You will have no problems finding a metered taxi in Bangkok – they are everywhere! Many of them are bright pink coloured, so you certainly won’t miss those ones! Simply signal to the driver and, if there are no passengers already on board, he’ll stop to pick you up.
Due to the busy nature of Bangkok’s roads, you won’t get very far very fast in a taxi. If you are located close to a subway or Skytrain station, then I would recommend using one of those as your primary means of transportation around Bangkok. However, if you are in an area not covered by either of these, then I would recommend taxis over tuk-tuks. Tuk-tuks are fun for a one-off journey, but you can’t rely on them to take you where you want to go without an unscheduled stop at a shop or factory (where the driver earns commission).
Within Bangkok, the meter starts at 35 Bahts (approx. 0.45 GBP) when you are picked up. The fares are extremely cheap by European standards, with a journey of several kilometres costing between 1 and 2 GBP. In fact, the 25km journey from Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi airport should only cost about 5 GBP (see separate tip for full details of taxis to and from the airport).
The only time I used a taxi, other than the airport transfer, was for a journey between the Old Siam Plaza shopping mall in Chinatown and Lumphini Park in Silom. This journey of several kilometres took 20 minutes, involved a lot of sitting in heavy traffic and cost a mere 73 Bahts (approx. 1.15 GBP).
The first taxi that I stopped refused to take me to Lumphini Park. The driver seemed to be having difficulty understanding where I wanted to go, despite me pointing out the park on my (Thai language) map. Perhaps he didn’t fancy sitting in heavy afternoon traffic in Silom, or perhaps he had to make another pick up and couldn’t get back in time, but either way I jumped out of the taxi and stopped the one behind it and set off towards Lumphini with no problems.
In Bangkok meter taxis are plentiful and available 24 hours a day. Sometimes you need to be sure that the driver will use the meter, if they do not want to then do not use them - just wave down the next one. Late at night, especially from the night life areas such as Patpong the cabs lined up waiting for you will refuse to use meters and try and charge you 3 or 4 times the fare as a fixed price. The best option here is to walk away from the lines of cabs and flag down a passing one. It is always useful to have the address of your hotel or destination written in Thai to show the drivers. Hotels usually provide cards for this purpose.
We did have some problems with tuk-tuks and taxi's in Bkk. On our first 2 visits we didn't use them a lot, but in 2005 we encountered several problems.
The biggest problem was that they didn't want to put the meter on. We stayed several times in Twin Towers hotel, each time for 1 night when stopping over. The hotel was very close to the Hualamphong trainstation, but we took a taxi several times to avoid the hassle of dragging our luggage over the streets. Each time they tried to rip us of by asking a fare between 300 and 500 THB, where the meter-fare was only 50 THB. I don't mind paying a bit extra or giving a tip, but they don't have to exaggerate.
At one time we called a taxi through the hotel to take us to the international airport (was still Don Muang airport at that time). The guy at the hotel told him to put the meter on, but when he drove away he refused to do so. Only after we were ready to get out of the car he agreed to put it on. Then he first took us to the domestic terminal (which was furher away) instead of the international, so the meter was higher than it normally had to be.
Also be careful when you take a taxi and pay extra for the toll at the expressway. There are several points in the city to enter the expressway: depending on where you enter you pay a fare to use it. Very often the taxidrivers charge you the highest rate, but they only enter at a point further down the expressway, so where they don't have to pay the complete fare they've charged you.
Taxi in Bangkok
All taxis have a taxi meter that begins from 35 baht. There is taxis with different colors (red, yellow and more) and always you find one. Be careful and say the taxi driver to put the taxi meter on before he begins to drive.
First Photo: Taxis in Siam, Bangkok
Second photo: Taxi in Rama I Road in Siam, Bangkok
Third photo: Taxis in Surawong Road in Bangkok
Forth photo: Taxis in Siam, Bangkok
Fifth photo: Taxi outside the hotel
The minimum charge in Bangkok taxis is 35THB, after that it's another 2THB for every 0.4 km beyond the 1st 2 kms, plus the meter also takes into account waiting time in traffic, etc. Good value if there are 2-4 passengers.
As long as you stipulate using the meter, you will be charged a reasonable amount.
The added benefit is that it's air-conditioned, a relief from the sticky heat & fumes/exhaust from the often heavy traffic.
Tuk-tuks on the other hand often start quoting ridiculous amounts & then you start haggling, probably still settling at paying more than you would for a taxi!! Needless & messy!
Even people in Thailand don't realise how cheap taxis are; they are seriously though unneccessarily underused. Eg I was advised that a tuk-tuk will cost 100THB for a certain journey, whereas a taxi will cost 250THB. In fact the taxi only cost 60THB!!!
Another time, a tuk-tuk quote me 300THB from Hualamphong to Sam Yan, then he dropped to 150.. I wasn't impressed with this silly dutch auction thing, so took a taxi, costing only 45THB!
Bangkok is world renowned for its terrible traffic problems, so getting around on the roads is a bit of a nightmare. Yes, Bangkok has a metro but it only consist of one line (at the moment) and, yes, it has the BTS Skytrain but this doesn't go anyway near the city centre in order to get to the main tourist destinations like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho or Wat Arun. Instead you either have to take a tuk-tuk or a taxi. I took a few taxi's during my time in Bangkok and found them to be a lot cheaper than the tuk-tuk prices I was quoted.
Taxis are all metered, here, and the set price is 35B at flag fall for the first 2km, then 5B/km after that. This means that even relatively long journeys, such as from Sukhumvit to the Grand Palace often aren't above 100B but this does go up depending on the time it takes. The two tone green and yellow taxis are generally reckoned to be the best ones. These are driven by the owner, while all others are rented out by the day. Of course, everything really depends on the driver rather than the colour of the car, and there's not really any major difference between any of them.
Taxi Meter charge a minimum of 35 baht, for the first 3 kilometers, and approximately 5 baht per kilometer thereafter.When in Traffice the meter is timed and calculated in the fare.
If you can't find taxi easily then you can call taxi to pick you at 1661, there are taxi call service.
Don't ever get into a Bangkok taxi until you have it absolutely clearly established that they are a "meter" cab. Don't even stick your foot in! Some have an amazingly evasive way of geturing you in without answering, and then saying "no meter" - make sure you get the answer clearly and see the meter going. Quite artful in some instances - leading to confrontations and physically awkward departures from the vehicle!
Beware of unscrupulous taxi drivers in Bangkok who park their taxis outside popular tourist spots like Patpong and Suan Lum Night Market. If you need to take a taxi after midnight when the public transport system no longer operates, it is better to take a cruising taxi rather than a taxi waiting outside the tourist spot. Before you enter the taxi, tell the taxi driver your destination and say that you want to go by the meter. If he quotes you a price, go to the next taxi. There is no such thing as a midnight surcharge.
I was trying to get a taxi outside Patpong after midnight. The first driver quoted me 100B to go to my hotel, the Eastin Hotel in Pratunam district. The next driver told me that there will be an additional 50% midnight surcharge. The third driver quoted me 80B. Only the fourth driver agreed to go by the meter. The 15 minute trip cost 35B.
We tried the red-blue ones, the yellow-green ones and the bright pink taxis and found that these were the cheapest - the Bright Pink taxis. The red-blue ones seemed the most expensive.
We took the red-blue ones from the taxi queue outside the airport and were charged 410B total (inclusive of toll), but only paid the pink ones 350B (inclusive of toll) on the way back to the airport when we departed (even if you added the extra 50 that one has to pay from the airport, it's still a 10B savings. Not much, but still cheaper.
We decided to take a taxi after dinner back to our hotel. The one thing we did not think about was that the taxi driver didn't understand the name of our hotel in english. We got quite a tour of Bangkok that night and a lesson on defensive driving.
It was a great experience and we enjoyed it.
Hopefully it will remind us to pick up a business card from the hotel where we are staying or at least have someone print out the name in that countries language.
When taking a taxi in Bangkok, the lit red light at the passenger side of the taxi windscreen indicates that the taxi is available. Always confirm with the taxi driver that the meter will be used before boarding. The starting fare is 35 Baht and I usually round up the taxi fare to the next higher 10 Baht. The typical fare for taking a taxi around Bangkok is about 70 Baht. A typical journey to Chatuchak (Jatujak or JJ) Weekend Market will cost around 100 Baht, excluding toll fee payable by passenger if the tollway (highway) is used. As such, you may find a taxi more worthwhile than the BTS Skytrain (10 to 40 Baht per person) or MRT (14 to 36 Baht per person) if you have a group of 3 or 4 persons.
When taking a taxi from the airport, there will a 50 Baht airport surcharge. If you use the tollway, there will be 2 toll stations along the way, and you will need to pay a total of 60 Baht (20 Baht for the first toll station, and 40 Baht for the second one). If you give the driver a 100 Baht note at the first toll station, he will give the note to the cashier and return you 40 Baht, retaining 40 Baht for the second toll station. A typical journey from the airport to the central area will cost about 160 Baht (excluding airport surcharge and toll fees).
From hotel to the airport, you should definitely make sure that the taxi meter will be used, even if the hotel doorman got the taxi for you, and especially so if the taxi was waiting just outside your hotel. In my case, the taxi driver did not want to use the meter and tried to charge me a fixed fare (including toll fees) of 350 Baht!
Getting around in Bangkok city, BTS is the best transportation for tourists who do not know Thai language or the way to your destinations.
Though travelling by taxis is sometimes cheaper then taking the BTS, just the jam is enough to take you stuck for at least 20 mins!
I was staying in Holiday Inn Bangkok, Ploenchit, just infront of Intercontinental Hotel. Or should say right next to Chitlom BTS station. But those taxi drivers don't seems to know where I'm going after explain in detail to them. There was one driver drive me to Silom Holiday Inn after I kept telling him 'Chitlom' NOT 'Silom'. I asked him to put us down immediately and will not pay him a cent. (As we took the taxi from Pratunam (just 10-15mins walk from our hotel) back to our hotel, but he took us a big round to Silom)!! From there, we took another taxi whose driver is more honest to bring us back, and paid 60 baht! I told the hotel staff and she said some drivers pretend and act blurr, and said I had done the right thing by not paying him :)
Scenario 1: I believe by now, you've heard of the notorious taxis of BKK who refuse to turn on their meters. They have the uncanny ability of spotting a tourist from a mile away and in an instance, you'll see taxis of all colours, slowing to a complete halt in both directions of traffic, windows wound down and heads popping out shouting "where you go ?!!"
Scenario 2: You're staying at a low end hotel somewhere in Pratunam, you're ready to leave your hotel in the morning for some sightseeing. The doorman asks if you require a taxi, you say yes, and he gestures to a taxi parked outside the hotel. The taximan refuses to switch on his meter and asks for B250 for the single trip to the Grand Palace, he also appears rude, and refuses to lower his asking price. You have just encountered BKK's infamous "hotel based taxi mafia". My friend who unfortunately went along with a taxi mafioso was rudely shortchanged B20 on the pretense of tips on paying the non-negotiable fare on reaching his destination. Such aggressive daylight robbery in my opinion is incredibly blatant.
Suggested tips to minimise grief when dealing with taximen:
- It pays to learn some rudimentary Thai before leaving for Thailand. You might pass off as a long term resident or even a Thai yourself. Learn words like - I want to go to..., preferably in the colloquial when talking to taxi drivers, so it might be shortened to "Go..."
- Should he refuse to turn on the meter, ask him why not?, if he still refuses, ask him to stop the cab, say you don't want him to take you, and walk the OPPOSITE direction as they have a habit of slowly tailing you (they're quite persistent). Flag down another cab.
- If you've just realised you're talking to a taxi mafioso at your hotel, just decline his service (politely), walk down the main road and flag down another cab. Note: If it's early in the morning, when taxi business is usually sparse, he just might tail you. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it is. Crossing the road to the other direction usually breaks their will.
When to take a metered taxi and when to take a tuc-tuc? What are the pros and cons? Is a tuc-tuc always cheaper than a taxi?
Tuc-tucs are the ubiquitous means of transportation in Bangkok, and their loud rattling noise can be heard even in the late-late hours of the night. They are supposed to be cheaper than taxies, but there is no meter, the price is negotiable, and you must have a very clear idea of what distance you are actually traveling and what is a good price. They meander through the traffic with incredible speed and agility, while the taxis obey the rules and are stuck in seemingly endless traffic jams.
Taxis, on the other hand, are metered; if you don't know how to bargain with tuc-tuc drivers, and if traffic is not so terrible where you are going, a taxi ride may end up cheaper than an adventurous tuc-tuc ride which leaves you breathless, panting and perspiring, thanking God you are still in one piece. Not to mention the fact that taxis are air-conditioned, which is most welcome in this hot and hunid climate.
So, make sure you take a few tuc-tuc rides, the Bangkok experience is not complete without them, but remember that on many occasions a taxi will not be more expensive, and will certainly be cooler and safer...