The most common way of transportation in Bangkok is of course taking a taxi.
It is convenient, cheap, and for most first time visitors surprisingly clean and comfortable. Many are new, modern cars equipped with an air-conditioner that doesn’t let you dripping in sweat.
Most journeys don’t exceed 200 Baht, even if you have been stuck in Bangkok’s infamous traffic jams. The fee of a taxi ride is cheaper than public transportation in many European countries!
Taxis can be found literally everywhere at any time, since they outnumber private cars by 2 and operate 24 hours a week.
They can be identified by their famous two-colored stripes (green-yellow, blue-red, etc.) and with the Taxi Meter sign above.
Your typical Bangkok taxi driver
Most taxi drivers come from the northeastern part of Thailand which is called Issan in Thai. Isaan is also the term used for calling countryside people since agriculture is the region’s main economy.
The driver is usually friendly and knows where he is going, but in most cases, barley speaks any English. If you don’t know the name of the place you are going to, ask the reception at your hotel to write it down in Thai.
As of September 1, 2012, no taxi driver can refuse a passenger. They are obliged by law to accept any passenger requesting taxi service.
But the chances of being refused are unfortunately still very high. Sometimes you have to ask 2 to 3 different drivers until you find one that accepts you.
There are many reasons for being refused, money being the biggest factor.
If you find yourself in such a situation, politely take the one waiting behind. Note that here in Thailand being polite and keep smiling is essential.
Alternatively, you can file a complaint by writing down the license plate number and contacting the Taxi Complaint Department under 1584.
The fare according to the distance
All taxis in Bangkok are required by law to use a meter to calculate the fare according to the distance.
This system is useful as many tourists don’t know the estimate price of moving from A to B. Therefore, drivers can’t charge passengers more than the actual fee.
There are some additional fees that have to be paid separately:
- 50 Baht, when taking a taxi from the airport
- 20 Baht, when hiring a taxi through the radio
- Total amount of toll-way charges
As a foreign visitor, you will most likely encounter drivers that try to squeeze as much money out of your pockets as possible. Even though every taxi is required by law to use a meter that calculates the fare according to time and distance, there are many different ways for the driver to cheat you.
Read our tips on how to avoid paying double in the “attention box” below.
Common ways of cheating
There are some drivers among the honest ones that will try to scam you, whether it is by not using the meter or by using a modified meter.
Always pay attention and keep an eye open to avoid spending more money than you actually have to:
- Always use a taxi that goes by the meter. If he doesn’t turn it on, kindly ask him to; if he refuses, politely ask him to stop the cab and take another one.
- Always check the meter regularly. Even though he runs by the meter, there is a chance that it is tweaked. There are 2 types of modified meters:
- Automatic: where every e.g. 900m counts as 1km
- Manual: where the driver presses a button to increase the fare
- Never agree to let a driver take you to places he suggests, especially gem shops
What to do if a taxi is scamming you?
Whenever you are in a taxi that does not go by the meter, tries to convince you to go to some place other than requested, or heavily over-charges you, stay calm and write down the license plate number which are displayed on both sides of the rear doors on yellow plates.
Kindly ask the taxi driver to stop the car. Paying the fee is important to avoid further complications.
Contact the Taxi Complaint Department under 1584, 2725460 and provide them with all necessary information.