As Bangkok moves into the future it has begun to use more modern modes of city transport namely the BTS sky train and MRTA metro subway. The main advantage of travel by rail through Bangkok is avoiding its infamous traffic jams making travel to many parts of the city much quicker than by road especially during rush hour. The BTS sky train and MRTA metro subway offer a new solution to Bangkok's traffic and city pollution problems providing quick access to many parts of Bangkok, and where the initial BTS sky train didn't go, the new MRTA subway system will once it has it's full compliment of lines. The subway and sky train connect at Chatajuk Park (the famous weekend market), Asoke (Sukhumvit Soi 21) and Silom (BTS Saladeang) stations. Both services run from between 6:00 am and midnight, and trains arrive with a frequency of 2-6 minutes depending on the time of day.
BTS - Sky Train
Opened in 1999 the BTS sky train offers cheap and fast travel around Bangkok with its two elevated railway lines. The 17 km Sukhumvit line runs from Mochit (Northern Bus Station) to Onnut, whilst the shorter 6.5 km Silom line stretches from the centrally located National Stadium Station (MBK Mall) to Saphan Taksin at the Chao Phraya River where it ends and also connects with the MRTA subway. Both lines connect at Siam station.
The BTS sky train offers a cheap, clean and fast way to get around the central part of the city, fares ranging from 10-40 baht, and 250 baht passes for 10 trips. They also have all day passes reasonably priced at 100 baht and 3 day passes for 280 baht.
The BTS sky train is clean, air conditioned and a comfortable means of transport to use within central parts of Bangkok accessing the major business and shopping districts, and it's worth taking a ride along the elevated railways just to for a good view of Bangkok and a real feel for the city.
MRTA metro subway
The MRTA subway tackles the two major disadvantages of the BTS sky train, the first being that the sky train doesn't access all parts of the city and the second being that the sky train structure that doesn't do much for Bangkok's appearance with it's huge concrete slabs that hold the railway along some of the main roads in the city.
Though at present it has only one line the MRTA subway will eventually have several lines and these are planned for completion in the year 2010, by which time Bangkok will have a fully modern and efficient subway system accessing all parts of the city and promising to be one of the most widely used means of transport, thus reducing traffic congestion and vehicle pollution, two problems which Thailand has been struggling with for many years in it's busy capital. At the present time, the Bangkok subway has one 20 km line with 18 stations, stretching from Bang Sue to Hua Lamphong which is the main train station for all trains travelling around Thailand.
As well as being quick, efficient and hidden from view the MRTA subway also works out to be a cheap method of Bangkok travel, with the fare ranging from 10 baht to around 40 baht though as it has just been opened for a short time fares are still fluctuating as special discount promotions are being offered to entice even more people to use this already busy subway system. You can purchase tokens from the token machine inside the station and can use 1,5,10 coins as well as 20, 50 and 100 baht notes to pay. You can also purchase subway cards starting at 300 baht (50 baht refundable deposit for the card) which can be topped up as they are used in denominations of 100 baht a time. The subway cards are a definite bonus for frequent subway users as it means you can avoid the often long cues at the token machines during peak times.