Public transport in Bangkok has come a long way since I’ve been living here. The BTS Skytrain and the MRT Subway have been a godsend for many people. However, it is probably a victim of it’s own success with long queues on the platforms and crowded carriages. The extensions to the network have also been slow coming which has limited its use. Like other people, I have to use a taxi to get to my nearest station and then often another taxi to my destination.
There has been a lot of complaints about Bangkok taxis among the expat community and foreign tourists. I personally haven’t had much problem though this might be because I speak to the driver in Thai. My trick is to get in, shut the door and then politely say my destination. Nine times out of ten that will work. Also 99% of the time they will then turn on the meter without asking. But don’t catch a taxi waiting in front of hotels or malls.
An alternative to Bangkok taxis is the Uber limo service. Yes, it’s more expensive than a regular taxi, but when it comes to safety and security I prefer to use Uber whenever I can. I’ve listed below some of my reasons to use them. If you disagree or have personal experience of another benefit that I left out, then please let me know in the comments below.
The driver is polite and courteous at all times. He won’t argue with you about which way to go. The passenger is always right. Once my driver missed the turning and had to drive a long way before he could do a U-Turn. He was most apologetic and insisted to delete the “diversion” from the bill. I told him not to worry but he insisted.
Uber drivers are safer drivers than ordinary taxi drivers. If you are worried he is speeding just tell him and he will slow down. No argument. When you ride is over, you can rate your experience and leave a comment. The driver knows that if he receives a lot of complaints about unsafe driving he will be dropped as a Uber driver.
Every Uber limo has seatbelts in the back. Although they are not really limos, most of mine have been Camrys, they are all relatively new and well maintained. If you want to impress someone then book this limo service. Although not guaranteed, the driver will also often open the door for you. Another nice touch is the free water he gives you.
When you book with the app, you get to see information about the driver. Such as his name, picture and car license plate. This is useful if you have left anything in the taxi. The app also shows estimated time it will take for him to arrive and you can watch his progress on a live map. This is useful if you are having a coffee while waiting. You are sent a message once the limo arrives.
When you open the app your location is marked automatically. This is useful if you cannot speak Thai. The driver can see on his own app exactly where you are. You also have an option to send a text message. Quite often my driver calls me to check on location. You can also move the location if you want to meet elsewhere. Like last night when I asked the driver to pick me up at the railway station. My train hadn’t arrived yet but I timed it so we both arrived at the same time.
Uber limo drivers will take you to your destination without argument. When you book your ride you don’t say where you are going. This is handy for me as I live in Samut Prakan to the south of Bangkok. Some taxis refuse to go there but I’ve had no problems with Uber. However, going into Bangkok is a problem as I’m too far out. To solve this, I make a note of the driver’s personal cellphone number each time. I then just call if I want to be picked up. This is free but only works if he is available.
With a Uber limo there is no need to have small change with you. How many times have you been in a taxi and the driver pretended he had no change for your banknotes? With Uber, you use a credit card. (The driver doesn’t get to see your card as you register when you first download the app.) In some ways it is cheaper this way as your credit card is charged the exact fare. No need to give a tip too. At the end of the journey you are emailed a receipt with a breakdown on costs.
For female passengers travelling alone Uber limos are a safe option. Not only do you have a written record of the driver’s name and license plate, you also have an option to send a link to a friend who can see a live map showing your exact location at all times. On my first trip I tweeted a link to the map which was useful when my driver got lost. Someone tweeted to me saying I had already passed my destination and should do a U-Turn.
Uber limos are not for everyone. If you find it too expensive, then try the GrabTaxi app which is cheaper and offers some of these benefits. However they use regular taxi drivers. You basically get what you pay for. If you want to test Uber out, use the promo code uxtb6 for your first ride and you will be given a 300 Baht credit. Let me know in the comments about your own experiences.