Almost inevitably, passengers clear immigration and enter the arrivals hall to be greeted by a barrage of smartly dressed men and women offering a taxi service. They usually carry clipboards and official looking passes, but these are privately operated limousine services. This is your most expensive option of getting to your hotel or guest-house. They can be quite persistent, but if you are not interested just smile, say nothing and keep on walking until you can no longer hear the cries of “Where you go, sir?”, “Taxi for you madam?”
Personally, I find these taxi touts to be a pain in the backside. After a long flight, I don’t want to be hassled the minute I get into arrivals. The best option is to shake your head, and carry on walking. The touts will soon move on to their next target. On the other hand, I know people who regularly use these limousines because it saves having to queue at the official taxi rank. They argue that in relative terms compared to the West, the limousines are still cheap. You pay your money and take your choice.
An official metered taxi is a far cheaper option than the limousine service. From the international arrivals hall, look for the signs for taxis. Outside there will be a small desk where passengers wait in line to get their ticket. Don’t worry about speaking Thai, the staff here usually speak decent English, although the same might not apply to your actual driver. That’s not a problem as the clerk at the desk will ensure that your driver is given a ticket telling him your destination. A copy will also be given to you which has the driver’s details. This is your receipt in case of any problems. Pay the driver on arrival at your destination according to the price on the meter. Please note there is an automatic charge on the meter for airport pick-up (50 Baht). Some drivers speak English and some don’t. A tip is not expected and it’s your choice. I always feel more comfortable leaving a tip.
Reading various guide books and listening to advice it is easy to think that everybody is trying to scam you as soon as you arrive in Bangkok. Yes, there are various scams going on but I don’t think it’s too different to most major cities; there are always those who are trying to fleece the tourists. Be on your guard, but don’t be paranoid. If your taxi driver is suddenly charging you an extra 50 Baht for airport pick-up or asking you to pay a 20 Baht expressway toll, don’t automatically assume he’s trying to scam you. The majority of drivers are decent, honest, working-class people.