Tips for Avoiding Taxi Scams

  • Posted onJune 24th, 2013

Bangkok taxisTaxi scams aren’t unique to Bangkok, wind up in almost any capital or major city of the world and you are likely to encounter a small number of rogue taxi drivers and pestering taxi touts. The good thing about most Bangkok taxi scams is that you’re unlikely to be conned out of much more than a few 100 baht, if not less, but for many the feeling of being cheated (even out of such a small amount of money), can make you feel a more alien and uncomfortable in a foreign city.

Fortunately it’s easy to spot most taxi scams coming and with a few tips you can learn how to deal with annoying taxi drivers and avoid being ripped off.

taxi metreAlways opt for the metre

As soon as you enter a Bangkok taxi make sure they put the metre on. If it hasn’t been switched on within a hundred meters of your journey remind the driver to do so. If the taxi driver then refuses and tries to offer a fixed fare you should insist the metre needs to be turned on or ask to get out.

You will encounter many taxi drivers who will immediately offer a fixed fee instead of turning on the metre, some will just refuse to use the metre, and you will even encounter some taxi drivers who will refuse to take you on your journey (usually due to areas of horrific traffic). If you encounter a driver who refuses to use the metre simply walk away and flag down the next taxi. You may find yourself encountering 2 or 3 such taxis in a row, especially around busy tourist areas, but with a little patience you will eventually find a decent taxi driver who has no qualms about using the metre.

bangkok-taxisA fair fare

Ok, despite the advice above there may be times when you are just in a rush or fed up with waiting for a taxi willing to put the metre on, especially if it’s raining or you need to get to the airport. If you are going to pay a fixed price fare you need to know what a fair price would be.

The best advice is to ask you hotel reception or a local, find out how much you should expect to pay to get to your destination. As a general rule travelling from Khao San to Sathorn/Silom or Nana/Asoke shouldn’t cost you more than 150 Baht. Sathorn/Silom to Asoke/Nana or Chidlom/Siam shouldn’t be more than 100 Baht. From central Bangkok to the airport shouldn’t cost you more than 400 Baht. Of course many taxi drivers will try to charge you more than double this, so be firm when you barter and don’t be afraid to walk away if the price seems to high.

tuk-tuk-bangkokChoose taxi’s over tuk tuks

There is often a temptation to choose a tuk tuk over a taxi, especially when you see so many tuk tuks hanging around. However, tuk tuks are far more notorious for over pricing and also have their own set of scams, such as offering you an extremely low fee and then taking you on a detour to a tailors or jewellery store where you will be pressured into buy cheap and fake goods you really won’t want.

For most expat Bangkokians tuk tuks are a novelty, something only local Thais (who will get a fair price) and fresh faced holidaymakers use. If you are going to opt for a tuk tuk follow the same pricing guide as above, and avoid any tuk tuk who offers a starting price that is suspiciously low.

BangkokTaxiDriverTaxi’s to avoid

Most naughty taxi drivers can be easily spotter and avoided. I would advise to always avoid any taxi parked and waiting for business outside of a designated taxi stand. You’ll find parked taxis by popular tourist attractions and areas where foreigner and holidaymakers hangout. It’s highly unlikely that these guys will use the metre or give you a fair price, and in most cases they are rather rude and unpleasant people.

You should also avoid most of the taxis that cruise by nightlife areas such as Soi Cowboy, Soi Nana, and Patpong, and most major clubs poplar with foreigners. Again, the vast majority of taxi drivers here are looking to make a little extra money and won’t be keen to use the metre. If you find yourself needing a taxi here it’s often best to walk to the next street, away from the neon lights. Alternatively, try to use the BTS or MRT systems to make your journey, with Bangkok traffic so bad they are often quicker and far cheaper options.


If you do find yourself victim of a scam or unpleasant taxi driver, try to forget about the experience and remember what an amazing country you are lucky enough to be in. For every rogue taxi or tuk tuk driver there are plenty of pleasant locals who will do their best to make your Bangkok stay a memorable one.


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