Not a good idea to ask for a recommendation for accommodation, unless the agenda of the advisor is evident or disclosed. When we were refused our exit from Tachilek, we had no choice but to trudge down to the travel agency to attempt to purchase flights back to Yangon. Unfortunately, flights were all booked out - and we subsequently learned they had been cancelled that day.
When we asked for an accommodation recommendation, the staffer made a phone call to the River Side Hotel, and obtained a price and reservation - for 700Baht. We walked the lengthy meandering distance to the hotel, to be greeted by a very unfriendly and huffy effeminate little man, who told us the price was 900Baht. My righteous indignation was well and truly piqued by this stage - and I told him to stick his room! Ironically, as you can see on the photograph, a friendly welcome in ENGLISH is emblazoned on the entrance of this hotel - which was the most unfriendly greeting I had ever received looking for accommodation.
Unique Suggestions: Have your trusty Lonely Planet or other guide book, and have an idea of the accommodation options, before accepting the recommendation. I am sure that this is mostly OK, as long as you are aware that you will be paying an inflated price, due to the "middle man" factor.
Fun Alternatives: Ring and book ahead, and have the guesthouse you want send someone to the airport to collect you. If you get a tuktuk or taxi service, you are STILL not guaranteed to be taken to the right place. This is in another tip!
- Budget Travel
Beware the tuktuk driver with the lack of English
When I didn't think I could get more cheesed off, we finally decided to pile the packs into a tuk tuk, and asked to be taken to a guesthouse which was on top of the steep hill in front of us. So, pointing was all that was required! "Take us there". Lots of feigning no understand, and an obviously strange route later, we were taken to a guesthouse, with a dumb shrug. Commission situation very apparent, as the driver hung around. At that point, I uttered a few expletives, and just elected to stay.
Even when we arrived in the town, we struck up a conversation with a guide from Yangon, who was coming to the border to meet a group of Israeli tourists coming from Thailand. He recommended the hotel he stayed at, and told us he would get some commission for this referral.
Unique Suggestions: If its important to go to the guesthouse of your choice, just stand your ground and insist.
Fun Alternatives: You can also ring ahead, and have the guesthouse operators collect you from the airport, to avoid the wrangling.
- Budget Travel