I am not the first nor the last here to write this.
The very minute you hit the road in Bangkok and have a look at your map (where are we going next?), you will have someone friendly come to you and offer help. These friendly people are ofte directly related to tuk tuk drivers or shops. They will say anything to get you have a trip with a tuk tuk with stops at many tourist shops.
Mostly this sounds like this:
"Where do you want to go?" ... "Oh, Wat xyz, that is closed today (or until 2 p.m. or whatever) because of a Buddhist holiday" - Don?t believe it. They don?t close their temples or museums because of that. Always believe your guide book on that and not what people tell you. We were told this 3 times in one day, and it was never true.
On it goes: "But, I would propose you go to this Wat instead, that is very nice. I can get you a tuk tuk to bring you there. They make special price today because of Buddhist holidays "(or world fair, or because only it is Wednesday or whatever). "They will bring you there for only 20 or 40 Baht.".
Yes they will. But they will also bring you to a jade shop, a yeweller, a Thai silk shop, a souvenir shop, a .... I think you got it.
It also does not matter if you really buy something in these shops. They get their commission by just bringing you there.
One more thing that is quite typical for Bangkook is the yewellery scam.
They try to persuade you that you can make money by buying yewels cheap in Thailand and then reselling it at shops where you live.
Don?t do this! For once you have no idea what the colorful stones you are offered are really worth if you are no expert. As a normal tourist you won?t even be able to distinct them from fake stones or even glass. Second: you won?t be able to resell them at home (not even at the addresses they may give you, they are not real either). Also don?t trust in any certificates they may show you- paper is patient.
If there was money in it, they would not need to rely on tourists to do the trade.
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!
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.
When I took a tuk tuk ride during my visit to Bangkok in September 2007, I was well aware of their reputation for failing to deliver tourists to their requested destinations.
I therefore decided that my tuk tuk ride would be solely for the experience value – I didn’t need to be anywhere, so I’d jump in, see the sights and see what happened!
I agreed a fee of 20 Bahts (0.30 GBP) in advance with the driver for him to take me to the giant standing Buddha at Wat Intharawihan, the Golden Mount and then back to the Grand Palace. I could always ask him to stop at any other interesting sights en route.
The journey started as planned. I visited the giant standing Buddha while my driver waited outside for me for 5 - 10 minutes.
However, when I returned, he told me that the Golden Mount was closed until the afternoon and he would instead take me to another small temple nearby. At this temple, the room containing the “Lucky Buddha” was closed, but a man outside kindly offered me the opportunity to buy jewellery (available today only!) that I could sell back home for 5 times the price!
The next stop was an unscheduled one at a factory, despite me repeatedly telling the driver I wasn’t interested in visiting a factory. I refused to get out, so the driver reluctantly drove on.
We stopped at another small temple where the man who was responsible for its upkeep tried to sell me a variety of tours (which had to be booked that day – the last day of the sales!).
My driver was intent on getting some commission one way or another, so he drove me to a “fashion shop”. I again refused to get out and browse. The driver pleaded with me to do so, in order that he would get a “coupon” for having taken me there. We discussed it for a few minutes and eventually reached an impasse. He established that I wasn’t going to go inside the shop, and I established that he wasn’t going to drive me back to the Grand Palace. I handed him a 20 Baht note and walked back to the palace. No harm done – it was a great experience at very little cost!
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 tuks are great fun! and an essential Bangkok experience. Be aware of touts stopping you with amazing good English, on their way to somewhere close, who are happy to grab your Lonely Planet - and circle highlights etc., - and hail a coincidentally passing tuktuk, negoitiation a 20Baht ride around the whole city! You will be about to start a real journey via travel shops, jewellery stores, tailors, silk factories etc. - happened to me once, and I just said, NO, will pay you plenty fair fare to take me where I want to go. Negotiate the prices, and, if there are more than one passenger, ensure that the price is for the whole fare, not PER PERSON. If they try it on at the other end, raise your voice (assertively, not aggressively), and point out that the negotiated fare was...... , pay and leave. Saving face is most important to them. They will often have a little wry smile, and leave with no trouble at all. Remember that these are poor people, who drive government vehicles, and survive by their wits, and witless tourists. Don't take it too seriously, as any of us who travel to Asia have much more money and resources than these fellows.
I have found that many of the tuktuk drivers in Thailand are amazingly smart and resourceful - and I admire them. Have cultivated a few relationships with them, and the wheeling and dealing stops immediately. They will actually give you very honest and loyal service - and wait for you anywhere. Ours found me in the street near the hotel one night looking for some pills for my ill husband - insisted on taking me to nearest 7Eleven, and refused to accept money.
You simply can't go to Bangkok without experiencing the traffic in a tuktuk! - and the experience of getting to know one of these guys can be great.
Cheers and safe journey to all.
There is always the temptation of travelling on a Tuk Tuk.
If you really want to experience the heat, carbon monoxide and the dangers of being run over by a huge truck, by all means.
The Tuk Tuk driver will turn off the engine when stuck in traffic and you will enjoy the "sweat" of your life!
Don't forget to bargain before boarding the "infamous" Tuk Tuk. Be prepared for some close shaves!
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've read it here to beware of tuktuk drivers..boy, it was helpful...not an hour had passed since we've settled in our hotel, we decided to go to siam square.we thought, it's just near, so it's better to take the tuktuk..but then we got in a debate with the driver coz he insisted that we drop by at his friend's store so he could get free gas..and we said " NO NO NO"..if we havent read it here about the scams, we would have said ok ok....but instead we stepped out of the tuktuk and hailed a taxi instead...never again, we tried riding a tuktuk...if your destination is just near, just walk..if its not near enough then take a taxi...it's better to spend more than around 20baht than be a victim...trust me, our hotel staff even discouraged us from riding a tuktuk....
The Tuk Tuk drivers seem unscrupulous in the extreme, trying everything to squeeze you out of extra Baht!
We were warned that they often offer 'sightseeing tours' or just plain try to drive you to businesses where they can get commission even if you've already agreed a route! These are all either expensive scams at worst or a waste of your time at best!
Still, to ride a Tuk Tuk is a quintessential Bangkok experience so make sure you agree on a route and a price beforehand and arm yourself with a streetmap - the moment he deviates from that route, be prepared to raise merry hell!
Tuk tuks are only useful for short trips partly to avoid the lead poisoning you receive on longer trips and Taxi become cheaper over the longer haul because of their meters...
As for taxis...
On the most part they're fine as they are metered by distance. Out of the numerous taxis we used, only one gave us hassles and that was the one to the airport!
Our Hotel (The Royal) was guilty of being complicit in allowing a taxi agent in its foyer to charge twice the price for the airport (400B as opposed to 200B!). Naturally I don't like being ripped off and so got a cab outside, to which the driver said that would cost 400B upfront and I said it wouldn't.
We demanded the meter be turned on, which he did grudgingly and what followed was a tense and ill-tempered battle of wills between myself and the taxi driver beginning with him starting to drive in completely the opposite direction down backstreets forcing me to hastily grab my streetmap!
Luckily it was only a minute or two before he came upon a landmark I recognised and I had to command him at every turn in an unfamiliar city at night time to reach the airport over 20kms away to the north!
We made it in 45 mins despite his repeated attempts to go the wrong way and the fare came in at a respectable 211B, saving me the equivalent of £3...
Was it worth all the aggro? Maybe not - but it was the principle of the thing and I will not be knowingly cheated out of my money!!!
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