Bangkok Taxi Drivers Unfairly Get A Bad Rap

Published on 30th May 2015 by Stickboy BKK

Taxi Drivers bad rap

Bangkok taxi drivers are an easy target and come in for all sorts of criticism which I suppose is only to be expected with 140,000 plus officially registered cabs on the streets of the city. That’s at least 200,000 drivers when you factor in cabbies and companies who have their vehicles running 24/7 on double shifts.

Of course there are going to be some bad apples in there but when was the last time you took to social media to say your last taxi trip was uneventful? You didn’t, right? Who does? No-one. The truth is the majority of journeys are absolutely fine and we only hear about the tiny percentage of bad or troubling incidents because that’s just how life goes.

In the modern world of social media everything gets seen more and shared so quickly that stories grow and grow with mountains being made out of molehills more often than not, and we don’t need to let the truth get in the way of a good story either.

For me I think Bangkok taxi drivers unfairly get a bad rap and are all too often tarred with the same brush.

The mafia crews who ply their illegal trade around tourist areas are easily avoided and could be dealt with if authorities put their serious hat on to cut it out but like all the other decades old scams around the city, occasional crackdowns are all that comes following a spate of bad publicity, if at all. The Grand Palace tuk tuk touts are proof nothing ever changes in the long term.

When it comes to dealing with the crooked cabbies just ask yourself if you’d jump in a taxi in your homeland if it was parked up with six others and the drivers all calling out at you? Highly unlikely, so why do people think it’s okay to do it here in Bangkok, especially when there are dozens driving by the taxi touts with their red light on? Then again, I did watch the BBC reality show Bangkok Airport and if that is a snapshot of the English speaking tourists visiting Thailand then it shouldn’t be expected that using some commonsense will be part their holiday plans.

As for airport taxi complaints. I just sound like a broken record when I say 35 baht on the meter and a 50 baht surcharge is not a fair price to the drivers. It is often said Bangkok is no longer the cheap city it once was but that never gets a mention when it comes to catching a cab at the airport because there hasn’t been an increase for as long as most of us can remember. Even double what is paid now would still be a fair price in my opinion.

overloaded baggage

Photo Special: Overloaded Bangkok Taxis

In all my time here I can count on one hand the bad experiences I’ve had with taxi drivers. Going the long way home and stopping halfway to my destination and saying he can’t go any further being two incidents that have happened to me twice. Pointless arguing if he doesn’t want to go and is an extra 20-30b on the meter really such a big deal? Yes, it’s the principle but in my hometown the scenic route is the oldest, most often used trick in the taxi drivers unofficial handbook. Nothing unique to Bangkok.

The only time things got tricky was when one cabbie, who was acting like he’d snorted a kilo of coke before his shift, became aggressive as we debated the quickest way from Nana to Ari. It started off in good humour and ended with me getting out his car in the middle of Victory Monument at 5am half expecting him to give chase as I legged it up the stairs on to the overpass.

I also don’t remember the last time I had to ask for a driver to use the meter, and I never mention it when asking does he want to take me to my destination as is often advised in tourist top ten tips lists. Something I’d definitely recommend tourists do to avoid minor problems with fares. Maybe I’m just lucky but I don’t think so. Too many people just like to moan and moan they do at the smallest, most trivial things with taxis being an easy target for them to have a rant.

I also don’t care if a driver doesn’t want the fare. There are simply too many cabs on the road to worry about a few who are too lazy to do their job. If a driver doesn’t want to take me I simply smile and tell him no problem, close the door and wait for the next one. No point in getting up tight about it as it’s just part of life here.

As for drivers who want to negotiate a flat fee – sometimes it suits me if I’ve got somewhere to be in a hurry. It’s just an option and one I can decline but it’s there to be used if and when needed. Options are always good.

My best advice for those living here is to use the DLT Check-In app [iTunes / Google Play] from the Department of Land Transport to help improve the passenger experience by giving your feedback GOOD and bad. Tourists and visitors need only use common sense, flag down a moving taxi and ask for the meter when giving their destination.

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