Travel in Thailand: from Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) to Bangkok by bus

February 10, 2013

Currently I am  in Thailand on holidays for three weeks. This will give me some time to relax, and to make preparations for moving here next year. The planning is relatively light though, as I mostly focus on relaxing and trying to gain some more momentum with studying for the GMAT.

Since my fiancée works in Nakhon Ratchasima it is also the place where I am staying. Nakhon Ratchasima is not really a large city, but it is the largest in the north eastern part of Thailand. When travelling to the north-east from Bangkok this will be the last “place of civilization” (or maybe the last “place of evil”; depending on what you prefer) before you will only see rice fields, buffaloes, and farms. The city is maybe better known as “the city of Korat” and often referred to as “the gateway to Isan”. Compared to Bangkok with its 10 million residents, Nakhon Ratchasima is almost nothing with around 150.000 people. But for as far as I have seen, the city has about everything one needs (shopping malls, supermarkets, hospitals, movie theaters, etc).

Nakhon Ratchasima bus terminal (the new one)

Nakhon Ratchasima bus terminal (the new one)

Getting in and out of the city is relatively easy by bus. Several bus companies do the Korat -Bangkok route, and they all depart from the same bus terminal in Nakhon Ratchasima (see the map above; you can search for the exactly location yourself on google maps by searching for “Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital Thailand” which is the hospital visible in the bottom right corner of the map).

Each bus company departs to Bangkok several times an hour almost 24/7. So there is no need to hurry to get there on time; if you miss the bus you wanted to take you can just take the next one. A ticket can be bought in front of the bus, in a boot where they give information and where you can pick your seat from the available seats:

You can buy your bus ticket to Bangkok here

You can buy your bus ticket to Bangkok here

The price for a ticket in September 2011 is 198 baht which is equal to about 5 euros with the current exchange rates (in 2012 the price was raised to 220 baht for a one-way ticket). When you purchase the ticket they will show you a screen with all the available seats and you can pick where you want to sit.

The ticket for the trip from Nakhon Ratchasima to Bangkok

The ticket for the trip from Nakhon Ratchasima to Bangkok

There is not much of a difference between the bus companies doing the Nakhon Ratchasima – Bangkok route. The buses are about the same, they all end up at the same place in Bangkok (the Mo Chit bus terminal), and they take about the same time to get there. The only difference can be a minimal difference in comfort level and the reputation of safety of the bus company.

The bus of another company for the same route

The bus of another company for the same route

Total travel time is about 4 hours, depending on traffic. And traffic can make a HUGE difference. If you travel during a holiday you can easily add a few more hours to the time the trip will take. Or if there is really bad weather, it will also take longer. Best is to keep in mind that Bangkok will be one big traffic jam around 5PM till 7PM. So try to avoid the buses that leave from here around 1PM till 3PM.

On board there is not much to do. You normally get a drink and something to eat. Below the treat we received last journey; some sort of cake thingy that did not taste that bad.

The low-cost snack which was included in the ticket price

The low-cost snack which was included in the ticket price

To make sure the people in the bus will not revolt against the bus company and torch the bus, they normally play some movies or comedies on the TV at the front of the bus. This is all done in traditional Thai style: volume is on “abnormal loud” and it is all in Thai of course. As a foreigner you will not enjoy these shows much as they will not play the latest blockbusters in English!

Inside the bus - with at the front the TV for playing "funny" shows

Inside the bus – with at the front the TV for playing “funny” shows

When you arrive in Bangkok be sure to get out as soon as possible if you have luggage stored under the bus: it will be put on the sidewalk for anyone to take. And when you arrive the hustling of the local taxi drivers also starts immediately. Do not take a taxi here though, but walk to the front of the bus terminal and look for the signs with directions where to get a taxi. You will see this sign soon and all taxi’s taken from this point will just turn the meter on which will always be cheaper than a hustling taxi driver who tries to ambush you when you get of the bus. Another great feature of picking a taxi here is that the taxi driver is obliged to take you where you want or he will have to leave without a passenger.

Get a taxi over here.

Get a taxi over here.

For questions/remarks you can contact me at: eric@stuckinthailand.com

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