Sorry GRAB – We’re Using Meter Taxis in Bangkok

Meter Taxis in Bangkok vs GRAB: which should you use?

GRAB, the ride hailing app that took over South East Asia’s most famous destinations has been the go to solution for travelers needing a reliable and affordable way of moving around.

And in Bangkok it’s no different. Although the city famous for it’s lively food scene, luxury malls and a futuristic skytrain gliding over the chaotic streets has one of the best public transportation systems in the world, GRAB still managed to squeeze in.

A longtail boat floating in a river as the sun is setting.

From high speed river taxis in the Chao Phraya River, an extensive network of skytrains, underground trains and ordinary trains, banged up buses with no windows and modern A/C buses, motorbike taxis, and taxis in every color of the rainbow, there’s no shortage when it comes to efficiently moving around the city.

GRAB has been a successful addition to meet the demands of the over 11 million residents and 22 million visitors coming in each year. So successful, that when UBER introduced itself in the Southeast Asian market, GRAB ended up buying their operations just a few years later including UBER’s share in Bangkok.

Grab vs Taxi in Bangkok

Arriving in Bangkok international Airport?

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But now GRAB’s time is over…..

GRAB started off as a reliable and affordable solution. Especially for foreigners visiting Bangkok for the first time, GRAB is viewed as a trustworthy solution because it eliminates the need of understanding how the logistics of the vast public transport network works.

And most importantly it eliminates the need of dealing with unruly Bangkok Taxi drivers.

Bangkok Taxis operate the same way as in many other destinations. You wave down a Taxi or find a Taxi stand, get in, give the destination, the driver puts on (or at least should) the meter which records the cost, and then the customer pays the price displayed.

Grab vs Taxi in Bangkok

While many Taxi drivers do use the meter, now, this wasn’t always the case.

“Even today, it’s a always a good idea to ask the driver if the meter will be used and if they refuse, just wave down another driver”

Before any ride hailing app existed, the use of a taxi meter in Bangkok was a rare occasion. Especially with foreigners who always fell for the ‘meter not working’ scam. In these cases the taxi driver would just give a random price and the customer would either agree or try negotiating. Though the price was always way above what a taxi meter would cost.

Grab vs Taxi in Bangkok

So when GRAB and UBER where introduced into the market, customers had an easy way to avoid paying the exorbitant prices that taxi drivers charged. The app also shows the price of the ride beforehand.

The only negative side of GRAB app is that the ride needs to be ordered. So it isn’t as convenient as just waving down a taxi and being on the way instantly. But having peace of mind made up for that inconvenience. And the price was good too.

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Exorbitant Pricing

Now that everyone is using GRAB, from short trips to longer trips, things have changed.

Tourists and budget backpackers alike assume they’re getting a good price. After all, GRAB taxis are a lot cheaper than any other major city around the world.

On the other hand, locals know what transport to use. In the cases of taxis, GRAB is rarely used. And most locals that do use GRAB, do so because it proves some sort of higher status. That’s because a bright pink or green taxi isn’t as fancy as some of the luxury cars offered by GRAB.

Grab vs Taxi in Bangkok

Now that GRAB has loads of local customers and a huge amount of the over 22 million yearly tourists also rely on the service, things are changing and prices are increasing.

In short, GRAB is no longer the affordable ride hailing app it was. Instead, prices are always more than what taxi meters will give. And in some cases the same ride by GRAB will cost double the price of a metered taxi.

So it’s a higher price for a less convenient option. That’s because there is always some waiting until GRAB driver arrives after ordering the ride. While a taxi is just waved down and its almost an instant solution to getting from point A to point B.

Misconception About Bangkok Taxis

In the past Taxi drivers in Bangkok most often refused to turn on the meter. This was especially true when tourists need a ride. The response when asked to turn on the meter was generally that it’s not working.

In these cases of not using a meter, which is still common today, the driver just gives the price it will cost to go from point A to B. I say it’s still common because some foreign tourists just ask the driver how much it will cost before getting in the car. Or sometimes just get in the taxi, tell the driver their destination, the meter isn’t turned on and then whatever price the taxi driver gives has to be accepted since the ride has already been done.

This is one of the reasons why GRAB exploded in Bangkok. People were tired of getting ripped off every time they need a ride.

However, now, an increasing number of tourists know the meter scam. So they just refuse to use that taxi if the ‘meter not working’ excuse is brought up. And the drivers, not wanting to lose rides, are picking up on this. So in most cases if asked to turn on the meter the driver will accept.

And using the taxis in Bangkok is a lot cheaper than GRAB. As long as the meter is turned on.

Taxi Prices Compared to GRAB prices

While there is no exact formula to determine the difference in price, we have never found a GRAB ride to be cheaper than what we ended up paying for the same ride in a taxi.

But what we can say for sure is that on short distance rides, GRAB can be 100% more expensive than using a taxi.

And how do we know? Well, GRAB is pretty easy to know how much the ride will cost. Just enter the destination and pick up point and it shows the price.

So after entering the pick up and destination, we have the price. But then instead we just use a normal taxi, and just hope the price ends up lower. Which it always is.

We’ve checked GRAB prices for short distance rides that would have cost ฿132 and we ended up paying ฿48 by normal meter taxi for the exact ride. And a long distance ride (about 45 minutes) was going to cost ฿458 with GRAB and we paid ฿360 by taxi.

Meter Taxis in Bangkok Prices

Taxis fares in Bangkok operate on a meter system and the prices are set by the Department of Land Transport.

Every ride starts at ฿35 ($1) and this price covers the first 1 km. Then for each additional km ฿5 is charged. So an 8km ride would cost approximately ฿70 ($2) in normal traffic traffic conditions.

The table below should give you a better understanding of the Taxi prices in Bangkok.

1 km฿35.00
2 km – 12 km฿5.00 – km
12 km – 20 km฿5.50 – km
20 km – 40 km฿6.00 – km
40 km – 60 km฿6.50 – km
60 km – 80 km฿7.50 – km
Over 80 km฿8.50 – km
Use the fare prices as a general guideline. There are additional charges involved in certain cases such as traffic, airport surcharge, tolls.

Additional Fees

The prices mentioned above are just the base prices. In some cases there are additional fees that are applied on top of the ordinary fare prices.

Taxis from Bangkok Airport

When taking a taxi from both Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang Airport (DMK) in Bangkok, an airport surcharge of ฿50 is applied. This additional fee won’t show up on the meter but will still be added to the final price of the fare.

Tolls – Express-Way

While riding a taxi in Bangkok, many drivers will ask if you want to take the express-way. Taking this option generally means avoiding the congested parts of Bangkok that are known for horrendous traffic jams.

To take the express-way a toll needs to be paid. These tolls range in price from ฿20 to ฿50. The driver may pay the toll themselves and add to the final fare. But in most cases, the driver will ask you to hand over the fee for the toll.

While paying for the tolls on the express-way is an additional cost, it may end up costing less than taking the other roads and getting stuck in traffic: read the next fee to understand why.

In Traffic

Bangkok is known for it’s traffic. In the case of gridlock where there car isn’t moving, or moving at a pace under 6km/hour there is an additional charge of ฿1.5 per minute.

Additional Taxi Information

Below is some more information about taxis in Bangkok which you may find useful while planning the logistical aspect of your Bangkok trip.

Long distance Taxi Rides

In most cases taxi drivers will refuse using the taxi meter for long distance rides. It’s understandable because the driver is only going to get paid for the ride in one direction. And have to make their way back without any passengers.

So if you want to take a taxi to places that are quite a ride out of Bangkok, such as Ayutthaya or you’re going to the beach in Pattaya directly from one of Bangkok’s airports. There are 3 options.

  1. In the best case the driver accepts doing the long distance ride by meter and doesn’t add any convenience fee for going so much out of their way.
  2. The driver gives a fixed rate for the trip. In this case it will be quite expensive unless you’re really good at negotiating a better price.
  3. You book a private transfer in advance at an affordable price.

For example a private transfer from Bangkok airport to Pattaya will cost around $50 – $60. It’s a reasonable price considering its a 2 hours ride and you can share the cost with 2 other friends.

PattayaYou can check for Private Transfers Here

Hua-HinYou can check for Private Transfers Here

AyutthayaYou can check for Private Transfers Here

How we efficiently plan our trips.

Planning a holiday can be overwhelming, especially for those hands-on in the process. Thankfully, technology has simplified the task, making it easier to organize trips to destinations like Thailand. Here are the resources we use that help simplify our planning process.

Agoda: Our go-to for booking accommodation. It’s user-friendly, offers the best prices, and boasts the largest selection of online properties in South East Asia.

Viator: when planning our itinerary we always go through Viator to find unique activities and paid tours. While we don’t always do activities as a tour, Viator gives us a good idea what there is to do in a particular destination.

12Go: Planning the logistics and transfers from one place to another is always a headache when putting together an itinerary. That is why we always use 12Go when we want to find the best and easiest ways to get from A to B. Just enter the the starting location and where you want to go. eg: Bangkok → Phi Phi island. And in most cases you’ll find combo tickets that handle the entire journey even when various transports methods are involved such as ferries and buses.

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HEY, just so you know…

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