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Grab is South East Asia’s answer to Uber. Getting a Grab in Thailand is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get around for short local journeys. Once you have downloaded the Grab app on your phone and registered an account (which is really easy) the world opens up to you.
Due to the Grab app there are now less taxis around on the roads. Most people who own taxis have registered themselves on Grab and rarely pick up passengers at the roadside. In this Grab guide we will take you through how to book a grab in Thailand step by step. We will show you a few super helpful functions to save you money and make sure you get the best rides to meet your needs.
PLEASE read this whole article carefully. WE want to help you save money.
You may be interested in our guide on how to travel Thailand for under £20 per day
ALSO Thailand has changed a lot in the past few years. You might also want to take a few minutes to check out our guide on transport in Thailand.
What makes Grab a great option for taxis in Thailand?
There are lots of advantages to taking a Grab Thailand compared to flagging taxis at the roadside:
- Grab taxis are relatively cheap – Grab taxis are normally cheaper than flagging taxis at the roadside (using the “Just Grab” option rather than “Grab Car”)
- Grab taxis generally show up pretty quick. In many cases we found that it was quicker to book a Grab than flag a taxi at the roadside. Waiting times for “Just Grab” cars normally range between 1minute and 7 minutes. The time estimates on the App are very accurate.
- Grab is convenient – as long as you have mobile data or wifi access you can order taxis most places in Thailand – especially towns and cities
- You don’t need to barter – a fair price is determined by the Grab app and this is what you pay. In our experience drivers don’t ask for more – but you can always tip a little extra.
- Everyone pays the same price – it is surprisingly refreshing to be able to travel around Thailand without paying high tourist prices
- The grab app creates accountability – drivers are registered with the app and will therefore offer a good service.
- The journey destination is clearly communicated to the driver by the app. Gone are the days of standing at a roadside slurring Thai names trying to explain to a driver where you want to go.
- You can pay for Grab taxis using a bank card rather than cash. In the days of social distancing this is another advantage of apps over oldschool taxis.
- Grab taxis come to you (at least they’re meant to!). In the old days of flagging taxis you needed to find a good spot to flag your ride. Now taxis find your location using the Grab app and come to pick you up.
What is better: Taking a Grab in Thailand or car rental?
It all depends on what you want to do and your personal priorities. For one or two short journeys Grab taxis are almost certainly going to be cheaper than car rental. However if you are planning several longer journeys – especially over a few days – then consider car rental.
As a rough guide, if you are planning to travel more than 50km in a day (especially if you need to take several stops) car rental may be a cheaper and more convenient option. For a single day, car rental in Thailand will cost around 800 baht (£16 or $20). You also need to consider petrol costs. 1 litre of petrol costs 30-40 baht (60p – 80p). If you are renting a car for longer you should be able to find rental deals for around 500 baht per day.
An advantage of car rentals for families with young kids – most rental companies can include baby seats (sometimes there will be an additional cost for this). A disadvantage of car rental is the liability if you have an accident or damage the car. Normally rental companies will take cash deposits of 5,000 baht or more. For many people Grab is just less stress than car rental.
What is better: Taking a Grab in Thailand or bike rental?
Motorbike rental is almost always going to be the cheapest option for getting around in Thailand. And its a lot of fun too. You can generally rent motorbikes for around 200 baht per day (which is around £4 or $5) or less if you want to rent for a longer period of time. You can find bike rental shops all over the place. Petrol for a motorbike is unlikely to cost more than 100 baht for a day (around £2 or $3). The disadvantages of motorbike rental are that a bike can only safely carry 2 people (although Thais manage to fit whole families on their bikes). Bike rental is also more risky. You need to make sure you are properly qualified and experienced. Also motorbike travel can be pretty rough in the rain.
What type of taxis can you get using Grab in Thailand?
Grab has an impressive range of taxis. If you use the cheapest “Just Grab” option the App will automatically look for the cheapest options nearby. The fun of this option is that you could end up with anything!
In some cases you may be picked up by a savvy local who has decided to register their car as a taxi. In other cases you may be picked up by a marked cab. If you do get a marked cab they should still use the App price rather than using the taxi meter. You may also be picked up by some impressive minibuses. Despite the size and space the price is the same – and minibus drivers should not try to charge you more.
There are options on the App to select your preferred vehicle types (SUVs or minibus) and this normally costs 3 or 4 times the price of a cheap “Just Grab” car.
Are taxis reliable if you use Grab in Thailand?
Yes Grab taxis are very reliable. Once you have requested a ride in most cases someone will respond very quickly and you will be match up with your driver. They may communicate by massage to let you know they’re on the way. Once they are there drivers will know where to go and they stick to the App price.
How much does it cost to get a taxi using Grab in Thailand?
The exact cost of a taxi using Grab in Thailand depends on where you are, driver availability and when you are trying to book. The price also depends what type of taxi service you select.
For the cheapest “Just Grab” option the charges are calculated based on a 35 baht minimum base charge. The algorithm then adds additional charges based on the journey distance, expected journey time and surcharges based on location and availability. Prices are normally a bit higher than you would expect using their estimates – so we have given you some more realistic estimates here.
Once the price is calculated and displayed on the App this is the fixed price that you pay.
It doesn’t matter what type of vehicle picks you up or how long the journey actually takes – the price should be a fixed price for the journey. Just remember, you have 5 minutes for the pick up, but drivers are entitled to charge an additional 20 baht waiting fee per additional 5 minutes.
Here is a price guide for using Just Grab taxis in a popular destination like Phuket during the day:
|Distance||Price range for a “Just Grab” taxi (baht)||Price range in GBP and USD (paid in baht)|
|3km / 2 miles||50 – 100 baht||£1 – £2 or $1.30 – $2.60|
|5km / 3 miles||100 – 150 baht||£2 – £3 or $2.60 – $4|
|10km / 7 miles||150 – 200 baht||£3 – £4 or $4 – $5|
|15km / 10 miles||200 – 250 baht||£4 – £5 or $5 – $6|
|20km / 13 miles||250 – 300 baht||£5 – £6 or $6 – $8|
Do Grab taxis charge more for additional people or luggage?
No Grab taxis should function just like a normal taxi. The price that you are quoted is a cost for the taxi journey and you will not be charged extra if you fully occupy the taxi. Grab taxis should be able to carry at least 4 people. Just be aware that there may not always be functioning seat belts for every member of your group. Grab taxis should also allow you to use boot space for luggage and should not charge extra for this. If you are travelling in a large group or have lots of luggage you can request a 10 seater minibus when you book.
Are there any waiting fees for Grab taxis?
Yes Grab taxis do have a waiting fee. This is one to watch out for. Drivers will wait for 5 minutes for no extra charge. However after 5 minutes of waiting drivers may charge an additional 20 baht for every 5 minutes. By the way, you can also book stops on a Grab journey. If you do this the app will automatically calculate an additional cost for any stops you wish to make.
Can I use grab in Thailand at the airport?
Yes, you can use the Grab app at the airport but there is an additional airport fee around 150 baht (around £3 or $4) for using a Grab taxi at the airport. It doesn’t seem to cost much more to take a grab to the airport (but to be honest it’s hard to tell whether they are charging a little extra or not)
What happens if you can’t find your Grab driver?
When you book a Grab in Thailand the app will use your phone’s location to show the driver where you are. However in busy locations such as markets or malls it may be hard for a driver to spot you. Here are a few things that can make pick ups easier in busy locations:
- Look carefully at the pick up location on the map – if you are in a mall or supermarket it will normally specify which entrance or exit you will be picked up at
- Keep an eye on the map showing the drivers location and timings
- Take note of the type of car and the drivers details
- Take a picture of yourself and send it to the driver – this is a great way for them to spot you and don’t worry they genuinely wont think you’re creepy for doing this!
- Drivers may also use the App to call when they arrive. The App should give you a message too when they have arrived.
The only time we have had trouble with a pick up using the Grab app was when a driver went to a slightly wrong location (to be fair the map was not particularly clear at this place). If a driver is struggling to find you, it may be worth offering to walk to a more obvious place nearby.
How long does it normally take for a Grab driver to arrive?
The time estimates on the App are very reliable and in most cases your driver will arrive between 1 minute and around 7 minutes. Sometimes drivers can take 10-20 minutes to arrive. Occasionally if you are unlucky, the cheapest “Just Grab” option may not be able to find a driver for the price. If this happens we recommend leaving it for 5 minutes then try again – just be persistent.
If you are in a rush and the Grab App cannot find a driver nearby there are options of paying more for a “Grab car” or “Grab taxi”. To put this into perspective: If the cheapest “Just Grab” option costs around 150 baht (£3 or $4) the more expensive options tend to cost around 500 baht or more (£10 or $13).
Can you take the same grab taxi back? (on a return journey)
It is not possible to select or request a specific driver on the Grab App. Grab just finds the best match and finds you a driver nearby. However, if you really like your driver and want to use the same driver for the return journey, you can arrange this with them before you’re dropped off. Remember to agree on a price and time for the return journey. Some drivers may offer to do this for you anyway.
How do you Book a taxi using Grab in Thailand? Step by step guide
First you will need to download the Grab app on your phone (you can easily find Grab on the Google Play store). When you open Grab you will need to register an account – you can normally do this with a Google or Facebook account and you may also need to register your mobile number and verify using a text. Like most Apps, Grab will then ask for permission to run your entire phone, bank accounts, your home and your car… (just kidding) You do need to give Grab permissions to use your location, make calls and use your photos and camera as these services are required to communicate with drivers.
Once you’ve registered your account Grab will ask for a photo of your face and then you’re up and running. To actually order a taxi on Grab in Thailand you need to follow these steps. Take a moment to read through this as it could save you quite a lot of money:
Step 1 Click the Transport icon (home screen)
Open up the App. Click on the transport icon. This will bring up a screen for you to type where you want to go…
Step 2 Click “Where to” at the top of the list
If you want a Grab later, then click the “later” button at the top of the list. You will then be taken to a screen that allows you to schedule a Grab – this is more expensive.
Step 3 Type the name of the place you want to go
If you cannot easily find the place name in the list, there is a small icon at the top right of the screen – click this icon to bring up a map. This allows you to select a destination on the map. Note the App assumes you will be booking a taxi from your current location.
Step 4 Press “Confirm pick up” to get a list of taxis in the area
This step does not actually commit you to the journey even though it says “Confirm pick up”. What you are doing is confirming your pick up location and requesting a list of services. What comes up at this point is a single option that says “Grab Car” with a price quoted. This taxi option is more expensive (normally 3-4 times more expensive than the cheapest “Just Grab” option)
Step 5 Press “view all” at the top (THIS is super important to get the best prices on Grab in Thailand)
This will now give you a list of taxi options with prices and an estimate of how long it will take for the taxis to reach you. At this stage the listed price should be the actual price that you pay. In the list you will find SUV options, minibus options and the cheapest option which is “Just Grab”. The “Just Grab” option finds the nearest taxi in the area (could be any type of car) to take you for the cheapest price.
Step 6 If you’re happy with the price and wait time, select “Just Grab” from the list of taxi options
When you press “Just Grab” in the list it will show you a route for the journey. Check the destination is correct. You’re almost there…
Step 7 Press “Book Just Grab” at the bottom
When you press “Book Just Grab” this commits you to the journey. At this stage it is still possible that the App cannot hook you up with a driver. If this happens it will let you know that everyone is busy and offer you more expensive options. If you have time we recommend just trying again in 5 minutes.
Step 8 Select “Book with cash” and wait for the app to find a driver
You can pay by card as well if you prefer this. We generally pay with cash. Remember, even at this stage the app could fail to find you a driver in which case you would need to search again. Once you have been connected with a driver they will be able to call and message you and the App will tell you when your driver has arrived.
Is Grab used everywhere in Thailand?
Grab is used very widely in Thailand. You will find it in all the main cities, towns and tourist hubs. However, in more rural locations and on smaller islands Grab is not yet in use. For example, you cannot currently use Grab in places like Pai, Koh Tao and Koh Phangan.
Are there any other taxi apps in Thailand?
YES we also recommend trying the BOLT taxi App. This app often has cheaper taxis than GRAB. The interface is very similar to Grab. SO almost everything you have learned in this article can be applied to BOLT.
We use both Bolt and Grab. Normally one app will be cheaper than the other (on average Bolt is cheaper). However, Bolt may have long waiting times. Checking your journey on both apps allows you to choose the best price – waiting time combination for you. ALSO, Grab is used more widely around Thailand – so you may find areas covered by Grab and not Bolt.
What else can you do on the Grab in Thailand?
Grab doesn’t just do taxis, the grab app is also a great place for ordering takeaway food in Thailand – it is amazing how many cafes and restaurants work with Grab drivers. People even use grab to order shopping.