Saturday, 13 June 2015

Taxi myths debunked

Taxi myths debunked

Thailand's taxis receive never ending attention in the media, for the wrong reasons (recent cases):

Scammed! 14 Ways Taxis in Asia Try to Rip You Off (And How to Deal) May 6, 2015 by Yahoo! Travel

Commuter-rejecting taxis rampant on 4 Bangkok streets
25 May 2015 Bangkok Post

Here some words by ChristianPFC.

Taxi driver says: “I can’t go there, traffic jam!”
ChristianPFC says: This is already priced in. Taxi going slower than 6 km/h is charged at 2 Baht/min.

“I can’t go there, I won’t get a passenger for return trip.”
ChristianPFC says: This is already priced in. The price on the meter is for taking you to your destination and the taxi driving back empty. (Usually in this order. However a friend had a Bangkok taxi driver pick him up in Pattaya, in this case order inverted.)

“That’s so far!” (I am not making this up!)
Are you a retard? If it was close, I would walk!

“End of shift” seems to be true. When living in Lak Si, I had several cases where I got into a taxi to central Bangkok to learn that it’s end of shift and he can’t go that far. However, they took me for free (!!!) to main road (about 1km) where I could get a taxi easier.

“To use the expressway or not to use the expressway?” That’s a question I haven’t solved yet. There is no direct gain for the driver when he uses the expressway. The question is: what is more expensive, the toll (and detours to get on and off expressway), or the delay caused by slow traffic (2 Baht / minute)?

I rarely use taxis for long distances, and rarely use tollway (but it gives a great view over Bangkok!) so I don’t have statistical data to answer that question. However recently I was with a boy and used expressway twice: about 21 km from Sathorn Soi 1 to Ngam Wong Wan Soi 25 for 169 Baht + 50 + 10 toll, 19:00-19:30. Return about 20 km for 149 Baht + 60 toll, 00:30-45 (that's indeed only 15 minutes for 20 km, he was driving 120 km/h on the tollway). On free (non-payable) roads, each trip would have taken twice as long.

Most taxi rides are uneventful, only a few deserve mention:

One driver refused to take me from my place (Lak Si 2013) to Surawong due to traffic jam. I assume he was right (as that’s the best that can happen to a taxi driver under normal circumstances, from Lak Si to Surawong) and took bus and BTS.

I wanted one driver to take me from my place (Lak Si 2013) to Saphan Taksin, he told me it’s quicker and cheaper by BTS and took me to BTS Mor Chit instead. Again, he was probably right.

On 23.05.2013 (the draft for this post is that old!) I had a remarkable ride. The driver was a slowcoach, the fastest we were driving was 55 km/h, usually between 40 and 50 km/h, even buses overtook us. The ride was longer (distance and time) than necessary (28 km, 60 minutes compared to 24 km, 40 min as usually) and he managed to get us into the probably only traffic jam at that time (9 to 10 pm). However, on the way we drove past another taxi that had stopped at the side so a passenger can vomit onto the road, with the door towards the road open (dangerous! Others have to drive around) poking his head out low and vomiting. We drove past slowly, I should have taken a picture!

I had one ride where the driver stopped to pee. I don’t remember a ride where the driver made a petrol stop (but on buses and vans, there were petrol stops).

I have quickly learnt where taxi try to overcharge passengers (standing taxis in tourist spots; but not the corner Silom to Soi Convent) and can easily avoid these. When spotting tourist discussing fares with taxi or tuk-tuk drivers, I stop and listen (when I have time and it's not obvious I'm listening) for entertainment.

Update 17nov2016:
Know Before You Go: Bangkok Taxi Guide 

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC


  1. I had several taxi rides where I picked up or let out a friend on the way without problems. On a recent trip, there was a problem. My intention was to go from short time hotel to Saranrom to let boy out and then continue to my room. But once the boy was out, the driver stood there and asked if he should press the button on the meter again. I say “go straight ahead and take me to Sathorn”. “It’s a new trip, you have to pay 53 Baht and I have to push the button (to start again at 35 Baht)”. (Repeat 5 times.) Finally, I pay according to meter and get out, have a walk and take another taxi home.

    1. I'd do the same, clearly driver was out of his mind but this may happen everywhere

  2. After hundreds of taxi rides without any problems, I came across a driver who doesn't know the way and can't read road signs. I was on Ramkhamhaeng road going to Farose 2 sauna in soi 21, and I could just tell him to keep left before he was going onto the elevated road (which goes to ground level kilometers past soi 21). Then he was driving past soi 21, and stopped 50 m behind when I told him. Fortunately, sauna is in walking distance; I lost 5 minutes for walking compared to driving.

  3. Another unusual taxi trip. From Sathorn to Suwarnaphumi on Tue 10.05.2016. Driver asks policeman who directs traffic at intersection for way to Sathorn road, which I find strange (better go to Rama 4 - Klong Toey expressway). Driver tells me he will go Rama 2 and outer ringroad because toll is cheaper there. But I wonder how much longer we will drive for that cheaper toll. Beyond Taksin bridge, I check google maps: fastest would be via Rama 4 - Klong Toey expressway, but now there is no way back. Later ask driver why he didn't take that route. He never went that way! In total it took 7:58 - 9:23 am, 77 km, 40 Baht toll and 639 Baht fare to get to the airport! In addition to not knowing the best way, he cannot calculate either: I gave him a 1000 Baht note and he handed me 440 Baht change, and I corrected him.

    The third time I have been long-changed this year, don't remember any short-change.

  4. On 9th May I did the same taxi journey from Sathorn soi 1 via Rama 4. 267 baht (I gave him 300bt) plus 75bt in highway tolls.


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