Get the Facts about Taxis in Bangkok
Taxis provide a cheap and convenient way to get around Bangkok, especially to those destinations not serviced by public transportation links. They are clean, air-conditioned and will usually take you to exactly where you need to go. And they come in a rainbow of colours. In addition to the traditional yellow-green cabs, there are orange, green, pink and blue among others. The colours have no real significance other than to reflect the different companies they come from. The rates are the same no matter which colour taxi you are riding in because they are set by the Department of Land Transport.
The current Bangkok taxi rates are:
The flag fall rate when you first enter a taxi is 35 baht and the meter will stay at this price for the first kilometre of your journey.
From 1 to 10 kilometres the rate is 5.5 baht for every kilometre.
From 10 to 20 kilometres the rate is 6.5 baht for every kilometre.
From 20 to 40 kilometres the rate increases to 7.5 baht for every kilometre.
From 40 to 60 kilometres the rate is 8 baht for every kilometre.
From 60 to 80 kilometres the rate is 8.5 baht for every kilometre.
After 80 kilometres the rate is 10.5 baht for every kilometre.
If you get stuck in a traffic jam and the taxi stops or is moving at less than 6 kilometres per hour, there is a charge of 2 baht per minute.
If you take a taxi from the official ranks at Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang airports, there is a 50 baht surcharge. Also, if you are traveling across the city, you may be asked if you want to take the expressways to avoid the traffic. It is entirely up to you, but it’s a good idea to miss the worst of the jams. You are responsible for the fees and the driver should hand you any receipts.
Avoid Rush Hours
Although taxis are a popular means to get around, note that if you decide to get in one during the morning or early evening rush hours you will get stuck in traffic jams. It is an inevitable fact of life. Unless you love being stuck bumper to bumper, spending ages going nowhere, really do try to avoid travelling on Bangkok’s roads during these times.
So, what else do you need to know about Bangkok’s taxis? Here are some useful pointers:
Flagging a Taxi
Bangkok has no shortage of taxis. There are easily more than 100,000 on the road and you should easily be able to flag one down, especially if you are near major hotels, shopping malls and tourist destinations. The only times when you may have trouble finding one is during the rush hours and when it rains.
To spot an available taxi look for the glowing red vacant sign in the vehicle’s window. The polite way to hail a taxi is to extend your arm outward with your palm facing downward, and then move your arm up and down.
Booking a Taxi
Booking taxis isn’t all that common in Bangkok, because there are so many on the roads. But if you do want to pre-arrange a pick-up you can call 1661 or 1681, two of the most widely used numbers. Don’t forget that pre-booking comes with a small surcharge on your overall fare.
Always ask the driver to use his meter. They have to by law in any case. If your driver refuses or tries to give you a fixed rate that should set off the alarm bells in your head that he’s up to something. Just get out of the car and find another taxi. There is absolutely no point in arguing.
Getting to Your Destination
Don’t assume that every taxi driver knows every part of the city. They don’t have to sit any exams to demonstrate their knowledge of where places are, and the locations of even some very famous places may be a mystery to them. Just because your hotel has received stellar reviews and is in every guidebook, doesn’t mean that your driver has heard of it.
Therefore, unless you speak the language with a good accent, it is a good idea to write down your destination’s address in Thai and give it to the driver. If he doesn’t know where it is, call your destination from your mobile and have them tell the driver where to go.
Avoid Being Scammed
On the whole, Bangkok taxi drivers are friendly and helpful, but there are a few unscrupulous rotten apples. So it is as well to be aware of the ways that unwary visitors can get ripped off.
1) A taxi driver suggests taking you to “some really good shops” he knows or to a “wonderful place that not many tourists know about”. You being the tourist think “how nice and helpful” and let the driver take you to where he suggested. This is most certainly a rip-off and you can be sure that the driver will receive a kickback if you spend any money. Be polite but firm in your refusal.
2) Avoid taxis that are lined up outside hotels and major tourist attractions. More than likely they won’t use their meters and will insist on you paying a (vastly inflated) fixed fair.
3) At the airports, only use taxis from the designated taxi stands.
Three Useful Quick Tips
- Before getting out of a taxi always look behind you to check that a motorbike or cyclist isn’t about to pass you.
- Tipping of taxi drivers is not required, but you can round up the fare to the nearest 5 or 10 baht if you want to. Drivers work long hours and don’t earn a fortune so the gesture will be greatly appreciated.
- If you leave something behind in your taxi, call the taxi hotline on 1164 and tell them the number of the taxi you were in. They will see if they can get your belongings back. You can see the taxi number written on a small plate on the inside of passenger seat doors.