Traveling around Bangkok can be a challenge, so here are some tips on using taxis without being “taken for a ride”.
By Christopher Scott Dixon.
Next to the BTS and MRT rapid transport systems, the best and most convenient way to see Bangkok is by taxi. You literally can’t miss them as they are always visible on the roads in a rainbow parade of funky colors such as bright pink and orange.
Chances are if you are standing on a main street, staring in hope at the traffic, the taxis will see you first and honk. But if you are trying to flag one down, watch for the glowing red vacant sign in the front.
They are usually readily available as you might expect in a city that never seems to sleep, but a word of warning: be prepared for a lengthy wait when it rains and also in rush hour.
Most taxis are new, spacious, air conditioned, and also metered so no need to negotiate. The fare starts at THB 35 for the first two kilometers. If they are not metered and the driver starts to insist on a fixed fare, then simply get out and wait for another one.
Very few taxi drivers speak English and those that do have only limited knowledge, so I recommend that you try to learn a few Thai phrases, such as “stop,” “here,” “turn left,” or “turn right,” etc.
Don’t expect the drivers to know every backstreet of the city. Keep a copy of your hotel card with you so you can show to the taxi driver if understanding becomes a problem. Or, have the staff write out directions in Thai. Also, carry a map and have the name and location of the place you want to go to.
The drivers have their license plate details and names displayed in the taxi, and it’s worth noting them down, just in case anything goes wrong.
You might find drivers who just don’t want to take you to your destination. Avoid any arguments, just get out, and wait for another taxi.
Do keep an eye on your belongings in the cab; it’s all too easy to be staring at the many fascinating sights on the street and forget your lap top, bags, or, mobile when you exit the vehicle in the rush to get back into your hotel or visit the enticing shopping malls.
Be careful also when you open the cab door, always look behind you first, in case there is a motorcyclist; to avoid an accident that can seriously injure them by slamming into the door and damaging the taxi.
Tipping is not expected, but it’s usual to round-up the final fare by THB 5 or THB 10 — a very friendly gesture.
Keep some of this advice in mind to sit back and enjoy the ride! Avoid the chaos all together with some amazing apps such as GrabTaxi, GrabBike, AllThaiTaxi or Uber.