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Thailand’s taxi and tuk tuk scams and annoyances

The Thaiger

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“Where are you going?”, they shout from across the road. A Tuk Tuk driver wants to help you get to your next destination but the willing smile and lure of a ride in a local jalopy may have switched off your trusty scam-detector.

Tuk Tuks and taxis, and the motorbike taxis too, are a convenient, safe and reasonably cheap way to get around Bangkok and other provinces in Thailand (except Phuket where the taxis and tuk tuks are run by a local cabal and are hideously over-priced). Most of the drivers are good, honest Thais making a living. But there are a few who will ‘take you for a ride’ and not necessarily the destination you had in mind.

The best policy is to have some knowledge and know what to do in advance, before you even get in.

Thailand's taxi and tuk tuk scams and annoyances | News by The Thaiger

The Cheap Tuk Tuk Ride

A casually dressed, English-speaking Thai man starts talking to you. In a friendly, conversational way you are asked “Where are you going”? On his handy chart are some local tourist recommendations – a temple, a shrine, a waterfall, a market, a view-point. The asking price is low and before you know it you’re heading for some locally recommended tourist haunt instead of where you wanted to go.

Along the way there are recommendations to drop into other markets, silk factories, shops, restaurants and gem stores. Here the prices are expensive and the ride to get back to your accommodation or original destination is now much higher.

This is a classic scam played out daily in various parts of the country. It all seems innocent enough and, hey, you’re here for an adventure. But the commissions along the way leave you out of pocket and probably too polite to say much about it. And you’re in a foreign country and don’t want to turn down a local’s friendly offer, right?

Thaiger Tip

A tuk tuk or taxi ride anywhere for a really low price should be a red flag. Best to ask your hotel reception about the local going rate for a taxi or tuk tuk before you venture out for the day. Be firm but polite if you feel you need to decline their offers. If the cheap fare their offering is too good to be true, it probably is.

Getting a ‘Scenic Tour’ or going to the Wrong Destination

A lot of your travails, if you happen to come across any problems with tuk tuk and taxi drivers, will likely come down to ‘misunderstandings’. Most public transport providers around Bangkok, and most of the tourist hot spots, will speak enough English, or maybe a bit of Chinese and Russian, for you to be able to explain where you want to go.

If you just babble your desired location and assume your driver completely understood you, you’re probably wrong. Check that they know where you want to go, show them a photo, get your hotel concierge to explain it, show them the map on your smartphone. Get an acknowledgement to be sure.

A problem you may encounter is the ‘long route’ to wherever you’re going. If you insist on a metered journey this is more likely to happen. The driver can just sit in a traffic jam earning money at your expense. If you negotiate a fixed fee for the journey, before you get in, this is unlikely to happen and, from a business point of view, the driver will be keen to get you where you’re going and find the next fare.

The other scam is to intentionally take you to the wrong destination where you will then point out it’s not where you wanted to go. Of course, after admitting the ‘misunderstanding’, they’ll gladly take you to the correct location, for another fee.

Thaiger Tip

You’re a tourist in a foreign country. It’s probably difficult to know if you are heading in the right direction or going by the best and fastest route. Technology can really help in these situations. In Thailand you can get a local sim card at the airport or local convenience stores. They will require a copy of your passport front page for local ID, but it’s well worth being able to use all the latest Apps and maps on your phone to keep a track of where you are. Internet in Thailand is very reliable and cheap.

By the way, if you do get into any difficulties call the Tourist Place, anywhere in Thailand, on 1155.

The Case of the Malfunctioning Meter

By law, all taxis are required to charge you by the meter. In reality that rarely happens though in Bangkok officials are really ramping up spot inspections to make sure they do. In Phuket, it will likely NEVER happen. From the airports in Bangkok you will have no problem getting a metered taxi although there’s plenty of touts hanging around the arrival area, especially at Suvarnabhumi, who will try and intercept you before you find the proper metered taxi booth.

But it’s not all bad having to negotiate a set fee for your journey although a bit of homework beforehand will put you in a stronger position to negotiate a price. Negotiate means ‘negotiate’. Try for a lower fare, with a smile, and settle for something reasonable. It’s not a battle to the death and dragging it out and accusing them of being ‘rip offs’ is not going to help.

“Meter no work” is a common phrase you’ll encounter. You will have two options – politely thank them for the information and walk away or negotiate a set fee. If you really have no idea of an approximation of the fare then find a taxi with a working meter or ask a local for help.

There are also turbo-charged meters where the meter has been ‘fiddled’ to click over at a faster rate. If you suspect you’ve been scammed by a turbo charged meter take some photos of the meter and the taxi and contact the Tourist Police – 1155.

Thaiger Tip

Usually, but not always, you’ll get a better rate on the meter. So push for the driver using the meter, especially if it’s sitting there on their dashboard! Believe us, the meter works.

Alternatives

• Grab Car (and Grab Bike) is a great alternative, especially in Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin (and plenty of other popular locations these days). Not so much in Phuket where the Grab Car fees are about the same as the local, artificially high taxi rates. The ‘disruptive’ taxi technology puts safety, ease-of-use, fairness and transparency back in the hands of the user, instead of the taxi driver.

• In Bangkok Grab Car is usually cheaper than local taxis and a lot easier to use. Same with Grab Bike when compared to the local ‘Win’ motorbike taxi drivers.

• In Phuket push for the taxi driver to use their meter but realise this may be a losing battle. Sometimes a pre-arranged pick-up will avoid problems but will probably end up costing you more. Tuk Tuks (red Diahatsu vans) only operate in the tourist areas and don’t have meters – you’ll need to negotiate every time.

• In Chiang Mai there’s the red baht buses, more like a small truck with space in the back for passengers. Know where you are going and be careful that you know the fee before you get in. Grab is popular in the northern city and taxis are usually quite reliable.

• In Pattaya the baht buses travel around all the well-trodden tourist areas and are very cheap and reliable. Taxis in Pattaya will often have ‘problems’ with their meters so be ready to haggle for a reasonable price.

• Tuk Tuks look different in different parts of the country. The ‘famous’ tuk tuks are the three-wheelers in Bangkok (also in Hua Hin). In Phuket they’re three cylinder Diahatsu mini vans, usually red. In Pattaya and Chiang Mai they’re usually ‘baht buses’ and not called tuk tuks by locals.

Thailand's taxi and tuk tuk scams and annoyances | News by The Thaiger

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Crime

9 arrested for sharing “fake news” about Covid-19, government handouts

Jack Burton

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9 arrested for sharing “fake news” about Covid-19, government handouts | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

9 People have been arrested for sharing “fake news” on social media, from May 25 to yesterday, according to Thailand’s Anti-Fake News Centre. 3 were connected to false stories about Covid-19 and a further 6 made bogus claims about the government’s cash handouts to the needy.

The AFNC, together with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, said yesterday that fake news has been on the wane since January. But they stressed that people can be jailed for up to 5 years for spreading fake news and/or fined 100,000 baht. Fines and jail time are also in place for spreading rumours about or breaking the Emergency Decree.

The details of the 9 cases (names withheld) are:

  • A woman claimed that another woman fell down from Covid-19 at a shopping centre in Rayong
  • A man in Suphanburi claimed that garlic could cure the virus
  • A woman in Chon Buri shared a story about ginger, honey and other extracts curing Covid-19
  • Cases 4-9 all related to stories across 6 provinces in which people claimed that information submitted to receive the 5,000 baht government handouts was being used by the state to extract tax payments

SOURCES: thaivisa | Daily News

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Technology

Cyber minister wants Netflix-like Thai streaming platform

Jack Burton

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Cyber minister wants Netflix-like Thai streaming platform | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TheSmartLocal

Thailand’s minister of digital economy and society, aka. “cyber minister” says that Thailand should have its own streaming platform to bring in revenue and promote Thai movies and television overseas. Puttipong Punnakan remarked at a forum that creating a Netflix-like platform to stream and sell Thai films and series to foreign audiences would reel some sweet, sweet subscription revenue into the kingdom. He also says that the government would help support the promotion of the entertainment sector, following South Korea’s highly successful lead.

“Why doesn’t Thailand have a Thai social media or online services platform of our own? We’re always using foreign ones, sending advertising revenue and online shopping revenue overseas.”

“If Thailand can assemble some good content, then we can export it in the same way South Korea does. Team Thailand will consist of the private sector as well as the support of the government.”

California-based streaming giant Netflix, hugely popular among middle-class Thais and expats alike, has a wide range of Thai movies and series, as well as Thai-language series which it produces. But whether a Thai version could actually succeed remains in doubt, as the Thai government isn’t known for creating popular media, especially the current government.

During his junta years, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s weekly program reached record lows in viewership. A government-sponsored film promoting “12 Values” expounded by Prayut was also ridiculed on social media. And do you remember his song “Bringing the Happiness Back to Thailand’? (below… but only you REALLY have to).

One Thai political party has even publicly denounced Netflix’s billboard ads of its “Sex Education” show, much to the mockery of youths across the country.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Thailand

Thailand News Today – Friday, June 5

The Thaiger

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Thailand News Today – Friday, June 5 | The Thaiger

Former senior prosecutor says Thai Airways rehab plan will unveil extensive corruption

A former senior Thai crime prosecutor predicts that the rehabilitation plan for Thai Airways is bound to expose extensive corruption in the management of the stricken airline.

Wanchai Roujanavong says what’s about to come will be the revealing of a veritable Pandora’s Box of dishonesty and bad practice that the public would otherwise never be made aware of.

One example he gives is the allegedly exorbitant fees the carrier paid to lease aircraft, a major reason for the national airline’s ongoing heavy losses. Leasing arrangements were allegedly conducted through several agents with the approval of the board. Wanchai says that without the approved rehabilitation plan, “the public would continue to be kept in the dark, while the parasites carried on sucking the blood out of the airline.”

The airline is believed to have accrued debts of around 200-300 billion baht.

Lumpini boxing stadium officials side-lined over Covid-19 cluster

Thailand’s army chief Apirat Kongsompong is ordering the transfer of all committee members at the Lumpini Boxing Stadium in Bangkok.

The dressing down and side-lining of the officials comes after the committee went ahead with a boxing match at the stadium on March 6, two days after the government ordered such venues to close, as part of the Covid-19 lockdown measures.

The stadium is owned and operated by the Royal Thai Army.

The stadium was later found to be a hotzone for the virus, generating a cluster of hundreds of infections that spread beyond Bangkok and into other provinces. Subsequent inspections revealed serious problems with the venue’s hygiene and disease prevention measures.

Show of support for Japanese man stranded in Pattaya

Several local organisations have rallied to help a homeless Japanese man living on Pattaya beach after being left destitute by the Covid-19 crisis.

It’s understood that Pattaya Tourist Police found the visibly upset man sitting on the beach with his luggage.

The Pattaya Japanese Association was called to translate and police learned that the man had been stranded in Pattaya since the outbreak of the virus and had simply run out of money. The Association paid for the man to stay in a local hotel and provided him with food, before organising his transport to the Japanese Embassy in Bangkok. Officials are now arranging for the man’s return to his family in Japan.

Electricity discount has been switched off

The Ministry of Energy has announced that the national electricity discount from March to May, which differed based on the amount of electricity used and size and type of the venue, has ended and will not be renewed.

But, at best, the discount was merely a perfunctory political gesture, not a useful saving for most Thai residences. The discount was a measly 3% for most people.

Phuket’s airport to re-open on June 16

There’s a hot tip that Phuket Airport will be re-opening on June 16. Although not confirmed yet, three discount airlines are taking bookings from Thursday, June 16, at least from Phuket to Bangkok as well as a few other select domestic ports.

The airport’s management has been posting photo opportunities of cleaners and inspections in recent days, signalling that things are warming up at the airport, closed down since April 3.

The three airlines are Thai Air Asia, VietJetAir and Nok Air. The prices ranged from 1,100 – 1,700 on the day and there are some cheaper flights later in the month.

Four new BTS stations open on Bangkok’s Green Line

The new BTS Green Line extension, running between Mor Chit station and Khu Khot station in Rangsit, was opened to the public today.

The green line extension, which has four stations, was officially launched by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha this morning, and opened to travellers at 1.30pm.

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