If you are planning on celebrating the New Year in Bangkok, then there is some good news. The BTS Skytrain, the MRT Subway and the Airport Rail Link are all extending their operating hours until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. In addition, all three services will be FREE from mid-day on Saturday to mid-day on Sunday. What a great New Year’s present.
Good news for those people who still have the old-style top-up cards for the subway in Bangkok. Originally you had to change to the new one by this week, but the MRT just announced that the deadline has now been extended until 30th December 2016. You can change your old card at any of the 18 Blue Line stations for free. The balanace on your old one will be transferred to the new MRT PLUS card. Once the new MRT Purple Line opens on 6th August, you will be able to use the card on both lines.
Bangkok Governor M.R. Sukhumbhand Paribatra has overseen a test run of environmentally friendly boat prototypes, before officially deploying them in Khlong Phasi Charoen next month. The 8-kilometer waterway connects Saphan Taksin pier in Phasi Charoen district and the pier at Taling Chan district’s floating market.
The Governor said the prototype boats are made of fiberglass which minimizes the effect of waves while the boats are maneuvering. He stated that each boats’ capacity is 60 passengers. The vessels are equipped with a GPS based automatic speed control system, four CCTV cameras and a free Wi-Fi service. The boats also have a space for two wheel chairs and two bicycles.
M.R. Sukhumbhand disclosed that his agency has already received three boats from the manufacturer, while adding that the remaining nine are being assembled and would be delivered by this August. He said the BMA is currently testing the three boats, training helmsmen and extending boat routes to connect with BTS Sky Train stations.
Source: National News Bureau & Public Relations
Photos via @tanatpong_nna
Thailand’s first electric bus has begun its trial run in Bangkok. It is operating between Don Mueang Airport and Mo Chit bus terminal. The bus is 12 meters long and has 35 seats. It has onboard WiFi and is also wheelchair accessible. The fare is 30 Baht per person. If the three month trial run is successful, 20 more electric buses could be bought in May.
Source: National News Bureau & Public Relations
Some good news for people who are stuck on a bus during a traffic jam as the chances are high that they will be able to use the free WiFi from today onwards. The Bangkok Mass Transit Authority announced that 550 of their Euro II buses have been fitted with WiFi routers and passengers are free to log in to surf the Internet. All they have to do is look for “On Wi-Fi” on their smartphone. Once connected they have to register their cell phone number and date of birth. They will then be sent a password by SMS. The following bus routes will have free WiFi first: 39, 510, 520, 555, 26, 60, 514, 511, 36, 73, 16, 503, 23, 70, 79, 515 and 556.
Are you tired of wasting time in Bangkok’s rush hour traffic? Want to take a motorcycle taxi instead, but don’t want the hassle of negotiating the fare? If yes, then you will be happy to hear that the guys at Grab Taxi have recently launched a new motorcycle service for customers of their popular smartphone app. Now you can not only order a motorcycle to take you to work, but they will also come straight to your house to pick you up! Prices start at only 35 Baht and have distance-based pricing. Like GrabTaxi and GrabCar, you will also have real-time tracking that you can share with your friends and also have damage insurance. This service is for both passengers and documents.
To introduce you to this new service, you can use the promo code BIKEBETA and you will only have to pay 35 Baht for your first two rides.
Taxi drivers in Bangkok have a really bad reputation of cheating customers or refusing fares. You really have to be street savvy if you want to survive. The main tip I suggest is never use a taxi that is sitting outside a hotel, shopping mall or tourist attraction. Just walk down the road a bit and flag down a passing taxi. Then, get in, close the door, and say where you want to go. They might still refuse you, but I have found from recent experience, that they are more apologetic than normal. Why is this? I think it is mainly due to the success of the DLT Check-in app that you can download for free for your smartphone.
So far, the DLT app has been downloaded 30,000 times and it has been used 11,185 times to report a service. I have used it four times so far, but only to give a good review. According to the Deputy Director General of the DLT, 1,832 complaints were made about taxi drivers refusing to take passengers. If the driver does this repeatedly, they have their licenses revoked. Someone on Twitter told me that they were contacted by the DLT a few days later to say their driver had been fined. So, it does work. But, more people need to use the app to report bad drivers. Only together can we make a change.
Some interesting statistics that have come out of people using this app shows which roads in Bangkok that drivers refuse passengers the most. These are Sukhumwit, Silom, Sathon and Phaya Thai between the hours of 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.
The Mobile Expo 2015 will be taking place at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th May 2015. If you are planning on visiting the fair this year, you will be happy to hear that there are some promo codes to make it cheaper for you to go there.
UberX: “MOBILEEXPO2015TH” – Use 1 time for up to 300B reduction
GrabTaxi: “TME15” – Use up to 4 times for 50B reduction each time
The biggest complaint against taxi drivers in Bangkok is their refusal to take passengers to their destination. But, is this becoming a thing of the past? A number of friends have noticed a change in behaviour over the last few months of taxi drivers towards passengers. I’ve seen it too. Most of them seem to be far more polite these days. They even apologize if they cannot take you to where you want to go.
I think this started to snowball with the release of the “DLT Check-in” app by the Department of Land Transport. This free app on your smartphone made it easier to report drivers to the right people. And it really works. Several Twitter friends have said that they were informed that their taxi driver had been fined as a result of their report.
Now comes some more good news. Siam Paragon recently put up a sign in front of their shopping mall listing the license plates of 54 taxis that had refused to take passengers. A report on social media at the time said that these taxis were now banned from stopping at Paragon. Today, Thai Rath is reporting that 31 of these taxi drivers have been fined by the police. A further two have had their licenses revoked for being reported twice by passengers.
What do you think, is there light at the end of the tunnel as far as good taxi services go in Bangkok?
If you are fed up with regular Bangkok taxis, then there is an alternative experience which is not only safer, but far more pleasant. If you have already used Uber Black in Bangkok then you know what I mean. It is refreshing to be in a new car with seatbelts and free drinks, and where the driver doesn’t argue about which route to take or whether the meter should be on or off. However, this experience comes at a price. With Uber Black, the base fare is 50 Baht and then it is 2.5 Baht per minute and 14 Baht per kilometer.
Promo Code to get 300 Baht off your first ride with Uber Bangkok
If you have already used Uber in Bangkok, look under “Free Rides” on your smartphone app. Here you will see your own special promo code. Mine is UXTB6. To get a free ride, all you have to do is send this code to a friend, family member or even a stranger in Bangkok. When they sign up for the first time, they will get 300 Baht off their first ride and you will get 300 Baht credit too. (This used to be 200 Baht.) However, you will have three months to use this free credit before it expires.
This is how it works:
- Invite new users to sign up for Uber
- They will automatically get a free ride if they sign up using your code – you can find it under the “Free Rides” section in the app
- Once they take their first ride, you will get one free ride
- Free rides are up to 300 Baht each, and will expire 3 months after they are applied
- The free rides will only work in Bangkok
- Existing Uber credits remain valid and will be used after any free rides
Once you have earned some credit, click on “Payment” on the smartphone app to see how much you have earned. From what I understand, any existing credit you have from the old promotion will remain valid.
Over the last year there has been a few smartphone apps released that help people report taxis to the authorities. I’m sure we have all faced similar problems with taxis in Bangkok. Refusing to take you to your destination, not turning on meter, and unsafe driving are just a few of the most common complaints. The problem with these 3rd party apps is that we don’t know if the relevant authorities will ever see our report. But that has now changed as the Department of Land Transport have just released their own smartphone app for iOS and Android.
To use the “DLT Check in” app is very simple. As you can see, it’s also bilingual which is good news for expats and tourists. After downloading the app you need to register your telephone number which is quick and easy. Then type in the License plate of the taxi or take a photo of the plate on the inside door. Next you can rate the taxi and the driver and also leave a comment. The location of your taxi is also noted. Of course, you don’t have to use the app to just report bad taxis. You can also comment on a good taxi like the one I’m in at the moment.
It has now become a step easier to book a 12-seater van with a few clicks on your smartphone. Ideal for foreigners who cannot speak Thai. The service is the latest by GrabTaxi who launched an easy to use app last year for booking regular taxis. This was followed by GrabCar which are better quality cars but cheaper than a limousine service. Now comes GrabXL which is a 12-seater Toyota Commuter. This might be good for people who want to travel to and from the airport in a large group or with lots of luggage. It might also be good for a day trip with a group of friends. However, at first glance, the meter rate might work out more expensive than say booking a van in the regular way. But, with GrabXL, you don’t need to pay for the petrol. That is included.
Fare: The meter starts at 150 Baht and then 20 Baht per kilometer + 3 Baht per minute .
So, how does that work out for say a day trip to Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram? According to Google Maps it is 99 kms away from my house and it will take 97 minutes without traffic. That would then be 150 Baht (flagfall) + 1,980 Baht (distance) + 291 Baht (time). So, that’s 2,421 Baht one way or at least 5,382 Baht for a round trip if you want him to wait there for you for 3 hours (I am presuming you have to pay him 3 Baht per minute to wait?). Share that between 12 people and that’s a minimum of 448 Baht per person.
I don’t think you are really saving money on that. It would be nice if they did day rates to certain popular destinations. What do you think? Surely a lot cheaper to book a regular van even if you have to pay to fill the tank at the end of the trip?
This morning there was a press conference about the new taxi service to be launched in Bangkok. It is operated by Nakhon Chai Air. The yellow taxis are Toyota Prius Hybrid, which is an electric mid-size hatchback. The test run will start on 20 April after the Songkran holidays. Then in May they will start with a fuller service. To call them, you will be able to use an app on your smartphone or by calling the hotline. The service charge for this is 20 Baht.
On the dashboard there is a “monitoring camera” for the safety of both the driver and passengers.
The taxi can accept credit cards. It can also give printed receipts.
This one is interesting. It has an automatic breathalyzer for the driver which seems to be linked to the ignition key.
The taxi has GPS which will record the speed.
The LED sign on the top of the taxi gives the speed of the vehicle and other information.
This is the trunk of the new taxi. As you can see there is no gas tank and so plenty of room for luggage. This should be the compulsory taxi used for the airport run.
What do you think about this new taxi?
Thailand will soon be welcoming a new taxi service. We don’t know much as the press conference is on the 10th February 2015. But it is being billed as the “Taxi of Our Dreams”. All I know so far is that it is operated by Nakhonchai Air. They are yellow taxis. And there will be an application on your mobile phone that you can use to call them. Service charge is 20 Baht. We are expecting about 500 taxis at the launch. More information soon.
On Twitter this afternoon, I asked people what people saw as their “dream taxi”. The following are their replies starting with my own. Add your own in the comments at the bottom of the page.
During the recent public holiday, I joined the train trip to the sunflower fields in Saraburi. These take place every year during December at the weekend and on the King’s birthday and Constitution Day. They are very popular and so you need to book your tickets at the station in advance. There were still some tickets left when I started tweeting, but they were completely sold out by the end of the day. So, if you still want to go, you will have to wait for next year. Unless you have your own car. The following are some of the pictures I tweeted during the day.
GrabTaxi, a popular taxi-booking app for smartphones, celebrates its 1st year anniversary in Thailand with over 350 free giveaways worth over 100,000 Baht. GrabTaxi has partnered with Air Asia, Major Cineplex, WearYouWant, True You, Why97 and Le Lapin to reward and thank the many passengers who have downloaded and used their app.
All passengers booking their rides within Bangkok via the GrabTaxi app during 1st-15th November, will get a chance to win one of many prizes. Passengers’ names will automatically be entered into a lucky draw and winners will be announced on 19th November on GrabTaxi’s facebook page and notified by SMS.
Up for grabs are 2 flight tickets from Air Asia, 350 tickets from Major Cineplex, shopping vouchers from WearYouWant, gifts from True You, dining vouchers from Le Lapin and Why 97 plus lots more. Passengers also stand to win other surprise gifts from GrabTaxi drivers!
The more rides you book via GrabTaxi, the more chances you have to win.
GrabTaxi Thailand launched its beta trial in Pattaya last month on September 17th, making it the second Thai city after Bangkok. GrabTaxi has a regional footprint across Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
Source: Press Release
They say competition is good for the consumer, and I think that is exactly the way it is going with taxis in Bangkok at the moment. We already have apps such as GrabTaxi and EasyTaxi to help us catch these regular taxis. Then, about six months ago, UberBlack came to Thailand for the first time. This gave a luxurious and safe alternative for getting around Bangkok. But, it came at a premium price. Now comes the news that Uber has launched UberX in Bangkok.
So, what is UberX? According to their press release, “UberX is the low-cost Uber option that combines the same great Uber quality and reliability you know and love with lower prices than ever before. UberX cars are mostly compact cars, but you’ll have to give it a try to see what you get!” To try it out, just open the Uber app on your smartphone. Below the map showing your location you will now see a slider. Push it to the left for the UberX cars. Not signed up yet? Get 200 Baht off your first ride by entering the promo code uxtb6. You can download the app for free for Android or iOS.
During the soft launch, the catchment area is only within Central Bangkok. But, the prices will be CHEAPER than regular taxis for the time being. The base fare will only be 25 Baht and then it is 1 Baht per minute and 4.5 Baht per kilometer. Minimum fare is 45 Baht. You have to pay tolls on top of this. But, unlike regular taxis, you don’t need to hunt around for change to pay the driver. Everything is charged to your credit card once the ride is completed. You will also receive an email receipt straight away. I was charged twice once for a tollway and they quickly corrected the mistake after I had pointed it out to them by email. See my blog Why I Prefer to Use Uber Bangkok and not Taxis.
If you have tried UberX already then please post in the comments below. I will try soon and so look out for my live tweets on Twitter @RichardBarrow.