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At Phuket International's arrivals hall, the Phuket adventure begins

Chinese Pay Rip-Off Fares, 'Arrival Fees'

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
PHUKET: Chinese tourists who arrive on Phuket early in the morning are being ripped off by Phuket airport taxi and minivan drivers, Phuketwan has learned.

Individual passengers are being charged up to 2000 baht for the trip from Phuket International Airport to Patong while groups have to pay as much as 4000 baht for a minivan.

Phuket Land Transport Office specialist Jaturong Keawkasi says the rip-offs occur because many charter flights are now arriving from China in the early hours of the morning. The official taxi booking desk is closed between 1am and 7.30am.

''Airports of Thailand [the Phuket airport's managers] should look at a 24-hour system,'' he said.

Chinese Vice-Consul Qin Jian added today that many Chinese tourists were still being asked to pay between 50 baht and 200 baht extra to avoid queues on arrival at Phuket.

''The tour guides tell the tourists to put the money in their passports when they arrive at Immigration,'' the vice-consul said today.

''I've suggested that the arriving tourists take photographs or video with their smartphones, but photography is banned in the Phuket arrivals hall.''

Problems with jet-ski and motorcycle ''damage'' scams seemed to have disappeared for now, the vice-consul said.

''Phuket is by no means the worst place in Thailand for motorcycle hiring scams. That 'honor' goes to Koh Tao.''

Koh Tao in Surat Thani was voted in as No. 8 among the world's best islands by readers of Tripadvisor just last month.

''We are aware of the problems with extortionate fares from the airport on Phuket,'' said the vice-consul. ''Most people pay up and do not realise until later that they have been ripped off.''

Tourists who do not come on packages are the ones most vulnerable.

''My advice to tourists visiting Phuket is to not hire a car or a motorcycle, or a jet-ski,'' he said.

However, some problems are diminishing. ''There was a spate of thefts from locked safes in resorts,'' he said. ''That appears to have come to an end. Perhaps the thieves have moved on.''

Phuket remained an appealing destination for tourists from China, he said, with about 500,000 visiting the island last year and more than that number expected to come this year.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Some time ago arriving at PIA, upon entering the arrivals hall, one immigration agent announced that anyone wishing to avoid the queue should place Bt 500 in their passport and proceed to the Thai Passport line.

I could not believe they would be so brazen about it but this story confirms it was not a one-off incident.

It also means it's impossible for airport authorities not to know this is happening.

I wonder if any action will be taken.

Posted by Stephen on April 9, 2013 12:07


So now they transfer the 'shame' to the largest emerging source of tourists, China, the new #1 leader in the tourist table. Ripping off these tourists before they even arrive at their hotel - immigration & taxis/mini buses - is not going to do Phuket's image any good whatsoever. The taxi/mini bus operators are bad enough, but the immigration officers should be publicly shamed & dismissed - & anyone colluding with them. Never mind Phuket, it shames Thailand. Time for Bangkok to take note & act.

Posted by Logic on April 9, 2013 14:30


Tuk-Tuk drivers will love this: "advice to tourists visiting Phuket is to not hire ..."

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on April 9, 2013 14:48


Why not set up a formal "Fast Track" service for a small fee. The airport gets tax from every passenger and the money from taxis and what do passengers get back, dirty leaking toilets, long lines on arriving, sometimes upon arrival no arrival cards or pens, full car park, do I need to go on? Having been to Phuket airport at least 20 times it is for one of the two largest holiday destinations in SE Asia very low standard. I can't wait for the new building.

Posted by How Much Can You Pay on April 9, 2013 16:15


I tell them no no, I m living here - they still drive me for 400 baht to phuket town,

Posted by frank on April 9, 2013 17:01


AOT already collects a BT 700 airport departure tax on international flights which is the highest in the region.

Considering the quality difference between, say, Changi and PIA, this seems ludicrous.

Add to that all the concession fees " How much can you pay " mentioned and one just can't help but to wonder where all that money goes.

Certainly not into improving passenger services and comfort.

Being ripped off at every opportunity starting from before even officially entering Phuket until the moment of actually flying out is.

The Phuket Experience

Posted by Stephen on April 9, 2013 19:34


Please stop this now, now, now.
Any politician or fair police reading this, make this insane Taxi and tuk tuk scam stop, once and forever.
I am so totally fed up of reading this every week for the last 10 years!!!

Posted by cw on April 10, 2013 01:04


When I lived in Phuket by the airport, I was one of the Tourist Police Volunteers on duty on the airport, including at night time.

I was well aware of this scam by the immigration officials. As you can maybe understand, as a foreigner there was absolutely nothing that I could do to stop this practice.

It's shameful that so many Thais in positions of authority know what's going on and yet do nothing to stop it.

Posted by Simon Luttrell on April 10, 2013 08:58


Simon Luttrell

Can it be because everybody (save maybe a few honest people) in a position of power and authority is corrupt in Phuket?

Posted by christian on April 10, 2013 20:43


2000 baht for a taxi from Phuket Airport to Patong is still cheap. In London, you'd be looking at 3000-4000 baht (60-80 pounds) for a taxi from Heathrow into Central London. That makes Thailand half the price of Europe, even at 2000 baht.

Posted by Andy on April 10, 2013 23:35

Editor Comment:

Only comparisons with other Thai cities or similar developing countries are valid - and Phuket's cabs cost six to 10 times those of Bangkok. On Phuket, you are also paying for a trip you don't make - the empty return to the taxi's base.


If you book Zero Baht tours, something has to why are they surprised?

Posted by Ian on April 11, 2013 10:12

Editor Comment:

On a zero baht tour, transport is usually part of the package . . . so it's difficult to see what you mean.


Andy, the cost of fuel, insurance and general cost of living in London is much more expensive, if you are from London you should know that. Basics like food etc are far more expensive and the law is upheld so Taxi do have insurance etc. As the Ed pointed out only comparisions with Thailand are comparable but Thailand as a whole needs to consider transport as a factor with the emerging tourism destinations growing, Myanmar etc.

Posted by How Much Can You Pay on April 11, 2013 12:04


@ Andy..Get real mate....average weekly wage in london 500 quid=in thai baht..22000. roughly.yes? Average weekly wage in Phuket=300 baht daily , so 2100 baht per week..yes?
You quoted...; "In London, you'd be looking at 3000-4000 baht (60-80 pounds) for a taxi from Heathrow into Central London."... which is about 1/7 of wages for taxi...apply that to Phuket..1/7 of wages =about 300baht...a fair price for a one way fare to the airport is 300 baht IMO

Posted by davidj949 on April 11, 2013 12:49


@Andy, and do not forget, for that money the taxi drives you right into the criminal heart of the financial world-class hub and not just to a beach with Jetski scammers.

Posted by Lena on April 11, 2013 14:19


Lena, great sense of humour, but what is worse, the banks that are legal in one of the original Permanent 5 (now officially 5 + 1) or just the financially ambitious Jetski boys. This brings me to the point, many foreigners complain about Thailand but what do you prefer to live in a "nanny" state like many wealthy countries are with easy to get benefits then the earners have to pay $45% tax etc. How much tax do you pay here not 45% for sure. Thailand also has many positives.

Posted by How Much Can You Pay on April 11, 2013 14:48

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