Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Indie Guide to Thailand: 6 Tips to Avoid Getting Ripped Off in Bangkok

6 Tips to Avoid Getting Ripped Off in Bangkok


The only way to be thrifty in a new city is first knowing what the local standard of cheap is. When you are converting Dollars, Euros or Pounds into Thai Baht everything is relatively inexpensive but seriously, the local businesses are blatantly robbing you blind. To avoid being overcharged because
you do not look and speak like a Thai person I've given what I've learned after being ripped off completely. So my adventurous friends, stand on my shoulders and learn how to save your Baht in Bangkok.



1. From the Airport: Take the bus, it costs from 70-100 Baht (2-3$) and it stops at the major locations including Khao San Road (the backpacker area), Silom Road (where I lived) and other destinations. If you want to take a taxi from the airport, do not use the meter! It will cost much more and they may drive around the city aimlessly to rack up the meter price. Negotiate. Say 250 Baht and be willing to go up to 350-400 Baht. There are highway tolls so make sure you assert that your negotiated price includes the tolls as well, or else they'll ask you to pay them on top of the price you paid for the taxi which may lead you up to 700 Baht. This was written a while ago, please share with us if you know any better!


2. Taking Tuk Tuks: These are crazy fun and the epitome of your Bangkok experience but you have to be careful. There are many stories of people getting taken on a wild hay ride in a tuk tuk, stopping at some weird souvenir shops and then overcharging them for the ride. This has never happened to me and that is because you just have to pretend like you are familiar with Thailand and you’re not a virgin tourist. When you signal over the Tuk Tuk greet them in Thai. Sah-wah-dee kah if you’re a female and Sah-wah-dee-kap if you’re a guy is Hello. Very important, before you hop in negotiate the price and ask how long it will take. Pretend that you are in a rush. This way they won't take you all over the city to visit their buddy's tourist shops.  LEARN THAI NUMBERS. This is the most important thing. It is very simple and will save you so much money. Negotiate lower no matter what. I can’t tell you what an appropriate price is because it depends on your destination, but I’ve paid about 30 Baht for a short ride (5-10 mins) and 100 Baht for something that took much longer. If you’re going for a long ride, take a taxi and if you don’t know a good price to negotiate, use the meter. Always be on your toes and don’t let anyone try to over charge you. The key to negotiating is being ready to walk away. There are many other Tuk Tuks that will take you if they happen to call your toughguy bluff, but at least that way you’ll get a sense of what is the acceptable price to the destination you’re going to. If your stipend from your internship is not $5 a day then you probably can afford to pay more and save yourself the trouble and time.

3. Motorbike Taxis: You will see guys in green and orange vests transporting Thai women in suits and men. These are a form of taxis in Bangkok that has its pros and cons. First, it can be the same price as or a bit more expensive than Tuk T uks. The good thing about them though is that they will get you through the hellish BKK traffic faster than any other mode of transport, which comes in handy when you're about to miss your train to Laos.. The bad thing about them is that they can be dangerous. If you have an accident I've heard they have no insurance and will pretty much just leave you. This is indeed scary sounding, but I can't say that deterred me from using one every day in the summer to get to work in the business district. These guys know what they're doing and where they are going. Because mostly locals take them rather than tourists, they seem to be more honest with their pricing. For a 10 minute ride to work, I paid 30 Baht. As above, use Thai language when you can.

4. Shopping: Go to Thai markets (theee best shopping spots, here). For cute dresses, t-shirts, shorts, jewelerry, you should not be paying much more than 300 Baht for a single article. In fact, when I shop I would look for/negotiate my clothing anywhere from 100-150 Baht. 300 Baht is when I felt like splurging a bit. As I said above, negotiate with Thai numbers! It is important to know that this is not Hong Kong. If you bluff and say you will walk away from a price, they will NOT beg you back as in HK. They will let you go and you will feel silly for having been too stubborn. At the same time you have to assertive and really gauge the situation. If you are buying quality items like watches they will not lower the price that much. The best way to know the cheapest price is to shop around and try your bargaining skills. I gurantee you that if you walk away from one stand because they wouldn't accept your price, then you will find it somewhere else. If not then just come back with your tail between your legs and take the cheapest price they offered, such as what Paul had to do when buying his gold Casio watch.

5. Negotiate everything: I won’t go into it more than I have, but everything you do- shopping, taxis, Tuk Tuks you can get lower than they say. As I mentioned, use Thai numbers and say hello and thank you in Thai. That way they’ll know you’re no newb and they won’t mess with you. Food for the most part is fixed prices so forget el-cheapoing your way through that. Hope this helps and happy traveling!

6. Learn Basic Thai: As mentioned above, this is the most essential to proving you're not a newb to Thailand and you are aware of your surroundings. Everyone will be less inclined to rip you off for sure.

Hello: Sah-wah-dee-kap/kah
Thank You: Kap-kun-Kap/Kah
No: May-shai

Check out more useful phrases here.


See Also..
Indie Guide to Thailand: Bangkok Nightlife

Best Markets in Bangkok: Shopping Guide


Where Do Interns Live in Bangkok? 


Koh Phangan: The Party that Doesn't End (VIDEO)





 Now your turn! Share with your fellow poor travelers any tips you've picked up along the way. Or, if you feel like things have changed. Please let us know what your best deals are and save us poor student intern types money!


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3 comments:

  1. The taxi thing.... I'd make sure that you do use the meter as the drivers that use no meter are pretty dodgy and far less ethical than drivers that use the meter. Now all new taxis must have a meter

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    1. I hear that, but as with Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, putting on the meter doesn't mean you've avoided getting ripped off. Even when they seem not sketchy, i'm been taken for a spin. Thanks for the advice though. I guess the most important thing no matter what taxi you take is to know your route well.

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  2. It is always best to use the meter in Bangkok; you won't get cheaper through negotiation. You can get charged up to double or triple. If you don't know the city it can help to track where they are going on your smartphone's GPS, if you have one. One way or the other it is better to PRETEND you know the city even if you don't; it cuts down on the scamming.

    Tell them NOT to use the toll roads unless it is rush hour; airport to Silom should be around 300B on the meter even if going on the toll roads (not including tolls or the 50B surcharge you pay at the airport.) The toll road isn't actually the most direct way to Silom so it will be even cheaper if you tell them not to use it (plus of course you save on tolls.) As I would only ever get a taxi in the first place in the middle of the night when the 45B Skytrain isn't running, (and when there isn't any traffic) as a rule of thumb you should NEVER be going on the toll roads from the airport! My 2c.

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