The real question here: to get around the city like a local, or like a tourist. Our options are the Bangkok public bus and a ‘Tuk Tuk’. The journey was from Khao San Road to MBK Center. They are in different parts of Bangkok and Google Maps will tell you its about a 25 minute ride. The bus took about 1.5 hours and costs 6.5 Baht (about 24 cents). The Tuk Tuk cost 200 Baht (about $10) and took 45 minutes. The answer, as in most cases, is that there is a time and a place for both.
A ‘Tuk Tuk’ is a little moped with a quasi make shift cab in the back to seat up to three people. Drivers will often customize these in a ‘Fast & Furious’ style with large
obnoxious exhaust pipe and brightly colored faux snake skin seats. They are mostly old, and riding in a vehicle behind one can have the same effect on your lungs as smoking a 37 pack of cigarettes a day (I know this because I am definitely a medical doctor). These guys are everywhere on Khao San Road saying ‘Tuk Tuk’ like the seagulls from Finding Nemo saying ‘mine mine mine mine’.
All that being said, Tuk Tuks are much faster than public transportation and can be a thrilling experience, plus if you find a driver that speaks english they will be able to help you learn more about their city – always a plus. What is enjoyable about the Tuk Tuk ride is that its gets you right down to eye level with other commuters, thus creating some fun photo opportunities =)
The public bus on the other hand was a much different experience. The lovely lady at the front desk of my hostel helped me figure out what bus to take, so I waited at the bus stop in the hot, sticky sun for about 30 minutes. Maybe ‘bus stop’ is the wrong word because the busses don’t actually stop, they slow down just long enough for passengers to hop on and off. Once inside there is soft, traditional Thai music playing, the windows are all open and the wood floors are beautifully worn in. Most bus riders were smiling and the few I tried to get directions from were happy to help as much as my lack of speaking Thai would allow.
Driving only a few inches from the car (bus) next to you is fairly common in Bangkok