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Taxis in Bangkok: This is how you can move around the city

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Bangkok

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 28/02/2024, 23:00

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Taxis in Bangkok are nearly everywhere. Colourful, with flowers and images of Buddha hanging down from their rearview mirrors – these vehicles are something that can be seen only in Thailand. If you are going to Bangkok, then you will use them at some point. That’s why it’s worth preparing ahead for any surprises.

How to catch a taxi in Bangkok?

You shouldn’t have any problems with catching a taxi in Bangkok. The roads are full of them. Your first ride might be from the airport to the city. To take a taxi, go outside the building and use the special automats, which stand just at the exit. The automat prints a number for you and your driver picks you up a minute later.

Outside of the airport, you can catch a taxi on the street. Waving your hand should be enough to alert a passing driver. Remember that a free taxi has a red sign written in Thai, placed on the left-hand side. When the car is free, it will stop and the driver will ask you where you want to go. Sometimes it’s hard to communicate as not many people in Thailand speak good English, so have a map with you. Drivers can refuse to take you if the address you give them is not on their way, is too far away, or is in an area with big traffic.

Watch out for scammers!

Taxi drivers in Bangkok don’t have a good opinion. Very often they try to cheat by not putting meters on. That’s why you should make sure that your driver uses the taximeter. If they refuse, wait for another car, or try to use a different mode of transport. In situations like this, I usually take the metro or BTS. Another good choice is Uber, which works well in Bangkok.

Other things worth knowing

  • During your ride, you might notice that your driver looks different than the person in the photo on the registration license. This is because cars are usually rented to family members, or to someone who cannot afford to buy one.
  • Taxi drivers are not well educated. Reading foreign words and using a map might be difficult for some. However, it’s always a good practice to have a phone with GPS, so you can show your destination on the map.
  • When negotiating a price, or explaining where you want to go, keep calm and don’t argue, even if you think the driver wants to cheat you. Remember, this is Thailand and Thais don’t appreciate if you shout, or offend them in any way.