Bangkok Motorbike Taxis
Need to be somewhere in Bangkok in a hurry? Want to zip through the congested streets to get to your destination? Then hop on board a motorbike taxi. They are a fast way to travel through the city even during the morning and evening rush hours.
Drivers will zigzag through the traffic to get you to where you want to be as quick as a flash. A subway or taxicab ride that may typically take half an hour or so can be completed in mere minutes on a motorbike taxi. In a car, you can be waiting in a queue of traffic behind a red light for 15 minutes or more. But on a motorbike taxi, once the light turns green, you’re off! Motorbike taxis are particularly good for short quick trips that are too long to walk and perhaps too short to get into a taxi cab.
You can find motorbike taxis all over the city – by shopping malls, in front of BTS Skytrain stations, on street corners and in many sois, the term used for side streets that branch off main roads.
You should easily be able to spot them as they typically congregate in small groups by a board that lists the prices to popular destinations. Licenced motorbike taxi drivers wear distinctive coloured vests (typically orange or blue), on the back of which is information about the district they are registered to and a number, which is individual to each driver.
Most drivers tend to operate in the same area, day in and day out, so they really have expert knowledge of all the streets and traffic conditions in their patch. Therefore, they will know the best and fastest routes to your destination.
Rides can be a little hair raising with some drivers even riding on the pavement. But when speed is of the essence, you can’t beat travelling in Bangkok on two wheels.
Read on for essential facts about taking motorbike taxi rides in Thailand’s capital city.
Top Tips for Using Motorbike Taxis in Bangkok
You have to wear a helmet, which should be provided by the driver. By law, each driver must supply one. If the police stops you for not wearing a helmet you will be liable for the fine not the driver. This will be the case even if the driver hasn’t supplied you with a helmet. In fact if your driver doesn’t have a spare helmet, go to one who has. Not just for the fine that you may have to pay if caught, but more importantly for your own safety.
Many of the drivers have limited English language skills, so it’s a good idea to write down your destination and show it to the driver.
If you need to flag down a motorbike taxi, do so in the same way as you would a taxi cab, which in Bangkok is to gently wave your hand up and down with your palm facing downwards.
Get on and off the bike from the left. This is because the exhaust pipe is on the right and if it is exposed and uncovered as many are in Bangkok, you could receive a nasty burn.
How to Ride Comfortably on a Motorbike Taxi
Riding at speed through Bangkok’s streets on the back of a motorbike is not the most relaxing way of getting from A to B. But there are things you can do to make the ride more comfortable for yourself.
Advice for Men: straddle the rider’s seat, but don’t snuggle up to the driver with your arms around his waist like he’s a close pal. This is too familiar and not really very polite. Hold the bar at the back of the seat and rest your feet on the foot pegs.
Advice for Women: many Thai women tend to ride side saddle, finding it a more appropriate way to travel if they are wearing a skirt. However, this can be very risky, especially if the driver makes a sudden manoeuvre. Every year, thousands of woman are hurt in this way. A much safer option is to sit astride the seat.
Advice for Everyone: ensure that your arms and legs are well tucked in toward your body, because the driver will come very close to other vehicles when trying to squeeze through every available space. Protruding limbs are liable to get whacked and broken by passing cars, vans and trucks. Even when you are stationary, keep everything in. Another vehicle moving past a bike at rest can still do you some considerable damage if an arm or a leg is sticking out. This advice is also relevant for any bags or packages that you may be carrying with you. Make sure they are kept close to your body and not swinging wildly in the wind.
If the driver is going too fast for your liking and it’s starting to feel like you’re on a white-knuckle rollercoaster ride, ask him to slow down. This is completely acceptable, and most drivers will not mind you asking.
How Much Will Your Motorbike Taxi Trip Cost?
Thailand’s Ministry of Transport sets the fares for motorbike taxis and they are standardised across the entire country.
For the first two kilometres of a journey the fare is 25 baht.
For any distance between two and five kilometres, the fare is 5 baht per kilometre.
For distances between 5 and 15 kilometres the fare is 10 baht per kilometre.
Distances above 15 kilometres are negotiable, but the fare must not exceed 150 baht. Make sure that you agree on the fare beforehand. The better your negotiating skills the cheaper the journey. Although, remember that motorbike taxis are not the cheapest mode of transport in the city, however they are one of the fastest.
Enjoy the Ride!
A motorbike taxi ride may feel like you’ve been given a shot of adrenalin, but with these simple tips you should enjoy a pleasant, comfortable and fast motorbike taxi ride in Bangkok. And remember to keep those knees in tight!