What’s Up With The Tuk-Tuk & Taxi Drivers In Bangkok?
So here’s the thing … I’ve been to Thailand many times before but Bangkok has never been high on our travel list. I always wondered why my mum didn’t enjoy this city … but after our trip there this summer, I know. And to be honest, somehow I can understand her.
Here’s a short flashback: We spent two weeks in Thailand at the end of September this year. ”Beach paradise here we come” turned into “Beach paradise where are you?” It was raining cats and dogs for days in a row, so we decided to leave Koh Kood island and explore Bangkok.
What can I say? Bangkok itself is great. You just have to leave all the tourist areas (which is not that easy because it’s THE tourist capital in southeast Asia), and start exploring the rural areas & markets. BUT, if you decide to hit the road with a tuk-tuk or taxi, be sure to watch out, because chances of getting ripped off are … well, high! Why? In my opinion there’s only one simple reason: There are far too many tourists. I mean honestly, most Thais try to rip you off pretty much everywhere. They want your money and they’ll do anything to get it…
Anyway, to get a feeling on what I’m talking about, here are three of our experiences with tuk-tuk & taxis in Bangkok:
It’s 5.30 in the morning and we need to get to Ekkamai bus station. The hotel staff waves up a taxi and tells him where we want to go. So as he starts driving (and doesn’t start the taximeter himself), I ask how much he wants. He replied “Ohhhh, Ekkamai very far, so 200 bath.” He obviously didn’t know that we’ve been to Ekkamai the day before to buy our tickets and therefore we knew that “very far” it not that far after all. So I asked if he was crazy and I wanted him to start the meter. He them seemed to realize that we knew where we wanted to go … still, he didn’t want to give in so he drove a little scenic tour (but since it was early I didn’t bother) and at 81 Bath, the bus station came into sight. He was nice in the end and joked “Haha, sorry 200 Bath to Ekkamai”.
Résumé: No matter how nice (or old) your driver is, they only want your money!
We’ve been walking and waking and walking for I don’t know how long and decided to take a tuk-tuk for the last couple of kilometres. Chao Phraya river was our goal. As soon as we waited along the street, a tuk-tuk driver came along. I asked how much be wanted and he told me 200 Bath. I (again) asked if he was crazy. He just said: “Ok ok we make cheaper, you come in.” So we step into the tuk-tuk and he started driving. Again, I asked how much he wanted. He didn’t reply. After maybe 200 meters he stopped and turned around to show us something. “You come with me to my sponsor, then I make you very cheap price.” I said “No.” He said: “ You only look there, I get extra money from sponsor if I bring you there and then cheap for you.” I started getting pissed off and told him: “You either bring us there for 50 Bath or we go now!” He started getting rude, cursed something is Thai and told us to leave. What we gladly did!
Résumé: Stay away from tuk-tuk drivers. They’re only after (guess what) your money! And if you do give in and drive to these “sponsors”, be prepared to pretty much be forced to buy some really expensive rubbish.
While we were there, it almost seemed like that the tuk-tuk drivers don’t really make good business any more (no wonder with their attitude). We’ve maybe only seen a handful of occupied ones … Anybody notice the same?
This was on our last day in Bangkok. We were exhausted and therefore skipped the train to the airport. Depending on the rush hour,a taxi drive to the airport would cost about 350-400 Bath. And since I didn’t want any hassle I asked the first taxi driver how much he wanted (before stepping into the car). He said 700 and I told him I’d only pay 400 and he could either say yes or no. He said yes. But the hassle was still to come. Again, after about 500 meters, he stopped the taxi, tuned around and said: ”So much traffic today, you pay more … maybe 500 Bath.” This was it for me. I asked him what in the world his problem was and why he was fine with 400 before if he now wanted 500? I was soooo ready to get out of the cab and I had enough of arguing with this guy. In the end, he reluctantly gave in.
Résumé: They are ALWAYS after your cash, so be aware!
- Take the bus, Sky Train or Subway! Buy a day ticket and you’ll not only save money but also unneeded hassle.