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Meter taxis line up at Phuket airport, but the fares are worse than ever

Phuket Taxi Mess Grows Worse

Saturday, October 4, 2014
PHUKET: New taxi services Uber and GrabTaxi are beginning in Phuket and Pattaya as the revolt against monopoly service continues.

Uber is announcing its arrival on Phuket - but at fares that do not inspire - while GrabTaxi is reportedly targetting Pattaya.

The arrival of the smart phone app based services comes as users continue to complain that the meter taxi fare rates on Phuket are too high - and that green-plate taxis still appear to gain too many customers at Phuket International Airport.

Phuketwan's test of a meter cab this week from the airport to Phuket City produced a meter fare of 620 baht, 220 baht up on the same trip made 12 months ago.

The driver said he rented the vehicle from a policeman at 800 baht a day. ''This system doesn't support real locals,'' he told us.

Ninety percent of the meter drivers rent from large owners, the driver said.

In switching to favor meter taxis over set-fare taxis, the Phuket authorities appear to have simply changed one method of overcharging customers to another.

The rates are still far too high to allow Phuket residents to consider them as an option in an emergency, and still far too high for angry tourists who note that taxis in Bangkok are much, much more reasonable.

Why Thailand's government has allowed the switch from set-fare monopoly vehicles to meter taxis without cutting the cost is a mystery.

Phuket's taxis have traditionally charged double the real fare so that customers also paid for the trip the taxi made empty, back to base.

The old fares on Phuket should have been cut in half with the switch to favoring meter taxis. Instead, the fares appear to have increased.

High fares on the holiday island encourage young men to become drivers rather than go on with their studies, disturbing the social balance and working against all of the sensible social aims that the National Council for Peace and Order has been seeking to implement.

Observers have also pointed out that the set-fare taxis are still attracting business at counters inside the airport, before newly arriving customers leave the building and spot the meter taxi stand.

The conclusion: Phuket's taxi system has moved from being one kind of basket case to another kind of basket case - all without logic, and at increased fares.

The taxi system on Phuket remains a turnoff for tourists, and an unhealthy reflection of the disregard for the needs of residents.

The arrival of Uber and Grabtaxi only complicates matters and continues to take the taxi system from bad to worse.

This is another issue the new governor of Phuket will be left to face because of the misjudgements of a long list of his predecessors.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Well said.I had to pay 900 baht from Rawai to the airport last week.

Posted by Bushie on October 4, 2014 09:36


Excellent article - it would be nice to think that someone in power might read it and take note.

The real issue is that their is no transport plan for this island incorporating all forms of travel. So much talk and promise but very little action. Hows the call center coming along? The removal of tuk tuk from public spaces in Patong? The holding pen for calling taxis to pick up guests at resorts?

Phuket has a horrible side to it and its called inaction - always trying to please everyone and hence why nothing gets sorted.

Posted by phuketsaviour on October 4, 2014 09:48


The Uber website confirms that their service is now available in Phuket.
The rates quoted are base fare THB 140 + THB 2.50 per minute + THB 20 per km.
A 7km trip from Patong Jungceylon to Karon Circle would thus cost 140+25+140=315. That's not much less than the current tuk-tuk cartel fixed price of THB 400.
The site also offers airport to anywhere in Phuket for THB950.

Posted by Jonas on October 4, 2014 10:02


PS The cost of an Uber taxi in Bangkok for a 7km trip (the distance from Patong Jungceylon to Karon Circle) would be THB45 base charge + THB25 for 10 minutes + 7km x THB20 = THB134.4.

That's less than half the charge for the same distance by Uber in Phuket.

Posted by Jonas on October 4, 2014 10:15

Editor Comment:

Probably because drivers won't work on Phuket for reasonable rates. My conclusion is that all of the holiday island's former sunbed operators will soon be driving cabs at extortionate fares.


Good article..and you're only moves from one mess to another...just like everything else out here...all we get is lip service with no conclusive results...and no one with any guts to come in and finally once and for all fix the problem

Posted by sky on October 4, 2014 10:40


A couple of weeks ago 900 baht by meter taxi to Karon. Meter turned over much to quickly and started turning over as soon a I stepped in the car, not after 2km. This morning 2 Chinese girls charged 1200 baht to the airport despite a large sign where the taxis sit stating 1000 baht. Still no motorcycle taxis in the whole of Karon. Basically despite the hype there's no change!

Posted by madmitch on October 4, 2014 10:45


The driver said he rented the vehicle from a policeman at 800 baht a day


It says it all, who has what economic interests.
What kind of enforcement and policy can be expected from "those in power".

Posted by Sue on October 4, 2014 12:21


Anyone can lend Jonas an abacus!

Posted by Manowar on October 4, 2014 12:53


Manowar: spot on, unlike Jonas!

Posted by Anonymous on October 4, 2014 14:26


"Why Thailand's government has allowed the switch from set-fare monopoly vehicles to meter taxis without cutting the cost is a mystery"

I don't think it is a mystery, you answered the Question -

"The driver said he rented the vehicle from a policeman at 800 baht a day. ''This system doesn't support real locals,'' he told us."

Posted by Tbs on October 4, 2014 15:14


Yesterday,metertaxi from airport phuket-kamala.650 thb meter showed 435.

Posted by sunlover on October 4, 2014 17:26


I wont take a metered cab since they went up in price. I was happy to support the initiative at the outset, but now I am back using the Limmo service, better cars, I get a receipt now that I tell them to go straight with no stopping, they do it.

Posted by geoff on October 5, 2014 00:56


took years to achieve this, result replace a corrupt expensive system with legalized grossly more expensive system.

Posted by slickmelb on October 5, 2014 18:22


It is extremely complex to take down a corrupt system, and the Taxi / Tuk Tuk cartel in Phuket is a very powerful one. What the military did seemed like a real performance.
Unfortunately, they should have taken this true opportunity to impose, once and for all, the same prices as BKK and other provinces in Thailand.
We all heard the lame excuses often given to justify the extortionate rates in Phuket (climb hills, traffic jams...). In reality, Taxi drivers had to pay so many officials and influential people, not to mention the one way ride system that justified somehow the high price tag.
But if this rotten system is really now out of the way, why should we keep the same old price tags?
I took the taxi from the airport to Tesco lotus few days ago and had to pay 640 THB (that's 31 kms). I was coming from BKK where I took a taxi from my hotel to the airport and paid 220 THB (for 32.4 kms). That's nearly triple the price !!!
Many of us expats are a bit disappointed. I guess the military had to put up a show to save face, but the system in place is stronger. The two most toxic nuisances to Phuket are finally still here: Jet Skis and ridiculously priced taxis !

Posted by Lucien on October 5, 2014 22:05

Friday June 21, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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