5 Reasons Grab is The Best Ride for Tourists in Southeast Asia
In Southeast Asia, Grab is better than Uber and taxis for one main reason. Grab has set price fares! You know exactly what the ride will cost before you even step in the car. No uncertainty. No haggling. No getting ripped off.
WHAT IS GRAB?
We assume that everyone knows about ride share apps like Uber, but you may not have heard of Grab. Grab mostly operates in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
For those new to ride hailing apps, they’re a way to order a ride from your phone that is an alternative to typical taxi rides. You enter your pick up and drop off locations. The app quotes a price or price range. And you book the ride through the app. Contrary to taxi companies who have their own fleet of cars and drivers, Grab and Uber employs private cars and drivers who are like contractors not employees.
Before we continue, we want to highlight that we’re talking specifically about Southeast Asia. Transportation options and even these apps operate differently in different parts of the world. Now back to the advantages of Grab.
GRAB HAS SET PRICE FARES
Traffic in Southeast Asia is frantic, congested, and radically unpredictable. With Uber or a taxi, a ride that should cost $4 could cost $40, depending on traffic and the honesty of the driver. Grab gives you piece of mind in knowing that any delays will not increase the price of the ride. Both taxis and Uber make you pay for any delays – even for the ones that they cause.
The advantage of Grab’s set prices is clear when compared with Uber’s unpredictable price quotes. Uber quotes a price range when booking, but that price range is practically meaningless. If there’s horrible traffic or the driver wants to take the scenic route, the price can skyrocket.
You may be able to spot and prevent this when taking an Uber in your home country. But in a foreign country where you can’t communicate, there’s little you can do. Uber rides are even worse than taxis on this point, because Uber cars don’t have a meter to watch (and the app is no help either). You have no idea what kind of fare is accumulating.
We have been shocked by big Uber fares far outside the original price range. Not every Uber ride is bad or overpriced, but the very structure of the pricing makes Uber uncertain and frustrating. Grab’s set prices have the advantage both financially and emotionally. These set price fares directly lead to the next 3 advantages.
GRAB IS MORE RELIABLE
The set prices make Grab more reliable than Uber or taxis. With Uber and taxis, the longer the ride takes, the more money they make. Grab drivers want to get you to your destination in the fastest, most efficient way possible because the final price is already established. Set prices are like magic. They perfectly align the Grab driver’s interests with your interests and lead to more reliable service. This saves you time as well as money.
GRAB IS MORE ENJOYABLE
The set prices create more pleasant rides on a human level. You can trust that the Grab driver has your best interests at heart. With Uber or taxis, you don’t know if the driver is honest. Most are honest, but you still have to be on guard for scams because they are very common. With Grab’s set prices, you don’t have to be suspicious at all. You can just relax and enjoy the ride.
GRAB IS THE CHEAPEST (MOST OF THE TIME)
We’ve used Grab all over Southeast Asia, and they are almost always the cheapest private ride, sometimes by a lot. Departing Kuala Lumpur is great example. Kuala Lumpur city center is about an hour from the airport. We consulted several car services, taxi companies, and our hotel on the price of a ride from city center to the airport. They all quoted the same fixed price of 150MR ($34USD). We forgot the Uber price range quote, but as we’ve said, it’s irrelevant to the actual price anyway. On the Grab app, the set price was only 65MR($14.50USD). What a nice surprise.
Grab looks even better when you compare the price of our private car ride with public transportation. Kuala Lumpur has awesome, affordable public transportation, but Grab is the better option overall for getting to the airport. The fastest way from city center to the airport is on the KLIA Express train. The cost is only 55MR($12.50USD), but the train leaves from KL Sentral station. When you add the cost of the monorail or taxi to get to KL Sentral from your hotel, the price is almost even with Grab’s. And it is so much more convenient. Our Grab ride in a private car cost the same as public transportation with none of the hassle.
GRAB HAS A GREAT APP
In all fairness, the apps of Uber and Grab are very similar. We just want to point out some important things that the Grab app does well.
- Many Vehicle Options
4 seat car, 7 seat van or truck, and motorbikes are available ride choices depending on your needs.
- Secure Credit Card Payment through the app
If you don’t have enough local currency or only have big bills, you can securely pay with a credit card through the app. You don’t even need to show the card to the driver.
- Helps with Language Barrier
The app allows you and the driver to clearly communicate on pick up, drop off, and price. Your app can be in English. The Grab drivers app can be in their native language. But interfacing through the app makes those fundamental points clear to you both. This can be a challenge when communicating with regular taxi drivers on your own.
- Many pre-loaded locations
Addresses in Southeast Asia can be baffling, frustrating, and easy to mess up. The Grab app makes this easier by having many preloaded locations for hotels, restaurants, and attractions (even minor and obscure ones). You could always manually enter an address if needed, but this makes things so much easier when selecting your pick up or drop off.
- The Same App for all Countries
The app works seamlessly in every country in which it operates. The interface for you is always in English, but GPS maps, preloaded locations, and rates in local currency are all tailored for the country you’re in.
Grab is not perfect. The chief limitation of Grab is the occasional unavailability of drivers. All the drivers are independent and work when they want to. There are locations and times when drivers are unavailable or the wait time for a driver will be too long. In those cases, a traditional taxi may the only choice. Those times are relatively rare in the major cities of Southeast Asia where Grab has a huge presence and is always growing. Even so, it can happen.
Grab is better than Uber and taxis for all the reasons stated above, chiefly the set price fares. It is our first choice for private rides in Southeast Asia. On the rare occasions when it is not available, we’re disappointed, because we know they’re the best.
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