Scam in Phuket

October 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Related Interests

Beware of vanishing cabbies and pressure sales tactics in Phuket

I WOULD like to warn Singaporeans of some unsavoury sales tactics I encountered in Phuket during my recent visit with my family in the second week of June. When we arrived at Phuket airport, one taxi driver approached us. He agreed to drive us to our hotel for an agreed sum. He then asked us to follow him. We thought he was taking us to his taxi. Instead, he took us to a counter near the exit. A woman tried to sell us a Marriott hotel holiday package, but we said we were not interested. When I returned the brochure to her, she snatched it rudely. And as for the taxi driver, he had disappeared. We made our way out and were greeted by many taxi drivers. We took one. About 20 minutes into our journey from the airport to our hotel in Patong Beach, the cabby turned into a carpark outside a tour agency, saying he had to sign something, and jumped out. We waited for a few minutes. Two women from the tour agency approached us and spoke for more than 15 minutes, asking us to book an island tour. The driver did not come out and we felt stranded and pressured. In the end, we gave in and signed up for the tour at an overpriced rate, as we discovered later. On the day of our tour, the driver came earlier than the specified time and claimed we did not show up. Fortunately, we had many witnesses who saw us waiting at the hotel lobby and carpark. We took a cab to the office to claim a refund. The tour agency agreed to 50 per cent refund or another tour for us the next day. However, our trust in the agency was broken and we did not want to continue. We called the police for assistance, as the situation was becoming aggressive – one of the staff members threatened to pour water over me and my camera because we had taken a photo of the office. With the aid of the police, we managed to get a full refund, minus the 3 per cent charge for using our credit card for payment. I urge the public to be wary of taxi drivers from Phuket airport. First, do your homework on taxi fares to your destination. It is better to hire only metered cabs. Second, as a precaution, tell the taxi driver beforehand you do not want to make any stop on the way to your hotel. I found out it is against a government rule to do so. Third, the number you can call if you run into trouble in Phuket is 1155 (tourist police). Check out the website at
Goh Toke Nang (Mdm)

Latest comments
As a general rule, do not take taxi from touts at any airport anywhere, but especially if you’re traveling with your family. pay a bit more a take a legal taxi (actually you’ll probably end up paying less because the tout will usually try to rip you off). another tip in Thailand, try not to get in a taxi that’s just waiting around hotels and other tourist places but rather hail a taxi that’s coming down the road. and always follow your instincts — if you don’t feel quite right about the driver, don’t get in the car. having said that, I go to Thailand often and have had very few problems with taxis (touch wood) — at least you can almost always get one, and they are less likely to pick and choose than in Singapore. regarding tuagongkia’s comment, personally I think Thailand is still a great place for a holiday, even if they’re having demonstrations or whatever, they won’t bother tourists (unless of course they’re mad enough to close down the airport again, in which case if have to admit that tuagongkia is right).

Posted by: citylights at Mon Jun 22 13:55:03 SGT 2009

I have no pity for those who disregard the social situations in the destination country which they want to travel to. for sole purpose of holiday. As far as I am concern, the recent political scenes only go to show either the general Thai public are selfish nuts or have no respect to the rules of laws. For me, Thailand is deleted from my list of trips for pleasure and holidays. For what, do I need to do that? BTW, I just back from a holiday in another country without any tour group and it was my first time to 2 cities of that country and I fully enjoyed it.

Posted by: tuagongkia at Mon Jun 22 13:31:59 SGT 2009

I did it the “free & easy” way by driving to Phuket (or hire a car at the airport). Drove to all the attractions with local map. My family enjoyed very much. Touts on this island is expected.

Posted by: koktk at Mon Jun 22 11:10:21 SGT 2009

Good letter. Thanks for the tip.

Posted by: Imizxiaowei at Mon Jun 22 09:38:54 SGT 2009

I’ve been to Phuket more then 15 times and always on “Free & Easy” but have never encountered such problems…… My only advice I can give you….. Do your homework!

Posted by: DarrynKP at Mon Jun 22 08:47:57 SGT 2009


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