Travel Tips

3 Things You Need to Know Before Using Uber in Bangkok

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Uber arriving in Bangkok a few years ago was great news for tourists. No longer would you have to fear the horror stories of being ripped off or being sidetracked to some kind of gem shop with special deals.

Site seeing could become more spontaneous — less worry about being stranded at a site with few taxis. And when you over-estimated your ability to walk in the humid heat, it has become much easier to give up and opt for an air conditioned ride without having to wait for a cab to drive by.

Not to mention lessening the language barrier since the app communicated your pickup location and destination.

And for those of us partial to quick international trips and stopovers, it meant we no longer had to carry local currency and make sure we had small change.

But for all the benefits, they still had some issues to work out. In 2015 cars were often nonexistent and in 2016 bad GPS and a language barrier when drivers tried to call or text complicated things.

Fast forward to the end of 2017. Cars are plentiful now, so availability is not a problem, but the impact traffic has on timing and pricing is a problem.

The first time I requested a car during rush hour I wound up having to call the restaurant multiple times begging leniency on my reservation time as I found myself waiting half an hour for a car that was, supposedly, 10 minutes away and then sitting in traffic for an hour to go just a mile and a half.

3 things you should know before using Uber in Bangkok 

  1. Surge pricing is most of the time, consider upgrading to “save” money.
    Most of the time I was in Bangkok I was usually going out at peak times – dinner, etc — and UberX was always in a state of surge pricing which made it more expensive than a taxi. In contrast, Uber Black was a comparatively good deal. An UberX ride pricing at 200 baht might be only 50 baht more to upgrade to UberBlack. Always check the more premium options to see the price difference before requesting.
  2. GPS is completely inaccurate, so be ready for your driver
    On this last trip I spent a lot of time staring at my phone, tracking my driver’s progress through traffic. I consistently noticed that there was a lag or glitch with the GPS, so it would look like they were 5 minutes away, if not heading in the opposite direction, and a minute later pulling into the driveway.
  3. ETA is a rough estimate, and by that I mean nonexistent
    This applies to any car transportation really — private car, taxi, Uber — the time estimate you see on Google Maps or the Uber app will be completely off during peak traffic times. If you’re trying to make a reservation be sure to leave a big buffer of time or consider walking. Otherwise you might find yourself desperately calling the restaurant to push your reservation time when you’ve been stuck in a car for over an hour to go 1.5 miles.

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