Bangkok, Thailand

Getting Around


By Taxi

Metered taxis are a comfortable way to get around Bangkok. However, how quickly you get to your destination depends very much on favourable traffic conditions. All taxis are now metered and air-conditioned with the hailing fee charged at 35 baht and most trips within the downtown area cost less than 100 baht. There are no surcharges (except from the airport), even at night, and don't believe drivers who tell you otherwise. A lit red sign on the front window means that the taxi is available.

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When the meter is switched on you will see a red "35" lit. Be sure to check for this at the start of the ride, as some drivers will "forget" to start the meter in order to overcharge you at the end of your trip. Most drivers will start the meter when asked politely ("meter na khrap" if you're male and "meter na kha" if you're female). If the driver refuses to use the meter after a couple of attempts, simply exit the taxi.

In some cases, late at night and especially near major tourist districts like Khao San or Patpong, you may want to walk a block away to catch an honest driver who will charge you according to the actual fare. Beware of some taxis parked in front of the hotel. They are there to take you to places where they can get their commissions (such as jewellery stores, tailors and massage parlours) and to overcharge you by not using the meter.
Your best bet is to walk to the road and catch an unoccupied metered taxi.

Pink taxi in Bangkok by © BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons

Be sure to know the correct pronunciation of your destination or have it written in Thai since many drivers either do not speak or have limited English. Most hotels and guest houses will happily write out addresses in Thai for you. While most drivers will recognise the names of tourist hot spots (even if grossly mispronounced) but it is often difficult for foreigners to properly pronounce addresses in Thai. Try to get your hotel's business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost.
Blue taxi in Bangkok by Ilya Plekhanov

If you are pinching pennies, you may wish to avoid getting into one of the (very common) yellow-green taxis. They are owner-operated and of highly variable quality and occasionally have rigged meters. All other colours belong to large taxi companies, which usually enforce their standards better. On some routes, the driver will ask if he should use the tollway - this will usually save you a lot of travelling time but you have to pay the cost at the toll booth (not in advance and not at the end of the journey). Try to have small bills (100 baht or less) or expect problems with change. Tips are not necessary, but are certainly welcome if you're happy about the service.

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