Private transport



When time is more important than money, David Whitley reckons private taxi transfers are worth looking at in Thailand 


Sometimes the cheap, authentic option is not the best option. Whilst putting the plan for our Thailand trip together, there was one major snag: How to get from place to place.


From Bangkok to Hua Hin, it seemed obvious – get the train. So we booked train tickets online. Unfortunately, the trains didn’t fit in all that well with our flights. So we had to get into Bangkok, stay a night, then get a taxi to Bangkok’s main station before getting a train at 1pm the next day. By the time we were in Hua Hin, it was dark and we’d effectively wasted a whole day.


Whilst in Hua Hin, of course, we saw numerous signs for transfers to Bangkok airport. We could have landed at Bangkok airport, been transferred from outside the terminal to our hotel in Hua Hin and arrived late on the evening of arrival. It would have been a two-and-a-half to three hour transfer, and would have cost less than £60.


If ever you need an example of why doing things the cheap, authentic way isn’t always best, this is it. Sure, the train fares didn’t cost much, but the taxi fares (from the airport to the Bangkok hotel, from the hotel to the train station and from Hua Hin station to the Hua Hin hotel) mounted up.


Sometimes it’s not about money, though – it’s about time. Sure, if you’re travelling around Thailand for a few months, then ruling a day out for getting between places is fine. But if you’re on holiday for a couple of weeks, the time becomes more precious than the cash.


By the time we were in Hua Hin, I’d learned my lesson. Getting to the next stop – Kanchanaburi – was always going to be a pain in the arse. Delving into the murky forums of the internet, it seemed a train, then changing to a bus, was the best option. Not much fun when you’re carrying two people’s bags and suitcases. Even less fun when you consider how absurdly unreliable the timetables are.


So I asked at the hotel how much a taxi transfer from door to door would be – and the answer was 2,500 baht. That’s just over £50, but without any of the faff.


Sure, doing it the long way would have worked out cheaper (probably around 1,000 baht with bus tickets, train tickets and taxis from the station thrown in), but it would have taken all day. We were there within three hours and had the afternoon available for exploring.


Read a guide book, however, and you wouldn’t know this option was available. The Lonely Planet Thailand guide brings out many of Lonely Planet’s worst tendencies – banging on about temple after temple yet ignoring anything that could possibly be deemed fun, giving scant details about day tour options – and omitting the taxi transfer options is hugely annoying. It’s just assuming that everyone will put money ahead of time.


Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya would have been another two train, two taxi slog. We walked into a travel agent in Kanchanaburi, and booked one for 1,800 baht.  That’s just under £40 for a two-and-a-half hour door-to-door drive. Again, it’s an afternoon gained – well worth the extra £10ish each we would have saved going by public transport.


This option isn’t best for everyone, of course, but it’s worth knowing that it’s there for those who want to enjoy A and B rather than waste hours getting between them.

You can get Thailand included as a stopover in the Navigator RTW