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FlyerTalk Forums Thread Wiki: Catching a Taxi at BKK and general Thailand taxi discussion [SEE WIKI FIRST]
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Step-by-Step Guide to Getting a Taxi at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)


BKK Terminal Map

Source: AOT


MAP KEY

Arrival Gates - Level Two
Immigration
Baggage Claim Carousels
Customs and Exits to Landside Terminal Area
Elevators/Escalators to Ground Floor Level One
Numbered Exits to Outside (taxi queues are near exits 4 & 7)

WHAT TO DO

Taxis accept cash only. There are ATMs and currency exchangers inside the terminal.
  • Take an elevator or escalator down to the ground level.
  • Follow the signs to one of the two taxi queues outside of the terminal on Level One.
  • The taxi queue attendant will ask your destination and write it on a taxi slip.
  • The larger part of the taxi slip is yours to keep, the smaller part goes to your driver. Be sure to keep your taxi slip as it contains information you will need if a problem arises. Do not give your portion of the taxi slip to the driver, even if he asks for it.
COST
  • Airport Fee.
    • THB 50 per taxi - levied from the airport only, never to the airport

  • Tolls.
    • THB 75 to city center (two toll booths)
    • THB 60 to DMK

  • Sample Base Fares - amounts are approximate and will vary with traffic, specific drop point, etc.
    • City Center - THB 170-200
    • Grand Palace - THB 215
    • Don Mueang Airport (DMK) - THB 290

  • Fare Calculators - reasonably accurate fare estimates are available from a number of websites and apps. Keep in mind, these services provide estimated base fares only. Calculations do not include traffic, tolls, airport fees, etc. Reliability varies; use at your own risk.
FAQs

Q: Should I use the hotel's airport transfer service instead of a taxi?
A: It depends on your comfort zone, budget, time of day, number of people/bags, etc. In general, the cost will probably be about two to three times the typical taxi fare, or more. If you are relatively new to Asia, it might be a bit overwhelming, and you might find it reassuring to see someone holding a sign with your name as you walk out of baggage claim.
Q: Is it best to take the expressway or surface streets?
A: Depending on your destination and time of day, surface streets might be quicker and/or shorter. However, expressway tolls will usually add less than THB 200 to the trip (see above), so you may wish to defer to your driver.
Q: What types of scams should I watch for?
A: The most common thing you'll encounter is taxi drivers who do not want to use the meter. They will often ask for a flat fee that is usually much higher than the meter would register. If a driver refuses to use the meter, it's best to exit the taxi and get another. Do not get angry or argue with the driver. If a driver demands more money on arrival at your hotel, wait until your bags have been offloaded from the vehicle, then seek out a porter or other hotel employee to assist you. Again, do not get angry or argue with the driver.

Sometimes a driver will say there is a THB 50 fee to go to the airport. There is no fee to go TO the airport. If the fee is mentioned at the outset, get out and flag down a new taxi. If it is mentioned upon arrival at the airport, remove all your belongings from the taxi and calmly state that there is no such fee while handing over the metered amount. If the driver is insistent, offering to call over a police officer to assist will usually put an end to the discussion.
Q: If the driver does scam me, how much money are we talking about?
A: Usually no more than THB 200-300, which is about USD 7-10
Q: I think I still have other questions...
A: Just hit the reply button and get feedback from other helpful FlyerTalkers who take Bangkok taxis regularly!


Special thanks to FlyerTalker c_9 for building this wikipost.


This is a member-maintained wiki. FlyerTalkers are invited to update, add missing information and make corrections as needed. Thanks for helping out!

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Old Jun 17, 07, 9:53 am   #1
 
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Catching a Taxi at BKK and general Thailand taxi discussion [SEE WIKI FIRST]

If you are landing at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (airport code BKK), taking a taxi to your hotel in central Bangkok is relatively simple, but there are a few things you need to know. (The public taxi line is in a non-intuitive corner of the airport, and the signage leading to it is poor; I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that the airport authority operates a competing fleet of "limousines.")

After baggage claim and customs (you will rarely be stopped by customs if you are a Westerner in the green channel), you will walk into an arrivals hall on the second floor of the airport. You will see hotel drivers holding name cards, as well as an array of airport businesses such as money changers, newsstands, coffee shops, etc., lined up against a magnificent five-storey glass wall facing the outside.

As you emerge from the baggage and customs area, various [people] will say “Taxi.” Ignore them.

In the arrivals hall, change a few hundred dollars, pounds or euros into Thai baht. You will receive most of your money in 1,000-baht notes, which are too large for day-to-day purchases at Thai prices. Have the money changer break one or two 1,000-baht notes into a stack of 100-baht notes. The money changers accept all the major convertible currencies as well as many East Asian currencies. All of the money changers at the airport offer the same exchange rate, with no stated commission. In fact, most of the money changers throughout Bangkok offer similar rates.

Face the giant wall of glass that looks outside. Turn left. Walk to the end of the arrivals hall, turn right and walk outside.

You will be slapped by the humidity. Welcome to Thailand.

You will see two or three somewhat incongruous office-type desks near the curb, probably with a line of passengers in front of them. Get in line.

At the front of the line, a Thai sitting at the desk will ask you where you are going. His or her job is to determine your destination and communicate it to the taxi driver, who will speak little if any English. An English-language map printed from your hotel’s web site will help; a Thai-language map will help more.

The person at the desk will assign you a taxi from the line of waiting hacks. He or she will give you a red-and-black form containing, among other information, your driver’s name and license plate number. Do not tip the person at the desk (or anyone else in Thailand).

The taxi driver will offer to stow your luggage in the trunk of the cab. Go right ahead. Thailand is not the type of place where the drivers hold the luggage for ransom.

The taxi will probably have a seat belt but no buckle to click it into. Get used to that.

The cabbie may ask if you want to take the highway. Say “Up to you.” He – most are men – will know the route with the least traffic at that specific time. The trip into the city will take about 45 minutes.

The fare to central Bangkok will cost about 300 baht (US$8.57). You owe an additional 50 baht (US$1.43) for the services of the airport taxi desk, payable to the driver. If the driver takes the tollway, you will owe about another 70 baht (US$1.71) in tolls. Approaching the first toll gate, I usually hand the driver a 100-baht note and say “tolls.”

Do not tip the driver. Thailand is not a tipping culture.

Enjoy your stay in the Kingdom.
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Last edited by aBroadAbroad; May 18, 14 at 9:31 am.. Reason: Removed outdated info and unnecessary characterizations.
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Old Jun 17, 07, 4:17 pm   #2
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A good summary of what to do.
I always ask to take the highway. The 60 baht is money well spent.
I have never had any problems getting a taxi - perhaps with the exception of the day the new airport was opened. Things were a little chaotic that day ...

You forgot to insist to the driver to turn on the meter ! (Unless you really know what you are doing and can haggle a lower price than the meter would produce)
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Old Jun 17, 07, 8:28 pm   #3
 
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Good description!

I would add that one can walk outside the wall of glass on the bottom floor anywhere, as there are taxi desks all along that side of the building, around 50 yards apart. My habit is to go right once I hit the arrivals hall, go down the first sloped conveyor belt to the bottom floor, then out the door that's right in front of me - there's a taxi desk there.

Sometimes there's a long line for taxis, but it moves quickly.
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Old Jun 17, 07, 9:29 pm   #4
 
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Catching a taxi from the departure level . . .

Previously at Don Muang, I had always used the taxi cues (in the heat, with the long lines). I never had a problem getting to my destination (typically somewhere on Sukhumvit).

At Suvarnabhumi, the few times I have passed through there, I have caught cabs at the departure level (that have just dropped off a passenger going to the airport, and are eager to avoid going around and entering a cue to pick up a new passenger.) The benefits of this method include typically no waiting, and no 50-baht fee to the dispatcher. I also have not had any problem with security/police for getting a taxi on the departuer level; I have done it in plain view of them.

The down-side of this (for me at least) has been that you don't receive a taxi complaint card from a dispatcher, with the taxi number recorded on it. And it seems in my limited experience at Suvarnabhumi, that some taxi drivers may be tuned into this point also. I have had a couple of rides where the driver took circuitous routings to pad the fare in getting me to my destination, and been reluctant to flag the meter, claiming it is a "flat fare" of 400 baht because it is out of the city.

In the first case, I came in on the New York flight and got into a cab at 6:30pm on a Friday night. I was going to Sukhumvit Soi 22. The driver asked "highway?" and I said "yes". After leaving the airport, I soon noted runways to my left, and knew he was going south, not west. I asked him what he was doing, and he said he was catching "the highway". I told him Rama IX was the highway to take. He was going to catch the highway from Pattaya to Bangkok, and passes south of the airport. Through not understanding/playing dumb/being stuck in traffic, we continued on that route. Due to the backtracking required to get on the highway, we fully drove around 3/4 of Suvarnabhumi on this route, (from about 1 o'clock ccw to about 5 o'clock). We were stuck in big traffic, and it took 2:15 to get to Soi 22, a trip that should have been about 45 minutes. It also metered out to about 350 baht. I knew from previous experience that I could go between Suvarnabhumi and Soi 22 for about 185 baht on the meter.

I had the hotel clerk dispute it with the taxi driver, and he did not argue with my contentions . . . he knew he was busted! I was most angry about the long trip to the hotel, after a 17 hour flight to BKK.

The next time, I paid more attention to the exact route/highway to take beforehand. I was with my Thai girlfriend on this occasion. Again, the subject of route came up, but he was speaking in Thai with her. He was trying to persuade her to go a longer route, but I was firm about the route I wanted to go. She said something to him, and the chatter stopped and we proceded on my desired route. We arrived at Soi 22, and metered about 190 baht. She later told me what she said that ended the discussion with the taxi driver; On the debate of taking the route I wanted vs. what the driver was suggesting, she finally told him "he smart farang, you cannot fool him."

I believe both of these experiences would likely not have happened had I gone through the dispatcher at Suvarnabhumi. Maybe it won't happen every time you use the departure level to get a cab, and you will save 50 baht and maybe some time in a cue, but I would recommend that if you use the departure level, you pay attention, know the exact route you desire, and take note of the cab number. Have a pen and paper ready to jot down information.
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Old Jun 18, 07, 12:46 am   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulKarl View Post
In the arrivals hall, change a few hundred dollars, pounds or euros into Thai baht. You will receive most of your money in 1,000-baht notes (currently worth US$28.57 each), which are too large for day-to-day purchases at Thai prices. Have the money changer break one or two 1,000-baht notes into a stack of 100-baht notes.

Not sure you need to change a "few hundred", 50 USD, GBP or Euro will be enough.

Regards

John

Last edited by aBroadAbroad; May 18, 14 at 9:34 am..
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Old Jun 18, 07, 12:46 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulKarl View Post
Do not tip the driver. Thailand is not a tipping culture.
You have got to be joking. Having lived in Thailand for seven years, I've found the exact opposite to be true.

Could you be mixing up Thailand and Japan?
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Old Jun 18, 07, 3:33 am   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnmlyger View Post
You have got to be joking. Having lived in Thailand for seven years, I've found the exact opposite to be true.
Oh, there are Thais who certainly try to extract tips, but I tell them plainly, "No tipping in Thailand. You don't get tips from Thais," and most sheepishly end the grift. We must fight to the last warrior against the tipping demon!

As to other posts, yes, I should have noted that, in Thailand, you generally have to insist that the driver use the taxi meter. However, I have, thus far, knock wood, gaze upon a star, never had a taxi from the BKK dispatch line that did not automatically use the meter. I think FlyerTalk God Sam Drucker is correct that the complaints form keeps them honest.

In the middle of the night, the taxi desk near the food court is sometimes the only one in operation. So I suggested that newbies go to that one, since it appears to always be open.

No tipping!
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Old Jun 18, 07, 9:35 am   #8
 
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The way taxis are managed at the airport frustrates me greatly, yet it is something that I can only put down to Thai thinking.

In most cultures, I would have thought that the aim is to get people in a taxi and on to their final destination as quickly as possible.

Yet, the Thai's have this time consuming process of having to line up, wait for a bit of paper and then get into a taxi. Often I have stood at the desk waiting for a bit of paper for several minutes, even though there are plenty of taxis waiting and taxi drivers standing around doing nothing. If everyone has to wait a few minutes, these delays add up and the queue starts to get longer and longer.

Anyway, having been to Thailand many times, I realize that common sense is not so common in Thailand.
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Old Jun 18, 07, 10:42 pm   #9
 
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Originally Posted by tnmlyger View Post
You have got to be joking. Having lived in Thailand for seven years, I've found the exact opposite to be true.

Could you be mixing up Thailand and Japan?
I've also found Thailand to be a tipping culture. The tipping "rules" are certainly different than they are in western countries, and you typically aren't expected to tip as much or in the same circumstances, but there are definitely cases where a tip is considered appropriate, even if you are Thai.
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Old Jun 19, 07, 7:46 am   #10
 
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I've also found Thailand to be a tipping culture. The tipping "rules" are certainly different than they are in western countries, and you typically aren't expected to tip as much or in the same circumstances, but there are definitely cases where a tip is considered appropriate, even if you are Thai.
Yes, I agree with the above....but the rules are different (and the expected amounts are much lower than in say, the States)...

but having said that, you normally dont tip taxi drivers (other than rounding up numbers)....unless there are special circumstances.....
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Old Jun 19, 07, 8:47 am   #11
 
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I also always catch a taxi from the departure level. I always approach a driver saying 'meter' and never had any problems. It's the fastest (and cheapest) way out of the airport.
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Old Jun 21, 07, 5:30 am   #12
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On a related note, could someone please advise:

1. If there is a choice of more than one type of prepaid airport taxi/limousine service on the arrivals level? And if so is there a firm that is particularly recommended.

2. How much do the prepaid limo firms charge from new BKK airport to the city (say Sukhumvit.)

Thanks!
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Old Jun 21, 07, 6:18 am   #13
 
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Originally Posted by PaulKarl View Post
I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that the airport authority operates a competing fleet of "limousines."
Oct. 2006 for the first time at the new airport, I arrived there one evening very late together with my boss and he was not eager to spend more time to look out for a regular taxi. Therefore we took the first limo, we could get. It was an AOT limo and the costs were 800 THB to the Rembrandt Hotel (Sukhumvit Soi 18/20).

You pay 2-4 times what you pay for a regular taxi.
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Old Jun 21, 07, 2:11 pm   #14
 
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I am not sure how many different operators there are doing the limo (be surprised if more than one) but while waiting for my luggage a couple of weeks ago I went and asked and was told 1000 THB to the SGS on Sukhumvit.
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Old Jun 21, 07, 3:55 pm   #15
 
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Not to offend anyone...but why does this thread warrant 'sticky' status?
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