Boats & Trains & Wacky things: Bangkok's traffic jam alternatives

by Donald Gilliland, Oct 26, 2001 | Destinations: Thailand / Bangkok
The Skytrain, Bangkok, Thailand.

The Skytrain, Bangkok, Thailand.

The Skytrain, Bangkok, Thailand.
With no traffic jams to deal with, boat travel on Klong Saen Saeb is a great way to see the city.
The Klong Saen Saeb canal passes eye-catching hotels such as the Amari Atrium on New Petchburi Road.
Ready, steady . . . jump! Getting off the boat sometimes requires quick reflexes and the ability to leap.

The first thing that most newcomers to Bangkok notice about the city - other than the poor quality of the air - is the traffic. Nasty bumper-to-bumper mayhem spreads its tentacles across the city and holds commuters captive virtually around the clock. There seems to be no escape from the terminal gridlock and the ensuing toxic fumes.

The tuk-tuk, in case you haven't had the 'pleasure' of riding in one, is an odd three-wheeled contraption that closely resembles a flatulent golf cart on amphetamines. Most tourists fawn over how cute they are, snap a few photos and eagerly climb in, anxious to take a ride in the unique vehicle. After that initial transport experience, most vow never to do it again. Tuk-tuks are tolerable for short journeys but for distances of more than two blocks they can be quite annoying. Once a tuk-tuk gets stuck in traffic - which is often - their open-air design (that's right, no doors or windows!) leaves passengers vulnerable to exhaust fumes, deafening noises and the sweltering Bangkok heat. Unlike most of the city's taxicabs, tuk-tuks don't have a meter so you have to negotiate the fare before your adventure begins or risk being overcharged by some glue-sniffing hillbilly that just learned how to drive last week.