Taxi Drivers: The Scum of Kuala Lumpur

Never before have I had quite as regular scams been thrown at me than in Kuala Lumpur.

Downtown KL
Downtown KL

Kuala Lumpur is supposed to be an ultra-modern city full of friendly people, yet there are a handful of well-known scams that all travellers must be wary of when they visit. Upon arriving at KLIA once, I made my way to KL Sentral on the train where I caught a waiting taxi. This was my first experience of corrupt taxi drivers in the city. You should always ask the driver to use the meter, and I did, which he obliged before we departed for Traders Hotel in KLCC.


What I didn’t realise until too late is that the driver did not go the quickest route into downtown and instead went the long way round, just to add more distance and price on the meter. To make matters worse, half way through the journey, the driver turned off the meter, citing that it was “broken”. At this stage, I became really angry because I knew I was being scammed yet could not do anything about it – the infamous Kuala Lumpur taxi driver scam was in full swing, even for an experienced traveller like me.


I have once got a taxi from downtown all the way to the airport, and although I cannot remember the exact price of the fare, it was still about an hour’s journey. On this occasion, from KL Sentral to KLCC, the journey still took around 50 minutes! My charge? RM62.90! This works out at about £14, when in reality it should cost about a quarter of that price. The driver became quite aggressive when I questioned him about the fare, but in the end I had to pay it.

I should have got the licence plate number and tried to report the driver, but I figured that as I was only using Kuala Lumpur as a stopover this time, I wouldn’t have enough time to get a result. Maybe I should have let him take me to the police station, although I hear that the authorities almost always side with the locals.

20 thoughts on “Taxi Drivers: The Scum of Kuala Lumpur

  1. I prefer to use train to get downtown from KLIA/KLIA2 instead of taxis. I think that’s a common problem in Malaysia. When I was in Georgetown Penang, I’ve never taken any taxi, the buses are cheaper and reliable.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. They even do it to locals, the best thing now is to use Uber when you’re in Kl, its cheaper than taxis, safe and you get a comfortable ride

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, I went to KL in 2014, and I was well informed by my Malaysian friend about taxi scam. I avoided taking taxi as much as I could, and from KL central to my hotel, I took monorail to the nearest station, but rushing back to the airport at 1am on the last day, I had no choice but to catch a taxi, and it was just… amazingly overcharged with no meter.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s no point of you reporting it to the Taxi Board or something because they won’t do a shit! Taxi driver in KL are scumbags and they also try to cheat the locals. My recommendation is that you should use Uber or GrabCar, they reflect the exact price shown in the app!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You should have taken the Kelana Jaya Line LRT at KL Sentral which would bring you straight to KLCC for a fare less than RM 5!

    Anyway, yes taxis in Malaysia are notorious for this. I am grateful that every time I used taxis in KL from my office to one of the shopping malls in KL, I did not get scammed.

    One tips to avoid all this scammers and irresponsible taxi drivers is to use Grab apps which is like UBER but also cater for taxis. They use meters and will even email the receipts to you.

    How irony that their service is so bad but today the taxi drivers in KL had a strike complaining that UBER is causing them to lose customers when in fact their attitude contributed to the problem.

    Nice posting by you on this issue Lee!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. i fear for this similar treatment/scam. but the last time i went to KL, in march, i had a surprisingly pleasant experience with taxi there. well, i only took taxi once.
    it was real late upon arrival to the KL airport, hence i decided to go to city by taxi instead of by the express train. unfortunately, i didn’t have enough cash. and the many atm machines at the terminal were not working (automatically out of service from 11.00pm-1.00am).
    one taxi driver suggested that he could take me to the nearby gas station and take cash from atm machine there and continue on the taxi ride to the city. i wasn’t sure at first. i even asked the lady worked at the taxi ticket/coupon counter for advice. but she didn’t seem to care and looked bored. so i finally gave in and decided to go along with the taxi driver’s recommendation.
    fortunately for me, he was honest. he was very old. he didn’t even know the hotel i wanted to go to. he used his mobile phone to get the direction to my hotel in the city. and drove me safely to my hotel.
    but yes, it was expensive. around RM100. but i was told that all rides between airport and the city that late in the evening would cost as much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is not expensive since uber will charge you almost same price (may god bless that honest taxi driver) . The cheapest way to go to city center from airport is by taking bus, you will charge about RM 10 only.


  7. The taxi scam is quite rampant in KL. They’ll try their best to scam both locals and foreigners alike. The obvious advantage against overseas visitors are that language barrier & aggressive behaviour will mostly scare tourists and there is very little you can do when you’re in a foreign land. I agree with one of the posts in here, that putting a complaint through unlikely will yield any meaningful result. The SPAD (which I believe the body that governs the “licensed” cab here) is very much pro-taxi driver – it’s just not worth the hassle and the anger you will have to go through.

    What I find helpful however is using UBER or GRAB Car (similar to UBER). With UBER, the code of ethics is strictly enforced so any complain will be taken seriously by UBER. With GRAB Car, I am not sure who exactly governs it, but so far the service has been excellent for me.

    But yeah, avoid the official taxi if possible.


  8. i have submitted my complaint since 2012 . Follow up since 2015 till today but nothing happened. I have complaint numerous times to BPA Malaysia against the SPAD which is pro taxi. Still a big failure. My complaints have reached to the top ministers but no reply. They are not interested at all. Instead they are up to the complainant. Videos and photos given but no action taken by the authority. They like to work if there is a wealth party. No hard work like undercover operation to nab the culprits.

    Liked by 1 person

    Below are the complaints made THROUGHOUT THIS YEARl. There are still the same problem on the same matter.
    1. Ruj. Kami : SPAD.A. 700-12/3/(SPAD.065444)
    Tarikh : 15/01/2016
    2. Ruj. SPAD.A.700-12/3 (SPAD.063487)
    Tarikh : 15/01/2016
    3. Ruj. Kami : SPAD.A. 700-12/3/(SPAD.069787)
    Tarikh : 17/03/2016 –
    4. Ruj. Kami : SPAD.A. 700-12/3/(SPAD.074110)
    Tarikh : 15/05/2016
    5. Ruj. SPAD.A.700-12/3 (SPAD.074249)
    6. Ruj. Kami : SPAD.A. 700-12/3/(SPAD.075509)
    Tarikh : 02/06/2016 – ID Maklum Balas SPAD.075509 :HWD6978-TEKSI MELANGGAN PENUMPANG
    7. Ruj. Kami : SPAD.A. 700-12/3/(SPAD.075462)
    Tarikh : 02/06/2016 – ID Maklum Balas SPAD.075462 : HWD6978-MELANGGAN PENUMPANG DAN TIDAK MEMAKAI UNIFORM
    8. Ruj. Kami : SPAD.A. 700-12/3/(SPAD.080135)
    Tarikh : 13/08/2016 – ID Maklum Balas SPAD.080135 : TEKSI MELANGGAN PENUMPANG DI MY HOTEL JALAN PUDU
    9. Ruj. Kami : SPAD.A. 700-12/3/(SPAD.081452)
    Tarikh : 06/09/2016-

    I hope Prime Minister will look into this matter very seriously to save the image of other taxi drivers whom are very sincere and honest in Malaysia


  10. Knew this very well from a friend of mine who got tricked into paying a ridiculous fare. Taxi drivers in KL are really notorious and a top scam artist when targeting tourist visiting downtown KL. Uber or Grab is the best bet if you need to get somewhere which is not within the public transport network. Now the new MRT line has just been opened to the public, and it connects to other suburbs from downtown. Kuala Lumpur has improved drastically with better public transport, unlike what I saw over the last couple of years ago. Just avoid taxi at all cost. Use public transport.

    Liked by 1 person

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