There are lots of ways to get around in Bangkok: from skytrains to metros, from bus rides to boat rides and, finally, you can travel by taxi and tuk tuk. This article is all about getting around by taxis and tuk tuks in Bangkok. We’ll give you advice based on our own experiences. Let’s go!
Taxis in Bangkok
For us the taxi is ideal for getting around in Bangkok. When staying in the Thai capital, there really isn’t a day that goes by on which we don’t take one.
Ask the driver to charge by the meter, get in and tell him where you want to go. Next thing you know, Bangkok will flash past while you enjoy the cooling effect of the car’s air conditioning system. Traveling by taxi is incredibly cheap: a half an hour ride costs less than 80 Thai Baht, which you can share with other passengers.
Of course it also has its downsides: traffic jams and congestions, for instance. It’s smart to avoid taking the taxi during morning and evening rush hour. Take the skytrain (BTS), the metro (MRT), the boat or a motor cycle taxi instead.
10 tips for a safe taxi ride
Here are our 10 tips for safe taxi rides in Bangkok:
- FLAG DOWN – Flag down a taxi by waving your hand (up and down).
- ADDRESS – Make sure you have your destination address on paper (in English and Thai) and a (digital) map of Bangkok with you.
- METER ON – Never negotiate the price. Always ask to turn on the meter! Taxi driver doesn’t want to? Just flag down the next!
- TAXI IN THE STREET– Only flag down taxis in the street; taxis parked in front of your hotel or guesthouse will often try to rip you off and can be quite pushy.
- SAWADEE – Tell the driver you’ve been to Thailand before. Greeting him with the words “Sawadee khah/krap” helps.
- VALUABLES – Make sure to always keep your valuables close to you. Backpacks and suitcases can go in the trunk, but keep your wallet, electronic devices and passport with you at all times.
- PAY THE EXACT AMOUNT – Before you enter the taxi, be sure to break a 1,000 Thai Baht note by buying a bottle of water, for instance. This way, you’ll be able to pay the driver the exact amount.
- CHANGE – Taxi drivers will often pretend they don’t have any change or they’ll forget to give it to you. Be alert!
- TIPPING – Although tipping isn’t compulsory, leaving the change (no more than 20 Thai Baht) is expected.
- TOLL ROADS – Bangkok has toll roads, which are often the quickest routes. And it’s you, the passenger, who has to pay that. Expect it to be anywhere between 30 and 70 Thai Baht depending on where you’re going.
Tuk tuks in Bangkok
Ok, racing through the streets of Bangkok in a tuk tuk is one of those things you have to experience at least once!
Race through narrow streets and take in the real Bangkok smell. Tuk tuk drivers are incredibly adept at maneuvering themselves out of the most perilous traffic situations.
We loved taking a tuk tuk the first time, but decided afterwards we wouldn’t do it again; mainly because of the fact you need haggle for the price, and you’re never sure about the route.
Tuk tuk drivers will often take you past all kinds of shops such as tailors or jewelry stores, and if you buy something they’ll get a commission. This makes it very tempting for them to take you past as many shops as possible.
Don’t buy anything along the way, unless you really want to!
For more information read our article about Bangkok’s Number One Scam.
10 tips for a safe tuk tuk ride
Here are our 10 tips for safe tuk tuk rides in Bangkok:
- SHORT RIDES – Tuk tuks are ideal for short rides.
- TRAFFIC JAMS – Avoid tuk tuks during rush hours (7:00 AM – 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM -7:00 PM).
- PARKED TUK TUK – Don’t ever get in a parked tuk tuk. These are often tourist traps. Always try and flag down one that’s already on the road.
- NEGOTIATE – Always negotiate a good price before getting in. Let the driver offer his price and then offer half.
- SHOPS – If a tuk tuk driver offers to take you around town for 10 or 20 Thai Baht, you can be sure of one thing: you’re going to go past a lot of shops where you’ll be forced to take a look around. Don’t do it!
- SPECIAL HOLIDAY – If you hear the driver talk about a special holiday, a temple that’s been closed or a new shopping mall, alarm bells should go off: don’t get in!.
- SHOPPING – Make clear beforehand whether or not you’ll want to stop at shops. The more stops, the cheaper the ride.
- PAY LATER – Pay the agreed upon price after, preferably in the exact amount.
- EXTRA EXPENSES – Tuk tuk drivers are very good at making up things to get you to pay extra, like a petrol reimbursement for example; don’t fall for it.
- ENJOY IT – Don’t forget to record the ride for your loved ones!
Uber and Grab Taxi App
These days it’s easy to install an app and book a taxi online. You can enter the departure and the destination. It’s also possible to book one for later.
The upside is you don’t have to negotiate a price; or ask to turn on the meter. Also you won’t need to explain to the driver where to go. You’ll have indicated that via the app, so they already know. You can see how much the ride will be and how long it’s going to take.
But honestly, we’ve never made use of any of these apps in Bangkok. We still get around the old-fashioned way by flagging down a cab. We did once use Grab while in Phuket and it worked absolutely fine.
In case you’re interested, you can download the apps here:
Taxi versus Tuk Tuk
Our preferred way of getting around in Bangkok is clearly by taxi. It’s simple, there’s no bartering involved and they’re everywhere. And if the driver doesn’t want to turn on the meter?
Simple, you can find another one in no time.
It is that easy, especially if you follow the steps listed above.
And if you prefer to make your way through Bangkok using public transport, you can go by bus, by MRT (metro), by boat or by BTS (skytrain); each of them are equally adventurous in their own right!
More articles like this
Finally, here are some more articles on traffic and safety in Thailand: