TukTuk & Taxi Drivers: Scams in Bangkok
After touching down in Bangkok and grabbing the train to the center of the city, we couldn't seem to get a taxi to take us to our hotel. Well we could get a taxi but none of the drivers wanted to use their meter. What they want is to grossly over charge you. Hell no! Finally, a Thai family helped us flag one down and sent us on our way. After that episode, the knowledge that the tuk-tuk drivers do the same, and having come off the Vietnamese haggle highway we decided to walk and bus it.
Then we met a guy.
Yep, after Wat Pho we set out to see the Palace and as we walked past one of the service gates a gentleman dressed in what looked like an official uniform approached us and told us it was closed (which it was). He then proceeded to show us a map and told us to check out all of these different places, one of which included the super amazing silk “factory”. Having just purchased a dress made of Thai silk while in Hoi An, Vietnam I was excited to see how the material was made. He said you should only pay a tuk-tuk 30 baht to see the three places he recommended. Normally, he said, a driver would try to charge you 100 baht but 30 is the correct price to pay. 'Wow', we thought. Thanks for the great advice and getting a tuk-tuk driver to go to all these places for such a great price. We were then on our way to Golden Mountain, a temple built atop a hill where you can experience breathtaking views of the city. After our visit there the driver informed us the other temple had just closed (it was 5pm by then) but the silk “factory” was still open. A man showed up while our tuk-tuk driver went to the bathroom and began chatting to us. He said he was a lawyer from NYC here visiting his family and also recommended seeing the silk “factory.” It was where he bought all of his suits and the district it was located in was a great tourist attraction. We began having some apprehensions and should have called it quits then since we had just bought an array of clothing in Hoi An. The tuk-tuk driver then proceeds to take us on the scariest ride through downtown rush hour traffic to a tailor. Yes, a tailor. Not a silk factory! I have never been more afraid for my life than on that tuk-tuk ride. I just closed my eyes and gripped the seat. When we finally got there, we knew what was up and refused to go in to this silk “factory.” The driver then yells at us and says he is sponsored by them to take us there and told us to at least should go in for five minutes. We sat down with a sales person, looked through a few magazines, and basically let him know we were just looking since we had just bought clothing in Hoi An. We said our thanks and left to get the crazy tuktuk driver to take us back to our hotel. Of course we had the driver take us to the corner rather than the actual hotel, however he refused to stop several times when asked. Finally my husband jumped out and forced him to stop the tuk-tuk. The driver then started yelling at Steve and told him he didn’t have any change for the forty baht he had given him. When Steve asked for his change again, the driver continued to yell and asked Steve if he wanted to box. When Steve got in his face and told him he’d box him to the ground the driver gave us our change, became quiet, and drove away. I couldn't believe Steven was trying to get his measly 30 cents, but it ws the principal and I got that. Plus it was pretty sexy seeing him get so fired up. My hero. Thank you Steven for protecting us against this scam artist. We definitely will not be talking to ANYONE who approaches us in Bangkok again! So here’s the scam. You’ll be approached by some one who speaks fairly good English outside of a tourist attraction. They’ll never really be at the main entrances. They’ll tell you the place is closed but they can show you places you may like and even hook you up with a driver to take you there for a good price. They’ll take you to maybe one of the places you want to go to but then you’ll be taken to a place where they try to make a hard sell of something. In our case it was a tailor. Other places are gem shops or travel agencies where they’ll try and charge outrageous prices for what they claim are precious gems or hard to come by travel arrangements. Solution to this scam - don’t talk to anyone who approaches you on the street asking 'where you going?', 'where you from?', or if you need help finding some place just consult google or ask a Westerner. In our case the gentleman was nicely dressed and was hanging around a back entrance just at closing time for the palace. These guys don’t dare hang around the actual entrance where you can actually tell if the place is closed or not.
To be fair, these pictures here are of a previous tuktuk driver, not the crazy one! No matter, won't use them again.