Touring a new city can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time.
If you’re planning to Bangkok for the first time, you may wonder: Is taking a taxi in Bangkok safe?
From scams to traffic, there are some essential things to consider before hopping in the backseat of a cab.
In this post, we’ll explore all your need-to-know information about taking taxis in Bangkok so you can travel with peace of mind and keep your hard-earned cash!
Is it safe to take a taxi in Bangkok?
Absolutely! Taxis are very safe in Bangkok, even for women traveling alone. In my experience, there have been very few accidents involving taxis, and the traffic in the city is often slow-moving anyway.
However, I have heard of problems with taxi drivers that usually involve disrespectful behavior from Westerners.
It’s essential to treat taxi drivers with respect and pay your fare. By doing so, you can be sure you will arrive safely and without incident at your destination.
Things You Should Know When Taking a Taxi in Bangkok
A taxi is the most convenient way to get around Bangkok, along with the BTS and MRT.
Taxis are usually new and spacious and come in various colors like green-yellow, red-blue, and even bright orange, red, and pink.
They are easy to find around hotels, shopping malls, and tourist attractions. However, expect a longer wait time during rush hours and rainy days.
The taxi fare starts at 35 baht and increases by 2 baht per kilometer. A surcharge of 1.25 baht per meter applies if you encounter traffic jams. A typical fare for a short distance is around 50 baht.
Communication with taxi drivers may be difficult as they may not speak English well, so be creative in conveying your destination.
Taxis are readily available, and it’s rare to experience a shortage in a city that never sleeps, except when it’s raining.
Most taxis use meters, but if they don’t, politely ask them to do so to avoid negotiating later. Taxi drivers work long hours in heavy traffic, and a small tip is often appreciated.
Here are some tips for taking taxis in Bangkok:
1. Their colorful cars identify Different taxi companies, but it doesn’t affect their fares or services.
2. Look for a glowing red “vacant” sign to spot an available taxi.
3. All taxis have meters, so there’s no need to negotiate fares. Finding another cab is best if a driver refuses to use the meter. Taxis waiting outside hotels may be suspicious.
4. If a driver refuses to take you where you want to go, report them to the Land Transport Department using hotline 1584 or the DLT Taxi app. Take a picture of the car plate.
5. You can flag a taxi at a bus stop but be prepared to be honked at if a bus is approaching.
6. Be wary of taxi drivers who insist on taking you to specific places. Trust your intuition and wait for the next taxi if you don’t feel comfortable. Taxis waiting outside hotels may also be suspicious.
7. Taxi drivers may not know every part of the city, so it’s a good idea to carry a map or the name and location of your destination written in Thai.
8. Before opening a taxi door, check for motorcycles behind you to avoid accidents.
9. Tipping is not required, but rounding up to the nearest 5 or 10 baht is common. Carry small notes or coins if the driver pretends not to carry change.
10. Check for any items you may have left behind before leaving the taxi.
Ways to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Taxis in Bangkok
Here are some tips to avoid being ripped off by taxis in Bangkok:
1. Use the Grab App:
Grab is Thailand’s most popular ride-sharing service and is very convenient. Be sure to download the app before you leave home so they can text you a one-time code to activate your account.
You can even schedule a pick-up in advance, and it’s helpful to know what you’re paying for before your journey begins.
2. Avoid Taxis Parked at Tourist Spots:
Taxis parked at tourist spots are more likely to take advantage of tourists.
It’s best to hail a taxi driving down the street when possible, as these drivers are more likely to use the meter as required.
If a taxi tries to rip you off, politely decline and move on to the next one.
3. Hail a Taxi Like a Local:
In Thailand, hailing a taxi is done with your arm held in front of you, palm down, and moving your arm up and down, like bouncing a basketball or patting a dog’s head.
4. Watch for Glowing Red “Free” Signs:
Look for the bright red or green text on the lower right-hand side of the taxi’s windshield, which signifies that the taxi is free and ready for hire.
Some taxis also have a red light on top that is turned on when available.
5. Bus Stops Can be Taxi Stops:
It’s perfectly acceptable to hail a taxi from a bus stop if there’s no bus coming or the stop is less crowded. During peak hours, taxis may not stop at bus stops.
6. Be Persistent:
Some taxi drivers in Thailand may refuse to take you to your desired location but don’t be disheartened. Simply find another taxi driver who will gladly take you there.
If a taxi doesn’t stop, it’s usually due to timing rather than intentional disregard. Be patient, and another cab will come along soon.
7. Show the driver your destination on the map.
To avoid language barriers when directing taxi drivers in Thailand, it’s helpful to have your destination written in Thai.
You can ask your hotel concierge to assist with this and even include nearby landmarks to make it easier for the driver.
Another helpful tool is Google Maps, which can show your destination in English and Thai.
By using this visual aid, you can ensure that the driver takes the correct route and gets you to your destination accurately.
8. Make sure the meter is running – it’s against the law not to use it!
When taking a taxi in Thailand, it’s essential to make sure the driver uses the meter to avoid overpaying.
Upon entering the taxi, kindly ask the driver to turn on the meter, using phrases like “Meter, please” or pointing to the meter if there’s a language barrier.
This guarantees that you’ll be charged the standard rate for your trip. If the driver refuses to use the meter and insists on a higher, flat fare, it’s best to decline politely and find another taxi.
With so many taxis available in urban areas of Thailand, this shouldn’t be a problem. You can ensure a fair ride without overpaying by insisting on the meter.
In case of any misconduct by the driver, customers can report them to the government hotline at 1584.
9. Snap a Picture of the Driver’s Name and License Plate Number
When traveling by taxi in Thailand, it’s essential to prioritize safety and convenience. One way to do this is by taking a quick photo of the driver’s license, usually found on the dashboard.
This provides the driver’s information and serves as a record of your trip.
This can come in handy if you need to report any issues, dispute a fare, or retrieve forgotten items.
This tip is precious for solo female travelers concerned about their safety. It takes only a moment but can save you a lot of trouble in the future.
10. Take a look at Google Maps for directions!
Keeping track of your route with Google Maps is a clever idea. This way, you can monitor your progress in real-time and ensure you’re going in the right direction.
This trick helps you get to know the city’s layout and protects against any potential miscommunication or misunderstandings with the driver regarding your destination.
It’s not uncommon for taxi drivers in Thailand to get lost, given that there is no formal test to become a taxi driver there.
Downloading the offline map of the city you’re traveling to is always a good idea so you can still navigate without WiFi or cell service.
11. How much does it cost to take a taxi in Thailand?
When taking a taxi in Thailand, it’s essential to have cash on hand as drivers may claim they don’t have change.
Taxi Prices in Thailand:
|Thailand Taxi Fare
|1st Kilometer (base rate)
|Distances Above 80km
It’s best to have small bills available, and if needed, you can ask the driver to stop at a nearby 7/11 to get a change. The taxi fares in Thailand were raised in 2023 for the first time in eight years.
The starting fare is 40 baht, a little over $1, for the first kilometer, and the fare increases based on the distance traveled.
It’s important to note that taxis registered at Bangkok airports charge an additional 50 baht fee, and other fees may apply, such as a fee for using a taxi van or extra bags.
If your ride takes you on any toll roads, such as the Expressway on the way to the airport, you’ll be responsible for paying the toll, usually around 75-100 baht.
Toll booths can also provide change if you need it. Remember that taxis in Thailand must use the meter!
Tuk-tuks in Thailand should cost the same or less than other taxis, but haggling is often required unless you use Grab, which may result in a higher cost.
12. Transportation to or from the airport in Thailand
If you’re looking for transportation to or from the airport in Thailand, here’s what you need to know:
In Bangkok, head to the “public taxi” area and use the touchscreen kiosks to print a slip with your driver’s information.
Keep the slip in case of any issues. If you take the Expressway, an extra 50 baht airport fee and a 75-100 baht toll will be added to your fare.
In Chiang Mai’s Old City, the ride from the airport is only about 10 minutes and costs a flat 150 baht fare.
Phuket’s prices vary depending on your destination. For a taxi to Phuket Town, expect to pay around 800-1000 baht.
Remember that additional charges like airport fees, larger vehicles, extra bags, and tolls are standard.
If you want a stress-free arrival in Thailand, consider booking a private airport transfer. The price is similar to a taxi, and knowing your ride is sorted can be priceless.
13. Stay Alert for These Common Taxi Scams in Thailand!
If you’re traveling in Thailand and wondering if taking a taxi is safe, you must know about common taxi scams.
Here are some to watch out for:
1. Taxis parked near tourist spots:
Don’t take a taxi waiting right outside a popular tourist attraction. Instead, walk a short distance away to find a reputable taxi.
2. Drivers who don’t use the meter:
Always insist on taking a taxi with a working meter. If the driver suggests a flat rate, politely decline and find another taxi. Make sure the meter is running from the moment your journey starts.
3. Tampered meters:
Keep an eye out for tampered meters that show higher fares. If you suspect something’s wrong, note the taxi number and report it to the authorities.
4. Unsolicited stops:
Stay alert and make sure your taxi doesn’t make any unscheduled stops. If the driver insists, firmly ask to continue to your intended destination.
Sometimes drivers have deals with bars and shops and get paid for bringing travelers there.
5. Longer routes:
Some drivers may take longer routes than necessary to increase the fare. Be familiar with the directions to your destination, or use a GPS navigation app to ensure you’re on the right track.
6. No change:
It’s a good idea to carry smaller currency notes to pay for your taxi fare. Some drivers may claim to have no change, hoping to overcharge you.
In conclusion, taking a taxi in Bangkok is generally safe if you know what to look for and take the proper precautions.
Ensure that the driver has a meter and insists on using it, check with an online fare estimator before taking the ride, and try not to travel late at night.
Also, be sure to avoid any drivers that seem suspicious or unprofessional. By following these steps, you can help ensure your safety in Bangkok.