May 14 2011
Daydreaming of Thailand involves images of mountains and elephants and beaches. No one loses their train of thought in a business meeting imagining lugging their bag into Bangkok from the airport on a local bus. In the words of a Friend-of-Travelfish who lives in Shanghai, “Yes, yes, cultural melange and city-in-transition and all that — how fast can we be in the ocean once I get out of the airport?” Touché, good sir.
I love it here, but Bangkok is not everyone’s tropical paradise/lovable-rats’-nest. Skipping a trip into Bangkok is relatively easy, actually — with some advanced planning. For this post we’ll focus on ground transportation — if you are flying check out Air Asia, Bangkok Airways or Nok Air.
If you are headed west or south, Bangkok is unfortunately unavoidable. It’s right in your way, so roll up your trousers and wade in.
To Ko Chang National Marine Park:
A direct bus leaves from the Airport Bus Station at 7:50am and will drop you directly at the ferry pier for Ko Chang (308 baht, takes around 5 hours). Buses for Trat leave at 06:40, 08:25, 10:10, 10:25, 11:40, 13:10, 16:10, and 18:10 (250 baht, takes around 5 hours). From Trat you can catch a songthaew (covered pick up truck with bench seats in the back) to the Laem Ngob pier for 50 baht. Ferries run at least every hour from Laem Ngob pier from 07:00 to 17:00.
If headed to the beaches in the south, take a bus from the Airport Bus Station to Trat, and then take a songthaew to the Cambodian border at Baan Haad Lek (120 baht, leave every 45 minutes from Trat Bus Station, takes around 90 minutes to reach the border, border open 07:00-20:00, daily). From Baan Haad Lek it takes four hours to Sihanoukville by bus (departure 8:00, daily) or shared taxi.
If going to Angkor Wat, take the bus to Sa Kaeo/Aranyaprathet (departs the Airport Bus Station at 07:40, 12:10 and 17:10, 225 bath, 4.5-5 hours) and change to a tuk tuk for the border at Poipet. Read about need-to-know border crossing information here. From Poipet to Siem Reap it’s a 2.5-hour shared taxi ride.
A bus departs the Airport Bus Terminal every evening at 20.30, making the trip to Nong Khai (on the border with Vientiane) in a little over 12 hours for 454 baht.
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