How to ride the Bangkok BTS

Follow our guide to enjoy your commute on the Bangkok BTS. 

The Bangkok Mass Transit System, known as the BTS or Skytrain, has been in operation since 1999. The elevated track runs above the road connects corners of the city as the train glides above the traffic below.

In Thailand owning a car is a bit of a status symbol so some opt to sit in their own space rather than taking advantage of this comfortable and efficient way to zip around Bangkok. However many commuters choose the BTS as their preferred method of transportation and it can get busy during rush hour between 8:00 am and 10:00 am, and again between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm.

As Bangkok’s mass transit network is growing with the addition of new lines, more and more people are using the system to commute and in the evening to enjoy’s Bangkok’s nightlife. So for the comfort of your journey and your fellow travellers there are some unwritten rules of BTS etiquette for you to take heed of which we have listed below.

1. At the station.

Before you even reach the platform of the BTS you will need to get a ticket and enter through the barriers. If you are travelling with children or carrying bags or luggage, ask the guard to open the gate at the side of the barriers to avoid getting slammed by the sometimes veracious barriers! Remember if you have a bag you may be requested to have it checked by the guard, so willing do so.

2. Platform politeness.

Every platform has clear markings and arrows that indicate where people should disembark from the train and where to get in line to queue to alight. Be sure to stand in the correct line and do not loiter elsewhere. There are two entry lines for each side of the train door and bizarrely many people all queue behind one line even if it is nine people deep. So don’t be scared to make the first move to start a new line, and you will find that everyone will quickly follow suit!

3. Be patient. 

Wait for people to get off the train before boarding. The only interchange station at Siam can be particularly busy at times so you will be grateful for the arrows on the platform which avoid a scrum fight! 

4. Give up your seat.

On each bank of seats there are priority seats. One is allocated for the elderly and those who are pregnant or with children. Often those riding the BTS are engrossed in their phone so do not be shy to ask someone to move if you require their seat as they may not have simply have noticed that you need it. Likewise always give up your seat to a monk. There are designated seats for monks and if you are a woman refrain from sitting next to a monk. Also as a woman you should give up your seat if you are sitting next to the designated seat for monks if a monk boards the train as they will not use the seat if it means that they will be sitting next to a woman.

5. Be aware of your surroundings.

If it is busy make use of all space in the train. Stand in the central reservation between the seats rather than just around the doors to make more room. If the train is really busy and you are standing at the door, get off the train at the next station to let people off to free up the congestion even if it is not your stop. Likewise playing loud music or videos without the use of headphones isn’t very enjoyable for anyone other than yourself!

6. Know the rules

Did you know that you are not allowed to eat and drink on the BTS? On top of this avoid bringing food onto the train as the smell may make your fellow travellers queasy. In Singapore you are not allowed to bring durian fruit onto the mass transit network for this very reason so think before you buy your dinner on route home.