Besides the BTS and MRT, the easiest and most convenient way to get around Bangkok is by taxi. Most taxis are new, spacious and, in addition to the traditional green-yellow and red-blue, they also come in funky colours like bright orange, red and even pink. Finding a taxi is not a hassle, especially around hotels, shopping malls and other tourist attractions.
However, you're in for a really long wait when it rains, and during rush hours. The fare starts at 35 baht, and stays there for the first two kilometres. Thereafter, the fare gradually works its way up with 2 baht at a time (roughly per kilometre). A surcharge applies in traffic jams (1.25 baht per metre when moving under 6 km per hour). Typical taxi fares for going a few kilometres are around 50 baht. Communication can be a problem with the majority of Bangkok's taxi drivers as they often speak little English. Improvise, and be imaginative.
Overall, there's never a shortage of taxis in a city that never sleeps. They're cheap and available virtually 24 hours a day. Meter taxis now predominate, but sometimes you may have to politely ask them to switch the meter on to save negotiating later. Since taxis are cheap and the drivers work all hours in traffic that is legendary, a small tip is often appreciated.
- Available taxis are the ones with the glowing red vacant sign.
- No need to negotiate the fare as all taxis in Bangkok are now metered (well, sort of anyway). A driver refusing to use a meter is an indication of a suspicious agenda. If he insists on giving you a fixed fare, instead of using the meter, it's best to find another cab.
- Don't be surprised if the driver refuses to take you where you wish to go. There's nothing you can do about it but try your luck with the next taxi.
- It's ok to get a taxi at a bus stop when there's no bus approaching, otherwise you can expect to be honked at.
- Like tuk-tuks, watch out for an over-eager taxi driver who offers to take you to 'good' places.
- Don't expect Bangkok taxi drivers to know the city's every nook and cranny, as a driver qualification exam isn't required. It's always a good idea to carry a map, or the name and the location of where you're heading to written in Thai.
- Look behind you and make sure there's no motorcycle coming before you open a car door. It's very common for passengers to open the door without looking, and have a motorcycle slam into it. This can cause serious injury to the motorcycle driver, the taxi passenger, as well as considerable damage to the taxi itself.
- Tipping of taxi drivers is not required, though rounding the fare off to the nearest 5 or 10 baht is common practice (it's a nice thing to do, as they earn very little, work long hours in often stressful conditions).
- Before getting out of a taxi, make sure you haven't left any valuables or shopping bags behind.
- Trust your intuition. If you don't get a good feeling about a taxi driver, rather wait for the next one. For every nasty taxi driver in Bangkok there is also a good and charming one.