually ฿10-30) but don’t forget to wear a helmet!
Like the motorcycle taxi, new residents likely will not even consider riding a bicycle through the seemingly crazy Bangkok traffic because it seems dangerous. It is far less dangerous as you would think as 1. In central Bangkok the traffic is generally going very slow and 2. Most drivers (the ones not using their mobile phones) are aware of the constant presence of slower moving things in the traffic such as food cart vendors, pedestrians, and other slower moving vehicles. To make bicycle a more viable form of transportation in Bangkok, there are now (as of 2014) shared bike stalls in which bikes can be rented to travel short distances in Bangkok. You can learn more about it here: Pun Pun Bike Share
Probably the least popular form of transportation in Bangkok due to the heat as well as laziness, walking is an option if your goal is to beat Bangkok traffic. Most people only walk very short distances such as when they’re going from the car to the mall or the BTS from the condo but you can often cover enough ground to make time as well as burn some calories in the most healthy way of getting around in Bangkok, if you don’t consider all the pollution you’re inhaling!
Timing: Waiting it Out
While shopping malls often times contribute to horrible Bangkok traffic jams, they also provide refuge for residents looking to beat the traffic. In addition to killing time by shopping, which could get quite expensive there is often plenty of the following activities which residents frequent during the worst rush hour times.
- Cafes & Restaurants
- From international chains like Starbucks to McDonalds to local Thai brands, all Bangkok shopping malls have more than enough choices of cafes and restaurants for residents to eat, drink, chat and even sleep thier way through the rush hour traffic.
- The Cinema
- Almost all of Bangkok’s major shopping malls have a cinema on the top floor. What better way to beat the rush hour rat race than to sit in a briskly cooled air conditioned, super high quality movie theater and watching a movie? To make it even better, seeing a move in Bangkok means you get to choose your own seat beforehand and the prices can go as low as just 140 baht, a fraction of the price of a movie ticket in some other countries.
- The Gym
- Most shopping malls have a large commercial fitness center such as Fitness First or True Fitness in them. Perhaps the healthiest, lease stressful and most beneficial way to beat the Bangkok traffic is to head to the gym. The downside to using the gym to beat the Bangkok traffic is so many other residents use the gym after work, you will often experience a different form of traffic if you head to the gym instead of taking it to the roads or even the metro (BTS & MRT) during rush hours.
Rent/Buy a Property in a Convenient Location
If you live and work in Bangkok, the best way to not let the traffic get the best of you is to find a place to live in a convenient location. Whether your apartment is close to your office, or it is close to a skytrain station, finding a home in a well thought out, convenient will save you time a lot of angst due to the daily grind. In addition to being near a Metro station, the presence of ‘back sois’ or shortcuts through the neighborhoods that avoid the main roads are also sometimes ways to beat the traffic, but you must realize that if hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of others follow suit, your ‘short cut’ could turn out to be a Bangkok traffic nightmare!
Rent/Buy a Property in Low Traffic Area
If you have no need to be in central Bangkok, you can beat the traffic by avoiding it completely. There are many suburbian areas outside Bangkok which have far less daily traffic jams than in central Bangkok. If you work in central Bangkok or simply prefer to be where the action is you should know that most areas in Central Bangkok have their moments of heavy traffic but there are some are less congested than others. Finding a home in one of these less contested pockets Bangkok’s prime real estate such as Sukhumvit (Nana, Asoke, Phrom Phong, Thonglor, Ekamai), Sathorn (Narathiwas, Yenakart), Silom, and Pathum Wan (Phloenchit, Langsuan, Chidlom) can sometimes be very diffcult and confusing, lucky our real estate agents can help you find a place that suits your needs.