Tips for Catching a Taxi at Suvarnabhumhi Airport

Tips for Catching a Taxi at Suvarnabhumhi Airport

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At Suvarnabhumhi Airport, if you want to take a taxi, you need to go down to the ground floor and join the queues there. But, you don’t get to choose your taxi, they sometimes cheat you by not turning on the meter and you have to pay a 50 Baht surcharge.

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Old hands usually go up to the departure floor where there are usually plenty of taxis who have just dropped off passengers. Here you can pick and choose your taxi. If you’re experienced you will know which ones are more reliable.

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This is what I usually do, though a few weeks ago I started getting reports that they have installed one-way turnstiles to stop people looking for a taxi on the departure level. So, as I was at Suvarnabhumi this morning, I decided to check it out.

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As you can see from these pictures, they have indeed installed turnstiles, but the gates were all open. Not only that, people were coming up to departures to catch taxis as normal. So, if there was a crackdown, it didn’t last long.

I should add here that if you are new to Thailand you should join the official taxi rank on the ground floor. You will be given a slip of paper with your taxi details that you can use later if you have a complaint.

20 thoughts on “Tips for Catching a Taxi at Suvarnabhumhi Airport

  1. This is really not fair to the taxi drivers on the ground floor who have queued for a few hours to pick up their fair. You should not encourage this irresponsible and unfair behaviour.

    1. Totally agreed with kampong boy comment, think about those taxis queuing sometimes for hours to pick up a passenger and only get 50 baht surcharge in return. Not including if they are unlucky, the passenger say going to Bangna, the ride might be just 80 baht. Take Singapore Taxi as example, they have so many surcharges, sometime the surcharges are more than the fare of the ride. You know why Thais like to cut the queuing during driving on the road or anything that’s has a queuing line? Because of these irresponsible people, makes our culture bad and also part of this makes the traffic on the departure level is so jam. Worst these people will think “Those stupid people are still queuing for the taxi down below”. For those taxi don’t use taxi meter, please report them to the police, during the ride or after the ride.

      1. I’m sure heading to Bang Na would cost a lot more than 80 Baht from Suvarnabhumi airport, more like 150. However, even this is not a large amount as taxi prices are still phenomenally cheap in Thailand even if everything else isn’t so cheap anymore.

  2. I’ve given up on the taxis at Swampy altogether. If I’m going somewhere in the Bangkok area, I take the train and a taxi from a train station if needed. If I go to Pattaya, the bus is a 20th of the price, and hopefully the driver isn’t on the last quarter of 48 hour shift.

  3. I always go to the official taxi rank for arrival passengers to respect those who follow rules. Unfortunately, not all the taxi drivers waiting there are genuine and few try to rip off, especially foreigners. The most common trick is, as you mentioned, they fail to turn ON the meter.
    One such taxi driver told me if wanted meter taxi I should have chosen some other taxi (in fact I did not chose, only the organizer at the taxi rank chose for me). So, I took a photo of his Id on display and taximeter, and asked him to stop the taxi in Thai language. Immediately he switched ON meter and asked whether he can continue.

  4. The downside of catching a taxi at Departures is that they can refuse you. At 2am, after the Airport Rail Link has closed, I just want to get home!

    1. Which is why I wouldn’t catch a flight that lands at 2am anyway. What airline do you fly with? Anyway car rentals are always an option (they even offer downtown drop-offs and some companies can pick you up/drop you off when you return the car).

      1. I think that it was a Philippines Air flight from Manila that was delayed and arrived after 12am. By the time I got through immigration, baggage and waiting for the taxi, it was 1:40. I only live 20 minutes away, so I got home at 2am. At first I did go to arrivals and tried numerous taxis, but they wouldn’t use the meter and wanted 300 baht. I know it’s 130 baht, so I offered 200, but none of them would take it. Finally, I went downstairs to a long queue and paid the 50 baht.

  5. Richard, what’s going on. I think this is the first time that you are encouraging an illegal, irresponsible and unfair behaviour. People taking the cab from the arrival level is more likely to be cheated, cause there is no record of their taxi#. That 50 baht surcharge is for the taxi driver who had to queue for hours at a separate compound. At most decent airport in the world, passenger cannot take a cab from the arrival area, that’s to prevent traffic jams from the cabs waiting there.
    Are you running out of good advices, and turning to the dark side, and giving advices how how to cheap the systems.

  6. I’ve never had a problem with the public taxis at the airport and I think it’s a fairly decent service all things considered. With the surcharge, it costs me about 300-400 baht to get home to Samut Prakarn. But the taxis can be old and hot and grubby.

    Then a couple of years ago I discovered that the AOL Limousine service, which you can book in the arrivals hall, was only 800 baht and I’ve used that ever since. You don’t get a limo of course, but the cars are far larger and nicer. The staff are polite and courteous. It’s simply a much nicer way to end a holiday when I fly back from Europe. You’re paying a few hundred baht more for a first class service instead of a third-class one.

    If I were flying back from a couple of days in Chiang Mai and just had a small carry-on bag, then I would probably go with the public taxi, but when I’m arriving jetlagged with heavy suitcases, it’s the limo service all the way for me.

  7. Thanks for your comments. I advise first time visitors to Thailand to use official taxi line. I want to add that I was cheated many times on the official taxi line and it was my Thai friends who told me I should go up to departures. Since then I have never been cheated.

  8. I disagree with kampong boy. I always used the taxis at 4th floor (now I mainly go by bus or train), I can’t see anything wrong with that. If taxis at ground floor have to queue for hours, that’s their problem (due to mismanagement!) and not mine.

    It’s neither illegal, nor unfair, nor irresponsible.

    At ground floor I have to queue, get a ticket, pay 50 Baht surcharge. At 4th floor, it’s just like hailing a taxi in town. Why would I want a ticket with the taxi number for complaints for the ride from airport to Bangkok, but not for all subsequent rides in Bangkok?

    How do taxis get to ground floor? Probably after they dropped a passenger at departures.

    1. Agree with ChristianPFC. I happen to live rather near the airport, and almost every time I took a taxi from the ground floor, I was receiving verbal abuse from the driver because he lost money on such a short drive after waiting for hours. Also, surprisingly many drivers at the ground floor drive old, smelly, noisy taxis that don’t feel safe on the motorway. If a taxi driver wants to wait for hours at the airport for a paid trip, it only shows that he’s too lazy to get out of the area to find other passengers. And 50 baht surcharge, for what?

      As for the comparison with Singapore taxi drivers; the day when Bangkok taxi drivers have driving skills, language skills and politeness on level with their Singapore counterparts, I will gladly accept to pay more. Also, taxis in Singapore are not expensive compared to the general price level in that city.

      1. That’s very true – Singaporean taxis are clean, their drivers are courteous and interesting; every time I have really good conversations with them and they aren’t even particularly expensive either as has been pointed out. Although I speak fluent Thai, only very rarely would I have a decent conversation with a Thai taxi driver as most are not really the talkative types.

        However, since I catch taxis so rarely nowadays as I’d rather rent a car and drive myself (this is also one way of ensuring I don’t get ripped off) I don’t know much about the latest when it comes to how drivers behave, how comfortable their taxis are etc. as I don’t need to.

  9. Hi Richard, thank you for the tips, it’s useful as a foreign.
    But then how do we tell which ones are more reliable ? Hope you could share with us.

  10. Agree with Richard, I was told by my Thai friend to take taxi at departure hall to avoid pay more n get cheated as foreigner. Don’t ask for a fair treatment if you act unfair in the first place.

  11. Oh, I start crying. All these poor chaps, queuing for hours at the airport to help the tourists (or is it not just to drive back empty handed?). How about the same guys queuing in the tourist spots in downtown BKK later on for hours and refuse everybody who is not willing to pay 200B or more for a small ride?!

    No mercy. Departure level it is!

  12. It’s more the ride that scares me. In a taxi with no seat belts doing 70mph about an inch from the car in front seems to be my normal taxi ride to the airport….. Or anywhere for that matter.

    Thankfully we have a friend who runs a pickup service in his king cab Hylux now. Much nicer and safer.

    The Airport link seems to be on it’s arse. Express Train once an hour..what use is that. CityLine always rammed full of people. Horrible.

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