Tourism News

Tourism News Phuketwan Tourism News
facebook recommendations


Sign up now for our News Alert emails and the latest breaking news plus new features.

Click to subscribe

Existing subscribers can unsubscribe here


Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers vote at today's airport-west coast bus  meeting

Phuket Tuk-Tuk, Taxi Drivers Reject Airport to Karon Bus Plan, Warn of Blockades

Friday, April 5, 2013
PHUKET: About 200 tuk-tuk and taxi drivers met today to formally reject the proposed low-cost public bus service from Phuket International Airport to Kata-Karon, on Phuket's holiday west coast.

Phuket Land Transport Office Director Terayoot Prasertphol, who attended the meeting at the Karon Council offices, said later that it was ''a good thing'' that the drivers had had a chance to express their views.

The President of the Kata-Karon drivers' club, Somas Hormwan, noted that the difference in fares - 30 baht on the hop-on, hop-off bus between Kata-Karon and Patong compared to 300 baht in a tuk-tuk - would clearly mean a loss to the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers.

There were about 1500 tuk-tuk and taxi drivers in the area, he said. ''Virtually every household has a tuk-tuk or taxi driver in the family,'' he said.

At today's meeting, taxi and tuk-tuk drivers made it plain that they would blockade Phuket's roads if the plan for a bus route goes ahead.

Khun Terayoot said that as the next step, a letter would be sent to Phuket Governor Maitree Intusut informing him of the opposition to the bus proposal.

Taxi and tuk-tuk fares on Phuket are so high that boys are encouraged to become drivers rather than bother with an education that gives them a university degree but a lower income.

At present, all tourists and residents on Phuket are charged for a trip they do not make. Travellers not only have to pay for the trip they take but also for the journey the driver makes alone, with the vehicle empty, back to his regular rank.

Drivers have also refused to embrace the concept of a Phuket-wide call centre, which would bring Phuket into line with the rest of the world's international holiday and business destinations.

Fares on Phuket are about six times the fares in Bangkok, where commonsense prevails.

Many tourists visit both Bangkok and Phuket and compare the fares, the quality of the service and the vehicles, frequently complaining to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and embassies about Phuket's taxi and tuk-tuk rip-offs.

Today's meeting was brought forward from April 11 because the original date was thought to be too close to the Songkran New Year celebrations.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Their stance on the issue certainly comes as no surprise but now that they've had their say, the big question is what will the local Government do.

Give in yet again to a small group of selfish thugs charging outrageous prices or do what they are supposed to do in a democracy and defend the interest of the large majority of Phuket visitors and residents alike.

The governor made a pledge to adhere to international standards and not having affordable public transport in Phuket is inexcusable.

If the bus service is not given the green light, I can't wait to hear the excuses.

Time to abolish the tribal terror rule of the few and let the majority have a choice of fair transport options.

Lay down the law and weed out the Untouchables.

Posted by Stephen on April 5, 2013 16:39


Since when has a Tuk Tuk EVER cost 300 Baht from the Airport for Karon. I paid 950 baht Last Month. They already charge 400-450 Baht for the 10 min trip from Karon to Patong.
Lets hope that Tourists needs come before the Greed of the Local transport mafia.

Posted by Gregg P Cornell on April 5, 2013 16:39

Editor Comment:

Karon to Patong, Gregg, is where the 300 baht versus 30 baht comes into it.


Somas Hormwan says that in his area alone, Karon Kata, 1500 owners of tuk tuk is depending on the income from shameless prices. Who let that happen and why. The answer is phuketgreed. The fares are alot higher then the six times up compared to the still decent and nice Thailand. I know that at least 2 third of the motorbike taxis, tuk tuk and taxiriders are coming from all over Thailand. That goes also for the restaurang employees and owners of establissaments to bargirls. I wonder how much money relly goes to the familys of the native fishermen and others living in phuket. It is now a so called goldmine for the greedy.

Posted by One Expat 13 years on April 5, 2013 16:41


Three hundred baht is an extortionate amount for tourists and residents to have to pay. This is plainly corruption and greed. The low-cost bus service will never be allowed to get off the ground by the families on the island that control the tuk-tuks and taxis. It's the same situation on Koh Phangan - Koh Samui and elsewhere in the south. And they say they will blockade Phuket's roads if the plan for a bus route goes ahead. Well - in that case - try clearing any one of those blockades and see what follows!

Posted by Peter Marshall on April 5, 2013 16:50


To Phuket and central authorities: You now have to face the facts and realize that these driver's organizations and their members will never ever support any changes that will benefit the tourism industry and Phuket residents, e.g. lower fares and fewer taxis and tuk-tuk's. So, accept status quo and stop your "play for the gallery" by proposing new solutions that you know will end up in nothing, or go to war! I'm in no doubt that the drivers and their organization will fight to the bitter end if something is pushed through against their will. I am pro dialog to solve issues, but only up to a point. These organizations and their members have held this island hi-jacked long enough! And it is beyond my understanding that you accept that this group ridicules your power. You should have the power to decide how the transportation sector should be organised in Phuket. But you do not have this power! The drivers themselves have taken it from you. Maybe time to show who runs this island?

Posted by turandot on April 5, 2013 17:00


Prices of tuk-tuks and taxis in Phuket are still an absolute bargain compared to taxi prices in Western countries. The cost of living for most things in Phuket is approaching the West because it's the most westernized and "un-Thai-like" place in Thailand by far, so why haven't taxi and tuk-tuk prices risen accordingly? Taxi prices could double and would still be cheaper than in Europe. If you can't afford to pay for goods and services in Phuket, you shouldn't be living there, period.

Posted by Andy McClellan on April 5, 2013 17:00

Editor Comment:

Comparisons between Phuket fares and Bangkok fares are valid. So are comparisons with rival destinations in South-East Asia. Comparisons with fares in developed countries are unrealistic and totally illogical. The issue of fairness appears to elude you.


Same old story. It's absolutely pathetic that police and officials don't have the courage to stand up to the taxi mob. Of course they should start the bus service, and if the taxis block the roads or attack the bus drivers as they threatened, they should be arrested and their tuk-tuks confiscated. Sadly, no one has the guts to do the right thing.

Posted by Jay on April 5, 2013 17:08


Ok so now they have formally rejected it.. Fine.. Time for the police to enforce the law..

It's about time the tuktuk federations were shown they don't make the rules.. The world is not simply there to do what they want.. Earning a living is about providing a service at a market price in line with the competitive alternatives.

Eliminating all competition by thuggery is simply not an option to be tolerated any longer.

Posted by Livinlos on April 5, 2013 17:10


A clear & well stated article.

This goes beyond local politics & should be referred to the Bangkok government to resolve.

I can understand local authorities running scared. I have never forgotten the statement by a departing governor who failed to fulfill his promises - "they know where my children go to school". That sums it up.

Rule by fear over anyone who cares or tries to resolve these long standing issues. Open defiance of the local authorities who set the rules.

It simply goes on & on & will be no surprise to anyone who has lived here for any length of time.

Posted by Logic on April 5, 2013 17:13


It may be the time to local resident to blockade all tuk-tuks and taxis in Phuket in order to show them they do not care about the 1M residents living in Phuket.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on April 5, 2013 17:52


In the words of that great American, Gomer Pyle, "surprise, surprise" . Maybe now it is time for Phuket to either GoAll In or Fold , and admit the tuk tuks are in charge of all transport in Phuket.

Posted by Jerry on April 5, 2013 17:56


For once Whistle-Blower I think you make a fare point. All the people who do NOT own a TukTuk should block all main roads and say - We don't want the Tuktuks and then see how long they can last without their extortionate prices.

If blockading seems to be the ONLY way people will listen, then the PEOPLE need to take the power back and use it.

Posted by Tbs on April 5, 2013 18:31

Editor Comment:

Certainly wouldn't hurt, tbs, for you and the other anonymous commenters to stage a peaceful protest at Provincial Hall in Phuket City, waving banners and making a point . . . in the real world, where it counts.


I think greed is going to turn tourists away from Thailand, I have been coming here for years, but costs are just going UP UP UP, more expensive than home, Thailand used to be such a cheap fun holiday, not anymore

Posted by Time to holiday elsewhere on April 5, 2013 18:55


@andy mc clellan, which cities? London maybe, but for e.g. drive same km in Munich in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class taxi is cheaper then a Patong tuktuk. That is just insane. And to live and feed a family in Munich the taxi driver has to drive a lot. 1500 tuktuk and taxi in Kata/Karon/Patong is just an insane oversupply and most of the time, they wait. Or drive home empty. Or wait. And wait.

Would not be a problem at all, only that high cost public transport make the tourists and residents use bikes and cars (=traffic), do not go out to far from their resort (=ghetto, no money for local shops to make), tourists feel ripped off and forget about the good experience with friendly people and good services.

The public transport on Phuket is the rotten apple, that stinks the whole pot of sweet things.

Posted by Lena on April 5, 2013 18:56


At least the new busses can be thrown into the sea to be used as new coral reefs and thank heavens nobody bought any side advertising or wasted any paint.
Great idea but once again the evil $@$%%&^ win. They OWN the Island. Bangkok you are the weakest link.

Posted by Duncan B on April 5, 2013 19:00


Not sure if Phuket authorities won't (as they prefer the status quo) or can't change things as the "tribal terror rule" (excellent turn of phrase by the way - avoiding all 'M' word problems) is more powerful than them. From what I've heard it's a complicated mix of both.

"They know where my children go to school" is a very good indication of how the ex-governer felt though, well remembered Logic. (Remember he wasn't "Phuket people" though)

@ Whistleblower - nice idea. Don't really fancy using my car or person though ! Can't afford repairs and I'm not too keen on being beaten !

Posted by James on April 5, 2013 19:04


Whistleblower, tbs and editor, i absolutely agree. Whilst i have not been in a tuk tuk for about 14 years (on principal) i think someone needs to make a stand against these people. They need to be shown they are NOT above the law, they do NOT control this island. The local people and tourists MUST and SHOULD be able to make a choice on their mode of transport. I will fully support a demonstration at town hall (ed you want to organise?) and i will without hesitation be a passenger on one of these buses (although a bit slow for me). it is time we stuck up to these bullies, i am sick of it. Who are they to dictate, this is a democracy?

Posted by swerv on April 5, 2013 19:28

Editor Comment:

If you feel strongly about it, swerv, you organise it.


@Logic "they know where my children go to school".
I also remember that statement from many years ago now but "believe" it was The Police Chief at a BBAP meeting who made that statement.

Posted by Rod on April 5, 2013 19:50


These kind of meetings are just nonsense. The bus service is needed and is long overdue - full stop. So put the bus on the streets and illegal protesters and their vehicles in chains. BTW, how many of the attendees have illegal taxis...?

Posted by Resident on April 5, 2013 20:38


Aren't foreigners prohibited from demonstration or protests?

Posted by Christy S on April 5, 2013 21:13


If they not move just put them in jail....

Posted by tom on April 5, 2013 21:14


So 200 people decide the fate of thousands - pathetic.

Posted by Mister Ree on April 5, 2013 21:34


As I said previously sadly it's never going to happen this farce was just to put the hint of propriety on the matter.Thanks for trying Mr Prasertphol, yet again the thugs have dictated the transport policy of a small part of this country it's shameful.

Posted by scunner on April 5, 2013 22:02


well gollyyyyyy Sargent surprise surprise surprise oh the vote was unamonious the surprises keep on coming
every family has at least one tuk tuk 1500+ in Patong & Karon alone cant they figure out theres a over supply problem to demand so their solution is to charge big time for there one fare a day.

Posted by slickmelb on April 5, 2013 22:51


How much notice was given to the general public regarding the change of date of the meeting? The room looks pretty full with 200 tuktuk drivers there. Judging by the picture of the vote it looks like no-one objected.
Informing people about change is standard practice except in dictatorships. When did know about the change in the time of the meeting and when did they first inform their readers?
Ed, you seemed pretty gung-ho about the basics of democracy and letting everyone have their say. Did you feel that this met your expectations? Did the outcome surprise you? Is it legal to blockade the roads?
Anyway I guess the meeting was changed because some tuktuk drivers will want visit their families for Songkran. Perfectly understandable and a delightful Thai tradition.

Posted by chill on April 6, 2013 01:33


Look as I have said before this is going no where
Let me put it this way
I estimate that sme of the tuktuks are seating doing nothing 80 % of the time ( please editor don't jump on me and ask me how am I qualified to know this) drop the fares by 40% and you will see how good business could be
You could put 200 buses and people would probably use the tuktuks more than ever for the convenience
Please get someone to explain this to all drivers
Just look at Singapore ther are more taxis compare to phuket and I have seen a taxi standing still maybe they not as lazy
I hope someone at there could work things out for them

Posted by Coco on April 6, 2013 02:49


wow, what a surprise. how nice it is that these gentlemen have an opportunity to express themselves in a democratic fashion.

Posted by fw on April 6, 2013 05:10


Chalk up another point to us cynics and pessimists.
Optimists on this island always end up disappointed, eh editor?

Posted by Sir Burr on April 6, 2013 05:53

Editor Comment:

Only pessimists see defeat as victory, Sir Burr. That means pessimists are never disappointed. Pessimists are, just like tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, incapable of thinking about tomorrow. Fortunately, optimists are only ever disappointed by pessimists.


Us pessimists DO think about tomorrow and we seem to have a better idea of what it will be than the optimists.
We've been right for decades already.

Posted by Sir Burr on April 6, 2013 07:19

Editor Comment:

Like stopped watches, Phuket's pessimists are right twice a day, every day. When change does come, they will remain unhappy. Yet it's a certainty they'll still be saying: ''We told you so.''


Ed, comparing pessimist with watches is ridiculous, but hey, in your own words they are right twice a sir, on this issue, are wrong ALL day. You pushed so often on public transport, but lately, you have gone very quiet. Why? What are you afraid of. Tell us, then we, your readers, therefore supporters (without us no one would sponsor PW), may understand your position.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on April 6, 2013 07:34

Editor Comment:

There will be no overnight solution. Readers lacking understanding and imagination are not assets to this site, or to life in general.

List of useful remarks made by Phuket_IOC:

List of useful remarks by other pessimists:

If you want your ignorance to be reflected in futile bluster and anger, I suggest you'll find it in all the usual places.


Ed, ignorance is to ignore the facts...something that you are guilty of. You can only ignore the truth for so have been here long enough to know, very little has changed for the better. In fact, looking back over the last 10 years, things have deteriorate. You need to open your eyes a little bit more than they are now...closed.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on April 6, 2013 08:41

Editor Comment:

Another non-useful non-contribution to an important public issue, Phuket_IOC. Why do you waste your time (twice a day)?

gravatar accuse me of "non-useful non-contribution to an important public issue,"pray tell, exactly what have you contributed, except ridicule those who comment, perhaps you should concentrate on reporting the truth of what happens on Phuket, instead of burying your head in the ground, you are quickly, if not already, becoming the ostrich of Phuket.

Posted by Phuket_IOC on April 6, 2013 09:47

Editor Comment:

It's odd how only the stopped watches among the doomstayers feel that Phuketwan has contributed nothing, Phuket_IOC, The rules are quite simple. If you don't like what you read, feel free not to read it. We will just have to live without you.


"journalists are expected to be invited to ride on a new bus from Phuket Provincial Hall in Phuket City to Karon and back as part of Phuket Governor Maitree Intusut's regular ''meet the media'' session".

Did you go in this bus trip Ed, or was it cancelled? Governor Maitree wanted to see Phuket progress, yes? This is regressive.
From my a/c taxi in The Clean City this morning I jotted down the following:
For the first 1 km S$3 = 70 baht. For each 400m S$0.22 = 5baht
They know how to treat their tourists here, never seen a rip-off. Come to that I haven't see a Russian, either.

Posted by Pete on April 6, 2013 10:27

Editor Comment:

Perhaps the bus ride was seen as being too provocative right now.


I feel really sorry for the drivers who went to the meeting they must have been knackered holding there arms up for so long for the no way vote .
Some meeting, the majority of posters on here are not surprised about the outcome I would truly like to be a optimistic on this plan my feeling is the powers that be will let it slip away because of the bad publicity of bulldozing tuk tuk of the road.
I hope I'm wrong

Posted by hopeful on April 6, 2013 10:51


Well, no surprise here. I just came back to Phuket after 3 months in Khao Lak where there is a similar development like in Phuket. The taxi fares over there are also already way over the limit. BUT the embassies are not complaining very strong, tourists are complaining but keep coming and keep paying so how in the world anybody thinks the drivers would agree to change this?

On the other hand this is very understandable, nobody would like it if somebody takes away your golden goose, no matter in which country. Also this is already a kind of tradition AND if basically every family has at least one driver who lacks other skills and/or education, what will they do if there will be an efficient public transport set up?

However: One has to see it in the wider perspective. As the articles mentioned, the incentive is clearly on the wrong side if people prefer to become drivers instead of visiting universities due to the higher income as an uneducated driver compared to a scholar. Ridiculous.

On another note I like to mention that Phuket is also the first country I work in, where hotels have so many middle-aged bell-boys. Strong and smart people who prefer to bring luggage to rooms instead of improving their careers or education due to the higher income. The incentives are simply all wrong here.

Posted by Jakub on April 6, 2013 12:22


For a foreigner, I'm pretty sure that organising and taking part in a public demonstration or protest would void your Visa and Work Permit and you could very well become a "persona non grata" and be deported.

Posted by christian on April 6, 2013 16:15


As much as I understand the situation they just gave their opinion, right? Now it is to the authorities to make up a plan to make everybody as happy as possible?

However - and I hope Ed. will correct me here if need be - I read somewhere that the taxi and tuk-tuk business is mostly operated by police officials? I cannot remember where I read that but I remember there was an issue with an illegal taxi company in Surin which belonged to the local police captain or something. I also remember that the locations where the tuk-tuk, taxis and the motorbike are waiting are granted by the police and they need to pay a fee to be there. I also remember having read that most tuk-tuks are rented to their drivers and that certainly the company that operate this business belong to the same people.

Now, if all of the above is true, I don't see any reason why the same people who earn millions (and I don't talk about the drivers) with that business would allow this to happen. And why the police and officials would do anything against blockades when those blockades go with their own interest?

Putting the drivers in the forefront, and hiding behind them, would be an logical thing to do for those people.

Posted by Buttercup on April 6, 2013 17:25

Editor Comment:

You may have read it but I would be surprised if it's true. Like everybody else, individual police make financial investments. There is no sign of wholesale police backing of Phuket tuk-tuks. Certainly, the question of who owns the tuk-tuks becomes highly relevant if the bus service is going to be resisted.


I guess a journalist investigation on the matter of who has financial interests in the taxi and tuk-tuk businesses is not likely to happen anytime soon?

Posted by Buttercup on April 6, 2013 17:51

Editor Comment:

Is there something sinister about owning a tuk-tuk, Buttercup? We've never heard tell of anyone owning vast numbers. They certainly seem overpriced, but that's got little to do with a bus service.


I'm quite sure Buttercup means that once we know who stands to lose most from having the bus service operational, we will know who are the real powers behind this staunch resistance.

I certainly would like to know who are more powerful than the elected and appointed local government officials.

Nobody should be but that does not seem to be the case on Phuket.

Posted by Stephen on April 6, 2013 23:00

Editor Comment:

These are localised monopolies, Stephen, simply continuing practices that protected village jobs in the 1970s into the 21st century. No serious effort has been made to update the system.


Nothing sinister in owning a tuk-tuk, or a fleet of them. But how you run your business can be sinister.

Beside, I am under the impression that the "business" in question extends a bit farther than independent drivers with their own vehicles. But again, I may be wrong.

Posted by Buttercup on April 7, 2013 00:45

Editor Comment:

We've yet to hear that from anyone connected to tuk-tuks and taxis. If it's true, these people don't show up at meetings.


Ed,you say "They certainly seem overpriced, but that's got little to do with a bus service." Have you not read the article. They make so much money that they will not allow any bus service. They wish to block any bus service by illegal means, because it will cut into their extortionate earnings. How can you say their overpricing has no bearing on a bus service? What was the meeting about if not a bus service?

Posted by chill on April 7, 2013 01:30

Editor Comment:

The meeting demonstrates the monopoly, not the money. Even if fares were reasonable, the drivers would be resisting buses.


Having read the majority of these is definatly time for change, and majority rule...but..i am neither an Optomist or a Pessimist.. but a REALIST..I have been waiting 20 Years for this...Please...Please for once prove me wrong...This is only going to happen if the Government make it..

Posted by jondev on April 7, 2013 10:48


@, what a surprise. how nice it is that these gentlemen have an opportunity to express themselves in a democratic fashion.

Yes , so true , but shows that even the local tuk tuk M---- have their own democracy at work.[for their benefit only albeit]

Posted by davidj949 on April 7, 2013 10:57


Re; my last post ed..why did you blank out afia leaving only M instead of as i posted M---- ?Curious...

Posted by davidj949 on April 7, 2013 11:45

Editor Comment:

It's an exaggeration, davidj949. They're not a Mafia, they're a monopoly. Mafia: a hierarchically structured secret organization allegedly engaged in smuggling, racketeering, trafficking in narcotics, and other criminal activities in the US, Italy, and elsewhere.

Misuse of the word instills needless fear and creates false impressions. It also sells newspapers.


OK then, whats changed since you put your own name to this from this site?

By Chutima Sidasathian and Alan Morison
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Tuk-Tuk Photo Album Above
''SO YOU want to talk to me?'' the deep voice on the other end of the telephone said. ''Aren't you afraid of me? I am the tuk-tuk Mafia.''

Some conversations get off to a bad start. So we made our way to the headquarters of the Karon Tuk-tuk Association with some trepidation.

What would the Mafia chief be like? Would he be surrounded by a gang of black shirts, polishing their guns, ready for the next professional ''hit''?

Seems very obvious to all that you are being 'controlled by vested interests'..A mere puppet who has people controlling him and therefore this site and what you are allowed to have people say.

Posted by davidj949 on April 7, 2013 12:12

Editor Comment:

When the subject of any story uses the word, we are obliged to use it, davidj949. And he was making a joke of it. So should you.


I am wondering why the editor all of a sudden is being so adamant about not using the word - - - - to describe the tuk tuk situation. Going through some notes I made a while back, I see that Mr. Morison uses the term himself - see CNN article authored by him from October 13, 2011. "Nothing has changed. The jet-ski villains are still scamming, and the tuk-tuk and taxi drivers -- the ''mafia,'' as most people call them -- continue to assert what amounts to total control on west coast roads." Either be consistent or accept what other people write.

Posted by Robert in Montreal on April 7, 2013 12:42

Editor Comment:

As the articles make plain, many people use the word. We don't. It's an exaggeration, a lie. We prefer the truth.


Maybe the tuk tuk m--- are sponsors on this site??
Accounts for eds reticence to let the comments be posted and unadulterated as posted,without his butchery editing or condescending remarks to follow.
A simple disclaimer noting that ed does not neccessarily agree with comments posted, would be far more professional IMO.
Shame, because this as a news site is first class...sadly eds actions and comments make it appear very low class...and no doubt alan will try to dismiss this, but look through old files and reports..he is offside with the vast majority of people who access this site!!

Posted by davidj949 on April 7, 2013 13:13

Editor Comment:

Your opinions are as warped and worthless as ever, davidj949.


I recall a Phuket wan news report on 2 naughty tuk tuk drivers some time ago who were bailed by councilors (officials of the city)
I think we can all draw out own inferences on that, mine is theres a lot of fingers in the till on this tuk tuk transport monopoly.

Posted by slickmelb on April 16, 2013 05:47

Editor Comment:

As happens everywhere, officials either elected or appointed don't abandon their connections to family and friends. ''Drawing your own inferences'' allows you mostly to be wrong.


does the tuk tuk brings livehood to the owners and eliviate poverty in india..what impact do they make to the community,economy and in the world

Posted by lamokiti on November 23, 2013 10:39

Monday September 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


Facebook Twitter