The BTS at its best – traveling by BTS with kids

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Yes, it is hot. Yes, there is traffic. And yes, the city is crowded. But if you are pregnant or are planning on being pregnant in Bangkok, fear not. The BTS and the Thailand have your back.

BTS at its best

Traveling on the BTS while pregnant
It’s not in every city that you want to brave public transportation when pregnant, but my experience riding the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) while pregnant was a good one. Not only do the trains arrive every couple of minutes, they are always air-conditioned. And I’m not talking about a measly trickle of air that wafts thinly from the vents; I’m talking about full-on, cold air that blows strongly and suitably for a train jam-packed full of passengers during rush hour commute. Furthermore, every time I stepped on the train visibly pregnant, someone offered me a seat. Sometimes multiple people offered me seats. And you know what? If I thanked them but noted I was only going one stop, they still made the seat available to me. In a train full of people, they left the seat empty for the pregnant woman; even if I insisted they retain it. It doesn’t get much more pregnant-friendly than that, my friend.

Traveling with Tots
And what about commuting via the BTS with tots? Well, this gets a bit trickier as most stations do not have elevators and only some have escalators (and sometimes only in one direction). If your child is still small, my recommendation would be to use a carrier. Not only do you avoid all of the bumps and breaks in the sidewalks getting to the BTS, you avoid clambering up and down the stairs, child in one arm, stroller in the other, bumping into things left and right. The carrier ceases to be an option, however, when your child is just too plain heavy to haul on your body or you have more than one. In that case, you can: a) plan activities based around skytrain stations that offer elevators and escalators; b) brave the stairs with your children and stroller(s) solo; and/or c) wait for a sympathetic soul to assist you in carrying your stroller up and down stairs while you manage the kids. I’ve almost always found that someone is willing to help me with the stair situation; especially when I have my two under three with me. I’ve always found that the station attendants are super-helpful in opening up the large gate on the platform when I approach with children and strollers. This is key so that no one person or object gets mangled in the automatic gates that open and close quickly. Those gates do not feel good when they close on your hips; trust me. I’ve found that Thai people are always willing to make room for you, your children, and your mountain of gear on the train, and almost always offer you a seat. Sure, it is more crowded during rush hour, but Thai passengers are polite and sympathetic to traveling families nonetheless.

BTS FAQ

Which BTS stations are equipped with elevators?
Currently, elevators are available at the following 12 stations: Mo Chit, Siam, Asok, On Nut, Bang Chak, Punnawithi, Udom Suk, Bang Na, Bearing, Chong Nonsi, Krung Thon Buri and Wongwian Yai.

What is the maximum height for children to be exempted from paying fares?
Children whose height is less than 90 centimeters are exempted from paying fares. For safety purposes, parents are required to carry their children while walking through the Automatic Gate. Normal fare is applied to children whose height is over 90 centimeters. There is a height measuring scale available in the vicinity of Ticket Issuing Machines.

What should pregnant women or passengers with large belongings do if they cannot pass the Automatic Gate?
Passengers can contact BTS Staff and ask to use the Flush Gate.

Best stops when traveling with kids
Some stops that cater well to getting on and off with kids? Siam Paragon (perhaps pay a visit to Siam Ocean World, Kidzania, or the Central World play area), Asok (scope out Terminal 21), and Phrom Phong (delight in Benjasiri Park or the Emporium’s play area) probably offer the most ease in the way of elevators and up and down escalators. If you frequent other stops, seek out alternate ways to climb and descend. For example, we often use the Ratchadamri stop and although there is no down escalator offered by the station itself, the station is connected to the St. Regis hotel which offers an elevator down to the street level. The same trick can be done at the Chitlom Stop by transiting Central Chidlom and using the store’s elevators to get to the ground floor. Finally, the BTS website offers a lot of information and let you know whether to expect elevators and/or escalators or stairs. If you are the planning type, you will love this map.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your pregnant self out there and travel via BTS. Get your family out there and travel via BTS. The sweet, sweet air conditioning, kindness and empathy of your fellow passengers, frequency of trains, and your ability to bypass the daunting traffic down below more than make up for the fact that you may have to brave some stairs. With kids. And gear.

Photo Credit: DearEdward via Compfight cc

LorenB

Our family got its start in Washington, D.C. where two young diplomats-in-training met, dated, and subsequently were sent to opposite ends of the earth (Thailand and Mozambique) by the U.S. Foreign Service.  After four years and six countries apart, a proposal in Venezuela, a wedding in Thailand, and a honeymoon in Laos, the Braunohlers resided as one in Sydney, Australia in 2006-7.

After a two-year stint in Khartoum, Sudan and a year-long recovery in Washington, D.C., the third Braunohler, Logan, arrived on the scene in July 2010.  Just three and a half months into his young life, our family accepted an assignment in Bangkok, Thailand, where we now reside, work, and play.  On May 10th, 2012, we welcomed sweet Katelyn Elise into our family.

Our time in Bangkok has shown us that raising young children in this buzzing, sometimes glitzy and glamorous, sometimes seedy metropolis is a phenomenal joy. I hope to inform and inspire others about the joys of raising a toddler, both in general, and in a place like Thailand, where children are continuously adored and amazed by the world around them. I hope to inform and inspire others about the joys of raising a toddler, both in general, and in a place like Thailand, where children are continuously adored and amazed by the world around them through my blog at www.toddlejoy.com.

2 Comments

  1. Emily  /  June 13, 2013, 11:55 am Reply

    Thanks for the tips! I still haven’t braved the BTS with Tripp, but maybe I’ll give it a try. It’s good to know which stations have elevators!

    • LorenB
      Loren  /  June 17, 2013, 10:06 am Reply

      Hi Emily! You must take Tripp! If nothing else, he will love the trains! Hope to see you back in Bangkok soon.

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