I thought I would write about the taxis here in Bangkok with a few helpful hints to tourists or new expats. I was thinking I would have loved for someone to have explained to me how it would work using the taxis, tuk tuks, and BTS. Enjoy what I think is essential information on how to navigate Bangkok.
1. Do not get upset when a taxi turns you down. This is inevitable. They are going to tell you NO at some point during your stay. Although there is a new law in Thailand (see below) where taxi drivers are not supposed to turn down any fare it just doesn’t matter. If they do not want to go they will tell you so. It would be better for you as a traveler to open the front passenger side door, use your best Thai language skills and tell him where you want to go. He will either shake his head yes or no. Please do not make the mistake of hoping in the backseat, closing the door, and then tell him where you want to go because when he tells you no it’s a little extra embarrassing to have to climb out and search for the next taxi.
According to the Land Traffic Act, B.E. 2522 (1979) under Section 12 Article 93: “Driver of a taxi shall not refuse to accept employment to convey passengers, except when such conveyance is likely to cause danger to himself”
And Section 12 Article 96: “Driver of a taxi shall not charge a fare in excess of the amount registered in the taxi meter. The characteristics and use of a taxi meter shall be in accordance with the prescriptions in the Ministerial Regulations.”
2. As soon as the driver agrees to your location, get in the backseat and say “meter.” This will remind him (if he forgot or never intended to turn it on) and that way you will be charged the proper amount.
3. When you are visiting a tourist location and you are ready to leave, taxi drivers are everywhere looking for their next victim, I mean fare…. (see picture above of Chatuchak Market) You will ask him to take you home and then he will say “o no bad traffic jam” and then proceed to try and charge you an OUTRAGEOUS fare to take you where you want to go. Do not fall for this trick! The above referenced law also says it is against the law to charge an over the top fare to anyone. My advice would be to walk about 5-10 minutes away from the tourist attraction and you should be able to find a taxi that will turn on the meter without hesitation. If you are in a real jam and have to use a taxi to get to your desired location you can always try to negotiate a price. How much you want to pay is up to you but I would never pay over 500 baht to go anywhere.
4. Sukhumvit Road at times can turn into a parking lot and even though you aren’t moving while sitting in your taxi that meter surely is. Rather than sit in traffic and watch the meter run ask your driver to take you to the nearest MRT or BTS station or just walk home (or at least to your soi and catch a tuk tuk or motorci). The other day I couldn’t wait any longer in the traffic jam (he had already turned the wrong direction and the roads were so packed we couldn’t even make a u-turn) I had to get back to Killian before Pai left for the day and I finally asked him to just drop me off at the nearest BTS station.
5. For parents in Bangkok: If you have a stroller and the driver agrees to take you were you want to go, fold your stroller up and put it in the front seat. You will have to get over the fact that it isn’t like (in my case the US) home and there are no seatbelts and forget about a car seat. Hold on tight to your child and try not to let them bounce around as best as you can. Remember you aren’t going fast because of the traffic so make sure you have a toy to entertain them while you have to wait.
Even though getting turned down constantly and having to wait in the blistering heat for a taxi that will agree to pick you up just remember it could be worse, it could always be monsoon season…. 🙂