Transportation Tips: Taxis

When in doubt, take a taxi. The most you’ll pay getting from one place to another in Bangkok is no more than about 200 baht ($6 US), so it’s a pretty cheap option for convenience.

Taxi tips:

  • Virtually all taxis in Bangkok are metered.
  • The meter starts at 35B.
  • If you speak Thai – even so much as to say “Sawatdee-Ka/Krap” to the driver when you get into the car, I can almost guarantee that he/she won’t try and swindle you. If you can tell him/her where you want to go in Thai, even better.
  • “Swindling” usually entails the driver trying to offer you a flat-rate price to your destination instead of using the meter. Unless you’ve been to that exact place before and feel comfortable bartering, say “meter” sternly. Not using a meter in Bangkok is illegal, so if you sound serious the taxi wouldn’t dare make a fuss.
  • I’ve never encountered a rigged meter, but just watch it. If it’s higher than about 50-60B in the first 5 or so minutes of the ride, it might be janky. Just ask to get out and grab the next taxi.
  • If you feel uncomfortable at all, JUST GET OUT. There will be about six cabs waiting for you, especially if you’re an obvious “farang.” They kind of assume you need a taxi. Even if you’re standing at a bus stop. Yup.
  • BRING A MAP! If you aren’t comfortable with the correct pronunciation of your destination, bring a map (preferably one that also has Thai labeling) so you can physically point to where you want to go. The drivers are really good about being able to look at a map – even one that’s not of the entire Bangkok metro area – and understand what you mean.
  • Try to avoid taxis for long distances during rush hour! Traffic is nuts, even if you take the toll-booth highway.
  • Every taxi driver has an ID card posted on the left side of the dashboard by the windshield. If you’re sketched out, feel free to write down his/her info and contact the Tourist Police.
  • Some taxis will simply refuse to go to your location. Could be that they’re low on gas, they don’t want to deal with the traffic, or where you want to go is simply too far. Just say “Ok” or “Khob Khuhn Ka/Krap” and ask a different cab. I deal with this one all the time because I live pretty far North in Bangkok.

Useful taxi vocab:

“Bpai” = “Go”, or “Do you go to”
“Dtrong bpai” = Go straight
“Lee-o-sai” = “turn left”
“Lee-o-kwaa” = “turn right”
“Ani” = “this”
“Yoot” = “stop”
“Mai Khao Jai” = “I don’t understand”
For the failure Thai-speakers: “Poot angleet mai?” = “Do you speak English?”

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