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Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

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Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

Firstly before I start, let me point out that Thais are some of the happiest, most hospitable people I have ever met. Nearly everyone in Bangkok greets with a prayer and a 'Sawastecaaa' as a means of demonstrating their deepest happiness for the fact you chose to visit their country. 

Taxi drivers on the other hand can be a menace and on some occasions will do everything they can to bully unsuspecting tourists into handing over large wads of cash or running up the meter for very short journeys. In all fairness, this is not a generalisation about all of Bangkok's taxi drivers, just the majority of them who feel that not treating tourists properly in the interests of securing a fast buck will not go unnoticed or forgotten as I aim to demonstate in this article. 

It always helps to have a piece of paper with your destination written in Thai - this helps to reduce the chance of a misunderstanding between you and the driver. If you do not have a piece of paper, ask a local taxi rank official to tell the driver where you want to go and ask them to tell the driver to use their meter. Show the paper to your driver when hailing him on the street or at a shopping mall or hotel. Some drivers might refuse it on the basis of it being a poor fare, although illegal, what can you do about thie except hail the next taxi that comes along. 

During daylight hours, never allow a taxi driver to start driving without starting the meter. One driver drove me for nearly two blocks whilst claiming that he could not read the paper I presented to him to show my destination in Thai even though a taxi rank official at the shopping mall I left had told the driver verbally where I wanted to go - taxi drivers will do this in order to drive a fair way only to then claim that the meter should have been started earlier and to try to barter an unmetered fare - always refuse to accept this and get out of the taxi at the first opportunity. 

When asking a driver to start the meter, some will grumble about it, others will start swearing about it - do not fall for this. The idea is they want you to feel guilty about forcing them to use the meter, do not let them. Another driver began swearing profusly about the Thai police being corrupt and using all matter of profanities i.e. 'F*cking this... f*cking that'. Just sit back and let them vent, and under no circumstances engage in any debate about the police, military or the King. It is illegal to insult Thailand's King and you might find that insulting the police and or military will land you in hot water because of who those institutions report to. 

At nightime, especially at weekends, be prepared to barter after 12pm - The Skytrain/BTS stops working at 12pm and so taxi drivers will happily take advantage of this by refusing to use thier meter and trying to barter their fares. Out of all of the days I stayed in Bangkok, only one driver used the meter after hours, the rest were unscrupilous. If you have to barter, bear in mind that most 4km journeys in Bangkok will cost around THB60, therefore, bartering up to THB80 is probably acceptable give or take a few kilometers to your destination but do not accept the usual starting offier of THB100 or even higher in some cases. 

Help your fellow travellers by reporting rip off taxi drivers to your hotel - Some hotels will present you with card stating the licence plate number of your driver at the point of entering the taxi, keep these and tell the hotel about any offending drivers when you return to the hotel. The hotel might bar the drivers from picking up passengers at the hotel again or might report the driver to the police. 

London, United...
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1. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

I am afraid I disagree with the above, I have never entered into bargaining with a Bangkok taxi even at 2am and have always found a taxi happy to take me on the meter although I must admit on occasion I have had to let a couple go first.

I do not begrudge taxi drivers the money and in fact am a fairly generous tipper of taxi drivers who provide good service but I will not condone them illegally taking unmetered fares.

Do not take a taxi standing waiting in a tourist area they will almost always try to haggle, instead walk a few metres up the road and flag down a passing taxi, this will be the guy cruising because he wants to work rather than sitting chatting with his cronies waiting for a victim.

Edited: 29 July 2014, 19:24
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2. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

I was in Thailand for 3 weeks, and didn't have any trouble with any taxi's. They always started the meter at 35bht. Some are more friendly than others, I always round off to the nearest 10. I had one guy when I was at MBK and wanted to go to khao san who didn't know the area. I had already gotten in, and he had a lost look on his face, and was driving around for 2 minutes. I repeated asked him do you know how to get there? He didn't, and let me out. I didn't pay him anything, but I could tell he didn't know the road. Btw, keep plenty of change handy, so you don't need to tip the ones who are rude and don't serve it. I had one, it was 41 bht and I only had a 50. He didn't deserve even a 9bht tip

Edited: 29 July 2014, 19:42
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3. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

An odd mixture of "old news", generalizations which aren't concisely "spot on", omitted details, and inappropriate thinking. As a relatively new person to forum posting, you can improve your posts by (1) checking the "Top questions" section on the top right-hand corner of the page for info which is already featured there, and (2) using the "Search" function to find previous posts to link to (rather than repeating, using poorer wording, what may have been elegantly covered previously). Hope this helps to make future posts (1) more effective use of your time/effort, and (2) more worthwhile to readers.

1. Old news: the theme of the thread. Regulars to this forum couldn't count the number of repetitive previous posts on this topic.

2. Generalizations which aren't spot on: advice about turning on the metre. Others. Check previous posts for more "spot on" advice.

3. Missing info: Generally, don't approach a taxi which may be parked, or otherwise lurking, around tourist magnets. This includes your (or any other) hotel, the Grand Palace, Asiatique, Patpong, etc. Get a taxi that's moving along the street with its "free" light on, or a taxi which is in the process of dropping a passenger at your hotel, etc. Those lurkers tend to be ripoff artists looking for one or two ripoff victims daily rather than dozens of honest fares. Official taxi queues at shopping centres, airports, can be good most of the time, if you deal with the taxi driver in an appropriate manner.

4. Inappropriate thinking: The vast majority of taxi drivers are honest, just doing their jobs in a straightforward manner. If you think that most are not, you are looking in the wrong places (check #3 above), or behaving in an inappropriate manner. A few taxi drivers may morph into "tourist mode" taxi drivers if someone "requests" such an approach by their behaviour. That is: approaches them with a big "fleece me" tatooed on their forehead, or makes obvious their high-maintenance desire for such treatment by inappropriate approaches/attitudes (body or voice language) to taxi drivers.

Your OP suggests that:

1. You are picking up taxis in all the wrong places, under the wrong circumstances. Check #3 above.

2. You are dealing with taxi drivers in some manner which may stimulate strange behaviour.

In contrast, I almost never have problems with taxi drivers. Other, perhaps, than with an apparent newbie not knowing my destination or a best route. In most such cases, the taxi driver points this out to me, and I can give a nearby prominent landmark which the taxi driver will recognize, to substitute for my unknown-to-the-driver actual destination.

Admittedly, TA does not optimize its presentation of such info. Wikivoyage and other Websites do such stuff much better. Indeed, any user of TA who does not use such other sites is missing their benefits, to that TA user's detriment. But TA *does* have the search function for forums, and an often less-then-optimally-presented-yet-still-avialable "Top Questions", "FAQ", or the like area on a page like this one. And, after all, most common questions on high traffic subjects like Thailand have been already asked, and eloquently answered by others - in multiple languages.

Phuket Town...
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4. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

I don't recognise your picture of the BKK taxi drivers in the official taxis. How long since you last been in BKK?

I have never had problem with them. Only in Phuket.

Leeds, United...
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5. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

Spent a great deal of time in Bangkok in the past 5 years and never had a problem with Bangkok taxi drivers. Disagree with the OP and most of what he says. If your looking to be ripped off then tuk tuk drivers will do it. Agree with post #1LondonChris

Be firm with them and always ensure meter is used. If they wont use meter when you get in taxi just get out and find another that will. There's 1000s of them cruising around looking for a fare. I have found Bangkok taxi drivers in general to be very friendly, and despite most not speaking English, they understand and love English Premiership soccer so we can talk soccer.

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6. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

Depends where you are taking the taxi, if it is near a tourist place (even if you get a moving one), then 50/50 chance they do not want to go with the meter. If late at night, then 80% chance no meter. If raining then 100% chance no meter.

The hotel i stayed at, Adelphi Suites, even quoted the fixed price for the taxi to the airport as if this was now standard.

London, United...
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7. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

I'm with LondonChris_ in Post #1

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8. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

I stayed at Adelphi Suites too but the staff was more than happy to flag down a metered taxi for me whenever I asked. The only staff member that might have quoted you a flat rate, ron, is a guy named "Visa", who was only out for whatever commissions and tips he could get. He might have been the one you dealt with , but all the other staff were wonderful.

Brooklyn, NY
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9. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

**I'm with LondonChris_ in Post #1**


Bangkok, Thailand
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10. Re: Bangkok Taxi Drivers - How to avoid being ripped off

The only problem we've had, beyond the insane driving, is the refusal to accept the fare. We have never gotten into a set fare discussion.