I take you there 100Baht
Posted by Heliocentrism on December 4, 2009
December 2, 2009
Scamming the days away
This is my second time in Thailand and Bangkok, but Mark’s first. I Knew most of the scams, because I’ve been scammed. Well, maybe not scammed. It’s more like I wasted a tuk-tuk drivers time because I didn’t have any money in which he could scam away from me.
Here are the scams we came across on our first day:
1- The tuk-tuk driver scam
You, with camera and Lonely Planet in hand, the tell-tale signs that you are a tourist (oh, and the fact that you speak no Thai…), are walking down the street heading for a temple or palace. You meet a kind stranger. He tells you that, whatever your destination is, is closed. Oh so sad for you, because you have to wait for several hours before it re-opens.
But wait, he has an idea. He has a friend who is a tuk-tuk driver and he’s willing to drive you around for a couple of hours. And what luck; today happens to be Gullible Tourist Day! This means that the standing Buddha site and some other sites are free. Hurray! Even better, this will only cost you 10baht if you are willing to go to a few shops and have a look around.
The facts are:
Most tourist sites are open from 8:30-15:30. They do not close for lunch. The “lucky for you free for today” sites they want to take you to, are always free. They just want to get you into some shops because these tuk-tuk drivers are hired by jewelry stores and tailors to lure in customers.
Another scam the tuk-tuk drivers pull on tourist is charging 100THB to go from one tourist spot to another. All the touristy stuff are relatively close to each other in either the Grand Palace area or along the Khao San Road.
On a good day a healthy person can do the long walk from the Grand Palace to Khao San Road. Don’t do it though; it’s rarely a good day in Bangkok. Most days are very, very hot, and tourists often get dehydrated just walking around. Plus, Bangkok is far from a pedestrian friendly city.
Okay, so if you live in the west and you earn dollars, pounds, or euro, this is not a lot of money. But you should know that for 200THB you can take a 45 minute cab ride and almost go from one end of Bangkok to another. And taxis come with AC. That’s what 200THB can get you transportation-wise. A 5 minute tuk-tuk ride for 100THB is a ripe off.
2- The flat rate taxi scam
Never agree to pay a flat rate for a taxi. Taxis are supposed to be metered. This “flat rate” that they offer is way more than the actual cost of the ride. If the cab driver will not use his meter, get out.
To find tuk-tuks and or taxis that are more honest, walk a block or so away from any tourist sites. Remember there are more taxis than people willing to ride in them. Never feel that you have no other option. There are buses, a sky train, a subway, ferries, and hundreds more taxis or tuk-tuks in this city.
The place where Mark and I are staying is very close to the river. We found that moving around the tourist sites via ferry is the easiest way to go. If you are not staying near a pier, I recommend going to Saphan Taksin Station and then catching a ferry at Central Pier. But these boats get ridiculously full during the peak hours. …And sometimes they sink.
More notes about Thai taxis..
- In Bangkok, they are surprisingly cheaper than tuk-tuks.
- You can pay a cab driver to drive you clear across the country, though you will have to ask in advanced.
- You are expected to pay all tolls when you get to the toll booth.
- If you do not want to pay the toll, you must tell the driver before you get in the cab. But, he may refuse to drive you during rush hour. He doesn’t get paid as much for sitting in traffic, so he will rather you pay to take the expressway.
- With traffic in Bangkok, I find that it is always worth the extra 30THB to not sit in traffic.
- Most tourists will never need to take the expressway unless you take a cab to the airport.
- There is an extra 50THB charge for all taxis you take from the airport. This is not really a scam. It’s just how things are.
- There is no extra 50THB fee to take a taxi to the airport and there might be a toll fee as well.
3- The clothes rental scam
This one pertains to the Grand Palace. You cannot enter the palace if your legs or shoulders are exposed. There are shops across the street that will rent you clothes for about 30THB. The price isn’t so bad, but the clothing makes tourists look utterly ridiculous!
When you get to the Grand Palace you can get free clothes that don’t make you look like a sucker, for a 100THB deposit. Return the clothes and you get your money back.
4- The “You’re from _____! I have a cousin who lives in _____!
This one has never been tried on me. When random Thais ask me where I’m from I say, “The Virgin Islands“. All I get is a blank look and a change in conversation. But I see this one being worked on many people around me.
Just today I overheard, “Oh, my brother studied History in Frankfurt!” What a small world. From what I’ve read of this scam, it can end with either a tuk-tuk ride to nowhere, a huge pub bill, or a dead hooker in your hotel room.
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
- Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
- People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
- To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.
- Useful Phone Numbers when in Thailand
- Tourism Authority 662-250-5500
- Emergency Number – 999
- Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
- Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
The Grand Palace
(Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang)
- 13°45’01.1″N 100°29’29.5″E
- Take a boat to Pier N9 or bus #508
- 8:30 – 15:30
- This place is huge and Bangkok is very hot. Bring lots of water.
- Shorts or sleeveless shirts are not allowed in the palace, but you can borrow clothes for free with a deposit.
- Don’t believe anyone who tells you that a temple is closed. All temples are open everyday from about 8:30 to 16:00 rain or shine.
The Reclining Buddha
Walk from the Grand Palace, Pier N8, Bus 508
- (662) 225-9595,
- 08:00 – 17:00
You can get a massage here.
- Regular Massage 250 THB/ hour
- Herbal Massage 350 THB/ hour.
- Don’t wear shorts or you will have to rent a skirt to cover up. Guys will have to rent pants.
- Well… it’s so hot on most days, it might be better to pay a small fee to rent a skirt than having to spend the whole day in long pants.
- The best thing would be to wear Capri pants or a skirt that covers your knees.