Taxis and Tuk Tuks in Bangkok
Bangkok Taxis aka Taxi Meter
Easiest form of transportation in Bangkok .. unless it's rush hour and raining torrents. Virtually all registered taxis in Bangkok have meters and are supposed to turn on the meter automatically. The taxis equipped with meters are obvious from a lighted sign on the roof. Sometimes drivers will try to negotiate fixed priced fares, as is done with tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis. It generally isn't a good idea to accept one.
When trying to hail a taxi, look for a small red light on the passenger side dashboard. If the light is out, the taxi is not available. Although the light may be malfunctioning.
Fare system in Bangkok is fixed. The initial fare is Bt 35 which includes the first 2 km. Then Bt 4.5 - 5.5/km after that.(2-12 km - Bt 4.5/km; 12-20 km - Bt 5/km; over 20 km Bt 5.5/km)
Green and Yellow
Bangkok Taxis follow a color code of sorts, and the green and yellow taxis are considered the best because they are driver owned. The other colors are usually rented by the day by the drivers.
Have Someone Write Your Destination in Thai
Unless you are going to a very well known destination, it is wise to have your destination written down in Thai script. There is no special exam to become a taxi driver in Bangkok and some drivers don't know the city that well. In addition, there is usually a language barrier as most drivers speak little or no English.
In Bangkok, tipping taxis is not practiced, but rounding the fare up to the nearest 10 or 20 baht is common. If you plan on taking a taxi, it is wise to have some small notes - 20s and 100s - as many drivers don't have (or SAY they don't have) change.
Problems With Taxis
Problems with taxis are fairly rare although very occasionally one will claim his meter is broken or some such thing. Avoid problems by watching to make sure the meter gets turned on. If the driver forgets, remind him or her (yes, there are some women taxi drivers, but not many). If they won't or say they can't, ask to get out but don't get angry and raise your voice.
Another way to avoid problems is to always flag a taxi down. Avoid taxis sitting near a hotel, standing outside the taxi and approaching every foreigner who comes along.
Taxi drivers are not required to take a fare, so once in awhile one will say no when you tell them your destination. Don't let this upset you. He may not have time before his shift ends.
There are plenty of taxis in Bangkok. Just flag another one down.
Many taxis drivers speed, weave in and out of traffic and tailgate. Most taxis do not have seat belts in the back but do in the front. If you sit in the front you must fasten the seatbelt.
Tuk-tuks are kinds of rickshaws with engines, unofficial symbols of Bangkok. The name comes from the sound of their engine. They have one seat and can accommodate three people.
There is no meter and fares must be bargained for. If you are thought to be a tourist who can't speak Thai, the first price is likely to be high.
Bargain them down if you have an idea of what the
fare should be. For example, if you have taken a metered taxi to
the same destination before.
Agree on a price before you go somewhere. If you don't, you are running the risk of being charged an absurd price and this could lead to problems.
While most people who are on holiday want to experience a tuk-tuk ride, many get tired of it. The vehicles are open air and subject to heat and pollution. Furthermore, they have no suspension and the ride is very rough. But should you give it a try? Yes.
Don't go anywhere with a tuk-tuk that stands around a tourist area. Most of those taxis are touts. If you go, you will likely be taken a place you are not interested in (a gem or tailor shop, for example) and even if you are, the price will be high so the business can cover the commission to the tuk-tuk driver.
As a rule of thumb, don't go anywhere with anyone touting something.
Bangkok Taxi Exceptions & Cautions
Airport Normal taxi service pickup at airports includes an airport authority mandated fee of around Bt 50. The taxis are registered and dispatched from a kiosk on the sidewalk outside the arrivals area. The dispatcher will create a 2 part form. Keep your copy even if the driver asks for it. The form has license numbers for filing complaints.
Toll ways During normal traffic hours, especially if traveling a significant distance, Toll ways save time. Sitting idle in traffic is usually no fun at all. The passenger is expected to pay toll fees unless included in a negotiated fare.
Negotiated fares may be necessary when traveling to the outskirts of Bangkok. Be clear about the fare and who pays any toll way fees. One commonly negotiated fare is Bangkok to Pattaya (around Bt 1,200-1,500)
Meter Watch to make sure the driver turns on the meter. Sometimes they simply forget. If he fails to do so when requested ask him to stop and simply get out of the taxi.
Arguments Don't get into an argument with a taxi, tuk-tuk, or motorcycle taxi operator. It will accomplish nothing and could escalate into a dangerous situation. Just walk away. Don't look back.
Shopping Don't let a taxi operator take you to a special bargain shopping destination. They are working on a commission. Plus, the goods you will be offered may be fakes. This is especially true of gems.