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Thailand - Taxis
Taxis in Thailand are also considered to be very cheap when compared with cabs in the UK and the US. The basic rate of 35 THB covers the first 2 km and works out at around 85 US cents. Every kilometre after that adds another 5 THB to the bill. Long journeys rarely work out at more than 100 THB although if you want a taxi and get caught in a traffic jam you may be hit with a surcharge. It is common to round a fare up when you are paying, although tipping as a practice is not usual. Drivers will not expect a tip, although some drivers will try to claim that they have no change in the hope that the passenger will not try to get change elsewhere first. This can be nipped in the bud by insisting on stopping at a shop for change.
All taxis have a meter and it is one of the regulations that this must be used. If a driver offers to not use the meter and take you somewhere for a flat fee instead then you can simply leave the cab and they will suddenly find that the meter is working again. If you catch a cab during the monsoon then there may be an inflated fare. Truly unscrupulous taxi drivers are rare in Thailand, although they do exist. If a driver suspects you are a tourist and not a resident in the country they may try to charge an inflated rate for a journey. Taxis that wait outside hotels and in popular tourists areas are not looking for regular fares.
Taxi drivers are not regulated in Thailand in that they do not have to pass any special tests. Often you may find that they are not sure how to get you to your destination and very few of them will speak good conversational English.
The green and yellow taxis which are found in larger urban areas are favoured as the drivers own the vehicles themselves. Other cabs are usually rented by the day by the driver. A taxi must be licensed and this will be shown on the number plate, which is yellow and black.
A cab can be ordered by dialling 1661 and they will collect you from where you are, although hailing a cab in the street is common. There are taxi ranks in busy areas and at train stations.
An alternative to the taxi is the tuk-tuk. They are named after the sound that the engine makes and are rickshaws with a motor. Tourist favour these as they are different from public transport anywhere else and it can often be faster to take a tuk-tuk, particularly in heavy traffic as they are able to weave in and out without too many problems. Passengers should be prepared to bargain with the tuk-tuk driver for the best rates, but they do tend to be more expensive than taxis due to the appeal to tourists.
Tuk-tuks are not fitted with meters so the price should be agreed before you get into the vehicle. By simply getting in you could find yourself being asked for a vastly inflated figure at the end of the journey. Passengers should also be aware that there are many tuk-tuk drivers that do not speak English and may not have taken a driving test. The newer tuk-tuks are officially banned from the road as they are polluting, but there is little enforcement of this law. Passengers riding in them are exposed to fumes while they are in heavy traffic and locals prefer not to use them.
Animals may be allowed in taxis but some will make an additional charge for taking them. It is a good idea to check this cost before you get into the taxi and if in doubt, call a cab company and ask their policy on pets in cars before you book the cab.
Siam Radio Taxi
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