For the millions of people who live, work and travel in Bangkok, using a motorcycle taxi is an everyday part of life. Motorcycle taxis are licensed in Bangkok to carry 1 passenger for a rather short distance within the city limits. Although you may see motorcycles carrying up to four passengers and even small children and babies, they are usually private citizens and not licensed motorcycle taxis.
Motorcycle taxis are easy to identify because they all wear orange vests and usually have queues on corners of streets (soi’s) or near apartment complexes. Thai law regulates that all drivers wear a helmet, and have one for the passengers, but it is optional for a passenger to wear a helmet and most drivers do not even offer you one unless you ask, and even then they may not have one available. If you want to be safe, either bring your own helmet, or don’t get on a motorcycle taxi unless he offers you a helmet. With traffic often at a stand still, motorcycle taxis are often the most convenient and undoubtedly one of quickest ways to travel short distances within the city.
Motorcycle taxi are NOT for the faint of heart, they often weave in and out of traffic at high speeds, they obey few traffic rules and are quick to weave through walking pedestrians on a busy city sidewalk or squeeze between two hulking city buses by riding the center line and then cutting in front of them at a busy intersection.
Most motorcycle taxis will charge between $.31USDcents to $1.50USD per one way trip depending on how far you travel and it is not uncommon for the rates to be posted at the taxi queues. While it may seem like a bit of a wild ride at first, most drivers are very experienced, know what they are doing and it is likely that you will get where you are going in one piece.
For an average adult in good health, riding a motorcycle taxi in Bangkok for a few short blocks is relatively safe. It is not recommended to ride a motorcycle taxi in the rain, or immediately after it rains. It is also not recommended for females to sit sideways on a motorcycle taxi as the local Thai women do. Another precaution to adhere to is to discourage children or teenagers from riding on motorcycle taxi’s as it is just safer to travel in a regular taxi to get around in Bangkok.