Motorcycle Taxis in Bangkok

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Taking advantage of the spaces between gridlocked cars that are off-limits internationally during traffic, it’s not unusual to see more foreigners on the backs of motorcycle taxis so much anymore. 

Motorcycle Taxi Bangkok

flickr/Mark Fischer


Motorcycle taxis are great under the right conditions

Motorcycle taxis are mainly used when you’re on a schedule and traffic is in such a gridlock that you’re not worried about taking one.

They are also great for people who live on secluded side-streets that need to be taken to mouths of main roads that link up with greater transportation networks.

Motorcycle taxis are just as great when you’re looking for a building you’ve never been to before.  Or just asking for the nearest barber or place to get a drink and proceeding by foot if you wish. In contrast to taxi cabs that drive all over, motorcycle taxis work one area and know it extremely well.  You might even call them Bangkok’s GPS system.

What motorcycle taxis also have a knack for is being in the right places.  They usually like to wait at the entrances of streets by popular establishments, near skytrain and subway exits, 7-11’s and conveniently near residential areas in Bangkok.  They can be identified by their brightly colored vests that are usually orange, but also come in other colors depending on the area.

Registration and identification cards

Recent regulations require all drivers to be registered with authorities to receive a large yellow identification card that must be clearly displayed on their vests.  Vests also have the driver’s base location written on them marking out their boundaries for picking up passengers.  A pointing moto-taxi that didn’t stop for you is pointing to the group of parked motorcycle taxis that you just happened to miss.

Motorcycle taxi stations are also being registered under the new regulations, in part to improve standard pricing.  They can resemble straw huts with wooden benches or just be parked line ups on the side of the road. Some will have bulletin boards listing destinations and their standard prices but are mostly written in Thai.

How much can motorcycle taxis earn?

Suffice it to say, most motorcycle taxi drivers are earnest people, which can especially be true on the outskirts of downtown. In fact, moto-taxis in popular areas like downtown can earn over 1,000 baht per day, a grey market that is resilient even when the country is an economic crisis. Getting on the roster at these profitable queues can cost anywhere from 10,000 to a staggering 400,000 baht for these ordinary folk, which is another reason for the new regulations.

How much do motorcycle taxis cost?

Short rides down quiet and empty streets will cost you less, but during peak bumper-to-bumper traffic you will pay a premium over taxi cabs across the same distance. Inasmuch as moto-taxis are willing to negotiate for any distance, lean on the safe side when determining if traffic conditions are suitable for taking a motorcycle over another form of transportation.  If the fare is over 100 baht, the traffic must be really bad or start considering other options.

If a motorcycle taxi is driving too fast: “sha-sha-noy” = “slow slow please.”

If you’re not comfortable any longer simply ask to stop, you’ve had a change of mind: “jawt noy” = “park please”

*All motorcycle taxis should have passenger helmets

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