May 10 2012
Technically speaking, Bangkok has only three long distance bus terminals. Yet the buzzing streets around Victory Monument are a base for fleets of minibuses, not to mention endless streams of local buses, a BTS station, and enough taxis, motorbikes and tuk tuks to make your head spin. Finding the right minibus can be tricky because virtually all signs are posted only in Thai, and because there are a handful of minibus “zones” servicing different destinations. We’ve navigated the Victory Monument maze, however, and figured out how and where to catch that minibus so more of your time can be spent enjoying your destination, not trying to get there.
Minibuses (“minibus” is just another term for van) are usually a bit more expensive than traditional buses, but they’re considerably faster and more consistent. They also tend to be newer than regular buses so they break down less often, and they’re almost always air-conditioned. The minibuses around Victory Monument only serve a general central region of the country, so don’t expect to get to Chiang Mai or Hat Yai from here, but some do go as far afield as Chanthaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Kanchanaburi and Ko Samet.
There are several mini bus companies operating from what we’ll call different “zones” (okay they’re really just side streets and parking lots) in the immediate Victory Monument area. While some serve different destinations than others, it’s possible to get to Pattaya (97 baht) or Hua Hin (180 baht) from any of the zones. There is a good deal of overlap among companies for plenty other destinations, but less frequented spots are only served by one or two companies. Virtually all fares fall in the 100 to 200 baht range, with less distant destinations like Don Muang airport (30 baht), Suvarnabhumi airport (40 baht) and Ayutthaya (70 baht) costing less.
To make it as simple as possible, let’s use the Victory Monument BTS (sky train) station as our starting point. To find our first minibus zone, head out of the BTS station at exit 4, go down the stairs, and then walk straight along the footpath for a short distance. Here you’ll find one of the larger and more organised minibus stations — it even has proper ticket windows rather than makeshift sales counters on the street.
Minibuses are available from here to Chachoengsao, Bang Khla, Amphawa, Samut Songkhram, Phetburi, Pak Chong (Khao Yai), Ratchaburi, and Lopburi. As with all the zones, signs are listed in Thai only (apart from Pattaya and Hua Hin), but you should only need to mention your destination before one of the roaming minibus guys shuffles you off to the right vehicle. Prices are fixed and instances of attempted scamming are rare.
If you take the same exit 4 out of the BTS station but pull a U-turn at the bottom of the stairs, another large row of buses are just a short walk away. From here you can also get to Ratchaburi as well as Nakhon Pathom, Kanchanaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chonburi, Nakhon Sawan, Rayong, and Ko Samet.
To reach an altogether different zone, head towards exits 3 and 4 out of the BTS station but pass the exits, continue straight along the sky walk, and then take your first left down the stairs. Go straight into the footpath market maybe 30 metres, and then look to the left. Here you’ll find a side street that winds beside the market where minibuses may be caught to Nakhon Ratchasima, Pak Chong (Khao Yai), Ratchaburi, Nakhon Sawan, Muang Gan, Nakhon Nayok, Minburi and Ayutthaya. If in need of fuelling up before your journey this area is a great place to enjoy some tasty street eats.
To reach our last minibus zone, head straight out of the sky train station towards exits 3 and 4 and continue on past the exits to the sky walk again, but this time turn to the right and walk a bit just beneath the sky train track. Look for the “Fashion Mall” shopping complex on the right, and take the stairs nearest to it. At the bottom, head straight across the street to Ratchawithi Soi 10, where you’ll find minibuses to Chantaburi, Trat, and Suvarnabhumi airport, along with several other destinations mentioned above. Back across the street at Soi 11 there’s also a minibus that runs to Don Muang airport.
Minibuses to virtually all these destinations depart every 30 minutes to an hour between 06:00 and 17:00 every day, with several buses to major destinations running up until 21:00. Keep in mind however that traffic around the monument can grind to a crawl during rush hours (around 08:00 and 18:00). Victory Monument is located in north-central Bangkok, in the bustling but sparsely touristed Din Daeng area.
And, there you have it — if you want to get out of Bangkok fast, head to Victory Monument and you could be whizzing through countryside in no time.
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