Taxi scams, Bangkok
When you pick up your bags in the international arrivals area, you will see a big yellow sign warning of taxi scams. It was put up by the airport's endorsed taxi and limo service. When you walk out the middle level, outside baggage claim, you will be approached by people wearing the official blazer of this service. One asked me if I was going to a Bangkok hotel. They offered to take me for 900 Baht! I laughed and him. It only cost 300 Baht to get to downtown Bangkok with tolls. The tolls are 65 Baht. And, always give the driver a tip, they are poor, have kids that want an education, and work hard for their Baht.
Update! The Taxi-Meter service has been moved to the second floor all the way down on to the left as you leave the arrivals area. The bottom floor is for buses only now.
The official Taxi-Meter stand adds an extra 50 Baht to your taxi bill, but with tolls and traffic delays it was still under 300 Baht to get to my hotel in town! Another official's brother-in-law probably got the franchise for the official limo service, and with airport support, he is cheating tourists.
If you want the cheap ride into Bangkok, use the arrival area taxi on the second floor. For a cheaper ride, go to the top floor, departures. Catch a cab that is letting off a passenger and save 50 Baht. Taxis are not really allowed to stop here for passengers, so you have to catch one in the act of unloading a passenger. Put your bag inside the trunk and get in. He won't refuse you.
Also insist on using the north motorway, not the southern Bangna-Trad road. There is no traffic on the north road and the Bangna is usually stopped. It is also a longer ride out of the airport. The terminal is at the north end of the airport, so you must go the length of the airport and runways to get to the southern road. You can spend 100 Baht just to get to the Bangna road.
A Few Useful Tips To Ensure A Pleasant Ride With Bangkok Cabbies:
- Available taxis are the ones with the glowing red vacant sign.
- No need to negotiate the fare as all taxis in Bangkok are now metered (well, sort of anyway). A driver refusing to use a meter is an indication of a suspicious agenda. If he insists on giving you a fixed fare, instead of using the meter, it's best to find another cab.
- Don't be surprised if the driver refuses to take you where you wish to go. There's nothing you can do about it but try your luck with the next taxi.
- It's ok to get a taxi at a bus stop when there's no bus approaching, otherwise you can expect to be honked at.
- Like tuk-tuks, watch out for an over-eager taxi driver who offers to take you to 'good' places.
- Don't expect Bangkok taxi drivers to know the city's every nook and cranny, as a driver qualification exam isn't required. It's always a good idea to carry a map, or the name and the location of where you're heading to written in Thai.
- Look behind you and make sure there's no motorcycle coming before you open a car door. It's very common for passengers to open the door without looking, and have a motorcycle slam into it. This can cause serious injury to the motorcycle driver, the taxi passenger, as well as considerable damage to the taxi itself.
- Tipping of taxi drivers is not required, though rounding the fare off to the nearest 5 or 10 baht is common practice (it's a nice thing to do, as they earn very little, work long hours in often stressful conditions).
- Before getting out of a taxi, make sure you haven't left any valuables or shopping bags behind.
- Trust your intuition. If you don't get a good feeling about a taxi driver, rather wait for the next one. For every nasty taxi driver in Bangkok there is also a good and charming one.
It's quite unfortunate that I should start my Bangkok page with warning tips. Mind you, it's a great place and one where I don't mind going back over again, but it's the dishonest people prowling the streets of Bangkok targeting tourists that gets on my nerves. BKK is one of those places where the "once bitten twice shy" proverb doesn't hold true. On one memorable trip there with my family, we got scammed not once, but twice in two days. This taxi-restaurant scam happened on our first evening in BKK at the Asia Hotel where we were staying.
We couldn't decide where to eat on our first evening and made the mistake of asking an Asia Hotel limosine driver if he knew any good seafood restaurants. He said he knew of an "excellent" seafood restaurant near our hotel that was "patronised by celebrities", and would drive us there for only B20 if we were interested. We took the bait easily. Mind you, this was the day before the bigger gem scam we were yet to fall for.
What we saw at the restaurant (can't recall name) was a huge wall menu, with glass and concrete tanks on the ground outside the restaurant. Prices were EXHORBITANT. B200 for a plate of mixed vegetables was the cheapest on the huge menu. Dad was still in a pretty good mood, so he ordered us a grilled lobster. Once seated inside, we noticed 2 other groups of families eating quietly and the atmosphere was pretty sullen. They must have realised something we had not. Anyway, the bill for the 4 of us was quite expensive - food quality wise, nothing to shout about. We were all simultaneously thirsty after dinner due to the MSG. Anyway, to cut the long story short, if unsure, get your friends to recommend any restaurants they've tried or even splurge abit more at those restaurants you read about on the THAI inflight mags because what we experienced was certainly not worth it. You might notice the many local restaurants that are chock full of people, as Asians tend to congregate wherever food is good. Walk right into those rather than relying on a taximan.
It is not a bad idea to get a good sense of orientation of where you are and where you are headed, before you get into a cab.
One time I took a cab with my (step) mother-in-law, who is Thai. She realised the driver was heading in the wrong direction and out of town and told us it was a big problem and she was slightly concerned for her Farang! A very "heated" conversation / arguement took place (in Thai) and eventually the driver turned the car around and took us back. Am not too sure what it was all about but from then on we always made sure we knew the way :)
Some taxi or tuktuk drivers offer good fares but there's a catch: you'll have to take a "quick" stop-over at a jewelry/ leather goods outlet before heading to your destination. If you don't intend to take this side trip and you don't have much time, just politely refuse the offer. If the driver accepts your reply, then good. If not, just ask to be dropped off right away. These drivers are supposed to get gasoline coupons for every passenger they bring to the jewelry/leather goods outlet. This is no way to help them if you're going to be inconvenienced, better that you just pay them the reasonable fare.
Never say it's your first visit to Bangkok, if a taxi driver or whoever asks how long you've been there or if it's your first trip lie! There are ample con artists around just ready and waiting to take the unsuspecting tourist for a ride! Taxi drivers will charge you way over the odds if they think you don't know the going rate. Always ask them to turn on the meter if they want to agree a price upfront it will be above the going rate! When visiting the main tourist attractions you will see many smartly dressed men in suits even lingering around the sights to try and persuade you that the attraction is closed today or not open until later, many will even point to a closed gate, chances are you are just not at the front enterance. They might also try tell you that your clothing is unacceptable for entrance to the palace etc whereas at most major tourist attractions including the grand palace you can hire appropriate clothing free by leaving a refundable deposit. Don't be deceived by their lies, they will say there is another attraction close buy that they will take you to. I've never been mislead by them but have heard plenty of stories where people have been fleeced for tour guide fees or taken to the make shift tour guides shops or families shops along the way and encouraged to buy stuff. So be assertive and don't be misguided by anything they may tell you. Check everything out for yourself.
My boyfriend and I got a metered taxi from the airport to Th Chakraphong, Banglamphu. When we came to pay the taxi driver told us that the fare was 400B. The taxi driver said that the fare was not the meter reading, but the distance reading (ignoring the decimal point). We disagreed and pointed to the chart that all taxi's carrying saying how much for what distance. We said that we would pay the 209 and the 50 surcharge. We handed over the money, the taxi driver then chucked the money back at us saying it was wrong. They had swapped the 100 notes for 20 notes. We went to the police station to sort this out.
I thought it'd be the safest, easiest option to take a metered taxi from Suvarnabhumi airport into town, but beware - the yellow-and-greens scam too.
I'd already had my wallet stolen earlier in the day and had very little money left. We took a taxi from the Meter Taxi Stand on the 1st (ground) floor of the station to Banglamphu. When we arrived in Soi Rambuttri about half an hour later, the driver pointed to the destination on the taxi meter (39.1 Km) and said "400 baht." We pointed to the price on the meter (209 baht) and said "No, 259". (Including the airport surcharge. I paid her 300 baht and got ready to get out.
She threw the money back at me and I looked down to see that there were two hundreds and one twenty. "My mistake," I thought, and replaced the twenty with a hundred. She threw it back again and this time there were two twenties and one hundred.
She'd been switching notes.
I refused to pay her any more, and she got out of the cab screeching "You pay! You pay! Two hundred fifty!" as if she was almost in tears.
Me went to Chana Songkram police station to speak to the npolice, but they would do absolutely nothing about it. Because of my lost wallet, she made off with about 500 baht of my remaining 900.
I will never set foot in another Bangkok taxi.
We tried to get a taxi to take us to the train station from Sukhumvit 11. We eventually had to get out because he wouldn't take us at all. He wanted to drive us all the way to the port to get a boat to Ko Si Chang. So, we hailed another taxi down and he did the same thing. We finally just succummed and the guy drove us all they way there, about 2 hours or a bit more, for 45 dollars. When we got there he drove right to the place where we needed to go. We weren't sure if that was the place until he started to drive away from it. I had a map of the port so I new he was driving away. So, he took us to this modern spit type of port where people were selling stuff. He got out. We didn't. He started talking to some guys. We still didn't get out. I was trying to convice my husband that that was not the place either. I could see the real port from where we were. The taxi dude finally got back in and drove us right back to where we were when we first got there. Man! We almost missed the ferry. But we made it. Be careful! Trust no one, no what you are doing and where you are going.
Always go by meters.
Why? Cos there are cabbies who claim that their meters are faulty and would give you a price first. And the fee would be highly overcharged. One cabbie wanted to charge me 400 Baht from Wat Pho back to my hotel. This fee is even more than what is needed from the airport to the main shopping district.
So, when entering the cab, always insist on the meter.
Be very careful about getting a taxi to your next destination once you arrive in Bangkok International Airport. A presentable looking man approached us on arrival, claiming to be airport staff and offering us help. Despite all my research into this type of taxi scam, before we knew it, we had been whisked around the back of the airport and into a filthy, unlicensed cab. We were charged 700 baht for a journey that should have cost no more than 250 baht.
The following day, a different driver tried all the usual tricks of trying to get us to stop off for gas vouchers etc. No way was i going to let him away with it, so i just kept repeating where we wanted to go and that we wanted to go straight there. He knew that I knew what he was playing at, and winked in the mirror at me, saying "Oh, you're from a nice country. You read all about Thailand".He was laughing at this stage, and brought us directly to our location without any unnecessary stops.
We were in Bangkok for a few days. Had to take Taxi to go around town since our hotel was not in the centre. We had the city map with us, and we knew where we were going and where we were. The taxi driver just took us around the city in circles. When we should turn right, he turned left and things like that. Eventually we got off the taxi near the place we were heading for and paid him about 2/3 of the fare then walked to our destination. We ended up leaving our wallet in the taxi. ( My husband was so upset that he forgot his wallet inside and didn't realise till we needed his wallet.)
My suggestion is if you are planning on visiting the city, try stay near the bus station or subway. So you can actually not having to be scammed.
When you jump in a taxi, insist that the driver uses the meter. They may say it's broken or cheaper to set a price but I guarantee it's not. The other one is the old gem store scam. They tell you they know of a place where you can get an amazing deal but my advice is to just get out of the cab if they won't take you where you want to go directly...
Unfortunately a sizable portion of the Bangkok taxis will attempt to take advantage of foreigners. It was a very rare occasion not to step into a taxi and have them claim the meter did not work and wanting an outrageous fixed price for a fare. Or they only wanted a very cheap fare but wanted to take you to the cousin's shop in return for the favor. Be firm about the meter ( it is always cheaper than the price they quote) and don't be afraid to get out of the taxi and flag another.
You can get either of the following:
"This company is non metered after xx:xx hours"
"The meter is broken - how much are you willing to pay?, how about (pricex6) ?"
"I do you special price only (price x 6)" (unless you know the fare do not chose this option)
In all instances, I would, tell them politely but firmly "Turn the Meter on or Stop the Taxi"
if they are persistant and inform you of the starting information - tell them politely but firmly "Stop the taxi - or I pay nothing" this generally works as they would rather not lose the money. Then get out of the taxi and find another - there are millions of them around.
There are not a lot of taxi drivers out there doing this - but they do exist, be aware and be polite at all times.
It is law that all taxi (cars) must be metered, unfortunately at the moment the Tuk-Tuks are not required to follow this law. Although the Tuk-Tuks are regulated in regards to safety, the same as taxis