Bangkok taxis

Old Sep 13th, 2007, 08:33 PM
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Bangkok taxis

My concern is using Taxi from one place to another around Bangkok. How easy to flag down a taxi? How difficult it will be?
Dos and donts of taxis in Bangkok. Thank you.

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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 09:00 PM
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Very easy normally to flag down a taxi; vacant taxis can be identified by a illuminated sign. It is a bit more difficult in the peak hours.

It will help if you have your destination written down in Thai, not all taxi drivers speak English and few of them seem able to read a map.

Make sure that they turn the meter on and round up to the nearest 10 Baht for the tip -- a bit more if it is a long trip.
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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 09:15 PM
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I would take the Skytrain and subway whenever possible, just to avoid traffic. Take water taxis for the same reason (and just because they are fun and different). Otherwise, I would not have any concerns about taxis. They are metered (you used to have to bargain in the old days, now that was a pain). You can hail them on the street, I don't believe there are even road markings where they are prohibited from stopping (like here in Hong Kong), but my guess is that on very busy roads you may have a hard time. In my experience side streets are easier, and hotels are easiest of all. There are supposedly taxi stands, I have not seen many.

Having the name/address of the place you want to go written in Thai is very helpful, your hotel can do this if you don't have it in a guidebook. Your hotel will have a card with its name and address written in Thai which you can use to get back to your hotel.

I think the main problem some people have encountered with taxi drivers in Bangkok is that if you mention a shop or restaurant you want to go to, they may say it is "closed" and will offer to take you to anther place that they are "sure" is open (and where they get a cut). This personally has never happened to me with a taxi driver, but I have heard tales. This used to happen to me with some frequency with tuk tuk drivers, but I stopped taking them years ago when the charm wore off for me (some things you just get too old for IMO, but if you have never taken one, you should do at least one for the experience). Just be firm in insisting on being taken where you want to go. I don't believe this is a huge problem, but it probably does happen.

If you are going for a full day of sightseeing or shopping to several places and can't do it by Skytrain and water taxi, then consider hiring a car and driver, it is just easier even if it costs more. No continuous hailing of cabs and looking for small change, etc. and no hassles with going where you want to go.
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Old Sep 13th, 2007, 09:34 PM
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Just a couple more notes to add.

First, addresses are completely useless in Thailand. What you need to have are directions to where you're going. If it's a well know landmark or hotel, you won't have any problems if all you have is the name. Most, if not all, hotels will have name-card sized directions to the hotel available at the front desk. If you don't see them, just ask for a "taxi card". This will help you get back to the hotel.

As someone else has mentioned, many if not all of the city's main attractions can be reached by train or boat, which is easier, more fun and sometimes faster than a taxi. I tend to avoid getting a taxi around big hotels and tourist sights. The guys who hang around there are usually the ones most likely to try to 'take you for a ride' (if you'll pardon the expression), try to get you to a special 'shop' they know about, and not use the meter.
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 02:43 AM
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Some taxis will not turn on the meter when you get in. Firmly insist. If they do not turn it on, get out. We've had to get out a few times. Most turn the meter on.
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 03:09 AM
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Hi

When I went to Bangkok in May I used various methods to get around...skytrain, subway, river express, moped taxi, taxi, tuk-tuk etc. It is usually easy to get a taxi but note that some might not want to take you to the other side of town in the middle of rush hour. But if you get a taxi and they do agree on using the meter it is a good way to get around. But you can also cover a lot of the city by skytrain, subway and river express boat these days.

Regards
Gard
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 03:57 AM
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I got "taken for a ride" on my 11th trip to Bangkok, just two months ago. I'm sure it happened because I hailed a taxi near a tourist area (Grand Palace). I was not taken to a jeweler or tailer, but because I insisted on the meter, the ride took me waaaayyy out of the way and ran up a tab. When I spotted a familiar skytrain stop (at the weekend market) I yelled to the driver to pull over and I got out. I did pay him... probably should NOT have done that... I was really angry that I had been scammed!

Take the skytrain whenever possible. It is air conditioned and not always crowded. IMO, it's the best way to travel around the central parts of Bangkok.

Carol
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 04:52 AM
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carol - sorry to hear you got a Bangkok taxi doing the long-way-round scam. I switched from tuk-tuks to taxis when I realized I could get them to use the meter (much less pollution and no bargaining!), but I always board with a map prominently displayed! And I totally agree that using the boats or trains is much better when possible.
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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Although the skytrain is our preferred method of transport in Bangkok, it does not go everywhere we want to go. Taxis can be great if traffic is not busy. I have never used those taxi cards but it is helpful to have an idea where you are going. We hailed a cab at the Suan Lum night market whose driver was not familiar with our hotel (The Plaza Athenee). Fortunately I knew it was near the Vietnamese Embassy and the driver knew where that was...

Hailing cabs in front of hotels can provide some measure of safety if you ask the hotel doorman to do it for you. Usually they will record the cabs' license numbers which tends to keep the drivers honest.
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 05:41 AM
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Like others here, I use the water taxis and skytrain as much as possible to avoid the traffic. I never use tuk-tuks - they are often more expensive than cabs - and these are the people most likely to try to take you to tailor shops or jewelry shops where they get gas coupons and perhaps a cut of anything sold to you.

I've been to Bangkok 20+ times, and I've never gotten scammed by a taxi driver. I've had a couple of drivers get lost, but I know my way around enough to re-direct them. I've also not had problems getting drivers to use the meter. I've flagged down taxis many times. At rush hour it is harder, as they all seem to be full. Having the doorman at a hotel get you a taxi is an easy way to to get a taxi during rush hour.
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 05:42 AM
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Craig and others are right, about having the doorman at your hotel get the taxi for you. I've never had a problem with a taxi that I took from my hotel.

Just beware when hailing a cab in a tourist area!!!

Carol
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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we love to take taxis for a number of reasons but there are many ways to avoid potential problems with using them....

we usually combine skytrain and taxi rides to get to most locations...

first of all allow plenty of time for all taxi rides because of bkk's unpredictable traffic patterns...

avoid certain areas: sukhumvit rd, lower silom rd where it meets new rd...certain bridges at certain busy times....

insist that the meter be used....if not get out immediately and just walk away....do not pay a cent....threaten to call police....

taxis are soooooo cheap....a one hour ride can cost only $5 if stuck in traffic....

we find the very best place to get a taxi is from a hotel using the doorman....one exception is the four seasons....

certain areas are tough to get a co-operative taxi: near tourist sites (they want to charge a flat fee and have stops at shopping venues)...i usually walk a street away from the site and then getting a taxi is easy...

places like the nana area with its high concentration of sex ralated businesses and guys willing to pay a flat fee can be a problem....for instance i almost never can get a co-operative taxi on soi 4 sukhumvit....it just walk to the jw marriott in this case to avoid a hastle...they all want a flat fee any time of day it seems....

never ask a driver for a suggestion or you will end up at a restaurant or shop that you do not wish to be at...

many taxis seem to roam in limited areas: their territory....because of this they often are unsure of other parts of the city....

it is amazing how little many taxi drivers know about their city and its sights, attractions, hotels.....so know where you are going in advance....roughly the area....as others have said know a nearby local hotel or building of some distinction...

ALWAYS HAVE YOUR HOTEL WRITE DOWN WHERE YOU WISH TO GO IN THAI AND ALWAYS KEEP A CARD FOR YOUR HOTEL WITH YOU FOR YOUR RETURN....

i always ask doormen to instruct the driver exactly where i want to go and make sure that they understand....i find this the best way to avoid problems...

and yes we have been taken far afield on several occasions....the good thing is that it is really cheap if this happens.,....tell the driver you want to pay less...

drivers generally do not understand english....so don't expect that they will...

lastly we have had several drivers who were high on substances....if you suspect this just ask to terminate the drive...

once this happened from the airport to the city and there was no place to get out: just close your eyes and pray...we survived.....this never prevents us from taking another taxi however....

we love the taxis.....they allow you to arrive at your destination fresh and cool which often is a real plus in hot and humid bkk.....a short ride in a taxi also allows you to cool down from the city heat which then allows you to forge ahead with you activities...

use taxis without fear but be prepared
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Old Sep 14th, 2007, 07:12 AM
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We never take Tuk tuks in BKK. They are noisy, uncomfortable and expensive. Taxis are always better.
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Old Sep 15th, 2007, 04:44 AM
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I just left Thailand a week ago and found flagging down taxis was not that hard...but the taxis that sit and wait in places -- like bus terminals -- were a bit more difficult (wanted to have a flat fee that even after bargaining was at least twice the rate it would be if we went metered).

I found having the phone number of places to be helpful, too. Drivers were willing to call for directions.

Jayna
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Old Sep 15th, 2007, 05:51 AM
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good point about the phone number...
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Old Sep 15th, 2007, 09:00 PM
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Thanks a lot to everyone for the useful tips
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Old Sep 16th, 2007, 03:59 AM
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We have just returned from our 10th trip to BKK and this time we had our first Thai cell phone. We were pleasantly surprised how much we used it especially for directions for drivers. It was such a convenience many times to be able to check on appointments and to see if stores were open. I bought it from someone on Fodors that wanted to sell it. It was so easy to buy time and phone calls were very cheap-even to the states. I highly recommend it to all of you who make multiple trips like we do.
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Old Sep 19th, 2007, 08:56 AM
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No one has mentioned the Metro. I used the Metro to go to the Weekend Market and the station is right inside the market. The Skytrain is a long walk in the heat. The Metro connects to the Skytrain at some stations. Unfortunately you have to buy separate tickets, but I felt that the air conditioning alone was worth the price.
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 07:13 PM
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the method to flag down a taxi is the downward wave of the hand...bend your wrist down....hold out your arm at chest to waist level and bend your hand down from the wrist....


there are places that taxis are not allowed to stop on main streets....best to use a driveway that they can pull into 1/2 way....or a street...
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Old Sep 20th, 2007, 08:24 PM
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rhkkmk,

do you have to tip toe while waving your wrist in the downward position and put your other hand on your hip?, sounds like your explaining a dance,lol
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