My husband and I believe ourselves to be pretty savvy and had prepared ourselves before arriving in Bangkok for all the possible scams etc (or so we thought). While walking to the palace, we were greeted by a friendly-faced old man, carrying an umbrella and a briefcase. He asked us where we were from, and he told us he was a professor on his way to University (flashed us some sort of ID and pointed across the park to the University's location). After some friendly chit-chat he then proceeded to tell us that the palace was closed due to celebrations (a line we knew to expect from touts and taxi drivers, but one we weren't expecting from a nice old University professor). Next thing we know, he's arranging a tuk tuk (taxi) for us, explaining how we can avoid getting scamed by taking the ones with the green license plates because the yellow ones were illegal (or something to that effect). Next thing we know, we're thanking him and off we set in the tuk tuk who is going to take us to some obscure temple. But as soon as he stops first at a silk shop we recognise we've been had...so we toss him a few coins and head off on foot back to the palace, which of course....is open.
We got along absolutely fine for the rest of the trip via public bus. You can get a map with the bus routes from the tourism offices...and you can save more money for the great food!
If a Tuk Tuk driver offers you a ride through town for less then 20 Baht just pass cause you will end up at warehouses where you will be offered "a special price" for suits or souvenirs and the driver of course gets a commission for that.
When a taxi or Tuk Tuk driver tells you that he needs to collect gas vouchers before he sends you to your destination, you will need to be firm and say no or get off the car quickly.
These drivers would drive you to jewellery shop and before you know it, you will be purchasing some gems that you would not be needing it.
Unfortunately yes, this is another gem scam.
They seem friendly at first,
but eventually turned out to be
looking for a commission and more.
They might tell you during your ride that,
to receive some extra gas money
they would like to deliver you to an
unscrupulous jeweler or gemstone shop,
but you need not buy anything.
It’s hard to avoid getting on a tuk tuk,
with a driver who won’t try.
This has been occurring regularly over the years,
yet the authorities, though aware of this situation,
have been unable to find the solution
to deal with such practices.
Hmmm…I wonder why.
But after the first time,
or even the second,
you start getting tired of this same request
and wonder if you won’t be taken to the same shop twice.
I had a no. of bad experiences while in bangkok (3rd-7th July 2004). This is one of them. Within just 4 days in bangkok, I encountered one case of a taxi driver taking me to a restaurant other than the one I specified. Since I have never been to the restaurant, I had the bell boy at the hotel to make sure that the driver knows where the particular place is. After the assurance, I hopped onto the cab but lo and behold, I was intentionally brought to one that obviously has some sort of 'reward' system for drivers who bring customers to them.
Another incident was with a tuk tuk driver. Despite having agreed on the price to get to MBK, I was brought to a quiet alley near the hotel and the driver demanded 10 times the agreed amount. Otherwise, he suggested that I follow his 'itenary' to visit factories and restaurants, obviously his "sponsors". I took a picture of the tuk tuk registration nos. See left.
I am not sure what I can do differently to avoid being dubbed by drivers like these. It is all the more frustrating when there seems to be no other way but to keep my fingers crossed and hope to be lucky! I never thought I would say this of a city, but after travelling half the globe, Bangkok is the only city that I would not want to go back to.
Tuk Tuks are quite fun to sit in because they look so cute. It's like a cross between a scooter and a trishaw.
You must negotiate and agree on the fare BEFORE getting onto the tuk tuk.
Tuk Tuks can be quite dangerous as they're open and do not feature safety belts. And they travel VERY fast. :)
Quite an experience really, but not cool if you're stuck in traffic jams (which are plenty) and you have to breathe in exhaust...
When visiting major sights (e.g. Grand Palace) there are many tuk tuk drivers waiting for innocent tourists and telling them that the sight is closed today or that the entrance is far away or that today is a special government promotion and that they can get very cheap jewellery. Don´t get in the tuk tuk, it is not true!
You will likely be approached at places like the Grand Palace and Wat Po and told, falsely, that they are closed today but for a very cheap price a tuk-tuk will take you around the city. The person will seem official and say they are with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. But the TAT doesn't send people out that way. Anyway, if you take the tuk-tuk you will see lesser sights squeezed between trips to tailor stores, jewelers, etc, whether you're interested or not.
They may also take you to a travel agent who will imply they are associated with the government. They will book you at a much higher price than you could get on your own. And if you meet an agent named Ninja, run the other way FAST.
I really liked the tuktuk-experience, but if you want to take one, be careful. The driver will often try to persuade you to take you to a silk or jewelry shop or some restaurant. Keep saying no and they will give up eventually and take you where you have to be. If that doesn't help, ask him to stop and get out without paying.
Tuk tuk may sound a nice way to see citylife. However, I haven´t still succed to get where I wanted in Bangkok.
They always first give a very cheap price. After they have driven a block away, they start offering a city tour or they suddenly "know" one little shop you definately have to see.
Instead of tuk tuk, take a taxi. It´s air conditioned and reliable. But be sure you both have understanding about the price before you go in or the meter is properly on.
ABOUT THE SPEEDY 'TUK-TUK' RIDES
Hey, did you notice the crashed tuk-tuk on the upper front of the shop ? How did it land there, is still a mystery... or maybe not...
I read in some homepages written by other tourists and telling that having a ride in a 'tuk-tuk' (a 3 wheeled vehicle) is a great fun when the driver gets over happy under the bemusement of the passengers.
I would like to warn you today about some 'tuk-tuk' drivers' habits. As driving a 'tuk-tuk' is quite exhausting (traffic jams/pollution/heat), most of them take drinks (not to mention anything else...) aimed at boosting their physical condition. Thus, they can drive longer hours and get more money.
I think that driving under the influence of such 'drugs' is a crime.
So, if one day you are the one to be the passenger, please do not let the driver goes crazy and remember these useful two words (which could save your life) chacha noy (which means 'please slow down'.)
We have seen too many bad accidents because of such stupid behaviors from the 'tuk-tuk' drivers. Remember ? Chacha noy, chacha noy...
Be ware of the Tuk-tuk drivers. They are all hustlers and will try to cheat you (and they are very good too). If you descide to take one of theese for a ride, make it clear that you dont want to make a stop... (The trick is that they ask you for a favour because if they bring customers to a place they get gas cupons. Once inside the shop... Well, You know).
Although the majority of people are lovely and helpful, be careful of some tuk-tuk drivers, who will charge you big prices for short journeys. Try not to travel alone in them, especially at night, and even more so if you are female. Read my tourist traps section for advice on patpong. Be wary of pickpockets.
Well I also have to warn you about those tuck tuck drivers. They are not a real danger, but they try to get you into a shop for buying things. I went into such shop and bought nothing. My tuck tuck driver wanted to bring me into a different shop after visiting another temple. I said NO. And when I was finished visiting that temple he was gone. Oh well... But I didn't had to pay anything - that was the good thing! ;) Those tuck tuck driver operate in only small areas. So I just took a walk back to my guest house at the Khao San road.
Tuk Tuk drivers.
While in Bangkok is is essential to experience a ride in a Tuk Tuk. A reasonable ride shouldn't cost much more than about 50 baht. If it is more expensive than this your journey is probably too long to be taken by Tuk Tuk and you should consider a conventional taxi. Although they are fun, it's not that comfortable and you are exposed to Bangkok's infamous traffic pollution.
Always always agree a price with the driver before you get in. I made this mistake with the guy in the picture. I jumped in and after about 10 yards remembered to ask the price. 300 baht he told me which was way too much but I was not in a position to negotiate as the ride had started. Being ripped off a couple of hundred baht is not the end of the world but it's just irritating that you got ripped off at all.