Grab Car

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

Grab Car

Unpredictable Traffic in Southeast Asia

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.

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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

Grab Car

Another Worry Free Grab Ride

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's set prices create more pleasant rides on a human level.Click To Tweet

GRAB IS THE CHEAPEST (MOST OF THE TIME)

Grab Car

Actual Screenshot of 65RM Ride From KLCC to KLIA2

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 Car

Cost of KL Express Train from KLCC to KLIA2”

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.

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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.

 

LIMITATION

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.

BOTTOM LINE

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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65 Comments
  • Harsh Gupta
    Posted at 00:27h, 09 December

    There’s so many benefits of choosing GRAB and I’d consider it anyday over Uber. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 00:30h, 09 December

    Hello Harsh. We think Grab is the better option by far.

  • Amber Myers
    Posted at 08:44h, 09 December

    I have never heard of GRAB before but I’ll keep it in mind if I visit this area. It sounds like a wonderful company!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:47h, 09 December

    Hi Amber. We love Grab and use it all the time.

  • Natalie
    Posted at 10:47h, 09 December

    Wow. What a fantastic tip! Knowing that the price is set must surely give you great peace of mind. We have all had the experience of a fare much larger than we expected. Not a good feeling at all!! I will be passing along this valuable tip on twitter!!!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 10:50h, 09 December

    Hello Natalie. Thanks for the comment. Yes please pass it on.

  • blondemoments
    Posted at 11:07h, 09 December

    Oh how cool is that?! I never had heard about grap before and I wish I would have a few weeks ago when I was in Asia. Well next time I guess 🙂

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 11:09h, 09 December

    Hello Sarah. Yeah too bad. Check Grab out next time in Southeast asia.

  • Diana - MVMT Blog
    Posted at 14:11h, 09 December

    I’ve never heard of Grab but so glad I read this because I’m going to SEA in March and was just thinking about how I’m going to prepare myself to negotiate with the cab drivers there. Sounds like my life will be a lot easier with Grab. Will be using it on my trip for sure! Thanks 😀

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 14:14h, 09 December

    Hello Diana. Grab does make things so much easier. Have fun in SEA.

  • Kristine Aarsheim
    Posted at 16:05h, 09 December

    Good to know that I have alternatives when visiting Southeast Asia 😀 I’ve always liked Uber and I’m not a fan of traditional taxis because of the price, but it’s nice to know that there’s an even better option in that part of the continent 🙂 I’ll definitely check it out once I’m in that part of the world 😉

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 16:08h, 09 December

    Hello Kristine. Definitely give Grab a try. We love it here.

  • Nellwyn
    Posted at 17:40h, 09 December

    I’ll have to check out Grab if I’m ever in that part of the world. Uber in Toronto now gives you a set fare upfront too so that’s great!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 17:44h, 09 December

    Hello Nellwyn. That’s great that Uber has set fares in Toronto. I wish they had that everywhere.

  • patricia @ grab a plate
    Posted at 19:38h, 09 December

    Can’t imagine dealing with such crazy traffic! So helpful that you’ve shared GRAB as a tool for transportation!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 19:40h, 09 December

    Hello Patricia. Yes we sometimes use the traffic as entertainment. We sit in a rooftop pub and watch it for hours sometimes. The are plenty of accidents but thats not surprising or entertaining. The entertaining part is watching the countless near accidents. It’s dramatic and when they come out unscathed you can actually feel the relief.

  • Tasheena @ SimplyTasheena.com
    Posted at 20:33h, 09 December

    Very informative post. I had no idea about GRAB. Looking forward to using it when I visit Asia.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:36h, 09 December

    Hello Tasheena. Thanks. We hope the info helps save you some bucks and stress.

  • Vicki Louise
    Posted at 00:10h, 10 December

    I’ve never heard of GRAB but it sounds like a great concept and definately something I will use next time we’re in SE Asia.
    I love that they have set pricing too!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 00:14h, 10 December

    Hello Vicki. Yeah give them a try and enjoy SEA.

  • Beth
    Posted at 01:10h, 10 December

    What a great suggestion for traveling to southeast Asia! I would certainly use this service!

    Beth

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 01:12h, 10 December

    Hello Beth. Thanks. It’s the best ride in our opinion.

  • Davide uTravelShare.com
    Posted at 04:48h, 10 December

    Someone told me about GRAB during my 4 months travel in South East Asia but I have never considered to get it, maybe because I like an idea to take a bus, scooter, bicycle and maybe share this trip with people that I can meet a rotations in every single location! Anyway, lovely post and your blog is fantastic

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 04:50h, 10 December

    Hello David. We agree that using other travel modes for the experience and to meet people are good ideas. We do that too sometimes. Grab is great for those point A to point B, – fast and efficient rides.

  • Divya
    Posted at 07:05h, 10 December

    I like the idea of set fares. Simply because you never know what kind of obstacle you’re going to come across (traffic, cow crossing the street?! <—-in India haha). I feel like it also reduces my anxiety when I don't see a meter ticking up and up and up with the price when we're just stalled in traffic.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 07:09h, 10 December

    Hello Divya. We feel exactly the same. Grab gives some piece of mind.

  • Oindrila
    Posted at 07:15h, 10 December

    I have never heard of GRAB other than Uber and OLA which is so common in india. But the features of GRAB sounds more interesting. ?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 09:20h, 10 December

    Hi Oindrila. We’ve never heard of OLA but will keep it in mind when we visit India 🙂 GRAB has definitely been our #1 choice in Asia!

  • Chi Le
    Posted at 10:16h, 10 December

    Yes, totally agree with you! Grab is absolutely one of the greatest things in our technology’s world. With Grab, we never have to worry about being scammed.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 10:20h, 10 December

    Hi Chi Le. You are absolutely right! We kept getting ripped off which was really frustrating especially since we don’t know the language. GRAB has definitely come to the rescue. We LOVE GRAB!! 🙂

  • Briana Marie
    Posted at 20:09h, 10 December

    Wow. I love that it helps with language barriers! How awesome is that?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:15h, 10 December

    Hi Briana. Discovering GRAB was the best thing that happened to us in Asia! Being able to “communicate” with the driver about where we needed to go was no longer a complete nightmare. It was awesome!!

  • Tracie Howe
    Posted at 20:40h, 10 December

    I haven’t heard of Grab until now. This is great to know for my next trip to SEA! Thanks for sharing!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:45h, 10 December

    Hi Tracie. We HIGHLY recommend that you download the GRAB app when you come to SEA. It will be a lifesaver! 🙂

  • Theresa
    Posted at 02:09h, 11 December

    Set fares sounds great, especially when you’re unfamiliar with a city!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 02:12h, 11 December

    Hi Theresa. It was definitely a very nice surprise!! After our first ride, we were addicted to GRAB. 🙂

  • Dana
    Posted at 12:39h, 11 December

    It’s great to know that there are other car services out there, aside from Uber. Do they operate in Hong Kong as well?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 12:58h, 11 December

    Hi Dana. Yes, GRAB is definitely our #1 choice when seeking transportation in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, GRAB is currently only in Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. They are always looking to expand so maybe they will include Hong Kong in the near future. 🙂

  • CourtneyLynne
    Posted at 22:39h, 11 December

    I have never heard of grab but it sounds great!! I will have to check it out

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 22:42h, 11 December

    Hi Courtney. Yes, you must check out GRAB. It’s awesome!

  • Krystal // The Krystal Diaries
    Posted at 23:08h, 11 December

    I’ve never heard of Grab before but I’ll keep it in mind if I ever travel there.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:10h, 11 December

    Hi Krystal. Yes, it’s a must if you’re visiting Southeast Asia.

  • Amrita
    Posted at 05:43h, 12 December

    Sounds like a great app.They have two wheeler options sound fantastic.
    Don’t think I have seen them in India yet.Will keep this review in mind.
    Very helpful

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 06:04h, 12 December

    Hi Amrita. Yes, they have GRAB motorbike too which is even cheaper than GRAB car! Of course if there’s more than one of you it would probably make more sense to get the car option instead. Unless you all just want to get the GRAB motorbikes for the experience that would be fun too. 🙂 Currently, GRAB only operates in Southeast Asia but hopefully they will expand in the near future.

  • Chante Burkett
    Posted at 06:54h, 12 December

    Great read! Since this place is on my list of travels within the next two years I need to look into it.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 06:57h, 12 December

    Hello Chante. Definitely check out GRAB when in SEA.

  • neha
    Posted at 20:15h, 12 December

    I am from India but even I had not heard of grab. I guess you are right in your comparison. Will try it out the next time

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 20:20h, 12 December

    Hello Neha. I don’t know if Grab operates in India yet. But they are big in Southeast Aisa – mostly Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

  • Abigail
    Posted at 23:42h, 12 December

    In Asia, we’ve also relied on this app for convenience in getting a ride. It is truly reliable!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 23:45h, 12 December

    Hello Abigail. Grab is very reliable and convenient for sure.

  • Mar Pages
    Posted at 08:01h, 13 December

    I totally agree, Grab is such a great way to get around SEA. You never know who you’ll get as a driver and they mostly have some great stories to tell and insider scoops (if the driver speaks your language).

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 08:05h, 13 December

    Hello Mar. Great point about the drivers. We’ve met some interesting people that way.

  • Anna
    Posted at 14:02h, 14 December

    This post is so helpful – I had no idea that Grab works much better than Uber in Asia! I normally check what app operates on best terms in every country I visit, so this is really good to know. Cheers!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 14:04h, 14 December

    Hello Anna. Thanks for your comment. Checking for yourself in each individual country is certainly the best bet.

  • Allison
    Posted at 01:58h, 15 December

    I travel to SE Asia a fair bit, mostly Thailand and Bali and have never used Grab. I will be downloading it now for my next trip in March. I’ll let you know how it all works out ?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 02:03h, 15 December

    Hello Allison. Great. We’d love to hear what your experience is like.

  • Ami
    Posted at 03:47h, 15 December

    I think the biggest advantage is the fact that the prices are fixed. The taxi guys cannot take you for a ride if that is so. And that itself is reassuring. Thanks for the detailed analysis of the operators. Will definitely be taking your advice when I head to these countries next.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 03:50h, 15 December

    Hi Ami. Exactly! We absolutely love that. We have been scammed way too many times by taxi drivers so GRAB is definitely our go to now. We enjoy our ride so much more without the stress. 🙂

  • Tracy
    Posted at 10:05h, 15 December

    I hardly usd Grab, most of the time is Uber. I am not sure about other cities or countries, but in Jakarta, Indonesia, Uber has started to use set prices, too. So, no more price range which give shock at the end. I feel it! Haha..?

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 10:10h, 15 December

    Hey Tracy. That’s great news about uber in Jakarta. Thanks for sharing.

  • Roger Wellington (www.wetnoseescapades.com)
    Posted at 19:31h, 15 December

    I’ve always been an Uber/Lyft user everywhere I go (usually Uber when I’m overseas), but now I gotta check out Grab! Very useful post. Thanks for the information!

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 19:33h, 15 December

    Hello Roger. Thank you. Yes try Grab for yourself and let us know what you think.

  • Sandy N Vyjay
    Posted at 01:45h, 16 December

    The idea of set fare charges is great part of GRAB. So helpful , that you’ve shared GRAB as a tool for transportation. They also provide motorbike which is cheaper than car , GRAB has some amazing benefits.

  • The Travel Ninjas
    Posted at 01:57h, 16 December

    Hell Sandy and Vyjay. Thank you. We love set fares. The motorbikes are a great feature, but we usually travel as a couple so a 1 car is actually cheaper than 2 motorbikes.

  • Claire
    Posted at 15:01h, 31 January

    I also discovered GRAB for the first time this month in Cebu in the Philippines and also agree, what a brilliant service! Made us feel really safe and it was very well priced!!