Though Thailand is the most organized country in the region (except Singapore of course), sometimes it can be rather hectic to find out the actual price for transport services. Especially during the first visit to an unfamiliar country.
Tuk-tuks deserve a separate post, bus tickets are easy. Let's talk about taxis.
As most of travellers start in Bangkok, it's rather logical to provide taxi prices there, and use it as a reference later on. It just gets more expensive. The good thing is that it's very cheap to start with.
Overwhelming majority of taxi cabs in Bangkok have meters installed. Slightly smaller majority are honest and will not drive in circles to have a bigger number on the meter.
Still, you never can be sure that the particular driver will want to turn the meter on, as it is not always beneficial to him. For example, driving a drunk Wester businessman to a strip club pays much more than bringing a backpacker to a hostel few blocks away.
Hence the first advice - before entering a taxi, tell him "Meter". If he agrees, there are very good chances you won't have any problems whatsoever. If he does not agree, just catch a next taxi. Be patient, as it sometimes takes 5 or 6 cars before the driver accepts to drive with meter.
If the driver does not agree or is not sure, but you still enter the taxi and he starts driving, it can happen that he asks some big amount at the end of the trip. For example, 500 baht for a trip from Khao San road to Siam center. In that case, negotiate the price, as it was your fault to not agree in the beginning. Maximum a 100 in aforementioned example, even it would cost 50-70 in normal conditions.
It can also be useful to know and use in negotiation that most of the cars run on gas, and for them it costs less than one baht to drive one kilometer in normal conditions.
At the point of starting to move, the driver has to press "Start" on the meter, which should display 35 baht. This is the minimum which you'll pay for a few first kilometers. The following kilometers are priced with a decreasing scale, which I'll provide later (not more than 15 baht per kilometer at max).
Two more interesting factors are Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi airport (or vice versa) and catching a taxi from Bangkok to another city.
In first case do not agree to pay more than approximately 350 baht.
Consider this example - my last trip was from Khao San road to Suvarnabhumi airport at 2010 December 12. The time was 3 A.M. in the morning (actually night between Saturday and Sunday). Toll road fees were 45 baht and 25 baht. The final amount on the taxi meter when it stopped, was 250 baht (in total 320 baht), at that point we have driven 37,3 kilometers in a time of 26 minutes, averaging around 100 km/h on a highway. I am pretty sure that the driver was going the correct way all the time, as I was following a map.
Of course, in case of traffic jams the amount will be bigger, just use the above figures as a reference to judge the situation.
In the second case, please use the table that I photographed in one of the taxis.
It is an official pricelist of one of the companies.
|Destination||Price, Baht||Distance, km|
|Chumphon (Port to Ko Tao)||5000||470|
|Trat (Port to Ko Chang)||3500||325|
Have a good trip!