I think the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) have been doing a pretty good job of promoting tourism in Bangkok. Some of their tourist brochures which you can pick up in the tourist office are quite informative. They also provide some free tours which are worth doing. I saw an advertisement in the Bangkok Post for the “Yellow Tram Tour” around Rattanakosin which sounded like a great deal. Particularly as it was free. The advert said “When you take the Yellow Loop Tramline around the capital, you will experience 225 years of history and culture including Buddhist temples, magnificent palaces, important monuments, fortresses, shrines, fresh markets, and architectural masterpieces that reflects the faiths, beliefs and lifestyles of the Thai people.”
We rang the BMA office to see if they could send us a brochure with more information. We said we have a network of websites that promote tourism in Bangkok. We were quite happy to help them promote Bangkok for free. But, they said it wasn’t their policy to send out brochures. Obviously they prefer to spend hundreds of thousands on an advert in a newspaper which is discarded after only a short time. They suggested I visit their tourist office by the Phra Pinklao Bridge. Which I did. They had absolutely no information about this tour other than to say it starts at Sanam Luang. They couldn’t even offer me a map of the route. They are usually quite helpful here, but these were university students on duty the day I went and didn’t know much. Our websites promoting Thailand receive about 60,000 unique visitors every day. Neither the BMA nor the TAT have shown any interest in helping us despite the fact that we are doing their job for them!
Anyway, I finally found the booth at Sanam Luang where you catch the tram. This is near the entrance to the Grand Palace. Even though it is free, you still need to queue up for a ticket. There are a total of 12 stops around this area and you will need to show this ticket in order to get back on. The Yellow Loop Tramline operates from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekend. The trips are about 30 minute intervals. The stops along the way include the following:
Sanam Luang, Bangkok Tourism Division (Phra Pinklao Bridge), Santichai Phrakarn Park (Phrasumeru Fort), Khao San Road (BangLumphu), Chao Pho Sua Shrine (Tiger God), Wat Suthat (Giant Swing), Democracy Monument, Saranrom Park, Pak Klong Talad (Flower market), Tian Pier (Wat Pho), Chang Pier (Grand Palace) and Phra Chan Pier (amulet market).
A non-stop tour lasts about 30 minutes. I thought I would do this first and then go around for a second time and get off at the attractions I wanted to visit. But, it didn’t really work out to plan. Most of the tourists on the tram were Thai though there were about five foreigners including myself. The ticket booth didn’t have a brochure so no-one knew where the tour was going. Nor did any of the foreigners understand what they were looking at as the tour guide only spoke in Thai. I didn’t mind that much as I was enjoying the fresh air in the open tram and taking pictures of the buildings and pedestrians that we passed. However, I got the feeling that the tram driver was in a rush to use the loo. Every time we passed one of the stops the tour guide said you can get out here to explore the area. Some of the Thai people started to get up but we just whizzed by without even slowing down. After this happened a few times they just gave up. They finally managed to escape when we had to stop at a traffic light.
I quite enjoyed the free tour though the seat was a bit uncomfortable and we were crammed in tight. Not very good if you have long legs. It is a nice introduction to the area though it would have been a lot better if we were given a brochure showing our route. There are a few places along the way that I would like to go back and visit. But, I think I will go back to these on my own by car. Though the only problem is trying to find somewhere to park the car. If only the tram stopped at the places where it should. But then, if I did get off would I be able to get back on the next tram? They were full to capacity. A good idea but needs better development. If anyone from the BMA is reading this, please send us some brochures of tourist attractions in Bangkok and we will help you promote them.