Why I prefer to use Uber Bangkok and not Taxis

August 12, 2014
By

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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.

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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.

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27 Responses to Why I prefer to use Uber Bangkok and not Taxis

  1. Rik
    August 12, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Is their a ballpark figure you could use as factor to calculate how much more expensive an Uber limo is compared to a regular taxi? Just to get an idea of the cost.

  2. Luk
    August 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    The map on Uber site has a green/blue zone – is this the only zone where Uber operates?
    One more question – is network connection always needed when ordering a taxi? Is wifi enough?

    • Richard Barrow
      August 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Yes, looks like their coverage is smaller now. When they first started I could book one from Samut Prakan, but not any more. The map shows where they are on standby. WiFi should be fine.

  3. Martin D
    August 12, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    I cannot agree with with this blog enough. My only complaint is that there are not enough Uber cars. I’ve taken at least 20 trips with Uber since it’s started in Bangkok and not one has been negative. I’m an expat having lived here for 2+ years and like everyone else who’s been here a while I’ve had my share of stubborn drivers, drivers high on some drug, drivers who won’t use a meter, etc. Uber is still a very small % of the transportation market but hopefully it’ll set a strong example to marginally improve the taxi market whose only real edge is price.

  4. Al
    August 12, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Great post. Thanks. Does über offer larger vehicles as wel if you have a group of more than 4?

  5. David
    August 13, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    What format do you enter your phone number?
    6685xxxxxx3 for example does not work. I also tried just my mobile without the 66 and that does not work either.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. David
    August 13, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Got it please disregard my question.
    Thanks

  7. Dan
    August 18, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    After being dumped on Nana Friday night when the taxi-driver refused to go any further towards the river, I’ll only use Uber. They’re a wonderful service and the cars are well maintained.

  8. J.T.
    October 19, 2014 at 9:09 am

    I know this is an old post, but commenting anyway. Any idea how and well Uber drivers are paid compared to taxi drivers (meaning what the arrangement is, and what usual take-home pay is like)? I know it differs for the taxi companies – some have a neoliberal faux-entreprenurial arrangement where the drivers buy the cars and then pay a fee and a percentage of each ride for the right to use the taxi company’s colors. Others are set up as “co-ops” and have a slightly more equitable arrangement. In the US Uber is seriously fucking taxi drivers, and Uber drivers take home a lot less money than a career taxi driver. In the Thai case, it may actually work out that Uber is an improvement in the employment situation… Quite curious about this.

    • Richard Barrow
      October 20, 2014 at 8:35 am

      From what I understand these guys own their car so I guess the split is much higher than if they were just employees.

    • Rudyard Kipling
      November 22, 2014 at 2:09 am

      Following on from your concern about UBER drivers take home pay.i’d say the way corporate entities usually start,is by entering the business field as “the good guys”.Ofering good conditions to begin with,then once the monopoly is created,and when competition and state power get to rule over hard working self-employed taxi drivers,then they are free to exploit as they wish.Their standards sink,and profit becomes number one.Think of it like a python slowly strangling it’s prey.

      • Richard Barrow
        November 22, 2014 at 6:35 am

        Surely there was a monopoly before, but now with Uber, GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi we, the consumer, have more choice. I was in Phuket the other day and some of the local taxi drivers were also uber drivers. I took their services twice as it was cheaper than what the tuk tuk drivers demanded. The drivers also told me they made more money from their Uber trips than their regular trips.

        • Rudyard Kipling
          November 28, 2014 at 10:33 pm

          I suggest you read The Globe and Mail article “Eight Reasons Why Toronto Should Push Back at Uber”. The company is corrupt to the core.

  9. sean
    October 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Has Uber stopped in Bangkok? I can’t see any cars since I arrived two days ago. I can see them in other cities so my app is working still.

  10. Jo
    October 30, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I thought I saw UberX is available FROM BKK airport. Is this true? Has anyone tried it? I would like to because it’s much less than the car services such as AOT but a little more than public taxi. Please let me know!

    • Richard Barrow
      October 31, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      I just checked the app and there are a couple of them hanging around. Not sure if they are available like that all day. I will check it out next time I land at that airport.

  11. Rous
    November 29, 2014 at 7:14 am

    How is driver and vehicle safety verified?

    • Richard Barrow
      December 1, 2014 at 6:47 am

      Both Grab Taxi and Uber rely heavily on feedback from their customers. If a driver is given bad reviews then he is dropped from the scheme.

      • Edward Lewis
        June 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

        Richard, Hope you are still following these replies.Does Uber offer service to locations outside of BKK? All day trips or eve 2-3 day trips?

        • Richard Barrow
          June 8, 2015 at 4:46 pm

          It would be expensive for you to use Uber for 2-3 day trips. But what you can do is find an Uber driver you like and then ask if you can book him off the books. You can do that with any taxi driver you like too.

  12. Kris
    July 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I havenot used uber be4 but i want to hire a uber taxi at bangkok airport. I have 2 luggage with me. The uber X can do or do i need to take the uber black ? Strangely, I input the starting position and the destination as plaza park soi 18 hotel as i want to estimate the fare. the website said the route cannot be traced. can u help?

  13. Donald
    August 18, 2015 at 10:36 am

    Any idea whether registering a Thai bank’s debit card as a payment method works? My bank says its debit cards can’t be used for Internet purchases, but does Uber count as an Internet purchase?

  14. Chaitali
    September 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Hi Richard! Feels great to find the answer to the question on my mind in your blog 😉 Thanks!

    2 though –

    I am from India, travelling in November 2016 to BKK for 5 days. As this blog has been slightly historic, would you be able to tell how is the Uber service presently in BKK ?
    I assume I would require a local sim card(for mobile) and then register on Uber using the same ?Any suggestions for the service provider we could use for the short stay ?
    You said we can go cashless by entering our credit card details in Uber app, is there an option of giving Cash as well ?
    Any other taxi services parallel to Uber in BKK ? Heard of GrabTaxi, anything else ?

    Thanks a ton!

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