Wondering if there’s Uber in Thailand? Read on to find out.
The short answer is no, there is currently no Uber in Thailand. However, you can use a ride-hailing app called Grab instead. The app works in a similar way to Uber and is affordable and easy to use.
Alternatively, you can use regular taxis, tuk-tuks and public transport to get around. If you are heading to Bangkok, you will also have access to some additional transport options.
After spending several weeks in Thailand, I can safely say that even without Uber getting around the country is relatively easy as a tourist.
Let’s take a closer look at the main alternative to Uber in Thailand as well as other transport options to help you prepare for your next trip.
Is There Uber in Thailand?
Uber operated in Thailand until 2018. It was then taken over by Grab, a multinational tech company headquartered in Singapore.
Grab is the most significant player in ridesharing and food delivery in Southeast Asia. It operates in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines.
So, although it might be tempting to reach for the familiar Uber icon when you’re in Thailand, you will need to use Grab instead.
Uber Alternative in Thailand: Grab App
As we’ve established, the main alternative to Uber in Thailand is the Grab app. It works pretty much in the same way as Uber, so there’s not going to be much of a learning curve when you start using it in Thailand.
Grab is a convenient, easy to use and affordable way to get around major cities and towns in Thailand. You simply need to download the app, select your destination and wait for the driver to arrive. There are usually no issues with getting a Grab car in an area where the app operates.
Another great thing about Grab is that you will know how much you will pay for your trip in advance. In contrast, if you are using a regular taxi in Thailand drivers often try to overcharge you. They request a flat fare and refuse to put the meter on. Grab removed the need to deal with these annoying situations.
There are multiple Grab ride options for you to choose from. You can opt for a metered taxi via GrabTaxi or a private car via GrabCar.
Alternatively, if you just want to get in a car as quickly as possible, you can select JustGrab to get the closest taxi or car available. The cheapest option is usually GrabBike, which involves travel by motorcycle.
For a more high-end experience, opt for GrabCar Premium or GrabExec to travel in a luxury car. There is also GrabAssist with its accessibility features and GrabPet that offers rides with specialised pet seat covers.
Grab also goes much further than just rides. It also offers food, grocery, document and parcel delivery services.
How to Use Grab in Thailand
Getting a ride through Grab is very similar to getting one through Uber.
First, download the app and create your account by using your phone number. You can purchase a Thai SIM Card on arrival to use the app with a local number. It will work with your home mobile number as well.
If you prefer cashless payments, add your credit or debit card details before ordering a ride. There’s an option to pay via Paypal as well.
Once you’re ready to order a ride, open the app and enter your destination. You can order a ride immediately or schedule one for later. Then confirm your pickup location and select your preferred service (e.g., GrabTaxi or JustGrab).
You will then be able to see a list of available taxis or private cars along with the ride price and the time it takes for the driver to reach you. If you’re happy with the options, select a car and book your ride.
That’s it, you’re ready for your trip.
How to Pay for Grab in Thailand
Grab accepts cashless payments via debit and credit cards as well as GrabPay. You can link your card directly through the app. Keep in mind that if you are using your home country bank for Grab payments, you may have to pay foreign currency conversion fees.
You can also pay with cash on arrival at your destination, just like you would in a regular taxi. You may prefer this option if you’d rather not share your bank details with the Grab app.
Just like Uber, Grab also lets you add a tip after your journey if you’d like to reward your driver for a good experience.
How Much Does a Grab Ride Cost in Thailand
The price of a grab ride in Thailand depends on the distance you travel, location, type of service and demand. Obviously, the longer the journey the higher the cost.
Also, you may find that getting a Grab ride in a big city like Bangkok is generally cheaper than in a more remote location. A high-end ride through GrabPremium will lead to a more expensive ride as well.
In general, rush hour rides are more expensive due to surge pricing. This comes into effect when there are more ride requests than cars available on the road. Rides can cost up to 30% more as a result.
For example, a 10-kilometer ride in Bangkok would cost you 300 baht (US $9) with GrabCar, 380 baht (US $11) with GrabTaxi and only 100 baht (US $3) by GrabBike.
Keep in mind that if you choose Grab to travel from a Bangkok airport into the city centre you will also need to pay the road toll. It won’t be included in the original price reported in the app.
You can let the driver pay when you’re going through the toll area and then charge you later. The Highway toll from Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Bangkok is 75 Baht (US $2) and 115 baht (US $3) from Don Mueang Airport (DMK).
Is Grab Reliable in Thailand
Yes, Grab offers a reliable service. It is normally easy and quick to get a driver after making a request through the app. As the price is determined before you get in the car, you won’t normally have any issues with fare negotiation.
If you’ve taken a regular taxi in Thailand before, you probably know that sometimes taxi drivers may refuse to take you to your destination. This is either due to language barrier or simply not wanting to travel there. You are not going to experience this with Grab.
Is Grab Safe in Thailand
Grab is also generally safe to use. The rides are GPS tracked and you can share your journey details with your contacts if needed. There is also the option of reporting any unprofessional or unsafe behaviour directly through an emergency button in the app.
Nevertheless, no matter where you are in the world, the usual precautions should apply:
- Check the car make and the number plates before you get in the car
- If something feels off, don’t get in the car
- Be always aware of your surroundings so if something does go wrong, you can quickly request Emergency Assistance from Grab and dial 191
- Keep your personal belongings close and don’t flash any valuables to avoid attracting unwanted attention
- Sit behind the front passenger seat – this is both for your and your driver’s sense of safety
In addition, app users can request a female driver with the GrabCar (Lady) option at no extra cost.
Where Is Grab Available in Thailand
Grab is available in major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai. You can also use Grab in popular tourist destinations such as Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Krabi.
If you are staying in a more remote location, you will need to use local public transport options.
Here’s the most up-to-date list of Grab locations in Thailand:
- Chiang Mai
- Chiang Rai
- Hua Hin
- Khon Kaen
- Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat)
- Nakhon Si Thammarat
- Songkhla & Hat Yai
- Surat Thani & Koh Samui
- Ubon Ratchathani
- Udon Thani
Other Ride-Hailing Apps in Thailand
Ridesharing is a highly competitive business in Southeast Asia and Grab is not the only app you can use while exploring Thailand.
Here are a few alternative ride-hailing apps you can use alongside Grab. They all work in a similar way to Uber and Grab, so you can easily test out a couple during your stay in Thailand.
Nevertheless, Grab is the biggest ride-hailing apps in the country with the most cars and the largest geographic coverage. Some drivers may even work with both Grab and Bolt to maximise their earnings.
More Alternative to Uber in Thailand
Ride-hailing apps are not the only way to get around the cities and towns of Thailand. There are many transport options to choose from, especially if you are exploring a big city like Bangkok.
Regular taxis are ubiquitous in Bangkok and are relatively easy to find in other parts of the country. Although prices vary from region to region, taxis are relatively affordable for overseas tourists.
In theory, drivers should use a meter to calculate distance and fare. However, they often try to overcharge tourists by setting a flat rate. The advice is to ask them to switch to a meter, but many simply refuse to do it.
I have never succeeded in getting them to put the meter on and accepted a flat rate in the past. However, the flat rate still seemed cheap to me, so I didn’t lose sleep over it.
Apps like Grab make fare setting more straight forward, offering a better experience. However, you will occasionally find that flat rates set by taxi drivers are still be cheaper than Grab charges.
Tuk tuks, or motorised rickshaws, are another popular way to get around, especially if you only need to cover a small distance. Although they are popular with tourists, locals still use them for their journeys as well.
Tuk tuks do not have meters, so you will need to agree the price before you start the journey. Be prepared to haggle as tuk tuk drivers overcharge foreigners.
I’d say that you will always end up paying more than a local. However, the cost of travel by tuk tuk is so low in general, it’s mostly going to be negligible for your budget.
Songthaews are another common public transport alternative to Grab or Uber in Thailand. They are converted pickup trucks with two rows of back benches to carry passengers. You will see them in many beach areas and cities around Thailand.
Songthaews often operate as informal buses that follow a relatively set route. You can hail them anywhere by getting the driver’s attention. When you get to your destination, you can use a buzzer to tell the driver to stop.
Songthaews are cheap, although fares can vary depending on which part of the country you’re visiting. You can expect to pay anywhere between 10 and 50 baht for a journey.
You can also use songthaews as taxis. However, the cost of a journey normally starts from around 100 baht in this case.
Local buses are the most budget-friendly transportation option in the likes of Bangkok. Depending on where you are, you may be paying as little a 7-8 baht for a ticket (US $0.20 – $0.30).
Don’t expect a particularly comfortable journey though. Many buses are old and tired, lack air conditioning and often get crammed. There may be no English signage either.
If you want a truly local experience of getting around a city though, the local bus is the way to go.
BTS Skytrain (Bangkok Only)
BTS Skytrain is an elevated train network that has good coverage of the modern business districts of Bangkok. Skytrain offers an efficient and pleasant way to get around the Thai capital. The train cars are modern and air-conditioned, making travel a breeze.
Fares depend on the distance that you travel. One-way BTS fares range between 20 and 50 baht (US $0.50 and $1.50). Although for many tourists this travel option is cheap, it is too expensive for many local Thais who end up using the local buses instead.
MRT (Bangkok Only)
Another great transport option available in Bangkok is MRT, an underground train network that has an extensive coverage of the city. I highly recommend using it, along with BTS Skytrain, when you’re in Bangkok.
MRT is modern and efficient, and the trains are air conditioned. The cost of MRT journeys is similar to BTS and also based on distance travelled. Expect to pay between 20 and 50 baht (US $0.50 and $1.50) for a one-way ticket.
So, now you know that there is no Uber in Thailand. However, that is not a problem since the alternative, the Grab app, works as well.
Alternatively, you can opt to use regular taxis, tuk-tuks and songthaews. Visitors to Bangkok have even more transport options at their disposal.
If you are planning a trip Thailand’s most well-known destinations, check out these guides to the best things to do in Bangkok and Phuket. This two days in Bangkok itinerary will help you to maximise your time even further.
Ultimately, Thailand is a fantastic and affordable travel destination with a raft of fun things to do. No matter you travel style, you will find something to love about this beautiful country.
FAQs: Is There Uber in Thailand?
The local version is called Grab and it works in a similar way.
Taxis in Thailand are inexpensive by Western standards. In general, Grab is slightly more expensive that regular taxis, although fares can get significantly higher during rush hour. However, the extra money is often worth it in exchange for less hassle that you may experience with a regular taxi.
No, Lyft is not available in Thailand. The main ride-hailing app is Grab and it works just as well.
Since Uber doesn’t currently operate in Thailand, Uber Eats are not available there either. However, Grab offers a similar food delivery service called Grab Food. This easy to use and reliable service is available across Thailand. Just download the app and check the eateries that deliver to your address.
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