If, like me, you want to have every leg of your journey planned before you leave home then a visit to Thailand might require using the Green Bus website. Ordering in this way will also eliminate any disappointment that might be caused by fully booked buses if you rock up to get your tickets on the day of departure. The company runs many bus routes, most notably from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, which was the journey I had to book via the site. As the English options are sporadic and the majority of the site is in Thai, I thought I would share how I sorted out my tickets using Google Chrome’s translate features.
First thing you will need to do is install Google Chrome from here if you don’t already have it. Once you have installed the browser on your machine you should access the Green Bus site from www.greenbusthailand.com. Once you access the site, a pop-up should appear in the top right corner of the screen asking if you would like to translate the page into English. This is shown in the picture below.
One thing I noticed is that, if you click the Translate button immediately, not all of the site was translated. In order for the entire page to be put into English at the same time, I would recommend waiting for a moment or two until all elements of the site have loaded before consenting to the translation. Once the site is displayed in English you can choose your source and destination from the drop down list.
Once you have clicked the drop down and selected where you would like to leave from and go to, the site will likely open the exact same ticket option box in a new window. If the translation doesn’t come on automatically as a result of this, it can be reapplied by clicking the icon to the left of the bookmark star at the end of the address bar.
Once the page is in English again you can begin to piece together your trip. Be sure to select whether the journey is one-way or a roundtrip and confirm your source and destination are correct. Note that, for some reason, Chiang Rai translates to E. Rai and some other locations are likewise transcribed unusually, so be sure to check you are booking to go to the right place!
Now, the next step is important. When selecting the dates for your trip be sure to click on the white part of the drop-down menu and not the calendar icon. If you do this correctly, you will get a pop-up list of dates to choose from as shown below.
I chose the date using the calendar icon on my first attempt at buying tickets and the dates were not saved correctly. I paid for my tickets only to realise that they had been booked for the following day instead of in August as intended and I lost £20 just like that. Bad times. As some of the following steps are timed, you might feel rushed to speed through the process but learn from my mistakes and double-check everything before paying!
The last section of this screen is for choosing the time of your departures. Make sure to take the VIP buses where possible as they are more spacious, comfortable and provide amenities that the lower cost options do not. Unless you are working on a shoestring budget, the small price increase shouldn’t impact on the wallet too much.
Now things start hotting up! Once you have filled in the details click the grey seat button to proceed. You are now able to select your seats for both your outgoing and (if you have one) return journey. Double-check the details at the top of the page (this is the costly step I neglected) and then simply click on the seats you would like to sit in. Light grey seats are available for purchase and black seats with male/female/priest icons next to them are already reserved. Once a seat has been successfully selected, a tick will appear on it. Be aware: if you are female you are not allowed to seat yourself next to a priest. If there is a priest with a vacant seat beside him then you will have to choose from a different section of the bus.
When your seats are selected, click on the green OK button. From here on in the steps of your purchase are timed. If the red counter ticks down to 0 then the reservation on your chosen seats will expire and they will go back on sale to others using the site. Be sure to fill in your name and put something into the note/phone text area as I found you cannot progress without doing so. A simple N/A will allow you to move to the next step. Make sure you select your sex or if you are a priest!
At the bottom of the page you will need to select your payment options. The first and last are Thai specific payment options which most of us will not need to consider. The second option allows us to pay by credit card. Select that option and then click the green Paid the fare button that appears in the newly expanded area.
Once you have chosen to pay for the fare, a new pop up screen will appear prompting you to enter your details. This part of the process is straightforward and self-explanatory so shouldn’t pose too many problems. The green bar along the top of the screen will display how far through the order you.
As this payment guide explains how to buy tickets without creating a Green Bus account (if you try to set up an account for the site without a Thai ID number you cannot progress, making it an impossible task for foreigners) you will need to either print out your tickets or take a note of the reference number you are given on the screen that appears after payment has been made. It is easy enough to select the option you need as there are obvious pictograms for you to choose from. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a shot of this screen and the only way I could get another picture is if I bought new tickets – not going to happen after my earlier boo-boo! You will need to either provide these tickets or the reference number to be allowed to board the bus so don’t forget to take them along with you!
I hope this guide comes in handy if you ever need to pre-book a journey using Green Bus Thailand. Hopefully you will learn from my mistakes and avoid any unnecessary costs! Good luck with your purchase and, if you have any further questions about this process, pop them in the comments below.
Using the site’s English timetable
If Chrome’s translation tools do not come through with the exact destination you are looking for, you can utilise the site’s English language timetable to help you identify if you have the correct location. If the time you decided on from the timetable isn’t available when you go to order then you have selected the incorrect destination! The English language bus timetable can be found here and an example image is shown below.