Boats & Trains & Wacky things: Bangkok's traffic jam alternatives
The first thing that most newcomers to Bangkok notice about the city - other than the poor quality of the air - is the traffic. Nasty bumper-to-bumper mayhem spreads its tentacles across the city and holds commuters captive virtually around the clock. There seems to be no escape from the terminal gridlock and the ensuing toxic fumes.
For those people that can afford its relatively steep fares, the new BTS (Bangkok Transport System) Skytrain is a fabulous way to get around the congested city. For frustrated commuters it has certainly been a godsend. Trips across town that used to take an hour or more can now be completed in mere minutes. The Skytrain's biggest handicap is that it covers a fairly limited route. It doesn't extend into the suburbs nor does it go to the airport or the popular Grand Palace area. Still, where it does take you, it gets you there quickly and in air-conditioned comfort. As lovely as it is, though, the Skytrain is not without its handicaps. If you're changing trains, particularly at the busy Siam station, prepare to do battle with hordes of teenagers and aggressive women toting shopping bags and cell phones. They will blatantly cut the line and charge past you, intent on claiming the first available seat. Getting to the train itself is also bit on an ordeal. Even though BTS has finally installed escalators at all the stations, those pleasant people movers are found at only one of the several street entrances, leaving most commuters the tiring task of climbing the equivalent of four flights of stairs to reach their train. You want a good workout? Forget the gym and take the Skytrain!