Bangkok Taxi Guide – 101

Bangkok Taxis are by far the best mode of transportation in Bangkok, they are cheap, air-conditioned and usually take you where you need to go. This article will give you tips on how to get free taxi rides in Bangkok, when not to use them and what you should expect when you arrive to Bangkok.

Bangkok taxi drivers know less than you think

Just because your hotel has 250 reviews on TripAdvisor and is globally known across the world, don’t assume the average Bangkok taxi driver will know where it is. Even famous restaurants, streets or places of interest they may not know. Since the Thai language is tonal, you may think you’re saying a word correctly but they won’t have a clue what the fooke you’re on about, sometimes you may be saying it right but they have no idea where it is.

taxi in bangkok
Every time you get into a Bangkok taxi, assume they have no idea where you’re going. Do your research before hand and at the very least find the name of the street the place is on, better yet take a picture of the address on your phone or get someone to translate you the address in Thai so you can hand it them. This tip is ideal for anyone who is getting picked up at a Bangkok airport to get dropped off at their hotel.

Bangkok airport taxis

If you’re getting into Bangkok late, there may not be many taxis at the airport, as a result they may ask you to pay 300-500 baht to get to where you’re going. Tell them to go fuck themselves and you want to use the meter or you will use someone else. On average, your journey should never cost more than 250 baht + 50 baht fee for getting picked up at the airport if you’re going into the city center.

During the busy periods of 5-8pm, there may be a big ass queue at arrivals to get a Bangkok airport taxi. When this is the case, just walk up to departures and get a cab up there. Not only is it faster and you don’t hand to spend time waiting like a twat, but you also don’t have to pay the 50 baht fee that you would when getting one at arrivals.

Always ask to use the meter

By law all Bangkok taxis must use the meter. It should only go up 2 baht every 1km or 1 minute when waiting in traffic. If they refuse to use the meter just get another cab, there is not point arguing. Fares are meant to increase soon but nothing has happened as of yet.

When not to get a taxi in Bangkok.

During the hours of 5pm-9pm for long distances. Bangkok traffic is a real kunt and you can end up spending a few hours in a cab at this time. Instead, opt to use the BTS or a motorcycle. The traffic is not always that bad but if you’re near the tourist or CBD areas, it will be painfully slow.

Bangkok taxi scams

The biggest scam is the rigged taxi meter scam. This is when the meter is shooting up faster than your penis on Viagra and the journey becomes triple or quadruple what it should be. The fake meter is often used on tourists as they have no point of reference on how much a taxi should cost. Each taxi meter displays the distance traveled (in KM) and the time spent in the taxi. If either of the numbers are going up way faster than you think, then there’s a good chance the meter is rigged.

A 20km trip from the airport to the city center is usually around 250 baht. I must have easily caught over 300 taxis in Bangkok and I think only 4 times have I had a fake meter pulled on me. 3 times I paid the fare and got it out (never refuse not to pay), and the other time was at the airport, I instantly saw it was rigged and told him to take me back to the airport. He said something in Thai, looked annoyed and reset the meter to give the true reading and took me home.

inside a Bangkok taxi

How to get a taxi driver to give you money

A trick I learned after living here is that certain clubs Bangkok nightclubs like Insanity, Climax, Bossy, Spicy and Mixx give taxi drivers money for bringing people to their clubs. Each club gives drivers a different amount, usually between 150-300 baht. Since I go out in a big group, if we go to Spicy that’s as much as 1,200 baht the taxi driver makes from dropping us off.

So I tell him that he must give us 50% of whatever he makes now before we set off, and we will get in the cab and go into the club. This usually means he hands me 500 baht which we put towards the bottle. Oh, and we get a free taxi ride there too. If the driver refuses, you just grab the next cab, but usually they say okay as they will make 600 baht for a short trip. This only applies to after hours clubs and will not work at Route 66 or Funky Villa, Onyx or Levels.

Always pay the fare

Bangkok taxi drivers don’t earn a lot of money, so don’t complain or refuse to pay if they go the wrong way. It’s not a lot of money and it can save you from getting seriously hurt. Chalk it up as a lesson and next time get prepared with the address by reading amazing blogs such as this.

Prebook a Bangkok taxi

If you don’t have time for waiving down a cab there are taxi apps such as Grab Taxi where you can book yourself a driver.

This advice only applies to Bangkok, in other parts of Thailand such as Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket it’s a different story. Expect to pay much more for taxis outside Bangkok, much more. Taxis in Bangkok are really awesome when they want to pick you up and are insane value for money. If you’re hanging around the tourist spots expect for them not to use the meter and refuse to take you anywhere. But if you live in the expat areas they will usually always pick you up.

Do you have any Bangkok taxi experiences? Leave a comment below if so!

18 thoughts on “Bangkok Taxi Guide – 101

  1. Joe
    6 January, 2015 at 4:11 am

    I would add that you should never get in a taxi when you are approached by the driver. For example, Sukhumvit Soi 11 has tons of touts who will drastically overcharge you during the day. If you want a taxi that runs the meter, get to a main road and flag one down that is already moving. This may seem basic but, people seem to forget it and get frustrated.

    1. 6 January, 2015 at 6:05 am

      Solid advice Joe. Never get into a taxi when the person has come up to you. Mostly around tourist venues and some airports.

  2. Jo
    7 January, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Good advice Harvie. I have lived in 3 cities in Thailand and while you are correct about Chiang Mai and Phuket, Chiang Rai has cheaper taxi rates than Bangkok. The meter starts at 30฿ and you can call to book or flag down on the street. Interestingly enough it’s also a mini paradise for meeting Thai girls. In the 1 1/2 yrs I was there I cleaned up. Sadly living in CM now, definitely miss CR and BK for girls.

    1. 7 January, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Never knew about Chiang Rai had taxis that use meters. If only the whole of Thailand had taxis that used meters! I have been told that CM is a bit dyer on the women front, I was there last year and half the clubs seemed dead. However I didn’t really know where to go.

      1. Eddie
        13 January, 2015 at 3:55 pm

        Meter taxis seem to be appearing in other Thai cities too. We’ve recently got them down south in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Only about 25 on the streets so far but there’s definitely demand for them (and they can be pre-booked too).

    2. Pascal
      8 January, 2015 at 5:23 am

      Jo can you elaborate why you consider CR a mini paradise and CM not? are the girls there more accessible / open to dating foreigners?

      1. 8 January, 2015 at 5:52 am

        I would guess less western people meaning you are more unqiue.

      2. 8 January, 2015 at 12:27 pm

        A lot of hippies and trashpackers in CM nowadays

  3. Wilco
    10 January, 2015 at 8:05 am

    You will never appreciate bkk taxis until you’ve had the displeasure of using taxis in Manila.

    1. 10 January, 2015 at 8:30 am

      A friend i knew just said last week that a taxi driver in Manila took him under a bridge and asked for all his money.

  4. store
    13 January, 2015 at 1:09 am

    If you for some reason (ie. soi 11) can’t find a metered taxi and instead end up haggling with the local ripoff-talent, be careful not to accept anything like “400 baht flat price, I pay all highway toll”. Obviously he will happily skip the first and most expensive entry, happily spend 30 minutes traveling the 3 km of perpetu-jammed road-below-the-road and only grudgingly pay the 25 baht for the final (and cheapest) part of the highway.

    Also, it still doesn’t help if you know about this beforehand, tell the driver beforehand to use both toll roads and he says OK, and even before the first toll road intersection telling him he is in the wrong lane… It also doesn’t help to point where he’s supposed to be going while driving through the intersection and it most definitely doesn’t help to argue he shouldn’t have the full 400 baht since he didn’t use both toll roads as agreed upon and instead wasted a lot of your time – because you have a plane to catch and already 30 minutes down.

    But even the airport metered taxis aren’t to be 100% trusted – I think way more have rigged meters than you think. Only once have I seen a 250ish +50 fare to lower Sukhumvit (though quite often when returning to swanaboom). Usually my fares end up at around 400ish + 50 instead, as if it’s better or safer to scam only a little (it probably is, but they can still burn in buddhist hell for all I care).

    My experiences in Manila (and Cebu) on the other hand are nothing like this. Always meter, always knows where to drive, always speak and understand at least passable English, even the airport taxi didn’t try and scam me. I don’t know if I was just lucky, but I’d guess there just aren’t enough mindless tourist in Philippines to make taxi scamming a lucrative occupation.

  5. traveltrader
    14 January, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Harvie, what happened with the podcast post? I saw it the other day online for a few hours, but couldnt listen to it. Are you planing on putting it back online? Looking forward to the new segment.

    Great blog! Really enjoing your writing style with all your rants

    1. 15 January, 2015 at 3:20 am

      It’s a work in progress and thank you.

  6. scandibro
    7 February, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    The biggest problem with taxis today is getting one to even want to go anywhere, since traffic is constantly gridlocked and rates for not moving is way too low for a taxi driver to want to do so.

    BTS+motocy taxi solves most challenges or better yet, buy or rent one yourself.

    1. 7 February, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Bike taxis are dangerous as fook if they go over 50kph imo. But yes they are much better than taxis during grind lock. I myself prefer the BTS over all else.

  7. DaveWaikiki
    7 February, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    How do you sayin Thai? Please turn on the Meter

    1. 8 February, 2015 at 3:12 am

      I say “Meter mai” which pretty much means you want to put the meter on.

  8. Andrew Lim
    7 December, 2015 at 2:02 am

    I just don’t get why some drivers in Bangkok pretend they aren’t familiar to certain places you may want to go to. Well it maybe because they want to scam you or want to charge you double.

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