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Catching a taxi at BKK and general Thailand taxi discussion

Old Jan 3, 2015, 2:56 am
FlyerTalk Forums Expert How-Tos and Guides
Last edit by: IluvSQ
READ THIS FIRST:
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. UPDATE: There are no longer attendants to write your destination at BKK. You get a slip from a touchscreen kiosk which directs you to a parking stall number where you meet your car/driver.
  • 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. UPDATE: There is no portion of the new slip from the kiosk to give the driver.

BASE COST
  • Airport Fee - THB 50 per taxi levied from the airport (never to the airport)
  • THB 35 - flag drop through 1km
  • +THB 5.50/km for kilometers 1+ through 10
  • +THB 6.50/km for kilometers 10+ through 20
  • +THB 7.50/km for kilometers 20-40
  • +THB 2 per minute waiting or standing in traffic (less than 6kph)

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

SAMPLE FARES FROM BKK TO...
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
  • Hua Hin - THB ___ (typically a negotiated flat fee)
  • Pattaya - THB ___ (typically a negotiated flat fee)

FARE CALCULATOR TOOLS
Reasonably accurate fare estimates are available from a number of websites and apps. 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. A driver may 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: What is the most common meter scam?
A: Very often, when you enter the taxi, the meter is obscured with a rag or towel, so you do not see that it has been running prior to your entrance,
and is now well over 100 Baht. Always ensure that you observe the driver starting the meter.
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!

Q: This all sounds like hassle. Is there some way I can use a small amount of money to make that go away?A: The AOT limo stands before and immediately after customs are trustworthy, although their initial quote will be for their most expensive vehicle. Ask for the Isuzu SUV. You'll be looking at 1,050THB / $33.50 to the center of town, inclusive of all fees and fares, and a small increment on that for a sedan. Credit cards are accepted. You will get a printed receipt before you get in the taxi. The vehicle will be well-driven, clean, and will have seatbelts.



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Catching a taxi at BKK and general Thailand taxi discussion

Old Dec 18, 2016, 8:12 pm
  #916  
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Millions of tourists visit every year.

Tens of thousands are overcharged and get into arguments.

A tiny minority are physically harmed.
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Old Dec 18, 2016, 9:09 pm
  #917  
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Originally Posted by Plato90s
Millions of tourists visit every year.

Tens of thousands are overcharged and get into arguments.

A tiny minority are physically harmed.
Agreed. Most taxi journeys (99%?) are made by Thais, and while they get into disagreements and physical fights often, the chances of getting hacked to death are minimal. I'd just recommend picking your battles carefully, unless your Wushu/Muay Thai skills are above average.
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Old Dec 18, 2016, 11:31 pm
  #918  
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Originally Posted by dsquared37

I expect there will be some who claim you should always pay up because of risk of violence, but those incidents are so few as to be not even a concern, especially in a populated place like the airport dropoff area.
And right on cue bringing up, yet again, the one recent incident where someone was killed. Sad really.

Originally Posted by transpac
Every driver here: car, taxi, truck, bus, whatever has at least a machete...and no shyness (cameras everywhere) about using them, even over 100 baht.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/video/new...taxi-fare.html

Caught on Camera :American killed with machete in Thailand over taxi fare - YouTube
So glad I don't live in fear like some people.
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Old Dec 19, 2016, 1:42 am
  #919  
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Originally Posted by transpac
Have they changed the A1 (DMK-Mor Chit - Bus station) bus schedule? It used to depart every 12 minutes.

I came back (in a taxi) from a nearby location recently (Immigration, Chaeng Watthana) ~ 10:30 AM and the traffic was horrible. Maybe 90 minutes to get to Mor Chit BTS. With the closure of that flyover things have gotten quite bad in that area. Maybe better to head west on Chaeng Watthana at Laksi and get over to the Sirat Expressway?
There are 2 buses. A1 and A2.

A1 now leaves every 5 minutes and goes to Mor Chit/MRT

A2 goes to Victory Monument and leaves every 30 minutes.

They are both 30 THB and take the tollway.
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Old Dec 19, 2016, 1:48 am
  #920  
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Originally Posted by exerda
...Went back to the airport, and the driver didn't meter. Got there, and he said, "700 baht." LOL. I said, "No way," and he said, "But took the highway!" As if the tolls were 450 THB.

I ended up paying...
Originally Posted by Plato90s
Given you were at the airport, that's actually one of the few locations where a confrontation with a cab drive is likely to be resolved in your favor especially with such an outrageously high fare.

I would have gotten out with my baggage, handed the driver 300bht, and just started walking away.
I agree. 300 would be enough. 350 Max.
Why you would pay double is beyond me.

Next time, let a Flyertalker book your next trip and let them overcharge you?
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Old Dec 19, 2016, 6:35 pm
  #921  
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Originally Posted by exerda
He didn't have a visible meter in the taxi, FWIW.
This seems unusual?

Official metered taxis appear obvious, most are Toyota Corolla Altis models and painted bright colors, with a large sign on the roof which says "Taxi Meter". Available taxis will be displaying a lit red sign in the lower corner of the passenger side windscreen.

The standard procedure here is to state your destination and your preferred route, and your requirement to use the meter. If you sense any trepidation, say thank you and move on - do not continue discussions unless you wish to negotiate an acceptable flat fare. Do not raise your voice, slam the door, kick the taxi or otherwise lose your cool as this will not really help your situation.

If you have a hard time getting a taxi to use the meter then you should agree to a flat fare before getting in to the taxi. Assume any tolls will be extra and paid by you.

Getting into a taxi before agreeing to the terms, agreed flat-fare or use of meter, can lead to problems.

Getting a reasonable taxi at a hotel can be challenging as there will be a pool of drivers waiting for flat fares to the airport. You may have to walk out to the street, or use GrabTaxi.

There are a few hotels in my neighborhood, with the taxi sharks, but I also see many UBER/GrabCar drivers and GrabTaxi's picking up guests without incident.

Bangkok streets/layout can be very, very, very challenging to navigate due to many issues: address/lot numbering, even/odd Sois not really aligning, dead-ends, one-way, divided roads. I see at least two or three tourists a week wandering on my street, staring at their Google-maps/phone, looking for their hotel, which is a good 3 Km away.

Last edited by transpac; Dec 20, 2016 at 11:45 pm
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Old Dec 19, 2016, 9:52 pm
  #922  
 
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Originally Posted by transpac
The standard procedure here is to state your destination and your preferred route, and your requirement to use the meter. If you sense any trepidation, say thank you and move on - do not continue discussions unless you wish to negotiate an acceptable flat fare.
To ask what is probably a really stupid question: is it possible in most cases to carry out this minimal negotiation in English? I'm certainly happy to learn the phrase for "meter, please," but am unlikely to understand anything but the most basic yes or no replies.
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Old Dec 20, 2016, 1:11 am
  #923  
 
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Originally Posted by dtremit
To ask what is probably a really stupid question: is it possible in most cases to carry out this minimal negotiation in English?
Yes. When I get a taxi at the hotel, I ask the bellman to make the request for me and I make sure the meter is on before we leave the hotel. Away from the hotel, I've had this conversation many times and never encountered a driver who didn't know what I was asking. A couple times I've gotten out of the car after the refusal, although I'll admit a couple times I just agreed to pay the rate requested because I was tired, although those were never big fare differences. One piece of advice: Don't jump in a cab that's parked and waiting; flag over a cab that's driving and you'll have an easier time getting the meter turned on.

BTW, on my most recent visit, the hotel bellmen were using GrabTaxi.
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Old Dec 20, 2016, 4:35 pm
  #924  
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Originally Posted by dtremit
I'm certainly happy to learn the phrase for "meter, please,"...
It's rather simple: Meter. There's no please or other verbal courtesy necessary.

The Thai spelling is a transliteration from English.

Originally Posted by CJKatl
One piece of advice: Don't jump in a cab that's parked and waiting; flag over a cab that's driving and you'll have an easier time getting the meter turned on.
THis has been posted previously but can't be stressed enough. ^

Same goes for tuk tuks.
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Old Dec 20, 2016, 7:01 pm
  #925  
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To ask what is probably a really stupid question: is it possible in most cases to carry out this minimal negotiation in English?


Yes, "meter" is "mee turrr" in nearly all the potential Thai dialects.

The destination and route options will be more challenging in Thinglish, just make sure your driver knows which airport you want to go to.

Most places you might go to will have a known, main road, associated numbered street (soi) off that main road, along with a neighborhood/district name, so getting close is usually easy.

Assuming you want to use the meter, never, ever get into the taxi before you receive acknowledgement from the driver that they will use the meter. I have never, ever encountered a driver who first agreed to use the meter, then refused once I was in the car.

Please always open the door on the curb (left) side.

Walking, or taking a motorbike taxi, to the main road, (assuming no bags) is what many Thais do, then easy to get a rolling taxi.

Try to figure out which direction you want to go on your first street, cross to the correct side if necessary and flag a taxi going in this direction.

Flagging is done by extending your arm/hand at waist, or slightly below, level, then flapping your hand at the wrist a few times.

GrabTaxi remains a good option IMO, if there are no taxis rolling in your immediate vicinity. The service charge is 25 baht.

Getting a taxi during inclement weather, or the few days after monthly pay day (usually the last Friday of a month) can be more challenging.

Last edited by transpac; Dec 20, 2016 at 8:14 pm
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Old Dec 21, 2016, 12:25 am
  #926  
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Originally Posted by transpac
I have never, ever encountered a driver who first agreed to use the meter, then refused once I was in the car.
Then you are one lucky person.

I have on a handful occasions, predominantly, but not exclusively, leaving BKK (one of the reasons taxis ex-BKK is my last option), and have heard the same from others.

/shrug
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Old Dec 21, 2016, 4:51 am
  #927  
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Originally Posted by 2lovelife
I agree. 300 would be enough. 350 Max.
Why you would pay double is beyond me.
Agreed. In fact, I wouldn't even pay what it should have been. If you do that, then the driver has nothing to lose by being dishonest. His downside is what he would have earned anyway.

If the driver tries to rip you off, offer him half of what the fare would have been. As documented elsewhere in FT (by me, among others), the threat of summoning the police often helps smooth any negotiation. Perhaps then he will consider his approach with the next passenger more carefully. As with many things in life, one discourages undesirable behavior by attaching a cost to it.
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Old Dec 21, 2016, 6:30 am
  #928  
 
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To be fair, these issues are not unique to Thailand. The last time I took a taxi from ATL to my house, the driver "forgot" to turn on the meter, despite my asking when I got in the car. Long story short, he didn't have a license displayed, once the meter was on - about 2 mi from the airport - he started driving way out of the way. Anyone familiar with ATL - I live in East Atlanta, which is the Connector to I-20E. He exited the Connector and started driving in downtown: specifically we wound up passing the Grady and were almost at Peachtree. I wound up calling 911, the operator insisted I remain on the phone with her, when we finally pulled up to my house, a police officer was waiting. At first, she took the side of the driver, but within a minute, she told me to just go inside, not having to worry about paying. Another police officer showed up very quickly, the driver was put in the back of that car and his taxi was parked on the street outside my house for two days. The police never reached out to me, so I'm guessing there were warrants.

I now use Uber at ATL, which is 1/3 the price of a taxi. (>$50 vs ~$17)
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Old Dec 21, 2016, 1:16 pm
  #929  
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True, I once took a licensed/metered taxi to Boston airport. The driver turned off the meter shortly into the trip, explaining it was malfunctioning and told me to pay what was "fair". Having taken that particular trip many times, I paid him the usual. I have no idea if the meter was really broken or he just wanted to work off-the-clock.

But I paid about the same, either way.

Whether it's BKK or BOS - the key point is that an airport drop-off is one of the few situations where cab drivers are extremely unlikely to make too much of an issue if they were running without a meter. There's plenty of official attention they'd draw if things escalate and the folks running off-the-books for profit aren't in favor of *that* at all.

One tip to keep in mind is to try to keep luggage with you, instead of in the trunk. That way it's easier to gather your stuff and walk away.
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Old Dec 21, 2016, 5:18 pm
  #930  
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That the "authorities" allow taxis to make pick-ups on level 4 (or 3 at DMK; taxi drop-off/departures- a service which many, including myself have utilized especially if going somewhere close to the airport) even though this seems like it might not be "legal-ish", it seems like any "officialdom" might be more inclined to support the taxi driver in a dispute? Any dispute is likely to involve quite a bit of time as well as more and more "authorities" are summoned and the situation is replayed countless times.

I agree that, even though there are cameras everywhere, a taxi driver might be less inclined to physically assault someone there, it still may be hassle? I guess if you have the time and you're a quick runner, and can make it through the gate hauling your bags, and can disappear into the airport then by all means, stand your ground and settle any fare disagreement then and there, and do a runner if you sense a threat. If things escalate and the driver returns to the car or trunk I would skeedaddle.

Personally I'd recommend choosing where/when to argue about a relatively small amount of money - assuming you let it get to that by not sorting out the fare/meter issue previously, but then do follow up with a formal complaint with the DLT, which is so very easy to do and might actually end up making a difference.

Last edited by transpac; Dec 21, 2016 at 8:31 pm
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