Bus Scams

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
1
77
148
Trip End May 30, 2013


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Flag of Thailand  ,
Thursday, December 27, 2012

I am so sick of being ripped off! Our couch surfing host, Samut, was kind enough to call in and book us a place on a bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok at a local rate of 300 BAHT. Most tour companies offered the same trip for 600. The lowest I was able to find on my own was 450. Even at this special rate, we were still on a bus full of tourists and almost assured to have someone riffling through out bags in the under carriage during the long trip. Not that we have anything to steal, but still! When disembarking in Bangkok I had a quick look through my bag, and sure enough, there were things out of place...guess they didn't find anything they liked!

In Bangkok, I tried to book our tickets south, deliberately NOT choosing a major tourist destination. Our journey would be done in 2 segments: first to Surat Thani and then onto Khao Sok National Park. Every place I went I was quoted something different. Anywhere from 650 B to 900 B to Surat Thani alone. And anywhere from 900 B to 1300 B to add the distance to Khao Sok. That can't be right! We came all the way from Chiang Mai to Bangkok for 300, and Bangkok to Surat Thani is about the same distance, so the price should be similar.

After going from booking agent to booking agent we figured out that they were all trying to scam us. So we made our own way to the bus station. However, this involved taking a taxi. Avoiding the tuk-tuk mafia, we looked for a taxi with a meter. But finding a driver who would actually USE his meter was another story. The first one flat out refused and the 2nd tried to convince us to pay a flat price. 'Same, same' he assured us, and then dropped his price from 200 B to 150 B. In the end, the metre barely came to 80....

Good news though. At the bus station, I secured a ticket to Surat Thani for only 380. A far cry from 650-900 B even including our taxi. And we got to leave in just a few hours rather than waiting around for the night bus!

After arriving in Surat Thani our hotel was willing to book our onward travel to Khao Sok for only 280 B. Hummmmm...again our 10 hr trip had only cost 380, why would a 2 hr trip cost 280? We tried to find our way to the bus stop, but everyone was conspiring against us and wouldn't give good directions, but instead tried to take us to a booking office (who wanted anywhere from 290-390B – argh! More than the hotel). Finally we stumbled upon a station and bought our tickets for 100B and the bus was leaving in 5 min! Sheesh!!!

Our journey:      Bangkok to Surat Thani       380
                        Surat Thani to Khao Sok     100
                        room in SuratThani             190
                                                                660 B
lowest quote for same trip 900 B
highest quote for same trip 1300 B

So even with spending an extra night and getting a decent sleep rather than on a bus we were cheaper in the end and arrived at about the same time.

Now, to rage battles with the tour companies while we try to get to Koh Lanta next. Beware, we may look stupid, but we're armed and dangerous (and cheap)!!!

ADDENDUM:  since arriving in Khao Sok we've seen prices published that
make us feel even better.  You can get a bus all the way to Chiang Mai
for 1780 B.  We paid 100 + 380 + 300 = 780...only 1000 less!  That's
almost 25 GBP, so it's quite significant!







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Comments

jaymyson
jaymyson on

You pay for convience! If your time is not worth much, than shopping around is great! If you go straight to the source you will always get a better price, take out the middle man. It is always cheaper to buy flights directly with the flight company than with itravel2000. It is also human nature to get as much as possible for something, that is why there is bartering. You guys are always going to be targets for higher prices. The average westerner makes a lot more money than 99% of their population. They also expect you to say "well 5 us dollars sounds really good for a six hour bus ride. Hell, that won't get you to the next light in a taxi!

2totango
2totango on

To a small degree I will pay a bit more as a westerner. Yes, their prices are cheaper compared to ours. But if you DON'T strive to stay on target you are helping to drive up prices at an exponential rate! Inflation in places like this will only send those not working in the tourist industry into poverty. Look what's happened in the caribbeans! It hurts the local economy and the local people as well. Just because you think 'it's just a buck' doesn't mean it's right. to travel doesn't mean to throw your money around just because you can. It's what's causing the merchants to try to get extra out of you. If you go out of the tourist areas you don't get that from people. Travelling south through Thailand each stop we noticed the prices increase from everything from accommodation, food, laundry, etc. In the north their are less tourists and a different kind of tourist, so that cycle hasn't started as much...

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