Red bus Bangkok or blue bus? Mate, we got you.

This article is intended to answer some of your basic questions on getting around in Bangkok by bus. We will cover much bus tickets cost, a comparison between the different options for buses and their respective fares. Hopefully, these details will inspire your confidence to enjoy this mode of transport in Bangkok that few tourists try.
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This article is intended to answer some of your basic questions on getting around in Bangkok by bus. Should I take the red bus Bangkok or blue bus Bangkok? We will cover how much bus tickets cost, a comparison between the different options for buses and their respective fares. Hopefully, these details will inspire your confidence to enjoy this mode of transport in Bangkok that few tourists try.

There is nothing more pragmatic than taking the bus in Bangkok. The experience will bring you grit and grime through their open windows. Hair raising fits and starts as traffic, pedestrians, chickens and other buses are dodged. Bus drivers can even double as Karaoke champions if you’re lucky enough to catch the right bus. Like the rest of Bangkok, it’s not stopping for you – and so, just get on with it and take the ride. 

Types of Buses: Red bus Bangkok vs Blue bus Bangkok

There are two types of public transportation buses and buses can be distinguished by colour.

Blue buses are clean, air-conditioned and have curtains to block out the sun. 

The buses can be entered either through the middle of the bus or the front. 

On the right of the bus, seats are generally for single riders and on the left is a row of double seats. There is also stadium seating in the back. Depending on the bus attended, you will be directed to a specific chair or just find an open one yourself.

Red Bus Bangkok are much more lively. If you want to experience something a little grittier but more “interesting” take a red bus. Without AC these buses generally have their windows down, and people hang their arms on the window sills. Typically you will board a red bus in Bangkok through the side door. Often the drivers of these buses will have their own sound system, and they aren’t afraid to use it. On one of my favourite bus rides in Bangkok, the driver proudly sang at the top of his lungs to 90’s American pop hits. Think you know Mariah Carey? Wait till you’ve heard it belted out at the top your bus drivers lungs while careering down the chaos of Bangkok’s roads. 

Simply put, blue bus for AC and calmness. 

Red bus in Bangkok for windows down and a chance of 90’s pop music (if you’re lucky!)

Price of red bus Bangkok or blue bus

The average price of a fare for a bus is far less than that of any of the other major transport options.

The fare is not based on your destination but rather the ride itself. In other words, you will pay a flat rate that is not dependent on destination.

The fairs increased in April of 2019 and at time of writing: 

Red buses in Bangkok (no AC) cost 10 Baht

Blue buses (with AC) cost between 12-24 Baht

The fare is not based on your destination but rather the ride itself. In other words, you will pay a flat rate that is not dependent on destination. 

How do I catch the bus in Bangkok?

They say preparation is essential, and planning to ride the bus is no different.

We recommend purchasing a SIM card. We bought a SIM card with TrueMove, and the cost was 800 baht (USD 27) for 30 days of unlimited data and 10 minutes of phone calls

If you can’t get a SIM card, then we suggest downloading an “offline” map from Google Maps. They can be downloaded to your phone, so you can use it when you are offline. Bus routes do not work in offline mode so you may want to plan your journey in detail.  

Google maps will show you where to go to catch the bus. On the stall where Google Maps tells you to stand will be a route number. Double-check that this route number is correct before grabbing a seat at the bus stop.  

The buses will have the corresponding bus number on the front of the bus. You must keep an eye out for the bus as they will not automatically stop. Just stand by the road and gently flag them down when you see them coming.

Often the buses will not fully come to a stop so be prepared to jump on (or off) quickly. If you require special assistance, the bus will come to a full stop to help you on. 

Lastly, not every line is active every day. This is where Google Maps will let you down, especially on weekends and public holidays. I have waited for some time on Sunday for a bus before realizing that it did not come that day.

There is a new app produced by the Bangkok Transit Authority called citygo (iPhone Link). The app is helpful and provides nearly accurate updates of the bus system. The App is in Thail only, and it doesn’t work offline.

How do I pay for the bus in Bangkok?

You will need to pay by cash, small bills are preferred.

When you get on the bus, there will be an attendant who will often direct you to a particular seat.

There is no tap-on system, and you do not pay the driver directly, instead, once the bus is moving, the attendant collects the fares from new passengers. Don’t panic if the attendant doesn’t make it to you straight away. The attendant will give you a receipt in exchange.

When you want to get off at your stop, its best to stand up a few minutes beforehand. The attendant will generally yell to the driver (on red buses in Bangkok) or press the stop button (on blue buses). Jump off the bus while it’s in motion!  

Conclusion

The city buses are a great alternative to using other forms of public transportation in Bangkok. Taking buses does require a bit of planning that can be done on Google Maps. Keep in mind that in offline mode, Google Maps will not display any type of public transportation routes when not connected to the internet. There are two types of buses, with different fares. Blue buses have AC, and red buses in Bangkok do not. When you board the bus, you will pay an attendant who is roaming on the bus. When you want to get off the bus, the attendant will single to the driver to stop.  

If buses aren’t your thing, Grab is the Uber replacement in SE Asia. If you have a sim card, you can follow our guide to Grab in Thailand. Tours are another great option and we were lucky to find some real gems with a company called Local Alike. We all every imaginable transportation option while learning how to be a local fisherman and making monk bowls!

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