Bangkok Transport I

Most visitors to Bangkok get around by sky train, underground, metered cabs or tuk-tuks. But if you want to go local with a little flair, try a motorcycle taxi through the city’s traffic-laden streets.

When do four lanes turn into six, eight, even ten? When motorcycles ply the streets of Bangkok. And ply them they do. Using every lane, alleyway, driveway, parking lot, and sometimes sidewalk, these handy little bikes are often the best choice for getting around Bangkok’s neighborhoods quickly. Darting in, out, and around cars, trucks, busses, pedestrians and other cycles is the M.O. of these daring motor jockeys, and they are generally given the right of way – either that or they take it.

Not only are motorcycle taxis readily available for hire around the city, as with much of the region, they’re often the ‘family truckster’. Although these 100cc, two stroke conveyances are built for one or two passengers, don’t be surprised if you see three, four or even five passengers riding back-to-belly along Bangkok’s street.

Lining up at an intersection on the back of one of these little machines is like the start line of a motocross race. Fifty to a hundred riders make there way to the front of the queue, jockying for position. Those in a hurry rev there engines, muscles tensed, eyes forward, eagerly awaiting the signal change.

For less than the cost of a tuk tuk ride (but more than the price of a bus) you may want to opt for a motorcycle taxi sojourn for your next neighborhood hop. Motorcycle taxis are ideal for short-distance travel, with fixed prices and cool, competent drivers (although admittedly some tend to exude the fragrance of last night’s Mekong whiskey-fest). Motorcycle taxi drivers know the streets of their respective Bangkok ‘hoods like nobody else. In fact, if you’re ever lost, ask a one of these green or orange vested road warriors for directions. If they don’t know where you want to go, nobody does.

A motorcycle ride can be an adrenalin rush. It’s certainly a genuine transport experience shared by Bangkok school children, office workers and grocery-toting grandmas alike. But be warned: taking a ride is not for the faint of heart. Be sure to hold on tight, keep your knees close as you weave through stand-still traffic, and try not to scream when you take off on a dime at the next green light!


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