The Bangkok Mass Transit System, commonly known as the BTS or the Skytrain (Thai: rot fai fa), is an elevated rapid transit system in Bangkok, Thailand. The system consists of 35 stations along two lines: the Sukhumvit Line running northwards and eastwards, terminating at Mo Chit and Samrong respectively, and the Silom Line which serves Silom and Sathon Roads, the central business district of Bangkok, terminating at National Stadium and Bang Wa. The lines interchange at Siam Station and have a combined route length of 37.6 kilometers (23.4 mi).
THERE ARE TWO BTS LINES:
SILOM LINE runs west to south, between the National Stadium in the Siam shopping area and Bang Wa in Thonburi (across the Chao Phraya River).
SUKHUMVIT LINE runs north to east from Mo Chit to Bearing. The two lines meet at Siam Station, and also connect at two points with the underground (MRT) – at Sala Daeng Station (Silom Line) and Asok Station (Sukhumvit Line). A new train arrives every 3 – 6 minutes or so between 06:30 and midnight. The last train leaves between 23:30 and 23:50. Fares start at 15 baht for one stop.
Note that trains can get pretty full during peak hours (07:00 – 09:00 and 16:00 – 19:00), as the BTS has also become the choice mode of transport for people living and working in Bangkok.
Besides the BTS, Bangkok’s rapid transit system includes the underground and elevated MRT railway lines, and the elevated Suvarnabhumi Airport Link (SARL), serving several stations in the city before reaching the airport.
N8 : MO CHIT BTS STATION
Mo Chit BTS Station, one of the busiest stations, puts you at the doorstep of Chatuchak Weekend Market, Or Tor Kor Market and Rot Fai Park. It also connects with MRT Chatuchak Station.
Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is held every Saturday and Sunday (with a wholesale section on Friday nights), is famous for being the largest market in Bangkok, and one of the largest in Asia. Nearby, visitors to Mo Chit BTS Station can walk to other shopping option such as JJ Green for fashion or Or Tor Kor Market, which specialises in top grade fresh produce. There is also a large park, Rot Fai Park, close to the BTS Station, which is a popular spot for picnics and bike rides on the weekend.
Mo Chit BTS is also the closest station to Bangkok’s busy northern bus terminal (Mo Chit Bus Station), which connects the capital to popular tourist destinations in Thailand such as Ayutthaya, Sukhothai and Chiang Mai.
N7 : SAPHAN KWAI BTS STATION
Saphan Kwai BTS Station, overshadowed by neighbouring Ari and Mo Chit, is where to find all kinds of specialty shops, from second-hand books to amulets, Thai costume rentals to gambling accessories. The area also offers a vast array of tasty street-side grub, and there is also a large Big C Supercentre that sells everything from fresh produce to TVs and fashion items.
There is also a popular local nightlife zone near Saphan Kwai BTS on Sutthisan Winitchai Road (near Pahon Yothin Soi 16). After dark, several beer bars, karaoke lounges and go-go bars open their doors until late, welcoming mostly local males of all ages. Popular venues on this much-talked-about road include RCA 2, T Det 99, Beer Park and Ban Phai.
As for attractions, there is the Philatelic Museum (collection of Thai stamps dating back to the 19th century) and Poon Tao Gong Shrine where you can find Chinese Opera performances on occasion.
N5 : ARI BTS STATION
Ari BTS Station, fast becoming one of Bangkok’s most lively expat neighbourhoods, is peppered with high-rise condos and hip eateries tucked away in its maze of sois (lanes). Explore the area on foot and discover a delightful array culinary culture from around the globe.
Top restaurants here include Rock Restaurant, as well as Pla Dib for Japanese food and Salt for modern Thai with a twist. Next to the Ari BTS station is the popular ‘The Villa’ community mall. In the daytime, this three-storey shopping mall serves mainly as a fashion hub, whilst as night falls the downstairs beer gardens and restaurants fill up with the neighbourhood’s fashion-conscious crowd. Ari Soi 1 is full of boutique shopping options, and this soi, as well as 2, 3 and 4 are all filled of hip cafes and funky bars that serve good coffee alongside beers and cocktails.
N3 : VICTORY MONUMENT BTS STATION
Victory Monument BTS Station is at the heart of a busy commercial area north of Siam, a neighbourhood full of affordable fashion options, lively nightlife and busy local restaurants. It is also the main hub for land transport, where you can transfer to local buses and minivans running to all parts of Bangkok and other popular tourist destinations such as Khao Yai, Ayutthaya, Koh Samed, Pattaya and Kanchanburi.
This is also one of the most iconic stations in Bangkok; as the train makes its way from Victory Monument BTS to Ari, passengers are treated to an impressive view of the huge roundabout and central statue commemorating the country’s victory in the Franco-Thai War.
Please note that Victory Monument BTS Station has a different name in Thai (อนุสาวรีย์ชัยสมรภูมิ, Anusawari Chai Samoraphum) and this is the more widely used name for this station amongst taxi drivers and locals.
N2 : PHAYA THAI BTS STATION
This station is your gateway to the beautiful heritage houses and museum at Suan Pakkad Palace, King Power Duty Free Mall and the Baiyoke Sky Hotel’s 360-degree revolving view deck. It also connects the BTS with the Airport Rail Link, which zips across the city to Suvarnabhumi Airport in just 15 minutes.
The Baiyoke Tower, which is a few minutes’ walk from Phaya Thai BTS Station, became famous in Bangkok when it opened in 1997 as Thailand’s tallest building, measuring nearly 1000 feet tall. As well as this huge tower, the surrounding area is popular for shopping, and the sprawling Pratunam Market can also be accessed from Phaya Thai BTS Station. This market specializes in cheap clothing, accessories and souvenirs.
N1 : RATCHATHEWI BTS STATION
Ratchathewi BTS Station is just a few minutes’ walk to Pratunam – the epicentre of wholesale clothing and wacky street fashion. If the thoughts of ladyboys with tremendous stage talent pique your curiosity, head over to Calypso Cabaret at the station’s very doorstep. Elsewhere, there is also the lively Coco Walk (exit 4), which is comprised of rows of fun Thai-style pubs with live music, cheap drinks and live sports on the weekend.
For those wanting to access the popular Pantip Plaza (electronics) as wells as Platinum Fashion Mall and Pratunam Market, then Ratchathewi BTS is your closest option. However, these malls are still around 5 or 10 minutes walk, or around 2 minutes by taxi. Please be advised that this area can become very busy during rush hour, and is particularly prone to long traffic jams.
Thong Lo – or Thonglor (Sukhumvit Soi 55) – is the meeting ground for Bangkok’s young, urban and chic types. It has a fascinating line-up of outdoor boutique malls as well as concept restaurants and bars. But the real action begins after sundown, as the hip and well-to-do crowd descends on Thonglor for a fun and intoxicating night out.
The main action happens around Thonglor Soi 10, with clubs like Muse, Demo, Funky Villa, Eskobar and Nang Len all packed-out most nights after 22:30. For a slightly more chilled out scene, recommended venues include the uber-cool Iron Fairies and Fat Gutz, as well as Octave rooftop bar and the quirky WTF cafe. There is also some superb street food to be had on Soi 38 and some critically acclaimed restaurants dotted around the Thonlor area too.
E7 : EKKAMAI BTS STATION
Ekkamai BTS Station, with one foot still in the old Bangkok of yesteryear and another in a world defined by global culture, is where mom-and-pop-style shop-houses meet a new wave of chic eateries – and it’s home to some of Bangkok’s most charismatic pubs.
The main Ekkamai Road (Sukhumvit 63) runs adjacent to the popular Thonglor Road (Sukhumvit 55), and therefore this is often considered to be part of the same affluent Thonglor area, with plenty of upscale bars, cafes and restaurants serving Bangkok’s hip youth culture. The nearby Bangkok University also ensures that seats are filled in this neighbourhood most night of the week, with many venues offering cheap drinks alongside live music. For shopping, this station has a direct connection to Major Ekkamai, home to a modern cinema, bowling alley, karaoke lounges and a modest mall, as well as the cool Japanese concept mall, Gateway, with lots of Japanese inspired eateries.
E8 : PRA KHANONG BTS STATION
E12 : UDOM SUK BTS STATION
This station is at the doorstep of Soi Udom Suk (Sukhumvit 103), home to a large concentration of street-side restaurants serving superb made-to-order and a-la-carte Thai and Chinese dishes. There are also a handful of garden restaurants offering affordable Thai-style barbecues. Although relatively off downtown centre, Udom Suk is worth making a trip to if what you want is a tasty and affordable meal.
E13 : BANGNA BTS STATION
Bangna is a gateway to the eastern outskirts of Bangkok, with access to the expressways that head towards Pattaya, Rayong and other eastern provinces. The area features many modern shopping malls, restaurants and large-scale regional conference centre (BITEC).
E14 : BEARING BTS STATION
Bearing is at the easternmost edge of Bangkok. Beyond here is Samrong, Samutprakarn Province. There’s not much going on around the station itself. For sight-seeing, a short taxi ride from the station will get you to Erawan Museum and, farther away, Bang Pu seaside retreat and Muang Boran (The Ancient City).