Bangkok’s Top 5 Taxi Scams
Bangkok is an exciting, vibrant city. But it’s also home to scams, such as taxi drivers who try to take unsuspecting travellers for a ride. Here’s how to be prepared.
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As travellers, we often talk about the wonderful cultures and discoveries that we experience along the way. What is less talked about is the “street smarts” we gain from our travels.
For example, did you know that the camera you are always brandishing to capture travel moments identifies you as a potential target? No matter how wonderful a culture may be, there is always the risk that you may be robbed or scammed because of your naïveté.
Thailand is a great place to visit, but in Bangkok we have repeatedly had trouble with taxi cabs—and have luckily learned a thing or two. Here are our tips for dealing with the top taxi scams in Bangkok, a city that is otherwise fascinating to visit.
5. Main Transport Hub
If you hail a taxi from a main transportation hub, the driver will often quote you an inordinately high amount to get to your destination. You will save yourself a lot of money by making sure they use the meter rather than quoting you a flat fare. Once you insist on a metered fare, the aggressive taxi driver trying to con you will usually head off quickly to attempt to find someone else who is gullible enough to accept their overpriced fare.
4. Long-Distance Trips
If you know in advance that you have to travel a long distance, it is good to do a little research online. Oftentimes, you can find out the fair price for your trip. Having this knowledge in advance can help you to barter and avoid getting overcharged.
3. Going the Wrong Direction
Intentionally going the wrong direction and making the route much longer than necessary is a common trick taxi drivers foist on passengers when the meter is running. This is difficult to prevent, especially when you are in a large, unfamiliar city. But trying to be aware of where you are and keeping a general sense of direction can help. If you feel like you might be headed the wrong way, confirm with the driver the location of your destination: showing any sign of questioning will usually be enough to get him back on the right course.
2. The Airport
There is an automatic additional charge for getting a taxi from the airport. It is much cheaper and easier to take the BTS Skytrain, which is quick and clean.
1. The Border
While losing a few dollars to a taxi driver is a minor thing really, there are also more serious scams to contend with. For example, from Bangkok we decided to head overland to Cambodia to visit the temples of Angkor Wat. At the border, you have to take a tuk-tuk to the actual border crossing. You may find yourself taken to a building with a sign on the wall indicating it’s the Cambodian border, overly helpful people encouraging you to get out of the tuk-tuk and your driver also telling you this is the border. Do not believe it. This is actually a scam. And a very good one. This is not the border, but an attempt to get you to pay a $30 fake border fee—and a lot of people fall for it.