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mardhi

long distance bus travel in Thailand

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This is often an emotive subject with many complaining about huge amount of Fatality's on bus travel. This is just what I have observed over the last year of using some of the bus services.

 

The first thing to take into account is the question of all the accidents. From what I have seen, these accidents seem to be a mix of local charter buses and regional bus services. The services I am talking about are the intercity services that link the main points. There are like Qantas with a South American crop dusting plane. Basically chalk and cheese.

 

For a start, I cannot recall reading about a serious crash involving these coaches in the 13 years I have lived here.

 

There are however different levels of service/seat even within the same company/route. VIP services are considered as the best. Typically 24 or 32 seats per bus, depending upon single or double decker bus. Different brands all have different but similar offerings. Seating is normally 3 abreast in single and double seat plan. Seats are big with lot of legroom and a serious recline. Basically comparable to an airline business class long haul seat before they switched to lie flat beds.

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I have used VIP services on Two companies. 999 transport company and Sahaphan company. Both have similar products but very different pricing.

 

Booking bus travel had often been a pain in the arse until Thai Ticket Major came to the rescue. From their website you can now book both of the above companies bus services. Even better is the website is dual language with both Thai and English options.

 

I cannot put a link as typing this on my tablet but just Google them, find the site, switch to English and see the bus travel box on the right hand side.

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Until you see Morchit bus terminal in Bkk, you would never comprehend just how huge the business is of moving people around this country.

 

Sat last night in Mukdahan, a border city with Lao. OK we got there early due to uncertainty about delays at the border (there were none, hence being so early). I saw in the space of 90 minutes 6 double decked coaches Leaving for Rayong via Pattaya. Also saw 15 Double deckers, including ours, leaving for Bangkok.

Edited by mardhi

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So back to the services, product and price.

Between bkk and Mukdahan as an example, 999 company charge about 890b one way. Sahanapan charge 633b. The. VIP service is virtually identical.

 

First class on Sahanapan is 533b. For a 100b difference, its a no brainer which service to take. 1st class, while good, is just like a regular coach seat with slightly better legroom and recline than normal on a 52 seat coach.

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On the numerous times using both these company's I have always sat wherever possible on the lower deck. Lower deck has only 6 seats and has less 'roll' than upstairs. On all occasions the driving has been excellent and ast moderate speed. These are the minibus drivers you so often see.you choose seats via an online seat map, so its easy to tell lower and upper deck when booking.

 

All the buses have toilets on board and stop about every 3 hours for toilet breaks. The VIP buses I have seen from these two companies have also been in very good condition. I have also seen other buses that look crap, hence the comment that there is not one standard across all the operators. One other that I have heard excellent reviews on is NCA however they seem to be Chiang Mai centric and do not go between bkk and mukdahan.

Edited by mardhi

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I have used VIP services on Two companies. 999 transport company and Sahaphan company. Both have similar products but very different pricing.

 

Booking bus travel had often been a pain in the arse until Thai Ticket Major came to the rescue. From their website you can now book both of the above companies bus services. Even better is the website is dual language with both Thai and English options.

 

I cannot put a link as typing this on my tablet but just Google them, find the site, switch to English and see the bus travel box on the right hand side.

 

http://www.thaiticketmajor.com/index_eng.php

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It's too bad they can't send you a ticket electronically (to your email address) though. The alternative is snail mail or "at the venue". Not sure what that means (at the bus station, at the website's service locations around town?) Well, it's a good beginning.

 

A few glitches: I ride the Bangkok->Bang Saphan route often, but when I entered Bang Saphan as the destination all I got was "nothing found". Oh well.

 

At least it solves the problem of having to go into the bus station the day you have to leave and hoping there's a bus seat available at the time you want to leave.

...

I prefer trains over buses though, at least for long haul. Those 2nd class sleepers are a thing of beauty. Plenty of room for your gear, walk around whenever you want, food and beer delivered to your table, restaurant car you can loll around in. Sure, they're slower, but if you're sleeping all night, who cares. I can never sleep on a bus. (I'm not Thai.)

.....

I traveled on a lot of buses leaving from Khao San before I got smart. They're private buses run on a shoestring and dangerous. Breakdowns, air con failure, and things like only one driver for a 12 hour night drive up to Chiang Mai (you have to keep the guy from falling asleep). One night I was on one of these buses coming back from Chiang Mai as it collided with a motorbike. The bus driver stopped the bus, opened the door and looked back in the rear view mirror at the wreckage, made sure no one was moving, put the bus back in gear and drove on. No phone call, nothing.

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It's too bad they can't send you a ticket electronically (to your email address) though. The alternative is snail mail or "at the venue". Not sure what that means (at the bus station, at the website's service locations around town?) Well, it's a good beginning.

 

A few glitches: I ride the Bangkok->Bang Saphan route often, but when I entered Bang Saphan as the destination all I got was "nothing found". Oh well.

 

At least it solves the problem of having to go into the bus station the day you have to leave and hoping there's a bus seat available at the time you want to leave.

...

I prefer trains over buses though, at least for long haul. Those 2nd class sleepers are a thing of beauty. Plenty of room for your gear, walk around whenever you want, food and beer delivered to your table, restaurant car you can loll around in. Sure, they're slower, but if you're sleeping all night, who cares. I can never sleep on a bus. (I'm not Thai.)

.....

I traveled on a lot of buses leaving from Khao San before I got smart. They're private buses run on a shoestring and dangerous. Breakdowns, air con failure, and things like only one driver for a 12 hour night drive up to Chiang Mai (you have to keep the guy from falling asleep). One night I was on one of these buses coming back from Chiang Mai as it collided with a motorbike. The bus driver stopped the bus, opened the door and looked back in the rear view mirror at the wreckage, made sure no one was moving, put the bus back in gear and drove on. No phone call, nothing.

You can pick tickets up at any Thai major ticket office but I just pick them up at their office at Morchit bus station. The ttm office just pull up the booking and print them there and then.

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Have done the BKK- Mukdahan overnight bus, pretty uneventful actually. Just went to morchit and booked the ticket an hour or two before departure. I was the only farang on the bus, they gave me a seat with extra leg room, not that I need it at all. The journey is just flat but I did manage to get a bit of sleep and to wake up looking at the rice fields is quite relaxing in the early morning. It is almost 100% flat and straight so can't see how it could be dangerous and the drivers keep to a consistant speed.

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Have made a trip numerous times from Morchit to the Roi Et area (Suwannaphum and Phanom Phrai) and never experienced a single problem. It was a (approx.) 7 hours drive including a 30 min. stop (same place every time) coupon for a meal included in the price as were soft drinks on the bus. Traffic pretty heavy leaving BKK but after heading North on the highway for about one hour, that being early morning or late night, there were practically no traffic at all. n most occasions i chose the early morning bus and when arriving in the Roi Et District i could enjoy the view of the rice fields - and the silence of no traffic. The bus was more or less alone on the road until we got close to a village where a few cars and a lot of Motobikes could be seen.

 

Would for sure reccomend a trip or two or even more in a long.distance bus. It is cheap and a great experience.

 

Have my bext trip booked for January and have booked but not yet paid all hotels in BKK so i am considering taking a bus to Chiang Mai/Rai or Nonk Khai for a few days.

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I had to do a visa run to Lao last week so thought I'd check out the VIP bus option from Bangkok described by mardhi.

 

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I sat in the downstairs compartment which only houses 6 passengers, had a solo seat. Not only do they have a serious recline but they have buttons you press to give you a massage as well!

 

We left Mo Chit at 20:30 and arrived in Mukdahan at about 06:45, I think we only stopped in Korat which was about 3 hours into the journey. The roads were very quiet, especially with the midnight curfew still in effect as well.

Done that trip as well. Piece of cake. Only a short wait at the border, crossing the bridge to Savannakhet (misspelled i know) and about ½ an hour cueing at the thai embassy. Fcuk everything is so much cheaper in Lao... Funny thing was that my thai sim was still working as it could catch the signal from Mukdahan just acroos the Mekong river,

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Done that trip as well. Piece of cake. Only a short wait at the border, crossing the bridge to Savannakhet (misspelled i know) and about ½ an hour cueing at the thai embassy. Fcuk everything is so much cheaper in Lao... Funny thing was that my thai sim was still working as it could catch the signal from Mukdahan just acroos the Mekong river,

Yeah I still had mobile signal near the consulate but I then had to find a net cafe for my boss to fax me some paperwork, I'd gone too far inland so no more AIS, I grabbed a tuk tuk and told him to drive back towards the mekong until I could get back on the grid again!

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I know how to drive heavy vehicles. I can tell you I find their driving just scary. I am just surprised they don't report more causalties on Thaï roads with what I saw.

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Is your avatar a pair of shitty panties ?

 

Nope.

It's a pic posted in the sister forum to stigmatize a BM who supported me. I added it to my avatar to support the BM.

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Yes they are. Just enlarged the picture.

 

I don't care for the moment. I will see to change my avatar later on.

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I want to work on a new one but it takes time and I need to be in a good mood to do it.

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