Taxis in Asia: Part One

Having lived and travelled around different parts of Asia we thought it would be good to give a round-up of how things operate in these very distinct markets. From Thai tuk-tuks to doily-adorned Japanese cabs, Asia has a wide variety of options for getting from A to B. This is Part 1!

1-Hong Kong

Image via flickr

Overview: Fast, convenient and cheap; it is easy to hail a taxi from almost anywhere and you wont have to stop at an ATM to pay for the rest of your fare. An affordable and quicker alternative to public transport especially for first time visitors!

Price: HK$20 ($US2.6) for the first 2 kilometers and then HK$1.50 (US$0.2) for every subsequent 200m.

Hong Kong’s red, green and blue taxis service different locations in the territory. Image via HK Transport Department.

Bonuses: Most Hong Kong cabbies are friendly, chatty and speak some English and very patient considering all the drunken, vomiting and rowdy people they have to deal with coming back from Lan Kwai Fong (the party district) in the early hours.

Pimped up HK Taxi Driver’s dashboard. Image via shanghaibutter.com

Warnings: It is illegal for a Hong Kong cab driver to refuse to take you somewhere unless they have a valid excuse. That said you can probably always find another cab quite soon.

Hong Kong Cabbie. Jus’ Chillin’ image via Geographically Yours

Average price of a taxi from Hong Kong Airport to Central (downtown): HK$300 (US$39) and takes just less than an hour.

2- Singapore

Image via onsingapore.com

Overview: Singapore is small, so if you don’t have much time just take a taxi!

Price: between SG$3-4 (US$2.4- 3.2) for the first kilometer depending on which type of taxi you take.

Bonuses: Since Singapore is small you are unlikely to ever rack up a crazy taxi fare unless you get the driver to ride around in circles all night.  Very talkative and opinionated drivers will ensure an enteraining ride; I recommend checking this out humorous and insightful blog by Singapore cabbie James Lim.

Singaporean Cabbie who returned $1m found in his taxi. Image via Jakarta Globe.

Warnings: If you are staying or visiting just outside the downtown/business district of Singapore then be aware that since cab drivers can get an extra three dollars picking someone up from inside the business district they are unlikely to stop for you. So you will have to walk the extra block to get a cab.

An average taxi journey from Changi Airport to downtown Singapore: ranges from SG$18.00-38.00 ($US14-30) and takes about 30 minutes.

3- Seoul

Seoul International Taxis (Image via Seoul.go.kr)

Overview: Getting around Seoul by taxi can be a cheaper and quicker option than by public transport and there are a variety of taxi types on offer including the deluxe taxis and International Taxis which speak English and Japanese.

Price: Seoul Regular taxi fares begin at ₩2,400 (US$2.15) for the first 2 kilometers and go up by ₩100 (US$0.9) every additional 144 meters.

Seoul Taxi. Image via Seoul Navi.

Bonuses: You can pay using t-money, credit card and cash, drivers are direct but friendly and you don’t have to speak Korean.

Image via Starsandstripes.com

Warnings: Hailing a taxi in Seoul at night can be difficult with some taxi drivers reluctant to take you to certain districts or on routes which are not economical enough for them. If you are a tourist or new to Seoul then Seoulistic provides some tips on avoiding getting ripped off by Seoul cabbies.

An average fare from Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul:  ₩50,000 (US$45).

 4- Tokyo

Tokyo Taxi (Image via National Geographic)

Overview:  Taking a taxi in Tokyo is an expensive luxury but of course every now and again you will find yourself missing the last train, completely lost or just tired and fed up of walking around.

Price: fares start at JPY 710 (US$7.4) for the first 2.1 kilometers taxi and increase by ¥90 (US$0.9) for every extra 288m.

Tokyo Taxi Driver. Image via news.com.au.

Bonuses: All Tokyo taxi drivers wear suits with waist-coats, white gloves and decorate the taxi interiors with laced seat covers like an old lady’s living room. They also open the doors for you which in a way seems to justify the price, but…

Image via wired.com

Warnings: Most Tokyo taxi drivers are not from Tokyo so don’t know the city that well and often don’t know how to use their satellite navigators so even if you have a copy of the address written in Japanese you might end up having to give the driver directions!

If you are crazy enough to consider taking a taxi from Narita airport to Tokyo station: you will be set back around JPY 20,000 ($US 209).

Also Check out Taxis in Asia: Part two.

About the Author

Thomas is a pentalingual graduate of Modern East Asian Studies from the University of Hong Kong, now based in Japan as editor of Shifteast.com for Mandalah Tokyo.