Bangkok Taxis

Bangkok Taxis

I just spent about a week in Bangkok and thought I’d pass along a few tips in the world of taxis in Bangkok. I want to preface this by noting that while I did take a lot of taxis over the last few days, I’m in no way an expert and this info is purely from my own perspective. I’d also like to point out that most of the advice I got about taking taxis was useless in practice.

Upon arrival in Bangkok we walked out to the taxi stand and were handed a printed flyer noting that meters are required by law in all taxis in Bangkok and to insist on the driver using the meter. Advice I read online also said to only ride in taxis that are using their meters. I don’t know if this is a new law or just one that is heavily resisted because through the entire trip, the one and only taxi who would use a meter was that first taxi from the airport. In all other cases the driver would just quote a price, and if we asked about the meter they would completely ignore the request. We passed on a few taxis because of this but realized quickly that if we actually wanted to get a ride in one we’d have to compromise.

Also, accepting an offer from a guy standing on the corner to get you a taxi is about the worst thing you can possibly do. We found in every case the broker taxis quoted much higher prices and always wanted to take us somewhere else. This includes the taxi guys who stand out in front of hotels. The solution that seemed to work best for us was to know where we wanted to go and offer the price we wanted to pay with the destination request. In almost all cases when talking directly to a driver this worked out flawlessly.

An example of this was this morning when we needed to get a ride to the airport. Since we had a meter taxi on the way in we know roughly what that ride should cost, the inbound ride cost us 300B. As we walked out of the hotel the street taxi brokers started yelling to us they would get us a taxi to the airport for only 600B. We replied that was way too much and we would only pay 300B. They scoffed, then came back with 500B. We continued to decline insisting that the ride should cost 300B and that was all we were willing to pay. They finally said fine and waved a taxi towards us. Luckily we thought to ask the driver about the cost and he said 450B. Bait and switch in effect. At the same time another taxi pulled up to drop some guests off at the hotel and we went to him directly “how much to go to the airport” “300B” “done!” we got in and paid him 400B when we got to the airport.

I think that unless you have much better luck than I do hoping to only ride in taxis with meters working is going to be problematic, and you’ll be much better off just knowing what you want to spend and offering that.

4 Comments so far

  1. BKK NEWS FEED ARCHIVE Q3/09/II (pingback) on September 21st, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

    [...] recent Thai stories) THE NATION – PAD Vows to Uphold Thai Sovereignty Over Disputed Area METBLOGS – Bangkok Taxis BBC – King Stable in Hospital AP – HM the King Hospitalized THAI 101 – Marcel [...]


  2. KV (unregistered) on September 27th, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

    Sorry that you had this bad luck. It seems that somehow the taxis smell tourists. And smell also when you have stayed in the city more than a week.

    The truth is that you should have continued the way you started: 1) telling where you go at the window of taxi 2) and sitting in and if the guy does not put meter on, you just leave the taxi 3) OR tell him at the window meter.

    If no go, just get next taxi. There is so many taxis in Bangkok that it is quite easy to find in 5 minutes taxi that is “normal”. Oh and just walking around the corner of your hotel helps a lot I bet. :)

    The most times I have had problems of getting metered taxi was those times I needed to go to airport.

    Cheers and I am sorry you did not find taxis with meters this time. Better luck the next time! :)


  3. Wrong (unregistered) on October 19th, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

    Sorry to read this but you obviously didn’t understand at all how it works.
    There’s nothing much to know about cabs in Bangkok:
    Don’t act naive even if you are, never take a taxi parking by a hotel or a touristic area. Always stop one driving by.
    As stated by KV don’t even bother asking about the meter, if he didn’t turn it on after 2 minutes just leave it.

    The only reason you’d have to negotiate a fare would be to go to a distant city, I’m talking about a 2 hours ride or more.


  4. Bangkok Classifieds (unregistered) on November 17th, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

    Always insist on the meter. If they refuse, get out. There will be another taxi along in about 2 seconds.

    About the only time you want to make an exception is if it is raining – expect to pay a premium. And, if you are in a hurry and don’t mind paying a little extra to not use the meter.



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