Read e-book Heaven: A Traveller’s Guide to the Undiscovered Country (Text Only)

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All trains do not have baggage cars, so check with the ticket office. Shipping costs for motorbikes are roughly equivalent to the price of a first-class ticket on the same train. Full information regarding routes, timetables and up-to-date ticket costs along with interesting videos can be found at seat Thailand's roads are head and shoulders above its neighbors Myanmar , Laos or Cambodia and in the last few years, being the subject of major improvements but driving habits are still quite dangerous.

Heaven: A Traveller’s Guide to the Undiscovered Country (Text Only)

Drunk driving , speeding and reckless passing are common and bus and taxi drivers especially for private companies work inhuman shifts and often take drugs to keep themselves awake, with predictable and tragic results. Lately, road blocks and strict policing are being implemented quite often in an attempt to address the situation but it may still take same time for the results to start bearing fruit.

There are an estimated 24, fatalities on Thai roads annually. It's common for motorbikes — even police! Death tolls sky-rocket around major holidays, especially Songkran, when bystanders often throw water on passing cars and bikes. Many drivers forget to switch on headlights at night, multiplying risks, and it is wise to avoid or minimize overnight travel by road. Unlike in its neighbours except Malaysia , traffic moves on the left side of the road in Thailand and Thai cars are generally right-hand drive.

Most official road directional signs are written in both Thai and English. Most major roads are marked in both Thai and English and traffic culture is not as bad as some might lead you to believe. Keep a sharp lookout in both mirrors from passing traffic including wheelers and scooters. It's quite safe to use these bikes and it allows one to appreciate the landscapes, if you stick to moderate speeds and keep to the left hand side of the road, like the local bikers do. Gas stations are common and most Thai are more than willing to give directions in spite of any language barriers.


Drive very defensively at first and watch what the locals do. Of course, it helps if you are accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, which in itself could be enough to distract some Western drivers.

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Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal and dangerous, and driving at night also increased the risk of accidents — even if you're sober, many others aren't. If you're traveling by public conveyance-bus, train, airplane-you may be shocked at the difference in cost between long distance and local travel.

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A km journey between Khon Kaen and Udon Thani in a minivan costs 84 baht, or 0. Traveling the three kilometres from the bus station to a hotel will cost baht, or baht per kilometre Nov Renting a car usually costs between 1,, baht if you want to go for an economical one like a Toyota Vios. Most international companies can be found in Thailand. Also check guides to particular cities for reputable local car rental companies, which are often a little cheaper. You can choose among international companies such as Budget , Avis or you can choose to book with local company like www. Check the documentation and make sure that everything is done according to rules.

Perform required checks and notify the car company about any damage before using the vehicle. Some routes may have VIP buses reclining seats, freezing AC and TV while others may change for minivans or other forms of transportation. Some routes such as Khao San to Siem Reap are notorious for multiple scam attempts throughout the route but take it easy and you'll be fine.

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Most important is to keep your valuables with you, and if a suitcase or big backpack goes to storage under the bus, make sure it's locked and doesn't contain anything worth some good money. Mind that all agents likely sell the exact same deal so while some may offer you a better bus for a higher price, you're likely to get the exact same deal for more. The big agents will likely tell you the truth about the buses and travel times but you can shop at the cheapest possible place and get the same deal.

Be aware that many routes include an interchange at various locations, but you will arrive at your destination.

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In Krabi, a minivan would then take you to Ko Lanta, boarding two different ferries. Generally speaking, BKS buses are a good option for both price and comfort. There are also private buses sanctioned by BKS, which operate on the same routes from the same terminals with the same fares, and these are also fine.

The ones to watch out for are the illegal bus companies, which operate from tourist areas especially Khao San Road and subsidize slightly cheaper tickets with worse amenities, schedules and safety. In particular, beware of non-government "VIP" buses, which often turn out to be cramped minivans - and you'll only find this out after paying in advance. Some buses may have TVs and sound systems blaring, so earplugs are well worth having, just in case. On long-haul buses, if your ticket allocates you a front seat, you may have to switch seats if a monk boards.

If you are travelling a long distance on a daytime bus, take a minute to figure out the sunny side and the shady side of the bus. For example, going from Chiang Mai to Bangkok on a bus south , seats on the right side will be bathed in sunlight all day curtains are provided , so the left side is preferred by most. Like travelling by train, pre-booking and e-ticketing is also available in some bus lines routing from Bangkok to reachable provinces and vice-versa. Minivan services are ubiquitous, although under the radar as minivans typically are anonymous grey Toyota vans with no company markings.

They serve shorter routes, such as Krabi to Phuket, about km or Bangkok to Hua Hin, about km. The purported advantage of taking a minibus is speed, as they move quickly once they get going. Disadvantages are that they are expensive compared with standard bus travel, they can be uncomfortable as they are usually crammed full, and they offer little room for luggage.

Take minivans from bus stations. Do not take minivans that offer to pick you up at your hotel. They will pick you up, but then you will spend the next hour driving to other hotels to pick up more passengers. You will then be driven to an aggregator where all the collected passengers will disembark to wait for the minivan to their respective destinations. Then you will likely be driven to a bus station to change to a third and final minivan. Better just to sleep in, then go to bus station to book your cheaper minivan ticket, thus saving 2 hours of pointless discomfort.

In English tourist literature, they're occasionally called "minibuses". By far the most common type is based on a pick-up truck and has a roof and open sides.

Larger types start life as small lorries, and may have windows, and an additional central bench; smaller types are converted micro-vans, with a front bench facing backwards and a rear bench facing forwards. Songthaews are operated extensively as local buses generally the most economical way to travel shorter distances and also as taxis; sometimes the same vehicle will be used for both. Be careful if asking a songthaew to take you to someplace if there is nobody in the back, the driver might charge you the taxi price.

In this case, check the price of the ride before embarking. The vast majority have three wheels; some are entirely purpose-built e.

A relatively recent development is the four wheeled tuk-tuk basically a microvan-songthaew as found in Phuket. Tuk-tuks are small, noisy, and perhaps dangerous; but possibly the worst thing about them is that, as a passenger, you cannot see a damned thing due to the low roof line. To catch even a glimpse of the passing scene you will find yourself practically supine. You will often find yourself at the mercy of the tuk-tuk driver when it comes to pricing as you will likely have no clue as to the acceptable raa kaa Thai "Thai price" and will probably have to cough up a raa kaa farang "farang price".

Even if you do know the Thai price, the driver may just not bother to accept it on principle. If you pay with a larger denomination bill, it is also probable that the driver will whine that he has no change. If this happens, try to break the note in a nearby shop. Metered taxis are ubiquitous in Bangkok and starting to become more popular in Chiang Mai , but rare elsewhere in the country. When available, they are an excellent means of transport - insist on the meter.

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Beware of taxis which idle around touristy areas and wait for people. They are looking for a tourist who will take their taxi without using a meter. Instead, try to flag down a taxi moving down the street, or use a taxi stand where the locals are queueing.

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  7. Always insist on the meter, and use another taxi if the driver refuses to turn it on. Most drivers do not speak English, so be sure to have your hotel staff write the names of your destinations in Thai to show the driver. As is the case throughout virtually all of Southeast Asia, motorcycles motosai are the most common form of transport overall; the most popular type are the cc cc step-through models.

    These are very widely used as taxis, with fares starting from as low as 10 baht. Negotiate the fare with the driver before using his service otherwise you may be charged more than you expect. Motorcycles can be rented without difficulty in many locations. In all cases, lower prices will apply if paying upfront for more than a week or so; in some cases, long-distance travel may be prohibited. Motorcycle rentals do not include insurance, and both motorcycling accidents and motorbike thefts are common.

    Many places will rent to you without requiring a license, but legally speaking you must have a valid Thai license or International Driver's Permit. Often a deposit will be required; sometimes a passport photocopy, or even the passport itself will be requested Don't do this.