The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Pa Farang on taxi scams in Bangkok

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jul• 30•11

The Good Manner: Advice on Thailand from WoWasis’ Pa Farang
This week’s dilemma: My taxi driver refuses to turn meter on: taxi scams in Bangkok

Dear Pa Farang, 

What gives withBangkok taxis?  Half the time the driver refuses to turn the meter on, and quotes me a rediculous price.  Am I being taken to the cleaners? 

–  Confused visitor 

Dear Confused, 

The are three major cab scams running in Thailand. They are:

1)      Driver refuses to turn on the meter
2)      “Taxi mafia” at your hotel drives unmarked cars, charges you inflated flat rates
3)      You agreed to pay a tuk-tuk driver 10 baht to go to a temple.  Instead, he drives you to a gem shop. 

Let’s tackle 1 and 2.  #3 I’ll cover in  a later column, as it’s a topic all to itself.

Driver refuses to turn on the meter.  By law, all taxis sporting the “Taxi-Meter” sign on their roofs must have a working taxi meter.  Flag fare is 35 baht.  When you get in your cab, tell the driver where you’re going, and if that meter isn’t on when you depart, point to it and say “meter!”  If he refuses to turn it on, or tries to set a fixed price to your destination, order him to stop, then leave the cab.  His fixed price will be at least double what would otherwise be on the meter. 

Taxi mafia.  ManyBangkok hotels have a pool of drivers in unmarked sedans, usually dark blue in color.  You will usually be accosted by them every time you leave the hotel.  They charge flat rates to a number of places, and you’ll again pay roughly double of what you’d pay in a metered cab.  You do not have to take “taxi mafia” cabs, even to the airport, regardless of what the hotel says.  Veteran visitors do it this way:  on your departure for the airport, walk out of your hotel, flag down a taxi-meter, tell him you’re going to the airport, but to drive into your hotel first.  Upon his arrival at the lobby doors, jump out, grab your stuff, get back in your cab, and you’re off. 

Avoid all scams, show the Good Manner, and have a great time inThailand, 

– Pa Farang

Read Pa Farang’s other columns in WoWasis for more advice on relationships and cultural matters in Asia


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