Taxis in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We interrupt our Bali programming for a good old fashioned rant. The taxi services in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia are bad. Really bad. There’s two problems. First of all, the drivers are lazy. They very rarely can be bothered to drive you anywhere unless they are paid a lot for it. Secondly, they’re dishonest. I think they’re more lazy than dishonest, but dishonest they are! OK, so perhaps I shouldn’t lump all drivers in Kuala Lumpur into the same basket. It’s not fair to the 5 that are hard working honest men.

So this is how it goes down in Kuala Lumpur. You go to a taxi stand and are about to hop in the cab and the driver asks you where you’re going. When you state where, they quote a price. The law in Kuala Lumpur is that prices must be determined by the meter, but 90% of drivers refuse to use the meter when tourists get in the car. So what does this mean? You either pay about 4 times as much as the real fare or you just don’t travel by cab because it is too much of a hassle to constantly flag down cabs only for them to quote ridiculous prices. And they’re not even nice about it. My experience has generally been that not only are they incredibly shifty, they’re rude too — especially when you challenge them and insist on the meter.

One guy I challenged insisted that the meter doesn’t pay him enough. So instead, he rips tourists off. But not just by a little bit so he can make ends meet, by a factor of four just for good measure. In reality, if it’s not good enough pay, he should get a job doing something else.

So this is my message to the universe to say that Kuala Lumpur really needs to do something about the taxi situation because at the moment it is unworkable and makes travel around the city very difficult when you’re not near a train line.

14 thoughts on “Taxis in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  1. We thought we were the only ones that had bad experiences with the people of Kuala Lumpur. But for us it wasn’t just the taxi drivers, it seemed that most of the people in general were rude and just downright unfriendly.

    I think we needed to get outside the city to see the real Malaysia.

    1. I really love KL, but I have just had so many poor experiences with taxi drivers that it’s not a coincidence. The taxis even have signs on them saying that fares cannot be negotiated and are fixed by the meter! Just poor form on behalf of the taxi drivers.

      But that’s Asia in general. Transport is a constant battle between stingy tourist and greedy driver.

    1. Transport in Asia is just one of my pet peeves. It can be a total nightmare negotiating a fair price sometimes even when taking into consideration a tourist surcharge. :)

  2. though I’m Malaysian i can safely say that I’ve taken the taxi only 3 times in my life in KL.As you said the taxi drivers do not only charge the tourist exorbitantly but also the locals and refuses to use the meter 90% of the time.So safest bet is to use the train and bus service.

    1. I like the train service in KL, but it doesn’t always go in the direction you want. I just wish the taxis would charge the correct fare — it’d make life much easier. I’d even be happy to pay double!

  3. In KL, taxi is always the problem not only for tourists, but also for locals…
    As same as liz, I am Malaysian Chinese. I stay in Serdang, Selangor now because I am college student.
    So far, I have sat taxi in the area not more than 5 times. I just saw one who used the meter machine. Should I say I am lucky enough to see that?LMAO…=D

    But really, meter machine is one of the issue, the attitude is another problem.
    Adam, you are right.
    They may not be friendly either…=,=”

  4. The black taxi in KL, KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIA,

    travel with taxi meter can still cheated….
    Taxi plate number; MPV blue color, HWC 9240, Taxi yellow color; HBA 3226, 2nd taxi not clear…

    We travelled in a group of 12 people at KL Malaysia on 5th Nov, we checked in to Sunway Putra Hotel around 7pm, since the time is still early, and the hotel staff told us Pavillion is just only ten minutes distance from hotel to Pavillion Shopping Mall, hence we took taxi from the Sunway Putral hotel to Pavillion, it only costed us each taxi at only RM10.

    Around 10pm, after shopping from Pavilion shopping mall and ready to go back to our hotel, when we walked out from the mall we saw some taxi was waiting in front of Pavillion, we told them we needed 3 taxi and asked them whether they are charging by meter, did they know the way to our destination, & was the blue taxi charging the same rate as the rest of the normal taxi, the driver of the blue taxi told us he knew of the hotel, all the taxi is charging at the same rate. He looked sincere & polite, we have no doubt in him, so we agreed to board the taxi.

    However, once we were sitting inside the blue taxi, we saw the meter start at RM6, but we thought it is just a short distance journey, we did not intend to confront him, we assumed the rate would be just at least just double the most for this taxi.

    However after a short while that we had get out of the shopping area, he drove us all the way from small road to highway for more than 10 minutes, we felt something is not right, we re-confirmed with him of our destination, by showing him our hotel address & read to him the address is 100 Jalan Putra, and mentioned to him it is just around PWTC, he just answered us he knew of the way. He even called up his 2 taxi friend, that they just have to follow his taxi meter for charging.

    In the way, he sent us to Sunway hotel, we told him this is not the right hotel, he told us this is the correct hotel, he did not know of any other hotel named Sunway hotel at Putra, he insisted us to pay for the same price as the meter charged of RM555.20 for each taxi, we knew we are being cheated, since we travelled with kids & elderly parent, we had no choice but to pay as what he requested. We had no confident by insisting him to sent us to the right destination, he may just played another trick again.

    In the end we had to take another taxi to return to our hotel. It took us 20 minutes to travel from Sunway Hotel to Sunway Putra Hotel. this time i asked few taxi to get the cheaper offer.

    Someone say ask people around you for the taxi fare but not taxi driver, i think this is the best advice.

  5. do something about the bad indian taxi drivers and there scams 22 times in kl in 3 years 100% been ripped off sometimes 8 to 10 times the real fare always say meter not working and its so bad we have stopped doing business in KL the stress of the taxi drivers was enough google the complaints surely over 1 million people cant be wrong u will kill your country reputation with Indian taxi scammers

    1. I got done again recently. Big time too. They ganged up on me and the guy wouldn’t let me get my back from the back if I didn’t pay. In the end, I just had to pay despite threatening to punch him etc. I had to catch a flight and didn’t have time to stuff around with the guy so I paid about 3x the fare. I texted the taxi hotline and reported him but got nothing back. In my view, the government is complicit in this behaviour as they fail to stop it and fail to have easy to use mechanisms in place to report offenders.

  6. Taxi drivers in KL are trained in hell.

    If you’re lucky to get an honest one, get his phone number and give him a call whenever you need a cab.

    I just hope that the new Myteksi and Taxi Monger apps could help reduce the number of crappy drivers KL has been suffering for decades.

    BTW, here’s an interesting infographic about KL taxi drivers :
    http://hotelinkl.com.my/blog/kuala-lumpur-taxi/

  7. Besides all these thing, the meter of taxi in KL can also be adjusted by some dirty drivers. I was once in a taxi where the meter ran very fast (when i didn’t look on it), which is out of normal. A normal trip of RM6.00 cost me RM13 ++, without any traffic jam. But i didn’t have any proof on this guy, in fact i should report him. After some days, i was told by another taxi driver that some drivers can use a special remote control to adjust the meter. Guys, gonna watch out!

  8. Malaysia is a very backwards country. Public transport is very inefficient and taxi drivers are extremely dishonest. I know because I use a GPS to monitor the route they take. 7 out of 10 drivers took me way off course. Even if you try to argue with them, they will say that their way is faster, less traffic etc. which I know is utter bullshit because I know the roads well. Kudos to the honest drivers but the rest of them are just plain crooks and thieves,

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