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TAXI IN BANGKOK, HOW IT WORKS!
A taxi in Bangkok is cheap and wonderfully air-conditioned. Outside the rush hour and/or the busy city center it is an efficient and cheap way to discover Bangkok. We will give you some tips and tricks which can be useful if you want to use a taxi in Bangkok or Thailand in general.
Always ask for the meter
Before you leave, ask the driver to turn on the meter. Officially every driver is obliged to turn the meter on but there are some drivers who refuse, instead they want to agree on a fixed fare with you and that is always to your disadvantage! The same distance with the meter taxi is always, but always cheaper. Don’t be fooled and just take another taxi, there are more than enough!
Price of the taxi
As soon as the meter turns on it will indicate 35 baht (2018), this is the starting rate. The 35 baht will stay the first few kilometers and will then go up with about 2 baht per kilometer. If the taxi drives at a walking pace like during rush hour, the fare will go up with a few extra baht.
Taxis in Bangkok can charge extra for your luggage as of today. This can be up to 100 baht per piece of luggage. Especially if you want to transport large items like a large suitcase, backpack, guitar, etc. To give you a guideline; Luggage under 66 cm will cost you a maximum of 20 baht, but luggage from 66 cm upwards can cost you a maximum of 100 baht extra. So two backpacks or suitcases can cost you 200 baht extra if you want to take a taxi from the airport to the centre of Bangkok.
Avoid rush hour
During rush hour traffic is stuck (we mean really STUCK), especially in the centre, you really don’t get ahead a meter! Eventually you get out and start walking (we speak from experience). So be sensible and take the BTS Sky Train or Metro during rush hour. And should you be able to cross the river to reach your destination, take the Chao Phraya River Express.
It’s a bit of a turnaround but a red light on the dashboard of a taxi means that the taxi is still free and not occupied as we first thought.
Stopping a taxi
Waving, raising your thumb or something like that is not the usual way to stop a taxi in Thailand. Instead you put your palm down and move your fingers towards you. It is similar to the gesture of “taking it easy” we use in the Netherlands and don’t move your palm up here.
Stop a moving taxi
Taxis set up in front of a hotel or tourist attraction are less likely to drive on the meter and offer you so-called good deals or trips. You are obviously a tourist and the thought must be that you can miss something. Look for another taxi and don’t take the next one in line. Walk further away from the hotel or other place and keep a taxi in line.
License card and taxi number
Every driver is required to have a license card in the taxi which must be visibly placed on the dashboard. On this card you find the taxi number and a photo with the name of the taxi driver. If you experience problems or forget something this information can be useful. Make sure you always have important and valuable stuff with you in the taxi, the rest of the stuff you put in the trunk.
It is ideal to have the address you want to go to written down in Thai. If you don’t have this and the driver doesn’t know the way, check if there is an important building near your destination. Almost every driver knows the well known temples, major shopping malls on Siam Square, the famous sky and rooftop bars like MahaNakhon, China Town (Yaowarat Road), Lumphini Park or Khao San Road. Another increasingly used way is to put the address in the navigation of your phone and show it to your driver.
Check the meter
Keep an eye on the meter, of course not all the time. But just before you reach your destination. Unfortunately it sometimes happens that the driver quickly turns off the meter just before he stops and then mentions an x amount you have to pay. If you haven’t seen the meter, you don’t know if the price is correct. We did try it when we just took a meter taxi from the airport. Also check the speed at which the meter rises, sometimes the meters are set in such a way that the amount rises faster. If you experience problems or feel unsafe please contact the English speaking tourist police, tel: 1155.
If it’s too good to be true…
We all know it, don’t go into deals that are too good to be true. Never ask a taxi driver for a good restaurant or anything like that. Nine out of ten they won’t take you to an undiscovered gem or top restaurant, but to a place where commission is received, which you will eventually pay into the bill.
Just assume most drivers don’t have change. True or not, be the problem and make sure you have enough change. Complete the amount to the next ten or so. It is kind and usual. Many drivers originally come from poorer Thai areas such as the Isaan, the cab drivers come to Bangkok to earn money. This is often the reason they don’t know their way around.
Have a chat in Thai-English
Taxi drivers in Bangkok are not immediately known for their reliability, but there are definitely many friendly and honest drivers among them. A chat makes the ride more pleasant. In addition, taxi drivers are perfect for practicing your Thai words! No Thai in your vocabulary? Then speak mainly Thai-English, because not many drivers speak fluent or even poor English. Thai-English is about using short sentences and avoiding as many (difficult) English words as possible.