Travel Thoughts: Bangkok’s Train System

Unlike Singapore where the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) is a network of lines that consist of elevated and underground stations, Bangkok has two distinct names for their subway system – BTS (Skytrain) and MRT (Subway). There is also the Airport Rail Link, which runs from 06:00 to midnight and connects downtown Bangkok with Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

1. BTS (Skytrain)

BTS (Skytrain)
BTS (Skytrain) and its ticket
BTS (Skytrain)
BTS (Skytrain): the interior - clean and new.
The BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System), also known as the Skytrain is a subway of sorts – it is an elevated railway system (above Bangkok’s traffic) that covers the major tourist areas. Fares are based on the number of stops (or stations) you will pass and start at 15฿.


2. MRT (Subway)

The subway is a separate system that intersects the BTS (Skytrain) at two "transit" points. This line is more commonly used by local commuters as it accesses the other parts of Bangkok. One way fares on the MRT start at 16฿ up to 41฿. 


3. Airport Rail Link

Airport Rail Link
Airport Rail Link
Airport Rail Link
Airport Rail Link ticketing machine and its coin tokens.
The Airport Rail Link connects commuters from the Suvarnabhumi International Airport to the MRT Makkasan City Interchange Station (MRT Petchaburi Station) and the BTS (Skytrain) at Phayathai Station. From Suvarnabhumi International Airport, the entrance to the Airport Rail Link service is on the first floor.


Travel Card: Rabbit Card

Singapore has its EZLink card, Taiwan the Easy Card, and South Korea the T-Money Pass, so Bangkok too has its very own stored-value card – the Rabbit Card. However, unlike its counterparts, the functions of the Rabbit Card seem to be limited in function (at the moment): while you can use it for trips on the BTS (Skytrain) and use it to buy items at some outlets of Black Canyon, McDonald's, Starbucks, and a few other retailers, you cannot use it for the MRT, the Airport Rail Link, buses and at tourists attractions (which makes it not so appealing for travelers). [Rabbit Card Guide and FAQ]
Given its limited function, if you are not visiting Bangkok that often and/or don't travel that much when you are there, it might be best to give this card a miss. But when it becomes more useful for the BTS, MRT and Airport Rail Link (in the future), it will be something worth getting. For now, if you really want this card, as a tourist, it would only help you save time from queuing at the ticket vending machines to purchase tickets for a single ride or get change from the cashier to purchase the tickets.

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