Photo: Express boat on the Chao Phraya River.

Getting to, from & around Thailand

What would you like to know about getting to, from and around Thailand?

Getting there & away

International travel introduction

Bangkok rivals Singapore and Kuala Lumpur as the region's number one international air-travel hub and as such boasts international flight connections with a vast number of destinations worldwide. Thailand also has land connections with neighbouring Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Burma.


You'll need a passport with at least six months validity to enter Thailand.

The vast majority of foreign tourists enter Thailand on either a 30-day visa free stay or tourist visa pre-arranged through a Thai embassy or consulate.

For more information, see our Thailand visa page.


Thailand’s main international hub, Bangkok, has two international airports: Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Muang (DMK). Other international airports include Chiang Mai (CNX) in the north and Phuket (HKT), Krabi (KBV), Surat Thani (URT), Ko Samui (USM) and Hat Yai (HDY) in the south. While long-haul and full-service carriers best serve Bangkok and to a lesser extent Phuket and Chiang Mai, the smaller international airports are mostly served by low-cost carriers.


Thailand is the base for a number of airlines. The flag carrier is THAI international. Other carriers include Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia, Tiger Airways, Thai Smile, Thai Lionair and Nok Air. The country is well-served by low cost domestic flights.

A vast number of international carriers (both full service and LCCs) fly into Thailand, the list includes the following:

Air Canada
Air China
Air France
All Nippon Airways
Bangkok Airways
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
Cebu Pacific
China Airlines
China Eastern
China Southern
EVA Airways
Gulf Air
Jet Airways
KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines
Korean Air
Lao Airlines
Malaysia Airlines
Norwegian Air
Philippine Airlines
Qatar Airways
Royal Brunei Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines System
Singapore Airlines
South African Airways
SriLankan Airlines
Swiss International
Tiger Airways
Turkish Airlines
Vietnam Airlines
Xiamen Airlines


You'll almost invariably get a better rate for a long haul fare shopping around online, but traditional agents are still worth a try -- if you haven't already, give our story on getting a cheap airfare to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam a read.

Overland crossings

Please refer to our Thailand borders page for detailed information on Thailand's border crossings or the Visa and border crossings FAQ for detailed crossing information, including trip reports from other travellers.

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Getting around

Domestic travel introduction

Thailand has a comprehensive transport system, which makes it very easy to travel through the country affordably and relatively quickly. The country has a number of domestic airlines, a comprehensive railway network, a government-owned bus company and a bunch of private operators, numerous ferries plying routes to the many islands and a massive private minibus network. Long story short: You won’t have to walk.

Air travel

Domestically, Thailand is well served by full-service carriers such as flag carrier THAI and Bangkok Airways and low cost carriers such as AirAsia, Tiger Airways, Thai Smile, Thai Lionair and Nok Air.

There are plenty of domestic airports to choose from. Aside from the above-mentioned international airports, they include in northern Thailand Chiang Rai (CEI), Lampang (LPT), Mae Hong Son (HGN), Mae Sot (MAQ), Nan (NNT), Pai (PYY) Phitsanulok (PHS), and Sukhothai (THS); in the south of Thailand, Chumphon (CJM), Nakhon Si Thammarat (NST), Narathiwat (NAW), Ranong (UNN) and Trang (TST); in the northeast Khon Kaen (KKC), Loei (LOE), Nakhon Phanom (KOP), Ubon Ratchathani (UBP) and Udon Thani (UTH) and in the east Trat (TDX) and U-Taphao/Pattaya (UTP).

Fares with the budget carriers are often comparable to train or, in some cases, bus fares. Again Bangkok is the country’s main hub, though many of the budget carriers use only Don Muang airport. Be sure to allow enough wiggle room if needing to change airports for a connecting flight — three to four hours is reasonable and it is straightforward to catch a free shuttle bus between the airports.

Airline tickets can be purchased online direct with the airlines or through travel agents and third-party flight agencies. You can browse flight schedules and prices here.


Thailand has a somewhat creaking train network running from Chiang Mai in the north down through Bangkok and all the way south via Hat Yai and Surat Thani to the Thai-Malaysian border. It does not run to Phuket but there is a spur to Trang on Thailand’s southwest coast. From Bangkok there is also a western spur out to Kanchanaburi, plus two main lines run out to the east, one to the northern reaches of northeast Thailand at Nong Khai (convenient for Vientiane in Laos) and another heading to the eastern reaches of the region, terminating at Ubon Ratchathani (convenient for Pakse, also in Laos).

Train travel is reasonably affordable and comes in a variety of classes, from hard through to soft seat, fan-cooled bunks then air-con cabins. The quality is best described as comfortably rustic, though in mid-2016 the State Rail Authority of Thailand (SRT) unveiled brand-new modern sleeper carriages, which will initially be used on the Bangkok to Chiang Mai route before eventually being rolled out onto other long distance routes in the country. The State Railways have been aching for investment for some time now — both in the carriages and the trackwork —and the lack of TLC shows. That said, train travel is largely safe, comfortable and gets you to many of Thailand’s prime destinations. It is slow though. Tickets for sleeper services should be purchased at least a day or so in advance if possible or longer when it comes to holiday periods. Tickets be purchased from stations at a maximum of 60 days in advance. Tickets can be easily purchased online through Travelfish partner 12Go Asia.

If you are considering taking a 3rd class car for an overnight train trip, we’d suggest reconsidering. While it’s a great scenic adventure to Kanchanaburi or Aranyaprathet, the novelty does tend to wind down after a while. These cars have thinly padded wooden or plastic seats that will reduce your bottom to tears. Worse, there is no guarantee of a seat in a 3rd class car, and they often become standing-room only, particularly during peak periods.

The backpacker gold standard for train travel is fan-cooled 2nd class sleeper. These cars contain 40 seats facing each other in sets of two, which convert into reasonably comfy beds for the overnight trips. Each berth gets its own reading light, pillow, blanket and a fresh set of sheets. Your luggage travels with you on the train, stored in convenient racks next to your berth. One rack is shared between four bunks. Security on board is generally good, but it is still advisable to retain valuables like money, passport, and electronics in the bunk with you. Use a simple cable lock to secure your pack to the rack while you sleep.

If your budget can absorb it, then 1st class air-con sleeper is the way to go. First-class compartments accommodate two people in equal-sized upper and lower berths, and boast a sink with running water, in-room luggage racks, and lots of space. Even better, you can adjust the flow of air-con in the room to the level you want, the door fastens shut for added security, and you can turn out the lights when you are ready to sleep. Adjacent 1st class compartments have a pass-thru door, so you can party with your mates in comfort and style. Value for money, the first class berths are a world-class bargain.

When making reservations, keep in mind that the lower berths are the even numbers, while the cheaper upper berths are odd numbered. The best seats/beds are in the middle of the car, numbering from the mid-teens to the high 20’s, where you’ll be far from the foot traffic, toilets and the noisy doors at either end of the car. Many folks prefer to get an upper and a lower berth, meaning you’ll be sitting across from your travel partner before and after the beds are made up. The more expensive lower berths are larger and more comfortable. Both upper and lower have curtains for privacy, but the curtains on the lower berths do a much better job of screening out the lights, which stay on all night. An easy fix is earplugs and a sleep mask. Even so, don’t plan on your best night’s sleep ever.

For most people, unless you are travelling during the heart of the hot season (mid-March to early-May), paying extra for the air-con cars is unnecessary, as the air-con cars quickly turn into chilly meat lockers. The fans in the non-air-con cars are normally enough to keep you cool while you sleep. As an added bonus, the windows in the lower berths on the fan cars often can be opened, which makes it easier to interact with vendors and the countryside as it stretches by. The air-con cars, on the other hand, tend to be a bit newer and so in better condition. If you travel 2nd class air-con, be sure to cover up with your warmest clothes and ask for an extra blanket.

There is food for purchase on board and while some trains will have a meal car, don’t count on it. Meals are served at your seat in 1st and 2nd class, but it is no great shakes and not cheap either. Plan ahead and bring a few snacks and munchies with you. Besides meals, stewards carrying buckets filled with cold soft drinks will pass by endlessly. Beer and all other alcohol is officially banned on trains in Thailand. You’ll also enjoy a never-ending parade of independent food vendors who board the train or approach your window at stations and other stops.

There are bathrooms on board, located at either end of each train car. Toilets are usually arranged in pairs, with one western and one Asian-style toilet. In first class, there are also cold-water shower sprayers if you wish to clean up. With all toilets, your waste pretty much falls directly on the tracks. Because of that, it is bad form to use the bathroom while the train is in a station.

The trains tend to start their journey on time, but the overworked single track in most areas means that you’ll more than likely arrive an hour or two later than scheduled. This is important to know if you have follow-on flights, ferry connections or other arrangements planned at your destination.

As train travel becomes more popular with tourists and Thais alike, the era of buying your ticket the day you travel is fading. This is particularly true on the more popular Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Bangkok to Chumphon and Bangkok to Surat Thani routes, and any time during Thai holiday periods, during which trains sell out quickly and booking in advance is prudent.

A good rule of thumb is to make your reservations once your travel plans are certain, although some of the lesser-travelled routes, such at Bangkok to Nong Khai or Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani, often have seats available at the last minute. Train tickets can be purchased at any train station in Thailand, through streetfront travel agents and online. Travelfish partner 12Go Asia can book tickets on most popular train routes in Thailand.

Inter-provincial buses

The third tier of public transport in Thailand is the bus network. It is extremely comprehensive, with a hub and spoke set-up connecting most provincial capitals and then secondary services linked by second-tier services. Fares, especially on the fan-cooled buses, are very low. There is a State Company (The Transport Company 999) plus myriad private operators. Recommended and reliable private operators include Nakorn Chai Air, Sombat Tour and Green Bus.

Tickets can be bought at the bus station, online direct with the bus company, through travel agents and sometimes through hotels and guesthouses. They can also be purchases through Travelfish partner 12Go Asia

Buses generally come in air-con and fan-cooled flavours, with air-con often coming in a variety of classes from “regular” through to VIP. The more you pay, the larger and more comfortable your seating is. The air-con buses are generally of a reasonable standard while the fan-cooled ones can be pretty beaten up. VIP services are often positively luxurious.

Fan-cooled buses are four or five seats abreast with small rotating fans scattered along the roof or attached to the sides of the buses. Windows can generally be opened. Air-con buses are four seats abreast and the windows cannot be opened. VIP buses can be three or four seats abreast depending on just how VIP you are. The majority of air-con buses should have an on-board toilet. Fan-cooled buses do not generally have a toilet. Luggage is generally stored at the rear and perhaps the roof of fan-cooled buses, and underneath air-con buses.

While cheap and comprehensive, Thailand’s long-distance bus system does not however have an enviable safety record. Fatal accidents are far more common than they should be, especially on night bus services. Drivers driving recklessly, under the influence or just falling asleep are ongoing issues bus operators in Thailand are yet to successfully address. Our advice is to avoid night buses where possible and practical, to reduce these risks.

A second issue with bus transport in Thailand is theft. Theft, particularly on routes popular with tourists, is common. Do not, ever, store valuables in luggage that is stowed in the below-deck storage on buses. Never. Routes that we’d suggest as being especially high risk are Khao San Road to Chumphon and Surat Thani (with the connecting service to the islands) and Khao San Road to Chiang Mai. Further emphasis: Do not, ever, store objects of value in stowed luggage on a public bus in Thailand, especially private bus companies and any service offering pick up services from or delivery to Khao San Road.

All provincial capitals have at least one dedicated bus station, though these are sometimes in unwieldy locations to keep bus traffic out of downtown. They may require a local bus/tuk tuk/songthaew/taxi ride to reach in the first place. Some though not all bus companies offer either transfer services to the bus station or, more rarely, may pick you up from your hotel. Both the Transport company and private companies may use the main inter-provincial bus stations, though some private companies may also have their own depots.


Small, overloaded and often driven by complete maniacs, minibuses run more frequently (and faster) than the inter-provincial buses, offering another cog in the great machine that keeps people moving around Thailand. Popular routes aimed at foreign travellers include in particular the Chiang Mai to Pai run, along with a raft of services out of the Victory Monument area in Bangkok, but they are ubiquitous across the country — especially in southern Thailand, where short inter-provincial hops are often run primarily by minibus services.

Fares are reasonable, but, as with the larger buses, minibus accidents are way more common than they should be. The minibuses are generally arranged so that two passengers plus the driver are in the front then three (or sometimes four) in each row going back. Luggage is either on the roof, in the rear, in with the passengers or all three — making it more difficult to get out of the minibus quickly in the event of an accident. We’ve seen and experienced absolutely appalling levels of reckless driving at the hands of minibus drivers. Excessive speed and insane driving are often the golden standard. We avoid using minibuses whenever possible. It does nevertheless, remain a popular means of transport in Thailand.

In the past, minibuses have had their own pick-up points, but in some towns and cities authorities are trying to consolidate minibus services to central bus stations. An added attraction is that some minibus services may offer to pick you up at your hotel. On occasion they may drop or pick up at provincial bus stations, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the “office” is no more than a foldaway table and chair, a price signboard and a book of tickets.

Tickets are most easily bought at the minibus kiosk. For more popular tourist trunk routes you may also be able to purchase them through guesthouses and travel agents, but this is not always the case, and watch out for guesthouses adding a significant surcharge to the actual ticket price — guesthouses in Surat Thani are notorious for this. If they don’t sell tickets, a good guesthouse should be able to tell you where you can buy a ticket.

For popular routes (like the Chiang Mai to Pai leg mentioned above) minibuses fill up fast and it is prudent to book in advance. Minibus tickets can also be purchased online through Travelfish partner 12Go Asia. Private minibuses can be arranged through travel agents and are often used for private transfers, with the price by arrangement. Bangkok to Ko Chang is a route where these are often used.


Literally “two rows”, songthaews are an important form of local transport you’ll encounter across Thailand. Most often they’re a modified pick-up truck, with or without a roof, with two parallel bench seats installed on the rear part of the pick-up and a standing deck at the rear (people stand here and hang onto the roof when the interior is totally jammed). In some places, notably Phuket, songthaews can be larger flatbed trucks converted in the same manner to carry more people, but you’ll generally encounter the smaller pickup version.

Songthaews tend to run a specific route with set fares. They leave from their starting point either when full, by a timetable, or just whenever the driver feels like going. They can also be hired as a form of private transport. When crowded, luggage is placed on the roof, but can also be left in the aisle or stuffed under the seats.

Still widely used for provincial and inner-city travel (notably in Chiang Mai), songthaews are sometimes the only option for some fairly popular routes. These include Chiang Rai to Mae Salong, Mae Sot to Umphang, and Trat to the Ko Chang piers. You’ll also encounter them on many of Thailand’s popular islands, including Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Lanta (among others).

Metered taxis

Thailand’s metered taxis can be a comfortable and affordable way to get around — as long as the meter is on. Invariably jelly-bean coloured (just about all flavours are available), taxis can be found in Bangkok and a number of other larger cities including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Generally speaking, the smaller the city, the less likely the taxi will have a meter (though it will still most likely be jelly-bean coloured) and will be working on set fares instead. In large cities like Bangkok, if the taxi refuses to put the meter on, just get out and get another cab. Seriously, just get out — don’t even bother asking again. As long as you’ve waved down a moving taxi, you’re less likely to have problems with the driver refusing to put the meter on. Taxis parked outside hotels and tourist attractions can be stubborn in this regard, so don’t get them — walk down the road and flag one down instead.

The behaviour of airport taxis varies depending on the airport. Some will use the meter, others have the meter plus a surcharge, others still will be set fares. Some travellers report success in going up to airport arrivals and grabbing a taxi that has dropped people off then negotiating a fare, but we’d suggest this is a handy approach only if you already have an idea of what the expected fare should be. Likewise, if you use a cab off the street and are happy to negotiate with the driver, then it is useful to have a rough idea of what the ride on the meter would cost before you start bargaining down a set fee.

For longer distance trips like Bangkok to Ayutthaya, the price is always negotiated. Regardless of where you are travelling, unless you have made a prior arrangement with the driver, passengers are required to pay any road tolls on top of any metered fare. If you’re bargaining for a set fare, make sure it includes tolls as they can add up fast. It’s customary to tip good drivers who use the meter, especially for rides to/from the Bangkok airports. Bangkok has plenty of very good taxi drivers.

Motorbike taxis

A common sight across Thailand are clusters of (mostly male) motorcyclists in numbered, coloured vests gathered on street corners. Often used just for runs up and down sois, they can equally take you across the city — as long as the price is right. Short runs down the soi can cost as little as 10-15 baht while a run from lower Sukhumvit to Khao San Road might set you back 100 baht or so — fares are usually negotiable.

Why use a motorbike taxi? They’re fast and, for short distances, often cheaper than a taxi or tuk tuk. Why not use a motorcycle taxi? They’re (relatively) dangerous and, in wet season, you may well get very wet. Drivers will have a spare helmet to offer to passengers, but don’t expect A-grade quality, and that is about as far as safety concerns go. Always wear a helmet. In larger cities like Bangkok, a group of motorcyclists will “own” a corner, meaning if you try to wave down a passing motorbike taxi they’ll point you to those whose territory you are in. It is then just a process of explaining where you want to go, negotiating a fare and hanging on for the ride. As with negotiating taxis, unless you know the “right” fare, we’d suggest settling the price before you get on.

Drivers are available in a queue system and you are expected to take the next available driver. At motorbike taxi corners, fares to major nearby places are usually posted on a board in Thai, from cheapest to most expensive (or shortest to longest trips). Even if you can’t read Thai you can get an idea for how much rides should cost from these signboards.

Motorbike taxis can also be hired to run errands such as heading to the local convenience store to pick up a six-pack, something to eat, or tickets from a travel agent. Some Thai-language skills will be useful for this kind of thing. The riders often travel at high speed, often careening between the stalled city traffic. Keep your knees in tight if you value your kneecaps and always — always — wear a helmet. Accidents are common. Need it be said, if the driver is visibly stoned or drunk, wait for the next driver in the queue to be available. We’ve feigned a phone-call and a need to step away to avoid using a driver who looked, well, a bit too twisted.

Tuk tuks

The unofficial symbols of Thailand, nimble three-wheeled motorised transport machines known as tuk tuks may be found clambering through the streets of most Thai cities. Looked upon as novelties by many foreign visitors but as useful options for transporting people and supplies by locals, tuk tuks are as popular today as ever in Thailand. While a ride can be fun, watch out for motorcycle thieves snatching bags — always keep your bags secure while in tuk tuks.

The history of tuk tuks springs immediately from the history of rickshaws, or three-wheeled bicycles with a seat for passengers behind the driver. Although rickshaws have been found in many parts of the world for centuries, including Thailand, the name comes from the Japanese jinrikisha, which translates to “human-powered vehicle”.

Not surprisingly, then, the Japanese were the first to experiment with engine-powered rickshaws, and Thailand’s first tuk tuks were purchased from Japanese motor companies in the early 1930s. Most Thai tuk tuks are now produced domestically, but Japanese companies like Daihatsu continue to make descendants of the motorised rickshaw despite the open-air varieties having gone out of favour in Japan itself.

Thailand’s tuk tuks come in a wide array of styles. In touristy beach areas like Phuket, large versions that can fit up to eight people are the standard, and these often sport flashylight shows and pumping stereo systems. In the southern Thai city of Trang, and also in Ayutthaya just north of Bangkok, light green tuk tuks resembling frogs are typical. Northeastern and eastern Thailand go for tuk tuks fronted by a more classic-looking motorcycle and are often done up in amateur (but charming) paint jobs. And, of course, the classic blue and yellow low-roofed tuk tuks are standard in Bangkok, with Chiang Mai favouring a similar variety but usually with black and yellow paint jobs. Thanks to foreign tourists’ liking of them the cost of a tuk tuk ride is today virtually identical to a metered taxi fare in Bangkok.

Unlike taxis in big cities, which are generally metered in Thailand, and songthaews, which generally stick to predetermined routes and charge standard fares, tuk tuk drivers are often accused of over-charging. Whenever taking a tuk tuk, agree on a fare before setting off — and it’s usually a good idea to ask for a discount on the initial quote. If the price seems too high and the driver refuses to discount, politely walk away; tuk tuks are in no short supply in many of Thailand’s big cities and upon nearly losing a fare most drivers will relent.

Even for a relatively long distance (say Siam Square to Victory Monument in Bangkok), a tuk tuk ride should rarely run more than 100 baht, and it should never cost more than a metered taxi would be for the same route. If going all the way across town (say Morchit bus terminal to Silom Road), expect to pay more than 200, but never above 300 baht. In tourist destinations like Phuket and Hua Hin, however, tuk tuks have become wildly expensive due to the influx of foreigners and a lack of taxis or other reliable transport. A two-to-three kilometre ride in Phuket’s Patong beach area consistently runs 150 baht or more, which in our humble opinion, is nothing short of insanity.

It’s also worth mentioning that tuk tuks are often at the centre of various scams, and some unscrupulous tuk tuk drivers (we stress some) — we’ve found the vast majority of Bangkok tuk tuk drivers to be honest — spend most of their time at tourist hot spots like Khao San Road and lower Sukhumvit attempting to hustle tourists into buying drugs, sex, fake merchandise and bogus tours. If a tuk tuk driver approaches you away from their tuk tuk, don’t even bat an eye while avoiding them.

Similarly, if anyone — even if they’re dressed in an official-looking uniform — approaches you at a tourist sight and claims that it’s closed for the day, and that they can send you off on a tuk tuk to see some festival at a remarkably cheap price, don’t get duped. Once in the tuk tuk, drivers (who have arrangements with the aforementioned touts) have been known to aggressively push poor quality, grossly over-priced tours and other bookings, or to attempt to charm passengers into purchasing fake or over-priced gems or other merchandise. In short, the only service you should ever expect of a tuk tuk is to take you from point A to point B.

After spending extended periods of time in Bangkok, tuk tuks have honestly lost a little of their appeal for us. Call us crazy, but if having to endure Bangkok’s notorious traffic, we would prefer to watch it from the inside of an enclosed, air-con taxi rather than breathe it from a noisy, open-air tuk tuk. Still, tuk tuks do come in handy, and there’s nothing like that first tuk tuk ride in Thailand to get an immediate feel for the sights and sounds of the kingdom. Whether sitting in one or watching them pass, the tuk tuk does indeed embody Thailand’s laidback yet chaotic spirit in one colourful package.

Island travel: Ferries

With so many islands, there are no shortage of ferry operators happy to transport travellers to them. Quality of vessels and safety standards vary considerably and piloting, especially of speedboats (the most accident-prone option), is often reckless. We would recommend avoiding travel by speedboat where practical. The general rule is the larger the vessel, the safer the journey, but public ferries in Thailand may not always ascribe to safety standards that may be standard practice in your home country. Overloading remains common and boats may not have sufficient life jackets for the number of passengers carried. That said, accidents involving large ferries in Thailand remain relatively rare and standards have improved in recent years.

The blight on the copybook is the speedboats — we like to think of them as Thailand’s minibus of the sea. Often recklessly driven and overloaded, accidents, sinkings and fatalities are way too common. The services between Phuket and Ko Phi Phi and the islands to the south of Phuket in particular are notorious and, where feasible, we suggest you avoid speedboats for scheduled (and slower) public boats.

Tickets can be arranged in person, via travel agents, and, for the more popular trunk routes, online, through Travelfish partner 12Go Asia. Some services, notably the Lomprayah bus + ferry combo services from Bangkok to Ko Tao and Ko Pha Ngan, do fill up fast and, as with Thailand’s trains, once you know your dates, booking in advance can be prudent. Other commercial ferry operators from the mainland to Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao include Raja Ferry, Seatran and Songserm. Please see this post for a detailed wrap on how to get from Bangkok to Ko Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao.

Island travel: Longtails

While many of the more popular islands rely mainly on large passenger speedboats and ferries for transport, many islands such as Ko Libong, Ko Sukorn, Ko Adang, and Ko Bulon Lae, are still reached almost exclusively by longtail. In rough seas it can feel like a rollercoaster ride, and in calm conditions it’s a pleasure cruise. In any case, a longtail ride is always a thrill.

Known as reua hang yao in Thai, these wooden, banana-shaped boats have been used in Thailand for hundreds of years, with today’s versions usually featuring a diesel engine connected to a thin, lengthy rudder that resembles a long tail. These boats have proven to be agile and seaworthy vessels, perfect for shorter trips and shallow water. Before you get on board, however, it’s worth considering what you should not do while skipping the waves.

First off, do not wear shoes. Many of the islands lack proper piers, and longtails are built to slide up close enough to the beach that passengers can hop on and off, which usually entails wading through a bit of water. Wearing flip flops or sandals that can be readily taken off or submerged in water is a good idea. In rougher conditions, be prepared to hold your bags above the water while approaching a longtail, and when getting on and off at a pier take your time and make sure to have a solid footing before stepping to and from the boat.

For the driest seats look for a spot towards the back, away from the sides of the boat. If you get stuck at a seat towards the sides, especially on one of the front benches, be prepared for a shower. Although it may seem hard to believe, the platform at the very front is one of the driest places since this part of the boat cuts the ocean waves, sending the spray towards the boat’s middle section. Even if the seas are perfectly calm make sure to protect any non-waterproof electronics with some kind of rain cover.

Finally, longtail drivers are often tried and true veterans of the sea, and they often feel that no storm is too treacherous for them. If you happen to approach the boat and see two-metre breaks out at sea with black storm clouds in the direction you’re heading, do not wait for someone else to tell you it might not be the safest trip. Wait a few hours — or a few days if necessary— to ensure that your longtail ride will be a safe one.

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