Welcome to Bangkok--a Survival Guide: Taxis
So you've decided to travel to Thailand! I promise you it will be one of the most unforgettable times of your life. Thailand means different things to different people. For me, on my first Thailand trip I focused more on the South and the sea. Before leaving for Thailand, every time I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like, I would think of sandy beaches and crystal blue water. For others their first Thailand trip was about the jungles or the food or the people. However, no matter why you want to go to Thailand or what you plan to do there, you more than likely will be entering into Bangkok first.
Bangkok is wonderfully chaotic and worth a visit in its own right, but as the place where one must get adjusted to being in Thailand, it can be a sensory overload. Because of this, I wanted to put together a survival guide to Bangkok so that your time there is less overwhelming. The first topic that I want to cover is taxis.
Taking Taxis From the Airport
There's no reason to fear taxis, but you should stay aware when in them, especially if you have to take one to your hotel for the first time late at night. The most important thing to remember to do when taking taxis is to only get in ones that are metered. Otherwise, you'll be subject to a much higher fee at the discretion of your driver. Luckily, taking meter taxis from the airport is extremely easy as you can do so by heading to the meter taxi sign-up desk, which you'll find on the first floor close to the curb.
Additionally, make sure that they take the tollway and that you pay the tolls, which are around THB 75. If you happen to have an international plan (T-Mobile really comes in handy for this), then you may also want to put your address into Google Maps to make sure that the driver is not giving you the run around. If you don't have an international plan, then consider pulling up the route on your computer or phone at the airport beforehand with WiFi. This way you'll be able to at least know the general route and how many tolls you need to pay. Because of the need for small change, it's best to withdraw some money at the airport and buy a drink or snack to break up a large bill.
In our case, we only got the run-around once when we flew back into Bangkok before flying to Bali. We had the flight to Bali the next day so we found the cheapest, closest hotel to the airport. By that time we had already been in Thailand for a month and felt a lot more comfortable to the point where we didn't feel the need to pull up the route to the hotel on my phone. The driver ended up having his meter covered by a cloth and took us on a bit of a loop before dropping us off at the hotel, even though it was five minutes away. He ended up charging us the equivalent of ten dollars instead of three, so it wasn't that big of a deal, but still upsetting when we figured out what was going on.
Taxi Safety for Female Solo Travelers
As I said, you shouldn't fear taxis. However, a certain amount of precaution when getting into a car with a stranger is never a bad thing. This is especially the case for solo female travelers. One useful tip that I found, that I would HIGHLY recommend for anyone traveling alone, but especially females, is to take a photo of the dashboard with your phone and send it to a friend, as it will have the drivers photo and employee number. Even if you don't have an international texting plan, allowing the taxi driver to see that you're taking a picture of his dashboard will ensure he doesn't try to pull anything.
Tipping in Thailand is not customary and so you aren't expected to do so for taxis. That being said, rounding up your fare by 5 to 10 baht will be appreciated, especially as taxi drivers don't earn very much in Bangkok. However, whenever taking a taxi make sure that you have change, as it is a common practice for taxi drivers to claim that they don't have any forcing your hand in giving them a larger bill (Better to choose to tip then be forced into it!)
There you have it for my tips on Bangkok taxis! Please comment if you have any more advice or tips that I should add!