When it comes to getting around Thailand, it can be difficult to navigate public transport and figure out what’s the best option, so many people wonder; is there Uber in Thailand?
Uber is the first ride-hailing app to hit the market and is widely used across the world, but there is no Uber in Thailand. In March 2018, Uber stopped operations in all of Southeast Asia, after its competitors, Grab, dominated the market.
So while Uber doesn’t operate in Thailand, the good news is you can still use other ride hailing apps.
In this guide, we’ve detailed what ride-hailing apps you can use in Thailand and where they operate.
Is There An Uber Alternative In Thailand?
As mentioned earlier, Uber lost its competition to Grab, which launched in 2012, two years before Uber started operating in Asia.
Since the beginning, Grab has been operating all over the country, though is mainly found in major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai, as well as the popular islands such as Koh Samui and Phuket.
Another ride-sharing app in Thailand to use is Bolt, which is the cheaper and more popular version of Grab. However, you may choose to use Grab over Bolt in some circumstances, but more on that later…
Grab in Thailand
Although Grab can be found in most major cities and touristy areas, it does not operate in small towns and islands such as Koh Phangan, to ensure that business does not deter from local taxis and buses.
You should also note that Grab in Phuket does not connect all of the island, only the touristy areas and the airport.
When using Grab in Thailand, you will find that there are many transportation options to choose from. Here is a quick overview of each service.
Introducing GrabBike, the perfect mode of transportation for solo adventurers.
You can experience the thrill of hopping on the back of a motorbike and being whisked away to your desired destination.
Rest assured, drivers are equipped with passenger helmets, ensuring your safety throughout the journey. Not only is GrabBike an exciting way to travel, but it’s also a cost-effective option, especially if you’re traveling light.
For those seeking a more traditional ride, GrabCar is here to cater to your needs.
With a capacity of up to two passengers, it’s ideal for couples or solo travelers looking for a comfortable and convenient journey. Offering competitive rates, GrabCar is a reliable choice for getting around town if you’re not fond of motorbikes.
If you prefer a touch of luxury during your ride, look no further than GrabCar Plus.
Indulge in a premium experience with high-end vehicles and spacious seating for up to four passengers.
Families with extra luggage will appreciate the additional room provided, making their journey even more enjoyable.
For a unique sharing experience, keep an eye out for GrabShare. This innovative service allows you to share your taxi with fellow passengers heading in the same direction.
By choosing to share, you not only contribute to a greener environment but also enjoy a reduced fare. Don’t worry, if the taxi doesn’t pick up any additional passengers, you’ll still benefit from the discounted price.
Though it’s important to mention that most Grab drivers don’t like this service as it’s not determined they will be able to pick up another fare.
GrabVan (5-10 seater)
Traveling in a large group? Consider the convenience of GrabVan, a 5-10 seater vehicle option.
Perfect for accommodating groups of friends or families, GrabVan ensures everyone can travel together comfortably.
You’ll be delighted to find a substantial number of GrabVans available, particularly in Phuket.
Bolt in Thailand
While Grab is the most famous ride-sharing app in Thailand, it’s throne may be about to be taken by its only competitor, Bolt.
Bolt is another ride-hailing service that operates all over Thailand and offers the same services to Uber and Grab, but typically for a fraction of the price of Grab.
Though Bolt is cheaper, it’s important to note that ride-hailing drivers are self-employed and will usually work for both companies.
Since they make more money with Grab, they will usually accept fares from Grab users over Bolt users, so you usually spend a bit of time waiting for a Bolt driver to pick you up.
From our experience, Bolt has more motorbike riders than cars available, so if you’re going a short distance and don’t mind being on the back of a bike, then Bolt is a better option.
You can order a Yellow Taxi using the Bolt App. You still need to pay by the meter, but an estimated cost is given when you are selecting your ride.
The most popular option when choosing Bolt is the Bolt Bike, which is a motorbike rider with the capability of picking up one person. It’s the cheapest option and is also the most convenient since there are many Bolt riders.
The great thing about Bolt Bike is that the drivers can weave between traffic, so you don’t need to worry about traffic jams.
The downside is that the drivers weave between traffic, which can be a little scary when you’re on the back. Most drivers have a helmet for the rider, or have even been known to offer their own to customers, so you will be protected.
Although bikes can be a little scary, remember these drivers do this every day and it’s their way to get around, so you’re in better hands with a Bolt Bike than you are renting a scooter and driving yourself (most of the time).
Economy (1-4 people)
Economy rides are the most cost-effective car you can order. These cars tend to be 35% cheaper than the standard Bolt Car, but there are less of them.
For a car to class as an Economy car with Bolt, they need to be manufactured in 2009 or newer, and are usually a sedan car, or at least a station wagon or SUV.
Bolt Car (1-4 people)
This is the standard car with Bolt. Most Bolt Cars available will simply says “Bolt” which means they are the standard car.
They are suitable for 1-4 people and are usually a sedan vehicle so have plenty of space for your luggage.
Sometimes you will find Yellow Taxis are also using Bolt, so don’t be alarmed if a Yellow Taxi pulls up, you will still pay the fare specified on the Bolt App.
Comfort (1-4 people)
The comfort option is a luxurious 4-seater car. The difference between a Bolt Car and Comfort Car is simply that the Comfort is more luxurious and spacious.
XL (1-6 people)
If you’re traveling as a group or have a lot of luggage, then the XL option is for you. This is a 6-seater vehicle with ample space for luggage in the back.
Ride-Sharing Vs Yellow Taxis in Thailand
The yellow taxis are the official taxi services in Thailand, and since they run on a meter, they tend to be more expensive.
Most of the time, you won’t need to use a yellow taxi, unless arriving late at night at one of the airports in Bangkok, since there may not be many ride-sharing drivers about at that time of night.
The good thing about the yellow taxis is they are safe and comfortable, and most of the drivers speak English. The downside to using them is the price.
Ride Sharing Vs Tuk Tuks
Tuk Tuks are a fun and enjoyable way to travel around major cities. They often have flashing lights, loud music, and an overly enthusiastic driver who can whizz between cars and take you to the hot spots.
However, they are usually more expensive than ride-sharing apps. We wouldn’t recommend them for getting from A to B, but they are a great cultural experience.
Ride-Sharing Vs Songthaew Buses in Thailand
You may notice these pick up trucks in small towns and on the islands. Typically, where there is a songthaew bus (the pickup trucks seen in the image above) there usually isn’t a ride sharing app available.
The good thing about these buses is they are cheap, but they are also slow and the driver usually won’t speak good English.
It can take 3 times as long to travel with songthaews than using a ride-sharing app, so depending on how much time you’re willing to spend and how much money you want to save, if you happen to be in an area where Grab and Bolt operate – you might want to go with one of them.
They are also usually very crowded, have no A/C, and are a bumpy ride!
InDrive and Navigo
Two more ride-sharing apps have come on the market in recent years, known as NaviGo and InDrive.
NaviGo is a local company to Thailand and is an app that allows you to book a Yellow Taxi, rather than a ride-hailing service.
InDrive is a Russian company that has been expanding into Thailand since 2019. It first started operating in Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket, but entered into Bangkok in the summer of 2023.
It’s not yet a popular option for finding ride-sharing and is still finding its feet in Thailand. The benefit of using InDrive is that you can negotiate your fare with the driver.
How To Pay For Ride-Sharing Apps
The good news is that it’s very easy to pay using Grab and Bolt in Thailand. You can choose to pay cash, or add your credit card details to the app and pay via electronic payment.
Both Grab and Bolt accept debit cards, credit cards and PayPal.
If your driver was great and you enjoyed your experience, there’s also an option to add a tip at the end of your ride.
Related Reading: Do You Tip in Thailand?
FAQs About Using Uber in Thailand
Here’s what people usually ask us about using ride sharing apps in Thailand…
Why Uber left Thailand?
Uber left Thailand simply because their competitors, Grab, were dominating the market in Southeast Asia and it didn’t make financial sense to still operate in those countries.
What is the best ride app for Thailand?
Bolt is the best ride app for those looking to get bikes, but Grab is better for those in need of a car. This is because there are more bike riders using Bolt and car drivers earn a higher wage using Grab and so there are more cars available on Grab.
The Verdict: Is there Uber in Thailand?
So there you go, as you know by now there is no Uber in Thailand, but that doesn’t mean you cannot use a ride-hailing service.
Both Grab and Bolt are excellent companies and we use both whenever we visit Thailand. The service you use is largely dependent on where in Thailand you are and how quickly you need a ride.
If you’re pressed for time, try Grab since drivers make more money using this app, so are more likely to accept your fare.
If you want a budget-friendly and reliable ride-share, then use Bolt.