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Beware Tuk Tuks with white license plates

December 21st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

We’re on vacation in Thailand visiting Shari, and are spending the first few days in Bangkok. One of the cheapest ways to get around is by Tuk Tuk – the three wheeled vehicle that looks like a rickshaw crashed into a motor bike.

You can get most of the way across the city for about 30 baht ($1), but it has taken us a couple of days and two scams to find out that not all Tuk Tuks are the same. Those with yellow license plates bearing the ‘taxi’ sign on the roof are public and are what they purport to be. But beware the white license plate. Those a privately owned and generally exist only to ferry unwary foreign tourists to high-priced (for Thailand) restaurants, shops and gem stores where the driver gets a commission.

The usual offer is to take you somewhere for 20 baht (60 cents) which is about the going rate, but then to ask if it is OK to stop at a small shopping center because the drive will get a ‘gasoline coupon’ for 5l of fuel (worth about 150 baht). And you don’t have to buy anything! Just spend 5-10 minutes looking.

Our original trip was quoted at 50 baht, but when I refused to stop at the shops he said he’d do the original journey for 10 baht, and then for free. At that point we got out of the Tuk Tuk and sent him on his way.

Tuk Tuks are a great way to see Bangkok up close, as long as you pick the right colour license plate!

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