It feels like Uber is everywhere these days but due to competition and local laws, this ride-share app isn’t as ubiquitous as it once was. Using Uber is an excellent way to get around towns and cities in countries where you don’t speak the local language. It saves you being ripped off, allows the driver to know exactly where you’re going and lets you hail a ride no matter where you are – assuming it’s available in your vicinity of course! Before heading anywhere, it’s worth checking to see if Uber is available and if not, looking into alternative ride-sharing apps.
So, does Uber work in Thailand?
In short, no. Uber no longer operates in Southeast Asia. Having used Uber on my first trip to Thailand in 2015, I was dismayed to learn they had exited the region when I was planning my second trip. Thankfully, there are several Uber alternatives in Thailand, so you won’t be stuck relying on traditional taxis all the time! In my experience, these ride-hailing apps are even better than Uber. They’re cheaper and more innovative than Uber ever proved to be!
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Uber Alternatives in Thailand
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, taxis are known for their unscrupulous practices. The most common scams affecting travellers in Southeast Asia often come at the hands of taxi drivers. While they rarely result in physical threats or harm, they can cost you money and put a dampener on your travel experience!
Grab Thailand – The Most Popular Taxi App in Thailand
Grab is the largest and most popular Uber alternative in Thailand and it’s one of our favourite travel apps! It has an intuitive user interface and it’s easy to sign up. You can set up a completely new account or register using Facebook or Google. You need to send Grab a selfie and register a phone number to the account.
Grab offers a range of transport options including scooters, cars, premium cars, SUVs, minibuses, assisted transport for disabled passengers and even a female driver option. You can opt for any of the above or go for the ‘Just Grab’ feature which delivers the cheapest vehicle for your journey – just be aware that the waiting times for Just Grab may be slightly longer.
Many taxi drivers have signed up to Grab, so don’t be surprised if a registered taxi arrives after you book a car through Grab. The nice thing is, prices are set before you book the vehicle and you can opt to pay via cash or card.
Is Grab in Thailand Safe?
Yes, Grab is safe to use in Thailand. As with Uber, you can rate drivers and if you have an issue, the complaints process is very easy. Grab is very big on customer service and quickly responds to any problems.
Is Grab in Thailand Reliable?
Yes, Grab is very reliable. The estimated time to get a ride is accurate and drivers are well vetted. Grab is super popular with both travellers and locals in Thailand!
Like Grab, the taxi app Bolt offers a range of vehicle options, including official taxis, economy cars, XL vehicles with six seats, motorcycles and female driver options. Bolt also offers airport transfers which incur a small extra fee.
As you’d expect with ride-hailing apps, Bolt includes the ability to rate drivers, with poor experiences being thoroughly investigated by the company. Unlike other ride-hailing apps, you’re required to pay cash to the driver directly, so you cannot pay in advance by card.
Is Bolt in Thailand Safe?
Yes, Bolt in Thailand is safe to use. As well as having driver ratings displayed, there’s an emergency assist button which you can use if you get into trouble while in the vehicle.
Is Bolt in Thailand Reliable?
Yes, Bolt is reliable in Thailand. Although there are fewer drivers than work with Grab, you can still expect fast pick-up times and a pleasant experience.
InDrive is an innovative ride-hailing app which lets you negotiate prices with drivers beforethey accept the fare. The app displays a recommended price but it’s up to you how much you want to offer.
Drivers can choose to accept your fare, negotiate for a higher price or reject the job. If you get more than one driver accept, you can choose between them based on their ratings, vehicle type and waiting time.
Due to the back and forth between you and the driver, it usually takes a little longer to get a ride with InDrive compared to Grab or Bolt but the money you can potentially save is worth it if you’re not in a hurry!
Overall the cost of using InDrive is lower than Bolt or Grab but there tends to be fewer drivers using the app, so getting a ride during peak times can be difficult. You’ll need to pay cash directly to your driver when using InDrive.
Is InDrive Safe in Thailand?
Yes, InDrive is just as safe as any ride-hailing app in Thailand. You can share your GPS position with trusted contacts from the app and there is an emergency assistance button in case you get into trouble.
Is InDrive in Thailand Reliable?
Yes, InDrive is reliable in Thailand. However, fewer drivers work with InDrive compared to other options like Grab or Bolt, so getting a ride can take longer.
While we tend to use ride-hailing apps to avoid taxis, there will be times when you have no option in Thailand.
During peak rush hour, when it rains, around big tourist attractions or in places where Uber alternatives don’t operate, taxis will be your main mode of transport in Thailand.
When getting taxis in Thailand, you need to watch out for a few things to avoid getting scammed. Taxis are notorious across the world for ripping off travellers – it’s no different in Thailand!
Common Taxi Scams in Thailand:
- “I have no change” – This is a pretty common one, especially when you’re trying to pay with big notes. Taxi drivers nearly always have change but saying they don’t is an easy way to get a hefty tip out of you! Make sure you have plenty of small notes to pay for your taxi journey. Rounding the fair up by 5-10 Baht is relatively common practice for travellers in Thailand but it’s really up to you whether you want to tip or not.
- “We don’t use the meter at this time” – This is a straight-up lie. By law, all taxis in Thailand should use the meter at all times. If a driver refuses to use the meter, move on and find another taxi. They’ll either relent and grumpily give you a ride or they’ll let you walk away and find another taxi. The only time you may want to accept the ride is if it’s late at night or if the weather is terrible. In these instances, at least try to haggle a little!
- “The hotel/attraction is closed, but I know a better place” – Again, another straight-up lie. The driver wants to take you to a hotel, bar, shop or attraction where they get a commission from the proprietor. To save yourself the grief, insist on your original destination or opt for a different taxi.
It’s also worth noting that while some taxi drivers in Thailand have a basic level of English, many do not – and you can’t blame them for that. We can’t expect taxi drivers all over the world to be fluent! After all, how many languages do you speak fluently?! 🤯
To make the journey smoother for both yourself and the driver, try to have all the information you need in Thai on your phone. Show the driver the name of where you need to go and have it saved on Google Maps or Maps.me to avoid too much confusion!
Tuk-tuks are commonplace across Thailand and often operate in areas where there are no taxis. Riding in a tuk-tuk for the first time is a blast! In most places, they’re cheaper than taxis but in cities like Bangkok, the prices are often inflated for tourists.
Flag down a tuk-tuk the same way you would a taxi or approach a stationary vehicle to ask about a ride. The prices are fixed, rather than on a meter, but there is usually room for negotiation. Watch out for the same scams you would with a taxi and enjoy the ride!
Motorcycle or scooter taxis are common everywhere in Thailand. If you’ve not got a lot of luggage, and are comfortable on the back of a bike, they’re an affordable way to make shorter journeys. They may be your only option in out-of-the-way places or when you get off a night bus at 4am!
Rent a Scooter
Renting a scooter can be a fun way to get around when in Thailand. It gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace, without having to worry about bus times or finding a taxi. Before riding, you should make sure your insurance covers riding a scooter and get an International Driving Permit before you leave home.
Is There Uber Eats in Thailand?
Uber Eats doesn’t operate in Thailand but there are some good food delivery alternatives for those lazy days when you can’t be bothered to leave your accommodation!
Alternatives to Uber Eats in Thailand:
Why Uber Left Thailand
Uber left Thailand and the entire Southeast Asian market after intense competition with the likes of Grab and Gojek. While Uber initially invested heavily in the Southeast Asian market, it was out-competed by Grab, who reportedly invested over $4 billion US dollars in building its brand!
Uber, who is a global player in the ride-hailing game, opted to sell their Southeast Asian operation to Grab, rather than pour money into a fight they likely wouldn’t win. Instead of selling their operation for money, the deal reportedly came in the shape of a 27.5% share of Grab’s entire business, meaning that although Uber is officially out of Southeast Asia, they still profit heavily from the region!
Uber in Thailand FAQs
Is there Uber in Bangkok?
No, Uber does not operate in Bangkok. Good Uber alternatives in Bangkok are Grab, Bolt and InDrive.
Can I get an Uber from Bangkok airport?
Uber doesn’t operate in Thailand, so you can’t get an Uber from Bangkok airport. The best ride-hailing app for Bangkok airport is Grab but beware of additional airport fees.
Is there Uber in Phuket?
No, there is no Uber in Phuket. Other ride-hailing apps like Grab, Bolt and InDrive are available but they don’t have many drivers, so you may be waiting a while.
Is there Uber in Pattaya?
No, Uber does not operate in Pattaya. However, you can use both Bolt and Grab.
Is there Uber in Chiang Mai?
No, Uber doesn’t exist in Chiang Mai. Grab works well and has plenty of drivers. Bolt is cheaper than Grab in Chiang Mai but doesn’t have as many drivers, so you may need to wait a while. You can use InDrive in Chiang Mai too!
Is there Uber in Koh Samui?
No, Uber doesn’t operate on Koh Samui. Grab is available in theory but there are very few drivers, so you may be unable to get a ride. Navigo used to be the go-to ride-hailing app on Koh Samui but unfortunately, they stopped operations during the pandemic.
Is there Lyft in Thailand?
No, Lyft only operates in the USA and Canada. The best Lyft alternatives in Thailand are Grab, Bolt and InDrive.
A Round-Up of Uber Alternatives in Thailand
While Uber doesn’t operate in Thailand, there are other options. The best Thailand taxi apps are Grab, Bolt and InDrive. Grab tends to have the most drivers, while Bolt offers the best pricing for customers. InDrive gives you more freedom of choice and allows you to negotiate rates with drivers.
In some locations, you might be stuck without ride-hailing apps and need to rely on traditional taxis, motorcycle taxis or tuk-tuks. However, knowing how traditional taxis work will help you to avoid getting ripped off!
Do you have more information about taxi apps in Thailand? Let us know in the comments below!