All travel photos I have ever seen of Thailand depicts a magical place filled with amazing vistas and natural resources. The Thai people are always smiling big toothy grins that make them appear super friendly and inviting. Pictures of the older Thai people make you want to just hug them they are soo cute.
As a travel Blogger, I think it’s important, no it’s my duty, to tell of my experiences just as they were and not sugar coat what I encounter. So you don’t have to be part of the ‘Guess what happened to me in Thailand club.’
Everywhere we attempted to go, whether it was in Tuktuk’s, taxi’s, Minibuses, tour groups, boats, and trains – we were taken to destinations that were not on the itinerary and were a ploy to get you to visit a business with the hopes that you would buy their products. I understand philosophically why that is but we were not ready for how passive aggressive the Thai people were when it came to this.
We became savvy enough to ask the right questions and get agreements with our drivers, but it didn’t matter. They would agree NO STOPS and find an excuse to make a stop. We took a taxi from the airport in Phuket to the resort we were staying in. Without a word, the Taxi driver stopped the car, jumped out and ran into a business, leaving us sitting there wondering what was going on. The next thing we know a lady comes out to talk to us in the taxi about buying a tour package.
We could not trust anyone to do their job transporting us from point A to point B without a stop. It was very disconcerting (even for me and I am a seasoned traveler) that you request a drop off point and they drop you off someplace that you did not request to basically fend for yourself. It was very disappointing and sooo prevalent that it was just unacceptable.
The only transportation people that we did not have this experience with were UBER drivers, they were professional and courteous and took us from point A to Point B, on time, and most importantly without stops. I recommend taking UBER where ever possible within Thailand.
Beyond feeling that you can not trust any of your drivers which is worrisome, there is the fact that in 8 days, I believe that they wasted about 1 whole day of our time with the unscheduled stops. It was so irritating. It took us 20 hours to get there to begin with, then 20 hours back to the US just to have what little time we had left being kidnapped everywhere we went.
Dear Thai transportation people, If you hear that a passenger is from the United States, please don’t take them to unscheduled stops. We are not like the rest of the world and get a month of vacation time to explore a place, we get very little vacation time and 8 consecutive days is a lot for us. Do NOT waste our time, it is precious. Also unlike the rest of the world, Americans are conditioned to TIP. This next bit is important!!! If you take us from point A to Point B without any stops or feeling like we are being kidnapped, we will be ever soo grateful and we will tip you. You will make more money by driving with integrity for the purposes of your client (the passenger) than you will from the shop owners.
For those traveling in Thailand, UBER was a great solution, however UBER was NOT allowed in the Phuket area of Thailand (pronouced POOKET) so you are forced to take your chances. If you are in Phuket, I recommend using the hotel resort shuttles instead of taxis or tuktuks.
We did talk to a few other tourists and if you have a man with you, they tend to be better about, ‘NO stops’, but you have to request it otherwise you will be making unscheduled stops as well.
In the final analysis I would not recommend visiting Thailand on an – ‘explore on your own experience’.
I had made arrangements to stay 21 days and after 4 days I realized I was not going to be able to safely navigate myself around the country. I went with my niece Laura for the first 8 days on a travelzoo deal and although I was panning on staying I made the decision to leave on the original flight with Laura. I realized I was not going to be able to navigate this country by myself with the common practices that most of the transportation drivers take the liberty of doing. Which is a shame because that is a loss of revenue for 13 days I would have been in the country spending money. In fact it took me a while to understand the exchange rate so towards the end I was tipping big tips for Thai standards. I will talk about that in another blog
If you plan to travel to Thailand. Here are some strategies for using the transportation.
- Negotiate price prior to getting into a vehicle
- SAY STRONGLY ‘NO STOPS!’ – they will speak in perfect English right up until you say that and then they pretend they don’t understand what that means. If you get that behavior DO NOT get into that vehicle.
- Learn to be a little rude – this was double tough for both Laura and I. If you are all nice nice, they will take advantage of that. You have to be very tough and that was hard as they are so cute smiling at you. Don’t fall for it – it’s a ploy.
- If you do all of that and they still bring you to a business instead of your destination – REFUSE TO GET OUT OF THE VEHICLE. Just sit there. The driver will beg, conjole and try every trick in the book for you take sympathy on them to get you into that store. DON’T fall for it.
More to come on the realities of traveling in Thailand.