Catching a Taxi in Bangkok: Don’t Get Taken for a Ride
Traveling by taxi is a great value in Bangkok. However, like other big cities, there are unscrupulous drivers looking to take advantage of visitors. Learning a few basics about taxis in Bangkok will save you time, hassle, and money, especially if you run into a problem. Most of the time, you won’t encounter any problems, but be aware.
First, to locate an available taxi, look for the illuminated red sign in the front.
Always insist on going by a metered taxi. The meter will always start at 35 THB. If you’re given a fixed price or told the meter is broken, just find another taxi. Be aware, at times, such as during heavy thunderstorms, drivers may use the situation to demand a fixed price.
Another problem you may encounter is a driver refusing to take you where you want to go. If you’re already inside the vehicle, be sure to take your belongings. This happens to everyone in Bangkok at some point. If and when this happens, locate another taxi, there’s no shortage.
A large number of taxis on the road are leased and must be turned in at a specified time. You may encounter drivers, especially in leased vehicles, not accepting rides to areas with heavy traffic. Alternatively, the driver may be at the end of the shift and your destination may be out the way from the vehicle return location. If you encounter problems, try seeking out green and yellow colored taxis which are privately owned. Drivers with privately owned cars may be more apt to take you. Please note, while privately owned, the driver may have rented or borrowed from a private owner. Pink colored taxis are typically company owned and leased to drivers, usually for 12 hours at a time.
Tipping isn’t necessary, but it’s common to round-up to 5 or 10 THB.
Once at your destination, be sure you take all your belongings. Finally, with all the motorbike traffic in Bangkok, be careful getting out.
Avoid Bangkok Taxi Scams
Sadly, there are scams when it comes to taxis. However, this could be said for nearly every city in the world.
The golden rule, as mentioned above, always go by meter. Taxi meters start at 35 THB, but watch for hot or rigged meters. If the meter quickly jumps, it’s probably best to end the journey, pay the fare, and locate another taxi.
Avoid taxi queues at tourist attractions or parked outside hotels waiting for fares. Drivers parked in such queues are known to collaborate offering only “fixed fares.”
TIP: Waive down a taxi or to grab one as it’s dropping other passengers off.
Don’t let a driver turn the meter off or attempt to renegotiate a fare once your journey begins. If your taxi is a minivan, don’t let the driver pull a fast one such as insisting double fare for a single passenger because of the larger vehicle.
Always carry change and small banknotes to pay drivers, we suggest 20, 50, and 100 THB banknotes. Drivers sometimes do not have change for large banknotes. In other cases, drivers will claim not to have any change.
Always be polite and avoid any arguments. In fact, avoid any unnecessary conversation with the driver. Finally, never let a driver know it’s your first time to Thailand, especially at the airport.
Driver Doesn’t Know Destination
Don’t get lost in translation. Many taxi drivers in Bangkok have a limited English vocabulary. In fact, a lot of drivers live in rural Thailand and only come to Bangkok to work as a driver. Their knowledge of Bangkok may likewise be limited. Don’t fret, there’s many ways bridge the communication gap.
We suggest you carry a card from your hotel with the address written in both English and Thai. Additionally, have hotel concierge or front desk staff write your destination location and address in Thai.
If the driver does not know a destination, try a well-known landmark nearby. The Google Maps application and Google Translation tools may also be of assistance. Finally, have a Thai person you can easily call on the phone who can provide directions.
Taxi from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Intl Airport (BKK) to City
Jet-lagged travelers catching a taxi from the airport should use common sense with the following guidelines.
Avoid touts in the arrivals hall and only use an official licensed taxi.
The airport has a taxi rank system established where a kiosk will print a slip for you which points you to a taxi. Always keep this print-out and never give it to the driver. The printed slip contains identifying information about your taxi and its driver for you, the passenger. If there are any problems, the document also contains a telephone number for questions or complaints.
As mentioned above, always insist on a meter. From the airport to the city, the fare should run approximately 250-300 THB plus a 50 THB airport fee in addition to any tolls.
It’s best to take the motorway when there’s traffic. Simply tell the driver motorway or tollway and hand the driver 75 THB for the two tolls into the city. However, many find it easier to hand the driver a 100 THB note for tolls, but remember to collect the change after the second toll.
If there are any problems, it’s usually best to pay for the taxi and then follow-up with the telephone number on the ticket.
Finally, there’s always Uber.