Photo: A walk in the fields near Tetebatu, Lombok.

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Request for feedback: Transport pages

Posted by somtam2000 on 27/5/2018 at 20:49 admin

Hi all,

We’re slowly working through some changes on the site and are asking for feedback on how pages could be more useful to you as a reader.

We’ll be working through the templates one at a time, and I'll add a post asking for questions each time. All suggestions and thoughts are much appreciated!

So we’re going to kick off with the transport pages, an example of which you can see here (for Ayutthaya)

So how do you think this page could be more useful? Some thoughts off top of head:

*) A map showing transport hubs (so bus, train station, closest airport etc)
*) A map showing popular places you can go from the destination.
*) More information on alternative options (say car hire for example)
*) Photos, for example of the bus or train station
*) Links for booking and paying for tickets in advance

So, please, ideas and suggestions please.

Many thanks

Stuart

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Posted by amnicoll on 29/5/2018 at 09:26

A great initiative well done


I worry about putting times unless you can keep them up to date. I don't mean to be rude but I have noticed that you don't seem to update things now on traveler feedback I may be wrong and if so forgive me


I do not know how you define "popular places" to go but I would like to have more of an idea of where the various mini vans, local buses or more commonly the songtaews go AND where they leave from. Often it is the more obscure ones that are hardest to find but they can make for pleasant days trips when one has a bit of time to waste


Although this doesn't apply to Ayutthaya unless you are going out to the main highway but in Thailand knowing the number (main or route one) is very helpful when picking it up away from the bus station as they will often not have the route in English. The number of times I have walked to the bus station only to find I could have caught it outside the hotel!


Local town/city transport routes on a map can be useful especially when the train or bus station is out of town

I am not familiar with upto date bus options from Ayutthaya but for the northeast and east is there a bus to nearby hub like Saraburi - from where it is about 100/150 baht to Aranyapratet It is also it was a relatively easy trip to kanchanaburi albeit with a change at a fraction of the cost of the mini vans in the other direction. So bus links to other nearby hubs could therefore be useful

Hope this stimulates some great ideas

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Posted by gecktrek on 29/5/2018 at 18:05

hey mr stuart, love the amount of information you have provided, my question would be, what point-of-difference would be offered by the tf site opposed to transport sites such as rome2rio?

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Posted by somtam2000 on 29/5/2018 at 19:48 admin

@amnicoll
Thanks for the thoughts.

We still do update on reader feedback but it can take some time—David has a complete update on Chanthaburi sitting on my desk at the moment which was sped along by feedback from you, but if you’re referring to something else, let me know, it may have been lost in the mess of my inbox—apologies.

I guess by “popular places” I'm thinking places where most will go—I mean as we say on the front page, “Everywhere is on the way to somewhere”—so I guess I’m trying to find a comfortable middle ground between those two, and, as you say, I’m wary of putting too much in the way of specific timetables and prices when that information often changes frequently.

Sticking with the fare and prices thing, there are a lot more primary online sources for this information (bus and minivan companies with websites for example) than there was even just a decade ago, so we will be linking out more to primary sources (not meta-search) when appropriate and when in English. We’ll probably better incorporate data from 12Go as well, but as they tend to only list commissionable routes, they are not as exhaustive as they could be unfortunately.

Some feedback we have received in the past has been requests for ”more information on how to do X daytrip without hiring a scooter” and we’ve done a bit on this, but probably scope for a lot more. Also, in some cases, for a far-flung day trip destination, say like this one in Java, we keep the information on how to get there on the sight listing, rather than saying “go see the transport page for details on how to do this”.

Yes, more info on how to get to hubs (which may not be a destination in their own right) would be useful, and also more specific info on where songthaew stations are (for eg) would be good—thanks.

@gecktrek
Transport meta sites like the one you mention work by sucking up info from other primary and secondary sites (sometimes without permission, as was the case with R2R when they sucked info off Travelfish without asking—something that no longer happens).

I'm not looking to reinvent that particular wheel as we don’t have the funds nor expertise to do it, but more, I guess, using our on-the-ground knowledge to perhaps be able to have a few pars up top saying “ok if you’re in X here is the transport scene in a nutshell” and then moving down to the blow by blow details—people are still better than filtering this information in the most useful manner than a computer (at least in my experience anyway.)


Thanks again, and please keep the ideas coming!

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Posted by exacto on 31/5/2018 at 20:11

Yes, yes. For me, a map showing the location of the train and bus station, as well as where I might board or arrive for other options, is a real bonus, particularly when I roll into a town I don't know.

Take Kanchanaburi, for example. The train and bus stations are a fair distance apart. Seeing on a map where I would arrive, particularly relative to listed accommodation options, could help me choose which transport option might best fit my plans, where to stay relative to where I arrive, and help me get oriented immediately when I arrive and find where to go when it is time to depart. That additional information alone would be the biggest help to me.

Thanks and regards.

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Posted by amnicoll on 5/6/2018 at 04:08

Yes I am with Exacto , in Kanchanaburi the bus to Suphanburi used to leave the bus station do two right turns and stop some 100 meters from the bus station and wait there for 20 minutes a right pain but all the more so if you could have caught the earlier one had you known.

In Lop Buri most people stay in the old town so knowing the buses to and from Singburi pass through the old town and will stop on their way to the bus station is helpful

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Posted by amnicoll on 5/6/2018 at 04:32

Thanks Somtam and perhaps the debate on "popular"places will be covered on another part of the feedback discussion. From my point of view I sometimes find myself somewhere and want to stay longer and explore the area and find it hard to both find ideas and details of how to get there on public transport especially when the transport does no go from the bus station.


In Thailand TAT produce some excellent brochures and include nearby places to visit but all to often no info on how to reach it by public transport (some of these brochures are better than others in this respect and indeed they may have improved since I took it up with them a few years ago). Trying to find the right place for transport could be hard but knowing where they stop and the "route number" make life much easier. I found the same problem in the Philippines where the local jeepnies would leave from half a dozen different places round the town. If you do more on the days trips also knowing the time of the last bus back is useful - I went in the hills in the Philippines only to find the last bus back was at 11.00am leaving me only an hour

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Posted by somtam2000 on 5/6/2018 at 08:32 admin

Thanks both of you.

I’m just going to steer this way from Ayutthaya and move to Chiang Rai, primarily because it has an airport (and Ayutthaya doesn’t!) and so I'm starting to work on that template.

You can see the page here.

As you can see I've added a map in showing where the airport is and if you click on the map it (should) open it up in your mapping app on laptop or phone.

It will be straightforward to add in maps after the train and bus sections showing where each are—I think separate maps for each section are perhaps better? I mean, if you’re looking for the train station, you don’t need to know where the airport is right? Plus it makes for far less scrolling on a phone if the maps follow on from each section rather than one map at the top or bottom...

On the other hand, if you’re at the bus station and need to get to the airport, having both on the one map would be better! Interested to hear what you think.

We’ve also broken the section out into shorter section (domestic/international/getting to the airport etc) to make it a bit more concise and easy to read.

We we haven’t done is get too bogged down into saying which airlines fly where and all the airports Chiang Mai is connected to, this is primarily because keeping it up to date would be a bit maddening (because we’d be doing it for 100+ airports, not just Chiang Mai) and, well, the information is on the various airline websites already. We have listed a few of the trunk routes.

So my next question is, solely revolving around airports, is there other information you would want to know?

Cheers & thanks again!

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Posted by amnicoll on 6/6/2018 at 05:35

For an airport I want to get an idea of where I can get to from the airport from the "town" and other nearby towns if possible. Last time I flew into CM was 1986 so I am not familiar with it so will use a couple of other examples.


Krabi airport is situated on the main Krabi - Trang Road so even if there is not a van from the airport if I were going to Trang then the option of flaging down a passing bus would be useful knowledge. I may be odd but I would look up the airport I was thinking of using and look for the onward transport options from there. It is often surprising hard to find this info even on the airport sites


I looked in to flying to Trat and found info on how how to get to Koh Chang and as you say there is no obvious service to Trat city from the airport. So how do I get from the airport to Trat without it costing more than the flight. Again with Rayong how do I get there from the airport

By the way at Narathiwat there is a mini van service from the airport to Narathiwat town (80baht) and it can be caught from the office opposite the the Narathiwat hotel back to the airport - ask inside for the times and there is also a van to Sungai Kolok but do not know price. At the airport the desk is inside the hall where you collect your baggage and there is no public transport on the road outside the airport


You explain how to get to and from the bus station but not the train station unless I missed it in Chiang Mai this is essential for any station bus or train that is not in the town center


Useful info on the songthaews

BTW not getting notified of replies on this thread (no problem on the country forums)

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Posted by DLuek on 6/6/2018 at 14:14 TF writer

Thanks all for the feedback in this thread, much appreciated. Re questions in amnicoll's last post,

From Krabi airport to Trang, it'd be a bit of a slog after landing to walk out to the highway and cross it to reach the south-bound lanes, and then wait there, but certainly it's doable. These days it's mostly the small passenger vans (minibuses) pinballing between southern provincial capitals, and they often do fill up before leaving, so there's no guarantee you'll get into the first (or second, third...) van you see, or that they'll even stop for you.

It's possible to head south from Krabi airport by van, but most who do it are en route to Ko Lanta or have otherwise arranged with a local travel agent for a Trang-bound driver (or Pakbara-bound for ex.) to pull off at the airport specifically for them (obviously the agent would get something from this). There are however enough vans and occasional big buses passing Krabi airport that you could likely find one after a reasonable amount of time, dependent on luck plus number of people in your group, amount of luggage, etc. Personally, I'd back track the 13 km north by public airport bus to Krabi bus station and find the best option to Trang from there. That likely wouldn't take any longer, would possibly provide a choice of van or big bus, and would be less stressful/strenuous (but would of course cost the extra baht for the local bus).

For onward transport from a provincial Thai airport, usually the only options are bus, van or taxi, directly to the nearby provincial capital's transport station(s) and other prominent parts of an area (Ao Nang in Krabi province for instance). It varies widely. On occasion, I've come across songthaew options near the airport (Hat Yai, Khorat, Ubon, for ex.). In Bangkok, at Suvarnabhumi, some actual inter-provincial transport is available, and posted on the site here: https://www.travelfish.org/transport_detail/thailand/bangkok_and_surrounds/bangkok/bangkok/88

You also may be interested in an article like that Suvarnbhumi one that we've done for Don Muang Airport, Hualamphong Railway Station, other railway stations in Bangkok, and all three of Bangkok's long-distance bus terminals: Morchit, Sai Tai Mai and Ekkamai.

When visiting and revisiting these and many other transport terminals in Thailand, I've asked the ticket sellers and bus drivers for fares and times, face to face, speaking the local language, double-checking when needed. That sort of approach is completely different from something like Rome2Rio. It's one thing to have a site that spits out travel options based on algorithms in the internet. It's something else, entirely, to have human beings going repeatedly in person to gather information on the spot, at the transport terminals. That is one thing that Travelfish pays us to do.

The transport info we gather is not gospel. Rather, it's a snapshot of the available options that a given writer found at a given point in time. Things do change here and there. As for myself, most of what I know is on this site. I do, of course, make mistakes, and I always appreciate when a reader emails and says we've missed something, or that there's a new international bus from Vientiane to Nakhon Somewhere.

Re Trat, we've never flown into that airport, hence the limited info available about it on the site. For the last Trat transport update, I wrote "We’ve never used this airport; locals told us that minibus tickets to Trat town cost a whopping 500 baht per person. Private taxis are also available." Re Rayong, never used it either. Those eastern provinces are so well connected to Bangkok by bus, with so few flights. But I hear the Rayong-Pattaya airport is in growth mode, so if it actually becomes popular, we'll try to check it out at some point.

Re songthaews, I do make it a point to find exactly where, in a provincial capital, a songthaew departs for any other districts within that province that I know to be of some interest to travelers (like Khiri Wong in Nakhon, Hat Tasae in Trang, Umphang in Mae Sot, etc.). Sorry but the best I can do is to write down where the trucks wait around; I often mention if you can flag them down on certain main roads, but I don't have the time to ride every one every time (and anyways they often go off course to pick up sacks of cucumbers at their cousin's house or whatever).

Often the routes within provinces, done until recently by songthaew or local bus, are now done by van -- ex. Lopburi to Phra Phuthabat; Surat Thani to Khanom; Trang to Hat Yao; Mukdahan to That Phanom; and many more. Some still by local bus, but not much -- coming to mind are the orange buses from Si Saket to Kantaralak, the blue buses from Kanchanaburi to Erawan NP, and the red buses from Surat to Phun Phin. Over the last decade or so I've seen many local bus/songthaew routes replaced by vans in Thailand, and that goes for every region (though some more than others). IT makes travelling by bus less attractive, because those vans are cramped, often full, and driven like death traps on highways that usually hide the natural beauty of a place, which often exists just behind the gas stations and other roadside joys.

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Posted by somtam2000 on 7/6/2018 at 02:04 admin

One point to add to David’s remarks above, I think is bad to see so much public transport switching from the older larger buses (yes, like the orange ones) to the little minivans, primarily from a safety point of view. Some of those minivan drivers are absolute maniacs—and have the accident rate to match.

@amnicoll I just checked and you are subscribed to this thread, so you should be getting the reply notifications. If you don’t get one for this post, let me know and I’ll dig a little deeper.

Update to the train section coming in five minutes :) am working through it section by section.

Cheers & thanks again!

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Posted by somtam2000 on 7/6/2018 at 03:04 admin

OK so the Chiang Mai train section has been updated/expanded.

In this case, as train timetables are somewhat less fluent (and there are less departures) I've added the north and south timetable between Chiang Mai and Bangkok (which is the main trunk route) and also a chart to indicate what classes are available on which train. I wouldn’t do this for all routes, but for the main trunk routes, do you think it is useful.

Have also added a par on what we think are the best options depending on your preference between night and day, class etc.

Then we have a bit on where to break the trip, how to book tickets and some online agency options and finally, where is the station, how to get there and a map.

Along with a few happy snaps.

So my question, useful or not? more more would be useful?

As always, thank you.

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Posted by amnicoll on 7/6/2018 at 05:52

Somtam Still no notification

I agree about the switch from bus to van not just from the safety point of view but lack of luggage space as well. Also on the old Saraburi - Chanthaburi route (which still has the odd bus) but with the vans you need to change in kabin buri as they do not go all the way any more

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Posted by SBE on 17/6/2018 at 16:15

@DLuek



From Krabi airport to Trang, it'd be a bit of a slog after landing to walk out to the highway and cross it to reach the south-bound lanes, and then wait there, but certainly it's doable.

Are you sure about that David? I may be mistaken but I think that if you cross the main road outside Krabi airport and catch a bus from that side of the road you'll probably end up in Krabi Town or Phuket! Trang is in the opposite direction.

If you find it difficult to flag down a passing bus outside Krabi airport, you can always hop on a passing songthaew to Neua Klong and get a minivan from there. I've never taken a bus from Neua Klong but I imagine that would be possible too.

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Posted by DLuek on 18/6/2018 at 00:25 TF writer

SBE, you're right! I rode past Krabi airport again the other day and saw that it is off the south-bound lane -- for some reason I had it in my head that it was on the opposite side of the highway (like I said, I do make mistakes!). And you're right, between the medium-size buses that run the Phuket-Krabi-Trang-Phatthalung-Hat Yai route, and the light blue songthaews that can take you to the bus stop in Nuea Khlong to wait for the next Trang-bound bus or van, it would be easier than I thought.

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