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TRANSPORTATION / Taxi

Most taxis in Thailand are metered, i.e., you don't need to negotiate a fare. Just get into a taxi that says "TAXI-METER" on the top. There are a few plain taxis still going around, but the vast majority are either the relatively new taxi-meter fleet or else have converted over.
 
Taxis are economical in Thailand relative to western countries. The fare starts at 35 baht (approx. $1) and stays there for the first kilometer or two. I do not know the current rates, and they change from time to time, but a 20 kilometer (12 mile) late night ride typically costs me about 120 baht, or approximately $3. Typical taxi fares in town for going a few kilometers run around 50 baht. If traffic is bad, then the timer becomes more significant than the distance.


Around 1992 or so, the city government oversaw an overhaul of the taxi system. A few leading companies with special concessions imported fleets of modern new taxis and equipped them with meters. This made taxis much nicer and easier for foreigners and Thais alike.
 
A difficulty with foreigners is that most taxi drivers do not speak nor read English. The taxi drivers generally come from the poor northeast. They are usually pleasant but just limited in education. They will usually recognize the names of places if your pronounciation is close, but be careful that they don't misunderstand you and take you somewhere else.
 
Suggestions:
If possible, have the name and location of your destination written in Thai on a slip of paper which you can give them, or
Have a map with both Thai and English, and point to the place on the map.
If one taxi seems to have difficulties, then say never mind and try the next taxi.
Of course, these suggestions are not required, and most foreigners get by without paper, but you take your chances.
 
A few protocols:
When waving down a taxi, turn your palm down and wave them in with your fingers.
If you take the expressway ("tong doo-un"), then give the taxi driver the expressway fare before he enters the booth. For a car, the far is 40 baht or less, and he will give you back any change. (Of course, expressway fares are in addition to the taxi fare.)
 
A few phrases:
"ja by ..." (will go to ...)
"jawt tee nee" (stop here)
"chy" (yes)
"my chy" (no)
 
You can telephone for a taxi to come pick you up, e.g., at the end of a soi where taxis don't drive by, and if it would be a long walk to find one. There is a 20 baht surcharge above the fare on the meter, i.e., the charge is not shown on the meter and you add 20 baht.


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