The Songthaew, pronounced ‘song thaeo’. Takes its name from the two bench seats fixed along either side of the back of the truck; in some vehicles a third bench is put down the middle of the seating area.
They come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Ranging from big bus like trucks to small pick up trucks. But they all share one thing.
Cheap cheap rides!
The first Songthaew we rode was from Patong beach to Phuket town to board our ferry to the Phi Phi Islands. This is about 45 minutes to an hours drive with traffic, a tuk tuk or taxi would have cost the best part of 1000 Baht (dependant on your haggling skills) but our trusty blue bus cost us 30 baht per person!
What a deal!
They are not the most comfy modes or transport in the world, but for the price, and that adventurous travelling like a local feeling, so worth it!
Fellow travellers and locals all make use of the songthaews, adding to the enjoyment of using them. Sharing your journey with travellers and also Thai children going to school sure is nice.
Where To Find Them
Your best chances of catching one is on the main street of where you are. In Patong it was on the beach road, in Krabi town the run through the main ‘Maharat street’. We noticed and heard from the locals we asked about finding stops that they are not very well publicised, no time tables or anything because the taxi drivers and tuk tuk drivers don’t like them. I can see why when you take into account how much they charge.
Once you’ve located the street it’ll be driving down, it’s awaiting game till it’s in sight. Again no timetables, so you could be waiting a while. Finally when you see it, the usual waving like a crazy person gets their attention and there you go, all aboard. Climb in and take a seat. Press the buzzer when you want dropping off, simple!
We’ve been on a few, some busses you pay the driver after you get off, and some they have a person standing on the back of the bus you can pay.
I can’t rate these busses enough! For trips where you don’t want to take a motorbike, or pay extortionate rates for a taxi. The set price songthaew is a god send! A must do when you’re in Thailand!