Available 24 hours a day, taxis can be very convenient, comfortable, and affordable methods of transportation in Kuala Lumpur, especially if you’re travelling in a group. Like many places in Southeast Asia, taxi services in Kuala Lumpur are infamous for a myriad of traffic offences and petty scams.
However, there are plenty of friendly taxi drivers who love sharing interesting (often hilarious) tales and facts about the city during your ride. They are also more than happy to recommend the best places to see and foods to try if you’re a first-time visitor here. To ensure a safer and more enjoyable taxi experience in Kuala Lumpur, we’ve listed seven helpful tips to ride a taxi in KL.
KL has two types of taxis
Metered taxis in Kuala Lumpur are called budget (red and white in colour) and executive (yellow and blue in colour) taxis - the former charges RM3 for the first 1km and RM0.10 for each consequent 115 metres while rates for the latter are RM6 for the first 1km and RM0.20 for each consequent 150 metres.
Avoid taxis that don’t turn on their metres
A common occurrence in KL is cabbies refusing to turn on their metres and offering a flat (and overpriced) rate. Therefore, buy taxi coupons (counters can be found in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), KL Sentral station and bus terminals) or only board a taxi if the cabbie agrees to turn on the metre.
Use a reputable taxi booking app
Instead of hailing a taxi by the roadside, we highly recommend using a dependable taxi booking application. Malaysia’s most popular easy-to-use taxi apps include Grab and EasyTaxi, which provide important information such as the driver’s name and photograph, contact details, plate number, and estimated fare after you’ve booked a ride.
Take sensible precautions
While it is considered good form to ride in the front passenger seat in western countries, we advise visitors in KL, especially solo female travellers, to sit in the back of the taxi. Also, do not get in if you see another passenger in the taxi as that person could be an accomplice. If the cabbie stops to pick up another passenger during your ride, exit the taxi immediately.
Carry loose change with you
Tipping is not usually practiced in Kuala Lumpur, but most taxi drivers appreciate it if customers pay an evened-out fare. Do note that there really is no right or wrong amount to tip, so long as you are comfortable with it. It is also highly advisable to carry small amounts with you, as there are cabbies who claim that they do not have change.
Be careful when getting out
If you’re opening a taxi door, make sure to look out for any approaching vehicle... on both sides! It's not uncommon for passengers to open the door as soon as the taxi stops, with abicycle or motorcycle travelling close behind.
Avoid Unlicensed and Rogue Taxis
While relatively rare in Kuala Lumpur, there have been several known cases of unlicensed taxis in the city. To ensure that you’re boarding an official KL taxi, the registration number and SPAD (Malaysian Land Public Transport Commission) driver card should be displayed in the front of the vehicle.