Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thailand: Despite Bangkok's State-of-the-Art International Airport, Incoming Passengers Still Victimized by Unlicensed Guides, Taxis

According to The Bangkok Post, and despite the passage of six years since Bangkok's new international airport, Suvarnabhumi, opened for business, incoming passengers continue to be victimized by unlicensed tour guides and taxis.
Typically, guides and taxis, working in concert, "fleece" tourists and travelers and often charge five to ten times the standard taxi rate from the airport to Central Bangkok. 
Moreover, the same guides and taxis derive substantial commissions when they drop fares off at preferred hotels, guesthouses and shops.
COMMENT: Although the Airports of Thailand (AoT) began enforcing regulations relative to guides and taxis ion 2009, given the level of corruption in Thailand, enforcement is less than uniform. Even the airport director openly acknowledges that the widespread inflation of charges continues.
Unfortunately, illegal guides and taxis largely target foreign visitors because they are generally unfamiliar with standard taxi fees and often are approached by aggressive hawkers who tell them that they can expedite them through the airport much quicker, which is often not the case.

A standard one-way taxi fare from Suvarnabhumi should run roughly 350 baht (US$12) plus a 15-20% tip for exceptional service, as most taxi operators do not normally expect a tip, but rounding off a fare will be received well.

Regrettably, the "illegal" operators often charge between 2,000-3,000 baht into Bangkok, which is equivalent to US$64-97.

On the other hand, many guides and taxis prey on foreign visitors late at night when flights from Europe and North America are arriving, when airport enforcement is sparse.

If in doubt as to how you go about getting a standard fee taxi into town, ask any uniformed airport official or a member of the airport police.

Another way NOT to get shaken down is to ask guides or taxi drivers who approach you to provide you their business card, hopefully with their taxi license number. It should be noted that most legitimate taxis have plates with a yellow background and black lettering.

Obviously, DO NOT agree to be driven into Central Bangkok by anyone that aggressively approaches you in the airport to offer you a ride into the city, as they assuredly are not legitimate guides or taxi operators.