taxi

Taxi

Going by taxi in Bangkok can be a cheap or not so cheap experience. It can depend on how you conduct yourself, as well as your familiarity with Bangkok taxis.

It is ALWAYS better to make sure the taxi driver uses the fare meter in the greater Bangkok area.

For journeys outside the Bangkok metropolitan area, (e.g. Pattaya, Damnoen Saduak floating market), you will have to negotiate and agree on the fare before you drive off.In these circumstances, do not pay until delivered safely to your intended destination.

Preferably hail a moving taxi with the red light (available for hire) illuminated (see below)

available 

Lean in the taxi window, state your destination, the driver will nod his head if he can take you. You get in, the meter starts at 35฿ (see below

 

meter

If the meter isn't on, point to it and say "meter". If he resists or wants to negotiate a flat fare, smile, and get a different taxi. Occasionally, when you tell the driver (through the window), where you want to go, he'll come back with a flat fare offer e.g. "200 baht", double or triple the normal price. Say "no thank you" and hail the next taxi that comes along, they are everywhere.

Most taxi drivers have to pay rent for the taxi of between 500-1000฿ per day, so anything they can earn above that (minus gas) is his wage. 

The following is a list put out by the government (before the July, 2008, rate increase).  The current rate card should be posted in every taxi:

rates 

The current (after July 2008) rates are given below. The start-up charge will remain at 35฿ for the first kilometer travelled. From 2 to 12 kilometers, the fare will be 5฿ per kilometer.

0 -1 km - 35฿

2 -12 kms - 5฿ per km

12 - 20 kms - 5.5฿ per km

20 - 40 kms - 6฿ per km

40 - 60 kms - 8.5฿ per km

If stuck in traffic the meter runs at 1.25฿ per/minute until it starts moving at more than 6 km/h.

It is also possible to hire a taxi for around 200฿ an hour if you need to do some shopping or run errands - but negotiate the rate first.

Taxi meter fares from point to point in Bangkok city will usually come in well under 100฿ (U.S. $3). It is always desirable to flag down a moving taxi rather than approaching one that is parked, especially outside tourist hot spots and hotels. Why? Because these drivers will try to negotiate a flat fare to your destination, which, apart from being illegal, means you'll pay too much. You can probably see why taxi drivers try to negotiate a flat fare rather than use the fare meter, they'll earn 2 or 3 times what they otherwise would by following the law and using their meter.

You can tell which moving taxis are available for hire by the small red illuminated sign in the passenger side windscreen (see below).

available 

Simply stand by the side of the road (preferably with traffic heading in the direction you want to go) and when you see a vacant taxi, wave him down with a gentle "palm facing down" motion... (a bit like patting a dog's head). Lean into the taxi and state your destination. If the driver nods, get in, watch that the meter is started at 35฿. 

If the driver shakes his head, or announces a flat rate, smile and wave him away. If you get into the taxi and the driver tries to negotiate a flat fare, smile, and get out, then simply wave down another taxi, there are literally thousands of them on the road day and night, 24/7.

  • Never take a taxi that's standing near a hotel or tourist attraction.
  • Always wave down one that's cruisng.
  • When stating your destination, speak slowly and clearly.
  • When checking in to a hotel, request a business card or have reception write down the hotel name and address in Thai for you, this can save any misunderstandings as to your intended destination.
  • It is not necessary to tip a taxi driver, although you may see fit to round the fare up a few ฿aht.
  • Taxis come in all different colours, but they will always have a yellow registration plate.
  • Always keep smaller change handy (e.g. coins plus 20 and 50 baht notes).  You will be hard pressed to get change from the 500 and 1000 baht notes - with drivers claiming not to have change for such amounts.
  • Be careful to look over your shoulder before opening the door to exit a cab.  Motorbikes pass by fast and opening a door suddenly could cause a problem.

Although it usually is best to flag down a moving taxi, Bangkok has several formal and informal taxi ranks for the benefit of the locals. These are the easiest places to catch a taxi in those locations and the risk of being cheated is no higher than with a flagged-down moving taxi. These taxi ranks do not have any surcharge unlike the ones at the airports. On the other hand, some of these waiting taxis will not agree to take you to your destination. In that case you just have to walk down the line to the next waiting taxi. Quite often the picky drivers are at the head of the line since they have kept turning down fares. Conversely you have no obligation to take the first taxi in the line.

Taxi ranks in which security guards direct the traffic can be found, for example, at the MBK Center (on the side away from Siam Square), in front of Siam Paragon, and under the Phaya Thai Airport Rail Link station. Informal taxi ranks can be found in front of big shopping malls, large supermarkets like Big C, and some BTS (Skytrain) stations. For example, you can often find a large number of metered taxis and motorcycle taxis waiting at Exit 2 of the Wongwian Yai station while there are never any waiting taxis at Pho Nimit, the next station.

 

Motorcycle Taxi:

mt 

These are often found at the entrances to sois (side streets off main roads), and are used as 2-wheeled people-movers, ferrying people into and out of the soi.  They all wear bright (e.g. yellow or orange) vests. The same drivers tend to be stationed at the same positions "every day".  Typical fares for this service range from 10-25 baht, depending on the distance you are travelling into the soi (and the overall length of the soi).

Motorcycle taxis are an institution for Bangkok residents.  They develop trusting relationships with one or two drivers, get their mobile phone numbers, then contract them to make runs to the 7-11 for milk or beer, or even to the vet with the cat (in a carrier). Such arrangemens are great savers of time and effort!

One can use motorcycle taxis for other purposes.   If you are going a very short distance away from a particular soi - a couple of blocks or so - it is sometimes more handy to opt for a motorcycle taxi, but agree on the fare first - average trips cost between 10฿ to 60฿ (they may be a bit more than for a meter taxi if going away from their regularly stationed soi).

If you are going longer than a few blocks, a metered taxi is likely to be a better option - for price, safety, and comfort.

Driver and passenger should wear a helmet.  The driver should be able to provide one.  Within some sois, the helmet law may be ignored - but on main roads enforcement may be stricter - and those without helmets may be fined.

Tuk-Tuk:

tt

Also an institution for Bangkok residents.  Take note of the design of a tuk tuk some time - like when you see one loaded down with merchandise.  Parts may hinge out, bungee cords get used, etc.  Also, if you travel around Thailand, note that tuk tuks may differ in style.

Somewhat like motorcycle taxis, tuk tuks are usually used by residents for short distances.  When you know the price locals pay, you will be amazed at what they try to extract from foreigners.   A 20 baht trip down a street for a local can easily become a 60-80 baht fleecing of a tourist.  Requests to go long distance are an immediate signal to the driver to charge "big baht" - as this is not their usual use by residents (who know to use meter taxis or other conveyance for longer distances).

Many tuk tuk drivers make much of their money by taking tourists to a gem store, tailor shop, restaurant or the like (who tend to give 20-50 baht commissions for taking you there). They are very personable and they have an answer ready for any doubt you might have. This can be OK if you have the time and funds to throw away in the name of "experience" and need some overpriced custom shirts or jewlelry but otherwise you should avoid such trips.

Remember with tuk tuk's, visitors MUST  negotiate the price before getting in. (Residents who know the going rate will just give the 20 baht [or whatever the local rate may be] at the end of the trip; but this is unlikely to work for a visitor.  And if the resident is a foreigner, who gives the going rate at the end of the trip, s/he may get a subtle look of exhaspiration from the driver, who was hoping to get much more.) An average trip may cost visitors between 40฿ to 100฿.  Trips with tuk tuk offers of over 50 baht should probably be taken by taxi or other conveyance.  Clarify on the map they will have handy as to where you want to go; to and make them hold to their bargain, before paying (when you exit the tuk tuk at the end of your trip).

With all drivers, remain calm, low-key in your voice, and smiling.  Even if you may sense a dispute, or other problem, coming on.