Phuket reviews taxi rates after “Sandbox” tourists report high prices

Stock photo by Ingo Joseph on Unsplash

The notoriously high taxi rates in Phuket have been looked into after reports of overcharging the “Sandbox” tourists. The governor says he ordered local authorities to review claims of overpriced rides and found that rates are appropriately priced. From the Phuket International Airport to Patong, a “Sandbox” tourist can pay 600 to 1,050 for a ride.

One tourist planning a trip under the Phuket Sandbox model made a post on Facebook saying that a hotel in Patong beach told her it would be 900 baht from the airport to the hotel. She had stayed at the hotel several times in the past and says she never had to pay that much.

“I know in the past I have not paid that much to get to Patong, same hotel, and I see some people paying 700 through their hotel. Wondering if we can just get SHA+ ride at the airport and has anyone done that and knows the prices from the airport independent of the hotel.”

People responded with various prices. 800 baht from the airport to Patong. 900 baht to Karon. 1,350 to Kata Noi beach.

Even with prices ranging from 600 baht and up, Phuket taxi fares have always been notoriously 3 x the price of Bangkok taxi fares. Efforts by successive governors, police and even the army following the 2014 coup, have failed to temper the local ‘Taxi mafia” on the island. The cabal has ruled Phuket’s transport system for decades and stymied any efforts for alternative transport options for Phuketians and visitors.

The Facebook discussion gained national media attention when Phuket Professional Tourist Guide vice president Nattakorn Ruengroj shared screenshots of the post and said the tourists “are the stars who will advertise tourism in Phuket for free. Let’s not let ourselves down with the same bad habits.”

The Phuket governor ordered provincial authorities to look into the claims of the high taxi rates. In a report from the Thai media outlet Khaosod, the governor said there were no taxis were found to be overcharging.

According to the Phuket governor, a ride for “Sandbox” tourists from the airport to Patong through the Phuket Business Service Car Service Cooperative can range from 800 to 850 baht. Transporation arranged by a hotel can range from 600 to 1,050 baht.

The governor says local authorities reviewing the taxi fares found that many tourists have not arrived on the island yet and had just asked for the price in advance. The tourist who wrote the Facebook post in question has not arrived and the hotel has since reduced the fare to 600 to 700 baht.

Phuket reopened through the Sandbox model on July 1, allowing those foreign tourists who are vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter the island province without undergoing a 14-day quarantine. Tourists need to stay in a hotel certified to operate under the scheme by the Amazing Thailand Safety and Health Administration, or SHA.

The tourism scheme will serve as a pilot project for Thailand’s nationwide reopening. Surat Thani is planned to reopen under the similar “Samui Plus” scheme on July 15.

Phuket reviews taxi rates after "Sandbox" tourists report high prices | News by Thaiger

SOURCES: Khaosod | Bangkok Post

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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.

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