On arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand and looking for a taxi, you’ll likely find it overwhelming. Taxis at airports should be easy things to find but, because of all the options (and the unscrupulous scam artists hanging around and trying to trick you into higher priced taxis), at Suvarnabhumi it’s a pain in the rear.
But, don’t worry. I’m a long-time Bangkok expat resident and take taxis all the time from Suvarnabhumi Airport, so I know all the tricks. Follow these simple tips and, the next time you arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport, you’ll find yourself in a taxi two minutes after coming out of Immigration and you won’t have been ripped off in the process.
Ignore the Taxi Touts – The first thing you’ll notice as you come through and out of Bangkok Immigration is a throng of people waiting on either side of a metal barrier. Most will be waiting for people coming in on arriving flights but some of them are the taxi touts. These are the men and women who stand holding placards showing different taxi companies and shout “Taxi? Taxi?” as you head towards them.
Don’t even meet their eye, as any eye contact is seen as an invitation for business. Just keep walking past them pushing your cart and out into the airport itself. Taxi touts are the worst welcome any newcomer to Bangkok can meet. For a typical 200 baht taxi ride from Suvarnabhumi Airport, a taxi tout will charge you 800-1,000 baht or more, so getting a taxi from a taxi tout is the last thing you want to do.
Getting a Taxi – Keep walking through the throng, past the banks, down the escalators (follow the “Public Taxi” signs and out into the main area. Here you’ll see the doors to outside and that’s where you want to go.
You can take your luggage cart outside so, go through the large revolving doors and into the open air. Outside these main doors, walk towards the curb and you’ll see, to your left or right, a small table with a couple of people sitting at it. This is where you go to get a taxi. Walk up to the table and tell one of the people the address where you are going. She will fill in a little coupon, hand it to you and the next available taxi driver will come and get you and your luggage and put you safely in the car. Tell him again the address of the place you are going to be sure he has the correct one and, off you go. The trip from Suvarnabhumi Airport into many places in Bangkok is less than 30 minutes, depending on traffic. Be aware of two things –
a) Make sure the taxi driver puts the meter on before he pulls away from the curb. Meters have to be on in taxis in Thailand by law, but some taxi drivers will try to get away with ignoring the law. Usually, the driver will turn the meter on when you ask them to. If he doesn’t, threaten to get out and that is usually all he needs to follow your instructions. Overall though, I would say this only happens to me one out of every 30 or so trips, so it’s not too big of a problem.
b) When the driver drops you off at your destination, the final taxi fare will be the price on the meter plus an additional 50 baht. The airport charges a surcharge of 50 baht, which you will see listed on the coupon they gave you at the table. So, don’t worry, if the taxi driver asks for another 50 baht above the fare, he’s really not trying to rip you off.
Getting a Taxi Without the 50 Baht Charge – Some ‘cheap’ expats will try to avoid the 50 baht fee by going to the Departures level and grabbing a taxi from someone who is just arriving at the airport. If you get one of these taxis, they don’t charge the extra 50 baht fee. But, it’s a hassle to do this, you end up having to walk too far and, if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s easy to get lost. For an extra 50 baht (around $1.60), I recommend you just pay it, rather than taking the chance of wasting a lot of time or getting lost only to save just over a buck.
Taking the Toll Roads in a Taxi – If the taxi driver asks you if you want to take the toll road, unless you’re arriving in the middle of the night when traffic isn’t bad, I would let him do that. It will only cost you an extra $2 or so for the toll fees but, in the middle of the day, can literally save you an hour in travelling time and an extra hour in a taxi will cost you a lot more than $2. There will be a few toll booths between the airport and your destination with a charge of between 20 and 40 baht per booth.
As the driver comes up to the booth, just hand him some money (100 baht is fine) and he’ll give you your change and the receipt as soon as he’s paid the toll.
Getting a taxi at Suvarnabhumi Airport is easy and not too expensive. To most destinations in the greater Bangkok area, you should no more than $5 to $10 for a taxi ride. Some of the drivers will also speak a little English and, if you’re in the mood, they love to practice with their customers.