Thailand Night Bus

Thailand Night Bus

By Laura Mayer for

A very popular and budget-friendly way to get from one place to the next is by taking the Thailand night bus. As trains sometimes fill up weeks in advance, buses can usually be booked at the same day and are relatively cheap. There are different tour operators and possibilities.

Walk into a travel agency in a random tourist area and you will get a VIP tourist bus: Free pickup at your hotel, easy going, and just as easy to get robbed on these buses. The staff has a long reputation for ‘sorting out’ your stuff for free in the luggage compartment while you sleep above.

You can also decide to do it yourself and buy your ticket at the local bus station.

To make things easier here is a short explanation about the various types of Thailand night buses, the pros and cons of booking a tourist bus versus a local bus, and some general tips to make your bus journey more enjoyable:

Tourist VIP bus

Usually 40 seats. You can recline your seat and there is a toilet on board. The buses are air-conditioned, blankets are provided. Seats are numbered. Sometimes a small bottle of water is provided. Tickets are sold in travel agencies and these buses are basically for tourist transport. Usually a free pick up from your accommodation is included in your ticket.

  • Pros: Cheap and easy to book.
  • Cons: Many people get robbed on these buses! Be careful with your luggage, don’t leave any valuables in the bag that goes into the luggage compartment. The staff is usually not too friendly.

TIP: Compare prices of different agencies when you buy your bus ticket through a travel agency. Some are more expensive than others while they work with the same (tourist) bus companies.

Night buses leaving from the local bus terminal: Prices and classes may vary per company. Usually multiple companies offer tickets to the same destinations.

You can differentiate between various classes and types of buses by looking at the color of the stripe on the side of the bus:

  • Blue stripe: First class, 40 seats
  • Yellow stripe: VIP, 32 seats
  • Pink stripe: VIP+, 24 seats

All of these night buses are air-conditioned, provide blankets, have an on-board toilet and you can recline your seat. The less seats, the more leg space!

The destination of each Thailand night bus is written on the side, as well as a car number. In some cases a (simple) meal voucher, a snack and a small bottle of water is included in your ticket. This voucher can be used for a simple meal or snack during the short break, usually after a couple of hours driving.

Making Your Own Way

Purchasing tickets at the bus station can usually be done on the same day.

  • Pros: Usually more friendly staff and better buses than the tourist VIP buses, and people are more quiet. Less cases of theft on these buses.
  • Cons: You have to arrange your own transport to the local bus station. In many cases the bus stations are located outside of town. Also, it can be a little bit more complicated comparing prices and deciding on the best company.

Some Tips for a Better Thailand Night Bus Experience

  • Keep your valuables with you at all times!
  • Sometimes loud movies or music are played, if bothered bring earplugs.
  • Use mosquito repellent – yes, there are mosquitoes.
  • Night buses in Thailand have air-conditioning and can get cold. Bring a sweater if you get cold easily.
  • Don’t drink too much water. There is a toilet on the bus but in most cases it is not very pleasant to use.
  • During the break, look for a number or a way you can recognize your bus. Sometimes many of the same buses stop at the same time and it can be confusing finding your bus.
  • Keep your ticket — sometimes they use it as a reference for your luggage.

The most important rule of taking a Thailand night bus is to never put anything you care about into the luggage compartment!

Discovering days or even weeks later that something is missing has long been a problem for the ‘checked’ bags on Thailand night buses. Read more about theft on overnight buses.

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