My first day in Bangkok was very hot- it was a whopping 95 degrees. I got into the city around 4am therefore, I barely got any rest before heading out for the day. The plan for the day was to tour some of the beautiful temples of Bangkok that I heard so much about.
After walking out of the hotel, my group was approached by a Tuk Tuk driver who offered to take us around Bangkok for a cheap price. I was excited to ride a Tuk Tuk because I have seen loads of pictures online. I was determined to ride the strange looking vehicle at least once since it was a very popular means to transportation in Bangkok.
Infamous Tuk Tuk
The Tuk Tuk driver said he could take my group around Bangkok for the whole day for only 40 baht (approx. $1.55 usd). The price sounds cheap for a whole day right? I told him the temples we planned to go based off our itinerary, and he said those temples were closed.
I got very suspicious since it was only 11am, and most temples don’t close till 5pm. It was my first time in Bangkok and even though I was suspicious, I assumed he knew what he was saying.
I agreed to the ride and the driver’s manager, who was standing next to him, outlined the places we would visit. My suspicion heightened due to the fact that his manager was standing next to him. I began to wonder why a Tuk Tuk driver would have his manager in close proximity. The driver was also parked right outside the hotel, and he approached my group immediately after we walked out of the hotel. It later occurred to me that the driver was on the prowl for tourists.
His manager told us the driver would take us to the following places:
- Lucky Buddha temple
- Marble temple
- Handmade suit store (because we could get us a discount for that day only)
- Jewelry store (for the same reason as the suit store)
Our journey through Bangkok began after we agreed to visit those places. I concluded it was a huge scheme after we visited the “lucky Buddha” temple and suit store. Everyone seemed quite familiar with the Tuk Tuk driver. Bangkok is such a big place how could they possibly know each other that well? In addition, there was no discount at the suit store or the jewelry store because everything was full price.
Lucky Buddha Temple
Monks at the Marble Temple
Display at the Jewelry store
I did not buy anything at any of the stores we visited. The Tuk Tuk driver seemed quite irritated with that. The point of the scheme was for the driver to take us to all these places so we would at least make a purchase, or several purchases if everything went well. Items were overpriced therefore, making a purchase was out of the question.
The overly cheap Tuk Tuk price was meant to rope tourists into the elaborate scheme. The driver eventually asked if he could take my group to the Chao Praya river where we could see a floating market. We agreed since it sounded like a great time but eventually negotiated 2000 baht (~$57) for the experience. I also thought this was also overpriced.
Chao Praya river cruise
Chao Praya River Food
Indicators that the Tuk Tuk driver is trying to scam you:
- They will take you around the city for an unbelievably cheap price
- The will tell you the temple is closed or there is a holiday so only Thai people can enter the temple
- They will take you to places where you can purchase things- please do not make a purchase it is overpriced half the time
- “The temple is closed” or “The temple is admitting only Thai citizens” are popular excuses to rope unsuspecting tourists into the scheme.
Note: If you do not spend money in any of the places the driver takes you, they get upset, and could become aggressive.
How to avoid the Tuk Tuk scam:
- When a Tuk Tuk driver approaches you and tells you a temple is closed, walk away and get another one
- In case you are caught in the scam, pay the Tuk Tuk driver the agreed upon price and take another Tuk Tuk, Taxi or Uber.
- If the driver does not take the money, slip out of the next location from another exit.
- If the Tuk Tuk sounds too cheap, it probably is a scheme.
Meet Charlie the Tuk Tuk driver:
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