Bangkok - Taxi & Tuk-Tuk Scams



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Know the most common Scams with Taxis and Tuk-Tuk in Bangkok :

Please realize that we are talking here about small scams. Although it is annoying when someone is trying to cheat you, the consequences in most cases will be just a small loss of money because prices in Thailand are cheap compared to the occidental world.
Try not to lose your temper and get into big arguments that will ruin your day.
Remember also that Taxi and Tuk-Tuk drivers in Bangkok are working long hours and not gaining much.
So here are the scams I (personally) experienced in Bangkok :

1. Pretending the place you want to go is closed.

This is annoying (if you fall in this trap) because it will change your plans for the day. The driver will say : “Big palace closed today” or the zoo etc. It may happen before the ride or even worse, the driver will bring you in front of a closed gate (for reparation…) and will show you : “place is closed”. You don’t know the place, so you may believe him. You should realize that places in Bangkok rarely close, especially not the big palace (it is open all days of week).

2. Special fixed fare

Before the ride, the driver will ask for a fixed high price instead of using the taxi-meter. Don’t accept, stop another taxi.

3. Visit Jewelry stores

The driver will want to take you to visit Jewelry stores on the way. Don’t accept this, it will waste you time and you will be under pressure to buy a small thing and the driver will get commissions. Why would you need Jewelry, anyway ?

4. Visit Ping-Pong shows

If you are a male, the driver will propose you to visit a Go-go bar somewhere.
Don’t accept. He will bring you to bad places in bad neighbourhoods.
If you want to visit Go-go bars, go by yourself with a Taxi in one of the known zones. See here the zones.

5. No change

This cheat is old like the age of the universe. If you don’t want this to happen, bring with you small notes.

6. Taxi-meter running fast

This is very rare in Bangkok, it occurred to me only once.
If you see this happening, take photos of everything in the taxi like the counter and the license photo then ask to get down.

7. Stop short of destination

It happened to me only once. The taxi driver pretended there was traffic jam and that I should continue the short left distance with the underground system. There was no traffic jam, the driver probably had a woman waiting for him at the other direction.

8. Make a detour

The driver will choose a longer way (taxi-meter running, of course).
Thankfully this doesn’t happen a lot. It seems the drivers of Bangkok have a professional pride and in most cases won’t use this scam. The only way you can protect yourself from this is by knowing some points in Bangkok and the usual taxi fares for some routes.

9. The driver will take you via high-ways

In most cases there is no real benefit in choosing high-ways for trips into the city. You will have to pay the high-way fees yourself.

10. High prices from the airports of Bangkok

If you need to go from one of Bangkok's airports towards the city, there is only one visible point from which you can board a taxi and somehow you will be asked to pay strange extra fees. (from Bangkok to the airport, it's OK).
My advice: Take the airport train till the last stop and then take a taxi.

11. Please have pity on me, I didn’t gain much today

The driver will make you a speech during the ride about how his life is difficult and will even show you the (little) amount of money he has gained that day and the tons of hours he has put for that.

12. The driver won't make the taxi-meter run although he had agreed on that

This is annoying. I succeeded to get out of the taxi at the next intersection.

So, how to protect yourself from all these scams:

  • The best advice I can give you is to judge the situation and trust your instincts. If you see that the back seat has no tariff poster (yes, there should be one) but instead there are photos of the big palace, get suspicious. If you see that the photo and license number (at the dashboard) are partly covered, get suspicious. If you are invited to sit in the front seat, get suspicious, (the driver will want to persuade you about things).
Also:
  • Agree with the driver before the ride, to make the taxi-meter run. If he doesn't accept, stop another taxi, thankfully there are lots of them passing in Bangkok.
  • Stop taxis that are moving in the streets, not the ones that are parking and addressing you.
  • Touristic places (like the big palace) are more prone to problems, search your taxi a little bit away, if you can.
  • Try to avoid Tuk-tuks whenever possible, they are more expensive than taxis and less comfortable.
  • Don't accept to visit shops or shows of any kind.
  • Bring with you small change.
  • Don't believe a statement that a place is closed.
  • If you are victim of a scam, keep calm, take photos of the license, plates etc and get down of the taxi.

After reading this page, you may get the impression that Bangkok is a dangerous and unpleasant city but it very far from that. Bangkok is safe and the taxi scams have only impact on your mood, not beyond that.
Consider leaving a small Tip for the driver, they are working long hours after all.
Consider also using public transport like the Skytrain, MRT and Boats. You don't have to deal with drivers and they bypass traffic jams. 

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Bangkok Transport (The skytrain, Boats, Airport Train…)
Bangkok Taxi Scams (Common Scams of Taxi and Tuk-Tuks)
Go-Go Bar Scams in Bangkok (How they intend to make you spend)
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