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Crew on the USS Ronald Reagan line up to enjoy Phuket - after the port

Phuket's US Navy Greeting: $3 for a Bottle of Water

Sunday, May 1, 2011
News Analysis: Photo Album Above

THREE dollars for a small bottle of water, 20 baht for a single chicken stick, and a taxi fare of 1500 baht or 2000 baht to Patong.

These were the inflated Phuket prices that greeted the first of about 5000 personnel from the USS Ronald Reagan and its battle group when the warships anchored off Phuket's east coast today.

Taxi drivers were not anxious to talk to Phuketwan at the Ao Makham deep sea port but one driver did say that he would be charging 1500 baht for a short trip across Phuket to Patong on the west coast, and perhaps 2000 baht if more than a couple of passengers were involved.

Vendors at the deep sea port were clearly also keen to cash in if the new American arrivals felt thirsty or hungry once they reached Phuket.

The island's ''welcome'' message is brazen and, to those who know what local Phuket prices should be, shocking. This is not Thai hospitality. It's greed.

Briefings to the US sailors are certain to have included warnings about exhorbitant prices, rip-offs and scams. The advice is always to avoid hiring jet-skis, and to walk if possible to avoid tuk-tuks and taxis.

Now, it seems, $3 bottles of water need to be added to the list.

While the US crews are keen to continue to visit Phuket because it's fun, different and offers more adventure and variety than Singapore or Pattaya, charging $3 for a small bottle of water is no way to encourage visitors to come back.

The greeting that the US Navy extended to local officials and media today was based on generosity, not greed.

The visiting crews of the Reagan, the cruiser USS Chancellorsville and the destroyer USS Preble will include plenty of charitable work, especially at local schools on Phuket and in Phang Nga.

It's to be hoped that the crews avoid the rip-offs that were evident today and find that Thai hospitality and generosity is still alive in many other parts of Phuket.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


DISGUSTING!!!!! I only hope this is the last call to Phuket for the US Navy and other countries as well. I am not even Thai and I feel quite embarrassed to say I reside in Phuket.

Posted by john s on May 1, 2011 18:18


it is a shame. these guys bring good dollars to the island and with their very first step on Phuket soil they get ripped off. Welcome to the land of greed.

Posted by Oliver S. on May 1, 2011 18:41


Who controls Phuket ? It seems not to be the governor, the local or national elected representatives, but rip off merchants such as tuk tuk drivers, illegal taxis, scam jet ski operators and now vendors asking $3 for a 10 baht bottle of water.
If the central government, TAT, local authorities can't do the job, why not opt for an autonomous zone on the Singapore model.
In simple terms, get it right or get out!

Posted by Anonymous on May 1, 2011 19:56


Same Same - NO Different

Posted by Anonymous on May 1, 2011 23:15


Navy should arrange landing craft to put personnel ashore in Patong!

Posted by Anonymous on May 1, 2011 23:20


I think people should be more upset with the exorbitant salaries many of the US navy personnel now make not to mention many of the deluxe meals and these ridiculous holidays they receive. They do the same thing in US airports every day.

Posted by bill jones on May 2, 2011 05:42


Bill Jones. What planet do you live on? An E-2 with less than 2 years in the US Navy earns $1,645/month. They generally work 12hours/day in some of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in the world for a mere $4.42/hour. Exorbitant? I suggest that you tell the sailors your thoughts on their pay at about 2AM in a bar in Patong and then post the video of you getting your as* kicked on this site.

Posted by Former Navy Corpsman on May 2, 2011 08:19


If I recall correctly there is a price ceiling on selling water in Thailand, why does this not apply to the port? I have been on Reagan and their hospitality is great! Not like the rip off brigade waiting for them in the land of smiles (smiles only if rip off succeeded)

Posted by Ian on May 2, 2011 08:45


I was at the port yesterday and again this morning and I bought a 750 ml bottle of Singha water for 10 Baht, and the price for 1.5 liters of Singha water was 20 Baht, who does that equal to US $3.00? I also bought BBQ'ed chicken at Baht 20 per large stick, same as I would pay for it in Patong? I also hear the black taxi fare was to be Baht 1000 per trip to Patong, I did not check that price and still far to much!

The US Navy wil continue to come to Phuket for R&R for the same reasons we choose to live here! They deal with these items as we do, choose not to rent jet skies and use the taxis if you want with a bus available for free!

Posted by Anonymous on May 2, 2011 08:50

Editor Comment:

Our two reporters had to wait more than three hours for a boat ride to the USS Ronald Reagan. They had plenty of time to assess who was charging what at the port. The shop that asked $3 was the first shop on the shorefront as US personnel came onto Phuket. The reporters also noted that chicken sticks were going for 10 baht to customers they knew, and 20 baht to those they didn't know, Thai or expat. Unwilling to pay the $3 for a bottle of water, a nine-year-old travelling with the reporters had to wait to quench his thirst later, away from the port.


If they are dumb enough to pay it - let them!!
Have you seen the prices in the departure lounge of Phuket airport recently??

Posted by another steve on May 2, 2011 09:07

Editor Comment:

Mark-ups are huge at the airport but that's because Airports of Thailand insists on high rents. Thirty baht for a small bottle of water is well below $3.


Good point editor. Markups are airports are there to cover the excessive rents the airport authorities (world wide) charge. 30baht for a bottle of water at Phuket airport IS expensive, but it's inline with all other airports. Three dollars (90 baht?) for a bottle at the deep sea port - with nothing like the rental prices at the airport - is nothing but greed to make short-term financial gain. Disgraceful. More name and shaming and a follow up interview would be nice !

Posted by Mr Man on May 2, 2011 09:53


BLA BLA BLA who cares what is going on down at the port. The Thais don't care so why should the expats.

Posted by lord Jim on May 2, 2011 10:25

Editor Comment:

You are not a mind reader - speak for yourself. There are many Thais and expats who are not selfish, who are not bigoted, and who do care. To divide the world into Thais and expats shows a troubled attitude.


Concerning our comment:

Editor Comment:

Our two reporters had to wait more than three hours for a boat ride to the USS Ronald Reagan. They had plenty of time to assess who was charging what at the port. The shop that asked $3 was the first shop on the shorefront as US personnel came onto Phuket. The reporters also noted that chicken sticks were going for 10 baht to customers they knew, and 20 baht to those they didn't know, Thai or expat. Unwilling to pay the $3 for a bottle of water, a nine-year-old travelling with the reporters had to wait to quench his thirst later, away from the port.

Sorry this rings as something wrong here and it is the whole emphasis of your article.

I also went to the "first shop on the shorefront" bought the bottled water at 10 Baht and a Gatorade at 20 Baht. Not much different that 7 / 11 prices. I did speak Thai to them maybe this was the difference, however, there are dozens of shops at the port so your reporters should of moved on to the next one. For the thirsty boy why didn't you just ask for a free bottle of water from the US Navy or Glen Defense Marine rather than letting him go thirsty for 3 hours?

Also curious, did your Reporters then try to go on to the next shop and see what the prices were? In either event I am sure the US Navy is advised on bargaining from street vendors and traveling the world as they do, are hopefully better at bargaining than your reporters!

Posted by Anonymous on May 3, 2011 06:43

Editor Comment:

Given your expert knowledge of prices at Phuket's deep sea port, I suggest you organise a thorough prices survey - by the Phuket Navy League, perhaps, or some reputable body. Release the detailed results to the media. That way, you won't need to continue to make anonymous and wayward criticisms of our accurate report. You might even help to end the free-for-all on prices on Phuket and make it more appealing for all visitors, especially those who don't think they should have to haggle over prices. You might also encourage the vendors to put out signs rather than calling out ''$3 for water!''


I have loved coming to Phuket in the past, but that's over now. I can get cheaper taxis in Europe plus drinks and the same goes for many other things I simple don't want to feel cheated when on holiday and I be coming 4 times a year in the past ten years and used a lot of money there. But good luck Phuket, and a hello to my new holiday destinations, Cambodia and Vietnam

Posted by had it with Phuket on May 3, 2011 07:40


Former Navy Corpsman if you check you will find occupations such as coal mining more hazardous plus you are neglecting the benefits of the job: time off, travel, full medical, early retirement, premium meals,etc. And it appears a military life has not taught you things should not be settled by violence as you threaten like an angry child.

Posted by billjones on May 10, 2011 09:57


Bill Jones. What was that planet? Sure, maybe coal mining is more hazardous but, when's the last time someone mining coal was shot at? Yes, Navy personnel do enjoy many holidays and vacation time off, but that's because they spend most of their time at sea or in the field, they don't get to go home at the end of the day and hug their kids. Premium meals? Are joking? The food is nutritious, but not ''premium'' by any means.

How far from earth are you?

Posted by 8404 Doc E. on May 14, 2011 17:59


8404 what planet are you on? Run an ad here in Thailand and advertise the job for Thais and you can even offer one half of the salary and you wouldn't be able to keep up with the applicants. We are all getting a bit tired of the flag waving, patriotic, military worshiping going on in the US. WWI, WWII yes these were dangerous missions but currently I'd bet working as a farmhand more dangerous in actual numbers.

Posted by bill jones on May 15, 2011 16:05


Bill, any Thai would wait in line to get any job in the US at half pay, even minimum wage. You are comparing apples to oranges.

Who is ''we''?

What flag waving? The article is about over-priced products and services.

As far as the danger is concerned, you are absolutely correct. Farming is a very, very dangerous job, it just tails Navy jobs overall by a few % points, and the pay is about the same.

Thank you for proving my point.

Posted by 8404 Doc E. on May 16, 2011 13:38


8404 Doc E. that is weak. The rational American people are tired of the flag waving, with us or you are against us, let's all go to war now but ask questions later military industrial complex induced hysteria. Did you ever stop to think that maybe there is not that much danger in the U.S. Navy especially since Iraqi and Afghan insurgents don't have a navy???? Get a grip and learn to shut up when you don't have anything intelligent to say. Kudos to Phuketwan for allowing one to freely debunk ridiculous posters such as yourself.

Posted by bill jones on May 16, 2011 16:12


Bill, Who are you angry at? I simply applauded you, and your comparison of two jobs because you were absolutely correct, farm work is one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the US, and that does compare with Navy jobs overall. US DOL can confirm. I can also speak from personal experience in both fields. Can you? Or, are you sitting on the bench and calling it from the side lines?

Posted by 8404 Doc E. on May 16, 2011 18:23


I don't even know why thailand is still viable....whores and ladyboys...seems that all they have...

Posted by opalhawaii on May 22, 2011 08:17


billjones, don't try to speak for rational Americans. Rational Americans are extremely proud of our flag, and each and every single service man or woman who is or ever has defended it. Most are tired of the wars going on, but that doesn't take away the pride in our flag.

As for the high prices in Phuket. All the Navy personnel are warned about them before they disembark, and guys/gals who have been there before can tell the newbies where to get reasonable prices. Most will absorb prices and stay away from water taxis and tuk tuks, but that doesn't take away from the beauty of Phuket and their enjoyment of it.

Posted by Navy Mom on May 25, 2011 01:52


I guess the people of Phuket forgot about the massive amount of help and free food and supplies, and medical treatment that the US Navy provided to the Tsunami victims. if I Air Craft carrier pulls in to a port, just the costs of taking in the ship and all of the dailer required services provides a lot of money to the Thai economy. Also a Air Craft carrier can and usually will already have a large about off food ordered for the daily meals. Then to top it off sailors who have been out to sea for awhile with their saved up cash and thier need to go out and relax, shop, drink and party attitude all ends up being alot of money being poured in to the local economy.

Posted by Richard on October 6, 2012 11:52

Saturday September 18, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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