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Commissions are paid to taxi drivers at many big Phuket outlets

Phuket Commissions: Do Tourists Need to Know?

Friday, October 4, 2013
PHUKET: Commissions are often paid to taxi and tuk-tuk drivers or to tour bus drivers for delivering customers to Phuket retail and entertainment outlets.

As an anonymous Phuket businessman recently pointed out to Phuketwan, commissions are a part of business. But when they rise to 50 percent or beyond, you have to wonder.

On Phuket, the first experience some tourists have is being ''kidnapped'' by van drivers who take them to an agency's premises where attempts are made to sell them accommodation and tours they don't need.

This bad start to a holiday is because Phuket's culture is all about the money. The commission-driven outlook leads to excessive greed.

Tuk-tuks in the Kata-Karon area recently sought to take over from tour companies so they could not only collect the fares but also gain extra commissions.

Commissions are standard these days in many businesses. Those who carry out a connection service deserve to be rewarded.

However, when the commission becomes the reason for the sale, that's a problem. The law in China changed this month for that reason. Package tours from China must now carry a full price.

Before October 1, tour operators would recoup their money on the basis of commissions paid on the sale of tours, goods or other services.

Tourists didn't like it and complained so strongly that the Chinese Government changed the law.

The present multi-million dollar US Navy investigation into dealings with Glenn Marine is all about kickbacks and extra ''commissions'' going into the pockets of a few people with inside knowledge.

As the businessman pointed out to Phuketwan, Phuket's culture becomes unhealthy if commissions grow so large that the commissions become the reason for the deal.

When that happens, holidaymakers simply become the means to making more money. The service mentality disappears out the window.

''Taking these commissions instills a mindset and it reinforces the feeling that this is the normal way of doing business, of ripping everybody off as a way of life,'' the businessman said.

''The tourists don't understand what's happening,'' he added. ''Anyone would be infuriated if they found out there was somebody getting 35 percent commission to bring them there.''

The best idea to have guests treated fairly is to call the outlet in advance to say that the tourists should not be charged commission, but be given a discount instead.

As the businessman points out, the money that tourists save by not covering the commission is likely to be spent on Phuket anyway.

If a business is content to pay a large commission, then the real price is obviously being inflated to account for the cut that goes to the tuk-tuk, taxi or bus driver.

A Phuketwan reporter has been asking Phuket tourism businesses whether they paid commission and these were the responses.

The survey is by no means comprehensive. The honesty of those who responded is appreciated.

The conclusion: commissions form a large part of the income for many Phuket tuk-tuk and taxi drivers, on top of inflated fares, and for many bus drivers, too:

Simon Cabaret, Patong Taxi, tuk-tuk 200 baht per adult, 100 baht per child.

Simon Star Show, Phuket City For adult foreigners, 500 baht per 800 baht ticket Children 500 baht per 700 baht ticket. Tour buses, 300 baht per person, but contact the management first.

Siam Niramit (only VIP seat will get commission price) Platinum seat will earn 400 baht from the ticket price of 1900 baht. Gold seat will earn 300 baht from the ticket price of 1700 baht. Silver seat will earn 200 baht from the ticket price of 1500 baht.

Phuket FantaSea Unwilling to provide information.

Pornthip Souvenir Shop, bypass road Call center said it's not commission,just money for drinks and snacks. Bus tours that have contact with the shop already will get commission.

Island Safari Unwilling to provide information.

Phuket Pearl Factory Call center said that it provides money for car parking, petrol. If a small car, you will get 100 baht or 200 baht for a big car.

Soul of Asia Did not answer call.

Baan Boran Antiques Commission only for a hotel driver.If the tourist spends more than 10,000 baht the driver will get three percent. If you invite a friend to shop, you can ask for commission as well.

Tiger Kingdom visit only one tiger cage, the commission is 300 baht on the 800 baht price; two tiger cages, 500 baht commission on a price of 1400 baht; three tiger cages, 700 baht from the ticket price of 2300 baht; four cages, 1000 baht from the ticket price of 2800 baht; All tiger cages, 1200 baht from the price 3500 baht.

Elephant Trekking Phuket (Five businesses.) No commission price, because their customers get in touch by themselves.

Phuket Zoo Commission on adults, 200 baht, on children, 100 baht.

Phuket Butterfly Garden For adults, 100 baht per person on a ticket price of 300 baht. Foreigners, 150 baht per person on a ticket price of 300 baht.

Patong Boxing Stadium VIP seat, commission of 400 baht on a ticket price of 1800 baht; Ringside seat, you'll get 400 baht on a ticket price of 1500 baht; Stadium seat, 300 baht on a ticket price of 1300 baht.

Chan's Antiques A public relations person said taxi drivers get 10 percent. She added that every Phuket shop pays commissions.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


No, they do not need or want to know...most will also not want to know what kind of CO2 footprint the product made. They will buy a service or a product if it is interesting and at a price they do find reasonable. People lamenting the system with commissions paid are the naive few that think that if the commissions are gone or reduced then the prices will go down...and that is the last thing that is going to happen.

Posted by Sailor on October 4, 2013 14:32


Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers do not have a TAT licence to sell tours; therefore police should make arrest and send them to court for illegal work.
it is the same for many touts in Phuket.

There are 3 national sports in Thailand:
1/ "Civil disobedience" against the law, as everyone loves to flout laws or regulations for fun or money.
2/ "Corruption" where the biggest sinners are likely among the civil servants, politicians and influential people.
3/ Flight from the scene of wherever anything goes wrong.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on October 4, 2013 14:40


I will rejoice in the day when the comision taps are turned off and you get nothing for doing a wrongful business practice.

Posted by Robin on October 4, 2013 14:47


I will never forget my first day here in Phuket more then 9 long years ago, taken to the tour agency on the bypass road and totally insulted by the lady staff working at that time there. All I did was say I wasn't interested, politely. lol.

Those commission's are crazy really and shows just how lucrative it can be to be a taxi driver. I think a bit of 'drink or other' bonus is fine, but when there is so much on offer, it's just how the businessman says in the article.

Posted by Sean on October 4, 2013 14:55


There is also the issue of "too good to be true" did all those Chinese think a trip to Thailand could really be so cheap? We seem to get the ignorant and rude Chinese here, in Singapore they are totally different.

Posted by Fiesty Farang on October 4, 2013 15:16


@whistleblower - dont you think you are getting ahead of yourself? " therefore police should make arrest and send them to court for illegal work.
it is the same for many touts in Phuket". I mean come on - they wont even arrest them for blockading resorts and threatening guests.

Posted by Ciaran on October 4, 2013 15:16


Fantasea: 200 baths per show tickets, 400 if dinner. Plus 100 bahts for petrol.
island Safari: 40% on the brochure price
elephant camps: 40% on brochure prices = 400baths comm for 30mins. 900 comn for one hour.
pearl factory: 33% of the customer's purchase, plus 100bahts for petrol. There is a little secret room behind fake mirrors. Yes really. They offer refreshments and snacks whilst the customers shop.
How about cristin massage? 800 baths comm. Yes!
Go-kart. Shooting range : 300 baths comm per play.

the list goes on.

Posted by danny on October 4, 2013 17:05


Zoo is actually 500 baht

I worked at a Kayaking company and one client who had already booked trip online four months prior wanted to come into office to discuss aspects of the trip, he paid for a taxi and the taxi driver still wanted commision he ended up fighting with the guides and throwing a bottle through the window

Posted by Michael on October 4, 2013 17:22


@michael. Yes the ticket is 500. In this article we talk about the commission from the ticket. The driver gets 200 back on a 500 ticket.

Posted by danny on October 4, 2013 17:50


That's a lot of baths Danny, you wouldn't get so many dollies in the US for the same service.

Posted by Mac on October 4, 2013 18:04


@mac. Well yes that's the whole point. The island is run on kickbacks for drivers. It is shocking but the drivers would boycott some places unless they get a commission. The Tiger Kingdom was open with the drivers in mind. I have known drivers earning 100,000 bahts from jewellery/pearl commissions, from Arab customers. Of course each driver won't get that sort of money everyday but the comm from safaris and shows is large enough to earn a nice tax free cash in hand.

Posted by danny on October 4, 2013 19:21


@Mac: Never mind. Some of us got it. :)

Posted by Buster on October 4, 2013 21:11


I not really sure what the big fuss is about. Do people think this is a new thing in Phuket or even thing this happens only here? This type of thing has been going on everywhere in the world where there is tourisim. 15 years ago in Phuket you had the travel agents Thomas Cook, Ving and others who book many guests then had the ground staff sell tours trips and so on at the hotel. They got big commissions. Not only from the above but tailors where the 40% started but even on food like a well know Swedish steak house chain. The staff would also eat for free. No difference from providing snacks and drinks at the business for the drivers or guides. Those companies are dead and dying due to people booking hotels and airlines directly. I know many 5 language speakers that are out of a job since the big companies lost the customers.

Now that people are independent travelers the business model has shifted since people are not made aware of shopping/tour options unless the researched the web, go to a tour desk, they get into a taxi or ask about it.

The person with customer in hand is the big winner and always has been. The many store/service providers do not want to promote and hire the marketing staff to run around to every one of the 3000 Registered travel agents in Southern Thailand. They take that money and give it to the agents or driver. Makes no difference to them who brings the people or how they get the customer. Years before the internet, Airlines paid commissions and to travel agents and no one complained. Hotels still pay commissions and no big up roar.

Posted by jiminkata on October 5, 2013 06:28

Editor Comment:

Nothing wrong with commissions,but the normal incentive ''culture'' on Phuket is being abused. The more extra money is being paid to taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, the more the drivers monopolise the industry and move towards further control. Tourists and resorts should be freed from standover tactics, not remain helpless victims.


Can you imagine how affordable everything could be without these unnecessary % paid ? The whole tourism industry in this country is built on legal and more illegal commission payments - it just sucks and there's now way out. Play the game or change business...
And yes, tourists should know and than chose where and how to spend their Baths.

Posted by Resident on October 5, 2013 06:52


There seems to be differing attitudes to commissions, but as the Editor summarizes, "the normal incentive culture on Phuket is being abused".

It is possibly these excessive payments which have led to the build up of taxis to the point where they cannot sustain performing simple taxi duties.

It has become a vicious spiral & it is that which DSI needs to break. The recent revelation about 'Pong' (was he detained? for tax evasion?) taking approx 14 million baht per year at Central is a yardstick for what is taking place around the island.

Reduce the numbers of taxis, bring them under proper control, & the problem will be much improved.

Posted by Logic on October 5, 2013 09:00


I know understand why so many cars and trucks were displaying the Tiger Kingdom stickers so quickly after they opened.

I think that an article such as this should also look into the 40% commissions that foreign diving guides earn from the supply shops in Chalong.

Posted by Another Tom on October 5, 2013 12:13


What annoys me the most is not that drivers get commission, but the fact that they always complain of low income or just "getting by" with small money, when in reality most drivers in front of jungceylon or OTOP get around 100K or 150K per months. They lose so much of it on gambling/lottery/football everyday that they end up even more greedy. Back to the point, commissions are always going to exist but abuses should be controlled. But up to the tourist to do his research first. If he wants to go to the Zoo he must think, buy a discount ticket from a tour desk or jump in a taxi and pay full price plus transport fee? Up to them.

Posted by danny on October 5, 2013 12:42

Wednesday October 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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