I love Bangkok. In fact, Bangkok is my favourite city in the world. But there is one thing I hate about Bangkok. Bangkok taxis. They are just terrible and almost every taxi driver is there to scam you and get the most money out of you. But if you’re well prepared and informed you can master the art of navigating Bangkok’s taxis (well kind of). And if you’re lazy like me and would rather get taxis around the city instead of BTS and MRT, then you need a lot of patience and this guide, because trust me, Bangkok’s taxis are a nightmare. So bear in mind these things…
Taxis are everywhere
Yes, Bangkok is a city of taxis. They are literally everywhere. There are more taxis than cars. And yes, taxis in Bangkok are cheap, considerably cheaper than in Western Europe, that’s why I like getting them when I’m in Bangkok. They are quick and convenient and most of the times air conditioned too. It doesn’t matter where you are, you’re guaranteed to see those famous yellow or pink taxis everywhere.
How to spot available taxis
Available taxis are the ones with the glowing red light in the passenger window.
All taxis in Bangkok should be metered! That’s not a problem when you get a taxi from the airport, but most of the time, taxi drivers will try to scam you and bargain the price beforehand and refusing to use the taxi meter. It is illegal for driver not to use meters! Before you get in a taxi, make sure to ask them whether they are metered, if not just find another one. If they get too cocky you can also tell them you could report them to 1584.
Treasure this number, because this is the number you should call when you experience any issues or problems with taxis in Bangkok. In case something happens just use this number. You can also report any taxi drivers who refused to use meter (remember, not using meters is illegal and you can report them). Just be sensible and don’t threaten taxi drivers that you’ll report them, you don’t know those people so always be careful.
Take a picture of taxi driver’s licence
Remember to always take picture of the taxi driver’s licence. It should be in every Bangkok taxi usually stuck on a window or somewhere inside the taxi. The licence is written both in Thai and English writing and has a clear picture of the driver. Always take pictures just in case you lose something, or as mentioned above, you want to report the driver.
Learn some Thai phrases
Learn some Thai phrases as this might fool the taxi drivers that you’re an expat living in Bangkok rather than just a clueless tourist. But be warned, even locals and Thais have issues with taxis and nearly all taxi drivers want to bargain first, a lot of them will refuse to use meter.
Learn some useful phrases here.
Clueless taxi drivers
Nearly all taxi drivers in Bangkok are clueless and half of the time they won’t know where you want to go. They will know all the major touristy sites such as the Royal Palaca, Wat Pho or Patpong Night Market, but if you just want to get to your hotel, it’s most likely they won’t understand or know where to go. The best thing is to have the hotel’s number ready so the taxi drivers can call them and find out where your hotel is. Or have your hotel address printed in Thai writing. Most of the time Bangkok’s taxi drivers come from provinces to work for the season or for a few months, and they are not true locals, so they don’t really know Bangkok.
Be aware of taxi scams that are happening nearly everyday in Bangkok to innocent tourists. While you say one thing to a taxi driver and he takes you to your destination, he will take you to another place where a tuk-tuk driver (his friend) will wait eager to take you where you wanted to go originally. This is their business and that’s how they work, scamming tourists so both get money. If that happens just gently and politely say this is not where you wanted to go and have no money and refuse to take tuk-tuk, or you could report him to 1584.
You’ll soon realise just how colourful are Bangkok’s taxis. As far as I’m aware, the colours of taxis don’t mean anything I just think they are different companies, but they all should use taxi meters. Taxis in Bangkok usually come in pink or yellow-green combination.
Just a little tip from me
The best thing is to befriend locals!” With locals you won’t get ripped off and if you do some pub crawling or a nightclub hopping, most often you get taxis for free because the nightclubs get commissions. I don’t know how exactly it works, but I always tend to get free rides from bar to bar when I take taxis with locals.
Believe it or not, I never rode a tuk-tuk in Bangkok and quite frankly, I don’t want to. They look and seem dangerous, the drivers look crafty and scammy. And they are notoriously bad. I would avoid them. But if you really want to take one, then go for it. It;s a big touristy thing to do, but not for me.