One great thing about living in Bangkok is being able to make short weekend trips out to neighbouring towns, whether it be a beach break or a couple of days in a quiet town away from the big city. Unfortunately, only one of Bangkok’s main bus stations (the Eastern bus terminal at Ekamai) is close to a BTS skytrain station. The large northern bus station is a 70-90 baht taxi ride from the Mo Chit end of the BTS line (which isn’t much, but also adds the hassle of an extra connection) and the southern bus terminal is across the river in Thonburi.
Although it’s not well featured in the main travel guides, we have been making good use of the public minivan system, which is quite convenient to use with vans leaving frequently from a large depot right next to the Victory Monument skytrain station, going pretty much anywhere within a few hours of Bangkok.
With the number of passengers being lower than a bus (around 12 for a full minivan) they tend to fill up quickly and also keep to a fairly regular schedule of departures every 20-30 minutes. There’s also a good chance of being dropped somewhere in the centre of town at your destination, likely at the particular minivan company’s offices, with an outside chance of being dropped instead at a Tesco Lotus or Big C if the van is just passing through (but if this is the case usually the person at the ticket office will tell you when you buy your ticket).
Once on the road the minivans make for a faster trip than a large bus, which can be good but also has its downsides depending on how you feel about a lack of seatbelts.
The other potential drawback to compact travel is luggage space, making it best if not carrying more than can sit on your lap or between your legs, although as always in Thailand there is a solution if willing to pay for an extra seat to hold the bigger bags. With ticket prices hovering around 100 baht or so depending on the destination, often this wouldn’t cost more than the hassle of getting to one of the larger bus terminals anyway.
And of course the other benefit to arriving back at Victory monument is the chance to see how many bowls of boat noodles you can eat before finishing the trip home.