First-time visitors to Bangkok are often overwhelmed by the size of it. While Bangkok proper only has an estimated population of five million, when you count its surrounding suburbs and the Bangkok metropolitan area as a whole, the population swells to around fourteen million people.
With nearly 20% of the population of Thailand living in the Bangkok area, you can see how important the city is to the economic engine of the country. Like all big cities, Bangkok has invested billions of dollars into infrastructure that moves people around the capital as fast as possible. For those looking to maximise the number of things they see while visiting, renting a car in Bangkok is a fantastic way to go.
During the daytime in the city proper, traffic is in a near-constant state of stop-and-go gridlock. For this reason, if you want to get anywhere quickly in a car, you’ll want to take the express tollway, also known as the Sirat Expressway. This loops around much of the city and has major exits into most of the well-known neighbourhoods.
During rush hour, the traffic comes to an almost complete standstill, except on toll roads, though traffic headed into the city will be less severe than traffic leaving the city.
If you’re staying anywhere in the Sukhumvit or Old Town areas of Bangkok, your best bet is to take the Metro and the MRT: Bangkok’s public transit subways and elevated rail system. These rails go through all of Bangkok’s most popular districts, and most major attractions will have a station located nearby.
It’s important to note that unlike metro systems in the United States where all trips cost the same, in Bangkok, you’ll pay based on your start and end points. The further you go, the higher the fare will be. When factoring in multiple people and metro fares, it might make sense to rent a car during your time in Bangkok.
Why Rent a Car if Traffic Is Bad?
Once you’ve seen the Grand Palace, the Golden Buddha, and a few of the city’s other famous landmarks, there isn’t a whole lot to do besides shopping and eating. At this point, many people leave Bangkok for something more picturesque, like Koh Phi Phi or Phuket.
What many people don’t realise is that there are many amazing sights to see just an hour or two from Bangkok. If tourists do learn that these places exist, they may think the only way to see them is to shell out large amounts of money for cramped tour vans that only allow you twenty or thirty minutes to enjoy each location.
Having a rental car all to yourself, you’ll be able to see any site you wish and take as long as you want to see it. Renting a car also begins to make sense for multiple people travelling together, as numerous tickets for tourist vans can add up to the same cost as renting a car—depending on the size of your group and the length of your stay, it can be even more expensive.
Famous sites such as the ruins of Ayutthaya (one of the original ancient capitals), the waterfalls of Kanchanaburi, the bridge over the river Kwai, and the famous floating market of Samut Songkhram are all within a two hour drive of Bangkok.
Make Bangkok the Jumping-Off Point for Your Thailand Vacation
When factoring in the discounts that can be had when multiple people book a car for a week or longer, renting a car makes a ton of sense. With your rented car, you will have complete freedom to see all that central Thailand and the Bangkok area truly have to offer, rather than being stuck on a guided tour through worn out tourist traps.
Once you’re outside the city, you’ll quickly find that the traffic returns to a leisurely pace, and the city soon gives way to quieter towns on its outskirts. Within a couple of hours of driving, you’ll be far away from the non-stop race of Bangkok and riding around the quiet streets of Kanchanaburi or Ayutthaya. When you get a little off the beaten path, you just might find the Thailand you were looking for all along!