Guide to Bangkok Taxis
Bangkok's taxis have a reputation for ripping off and scamming tourists. There are easy and simple ways to avoid or at least decrease the likelihood of jumping into a taxi with a shady driver who refuses to turn on the meter or pestering you into shopping at a gem gallery or massage parlor where they earn a commission.
But during your vacation in Bangkok you may inevitably have to use the services of taxis. For one thing taxi fares are very cheap compared to most Western countries. The meter starts at 35 Baht and includes the first 2 kilometers. After that it's 2 Baht for every kilometer. If the taxi is stuck in traffic, which is quite often if you are in central Bangkok, there is a surcharge of 1.25 Baht.
A majority of Bangkok's taxis are Toyota Corrollas which can seat 4 passengers comfortably. If your group is skinny enough you can try to squeeze in 5 with no objections from the driver. So depending on your destination within Bangkok the total cost of the fare can be cheaper than riding the BTS Sky Train and the MRT subway train.
To be fair, not all taxi drivers in Bangkok are up to no good. After living for awhile in Bangkok I've only come across one taxi with a meter that had a mind of its own. After a quick word in Thai with the driver I only handed what I knew the fare should have been since I traveled the same destination with many other honest taxis. The driver didn't say a word and I left it at that.
In my experience with most taxi drivers in Bangkok most are hard working honest guys. If you can speak Thai you will find that they are quite funny and learn some things about Thailand, since most of the drivers are not from Bangkok.
Which is one of the reasons why not all taxi drivers are familiar with Bangkok's confusing streets and roadways. So if most tourists have the feeling of being driven around in circles it's not because the driver is trying to add a few Bahts to the meter it's simply because they are just lost. And since he can't communicate with you the ride may seem shadier.
If you are concerned about this, for instance if your hotel is new or in a quiet part of Bangkok than you should get an unlocked GSM mobile phone and get a Thai sim card so you can have someone at the hotel speak directly to the driver and give directions.
Tips on Finding a Good Taxi in Bangkok
The first major rule for avoiding a conniving driver in is to stay away from taxis waiting outside of hotels and major tourist attractions. These drivers will make attempts to attract your attention whenever they spot you coming out.
These characters will try to offer you a 'free tour' of Bangkok granted that you stop by a few shops for a look see. But instead you will spend most of your time being driven around from shop to shop with just a few temples in between. Do not bother with these drivers at all and you won't have your time wasted. Instead, head for the street and flag down an available taxi that is moving with traffic.
You might come across a driver who refuses to turn on a meter once you get inside. If this happens to you just say 'meter, kup' (if you are male or) 'meter, ka' (if you are female). And if there is no result just step out of the car at your convenience. Personally this has never happened to me at all and I have been using taxis for a long time. But that might be because I often avoid taxis in the tourist areas. Most of the problem taxis are usually centered around tourists the areas.
Ever so often in major congested roads near the city's popular shopping centers such as MBK, Siam Square and Paragon if you flag down a taxi you will get a driver who wants a flat rate. These flat rates are always more expensive than the metered rates. These drivers are not out to rip you off as it may seem. Believe it or not, local Thais get the same treatment too. Drivers who usually ask for a flat rate are trying to make up as much profit as they can before they end their shift and return the taxi to the original owner.
Many actual licensed owners of taxis rent out their vehicles to anyone who wants to make money driving a taxi. On the right side of the dashboard you will see a taxi permit with the picture of the owner. Most often you will see that it's of not the same person driving the taxi.
It is always a good idea to look for a taxi that is new or in very good condition. Licensed taxes are required to be in excellent mechanical and physical condition. So if you see a very old beat down car then most likely it has not been inspected and not licensed to be on the road.
If you choose a newer taxi you can be sure that car's air conditioning is in good working condition. Which is what you will need if you are stuck in traffic during a very hot day in Bangkok.
Public Taxis in Suvaranabhumi Airport
Public Taxis in Bangkok's international airport charges a 50THB airport surcharge on top of applicable tolls and metered fare. Please remember that the 50THB surcharge is not displayed on the taxi's meter so you just have to add it to the total at your destination.
There is a small kiosk where you can line up for public taxis. There are plenty of signs in the arrival terminal pointing you to the public taxi stand. Someone at the kiosk will ask where you are staying so that they can write down the hotel's name and hand it to the driver.
This is no guarantee that the driver will know exactly where your hotel is at or even how to get there unless it is a very well known hotel in Bangkok. This is why I highly recommend anyone visiting to bring an unlocked GSM phone to Bangkok.
Most people mix up the Airport's Official Taxi (AOT) with the public taxi. The big difference between the two is the price. However, the AOT is much more reliable and professional. Matter of fact I recommend using the AOT's services if your group has between 5 to 7 people. The AOT can provide a clean and comfortable van able to hold luggage and all for 1400 Baht.
Since public taxis are basically made up of Toyota Corrollas, luggage space in the trunk is very limited.
If you want to avoid the 50 Baht airport surcharge you can always head up to the departure entrance and search for a public taxi in that area.
Bangkok Hotel Reviews by Edwin Clark
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- Bangkok's Baiyoke Sky Hotel Review
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- Review of Hope Land Executive Residence in Bangkok
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- Bangkok's Mac Boutique Suites Hotel Review
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- Miramar Hotel Review in Bangkok's Chinatown
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