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Prices run rampant in Patong without standards or signage

Tourist Anger as Patong Prices Soar Out of Control

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Phuketwan PriceWATCH Economic Analysis

HIGH PRICES in Patong have brought a flurry of complaints from tourists and an investigation by the local tessaban council.

A small beer that costs 33 baht in a shop almost everywhere on the island cost anywhere between 80 baht and 120 baht in some bars in Patong.

A stick of steamed corn that costs 10 baht in Phuket City will cost at least 20 baht in Patong. There are no price controls in Phuket's leading west coast tourist haven.

Some shops and stalls are also guilty of double-pricing, charging tourists rates that are much higher than what they charge Thais.

Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob said yesterday that there should be standard prices for all items, and the items should be clearly labelled with the prices.

Complaints by tourists concerned everything from tuk-tuks to drink prices and the cost of souvenirs.

Because the island's central administration at Provincial Hall in Phuket City has had so many tourists and honorary consuls contact them to complain, the governor asked the Patong tessaban to investigate.

Deputy Patong Mayor Chairat Sukhban told Phuketwan that he had been to visit shops and stalls along the beach road in Patong to check both prices, signage and the overcrowding of stalls.

He said commissions paid to attract tour groups were sometimes passed on to customers, making prices even higher.

The cost of renting any kind of retail or entertainment space in Patong is the highest on the island, with a small stall of less than two metres in width costing 35,000 baht a month in rent alone.

Franchises, including McDonald's and Starbucks, also have to pay more for prime positions in Patong, passing the cost on to customers.

In some cases, parking tuk-tuk drivers demand and get free drinks from nearby stallholders, which means prices for genuine customers have to be higher to compensate.

More intense competition for tourists who have less money to spend has also encouraged a growing number of touts of all kinds, which in turn generates more complaints.

Commissions to go-betweens inevitably makes the prices for tourists even higher.

Patong's economy is also complicated by the presence of large numbers of illegal workers. While making the point that her research was not qualitative, Austrian academic Bianca Gantner talked to employees in 42 small Patong tourist shops earlier this year.

Have you ever been ripped off in Patong? Please tell us your experience in the Comment box below


''Burmese employees (especially those with Nepalese roots) are demanded because of their ability to speak English,'' she said.

''They are often talented sales people. They are not bothered about working seven days a week from 10am to 12:30am, and they are not fussed about having to stay longer in a shop if there is good business (Thai employees would go home on time).''

Illegal Burmese workers in Patong fall into two categories: they either pay off authorities, or they hide and run every time they see an approaching official.

''I am led to believe that the number of Burmese working in shops in Patong is probably more than 50 percent of the total staff in all shops,'' Ms Gantner said.

Apart from the exceptionally high cost of renting space and bribes to officials, the employment of Burmese at minimum wages in many shops should, in theory, mean lower prices.

However, there are no official checks or controls of any kind on Patong prices.

The Office of Commercial Affairs, Phuket, checks a range of prices each month to measure inflation, but sticks to a set range of standard goods and supermarket items.

Rip-offs of one kind or another on Phuket are thought to be the main reason why tourists who visit the island once sometimes decide never to return.

Have you ever been ripped off in Patong? Please tell us your experience in the Comment box below
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Comments

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Perhaps the gov should look into the Patong hospital, a government run hospital, that double prices between Thai and farang.

That is, of course, unless this is pure window dressing.

Posted by LivinLOS on November 19, 2009 12:28

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Please tell us where the Bars are that sell Beer for 33 Bt? 60 to 80 Bt is the norm 120 Bt is too much.

Editor: Perhaps you can get a beer for the equivalent of 33 baht at a bar in Burma The article says: ''A small beer that costs 33 baht in a shop almost everywhere on the island cost anywhere between 80 baht and 120 baht in some bars in Patong.''

Posted by JB on November 19, 2009 12:36

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I have spent 12 years until 2007 (since then not anymore...) 4-5 months every year (European Winter) in Patong. Sadly the development of Patong shows very clear in one direction, everybody recognises this. The local Government people and Police are just so greedy and reckless, it's a shame. What can you do? To me and many others, Patong is dead.

Posted by Daniel on November 19, 2009 13:36

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After years of bad governance and the lack of any thought into the future planning, it was only a matter of time before Patong became the cesspit it now is.

Posted by Local on November 19, 2009 14:20

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One of the biggest rip-offs in Patong come at the little gasoline shops for motorcycles, like this one when you come over from Karon. Its in the town on the left side after the big art shop, short time before you take the passway to the beachroad.

If you fill your motorcycle there you will pay the d o u b l e price of regular gas stations. The trick is that they write on the glass cylinder where the fuel is inside 40/80/120 Baht and so on. But the marks are not as expected 1, 2 or 3 liters. Its not more than 600 ml and so they charge about 70 Baht per liter of gasoline.

Posted by chris on November 19, 2009 15:39

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and why not go to Patong. As prices fall, return to Patong

Posted by Merek on November 19, 2009 16:15

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Yes there are rip offs in patong especially from low to high season.They look at Farang and automatically the price can double, example haircut barbers can charge less than 50 baht to a local but when a farang comes in its 100 baht.

Also I had an incident for a car trip less than 10 minutes i negotiated a price for 150 baht the car turned up trip started it went to 200baht, if these drivers continue to treat people this way then us so called farang won't come back, I have spent enough time now to realise who to trust and not to trust'

The average thai folk are wonderful honest people,but some traders treat tourist as idiots who can be ripped off,many traders complained to say business is slow, no wonder if they continue to do this then they won't have income.

So what comes next? Theft? I really hope not as I love Thailand very much. But some measures have to be put in place to combat this.

Also many folk complained to me about the treatment by police and the asking of bribes, I don't know because i never experienced this treatment, but again this will stop tourists coming as eventually they will have enough, and look for other countries to stay. I would be prepared to help weed out these folk for the sake of Thai tourism, as this is one of the major industries for the country.

Good Luck

Posted by alex on November 19, 2009 19:36

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Prices only go up in Patong.

Posted by Local on November 19, 2009 19:46

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Phuket is just getting worse and worse, when will it stop, tuk tuk are so overpriced that i cant believe anybody use them, better think about where to go next, and the gov people dont help at all, they just say bla bla bla then do nothing.

Posted by no name on November 20, 2009 09:24

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There is only one cure: Don't buy in Patong. It has been a long time ago, when I bought some clothes in Patong, I prefer Phuket City for all shopping. The last ride in a Tuk-Tuk was in 1992, for late nights I use motorbike taxis and preferably drivers I have been knowing for years...

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on November 20, 2009 18:34

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Simple truth is worldwide not just in Thailand major tourist areas are more expensive usually land rental comes in to play and the list goes on buy a drink in london and you will pay double what you do in a town outside of london, Paris the most vised city in the world is the same and three or four time the price of a drink in a supermarket compared to a restauarnt is probably normal same goes for every other country, the only way to complain is with your feet and your wallets go elsewhere, there are many other wonderful places in Asia and the world to go to

Posted by michael on November 21, 2009 10:10

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Patong should run a bus service, it's that simple, people would be happy to pay 20 baht, just to get from a.. b and it wouldn't run at a loss, I've lived here 12 years so i think i have some idea.

Posted by david on November 21, 2009 19:51

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I'd sure like to hire Burmese workers, the Thai workers would rather spend 12 hours doing little than an honest 8 hour shift, and I pay 50 % more than my competitor. It's a toss whether they come to work or not. I regret opening a business.

Posted by Sam on November 22, 2009 08:06

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Price for 14 Capsules Miracid (Omeprazole) 20 mg Pharmacy Big C 98 Baht At Pharmacy on Bangla Road 240 Baht

Posted by ernst on November 22, 2009 09:26

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I have just come back to phuket from Bali.The taxi drivers were very good drivers and cheap compared to Phuket, one to two dollars a ride !!!Beers 2 us$ and food about the same price. THe biggest problem in Phuket is the lack of reasonably priced transport, many tourists will not come back here after the daily disputes with tuc tuc maniacs!!

Posted by elizabeth on November 22, 2009 16:11

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I've lived in Patong for the past two years and I have expat friends from other countries who refuse to holiday in Patong. They came once and swore they would never come back after being ripped off at every opportunity.

There seem to be lots of tourists still coming though...they've probably been sold a package deal by a travel agent in their home countries and have no idea how expensive it is; perhaps their numbers will slowly dwindle as they experience the same greed.

Posted by Shawn on November 24, 2009 04:41

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I have been in Thailand for 20 years - and now never ever voluntarily go to Phuket. The rip-offs are a national disgrace. Bit its been like that for at least ten years.

Posted by andrew on November 24, 2009 13:36

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But we should not forget that foreign company owners as well charge high prices. The sad thing about Phuket is that still the whole transport system is controlled and there is too much money involved in this business.

Just imagine how much money every day foreigners spend for taxi, tuk tuk, motorbikes. taxis, tour buses, visa runs etc...This is a huge amount of money and for sure there are many people involved who want to make money.

okay it cant be that you pay the same price for a tuk tuk in Phuket as you do in Korat and i would pay a good price for that service but its just a rip off. the drivers are unfriendly and aggressive and many of them carry weapons. Sad Phuket...

Posted by Mike on November 25, 2009 22:11

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Phuket is a wonderful island, however Tuk Tuks - I travelled by tuk tuk from Bangla to Holiday Inn, the driver roared off with my 500 baht note, almost ripping my hand off!

Should i have reported him? Can you imagine telling the police that it was a red tuk tuk and the driver was a dirty, despicable cretin! The police would have rightly said, forget it, you just described every driver in Patong

Patong is a dirty disgusting hovel, i will not spend 1 baht in Patong with the exception of Carrefour. Answer is, boycott Patong and tell everybody to do the same.

Posted by maximus on November 26, 2009 15:44

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I have been to phuket mainly patong three times first time was gr8 and very cheap mind u we were with thai friend but over the years the price has gone thru the roof making it not much cheaper tha aussie sales to go bargain hunting. I will say the thai people are very welcoming and friendly and that is one reason y we keep returning but interms of a cheap holiday i think we will be going elsewhere frome now on tuktuk and taxis are a complete rip off.

Posted by bellz on December 2, 2009 08:52

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I lived in Pattaya for 1 year and Phuket for 4 years now and continue to be amazed at how things are much worse here. Just last week I had a friend in town on holiday. We went into a bar and were handed a drink list that listed Sang Som as 450baht.

I asked if that were for a bottle and was told 'yes'. Of course when the bill came that was not the case. Almost on cue the waitress began yelling at us and creating a scene, my friend paid the bill and when we went outside we were met my 'tough guys' who wanted to ensure we left quickly.

Needless to say, my friend will never visit Phuket again. In this land of 'no consequences' what can we do?

Posted by Jon on December 3, 2009 13:41

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I have been scammed often enough in Patong and Phuket, my wife and I go now to Langkawi or Penang for our island holidays. The transport situation is totally unacceptable. All the transport Mafia needs to be arrested for their permanent scams. If authorities want to avoid a total tourist boycott, have a working public transport system up and running!

Posted by SIAMPEDIA on December 4, 2009 14:31

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In addition to restaurateurs and stall holders attempting to overcharge us everywhere we went, my friends and I were charged 45,000 baht for 'damage' to jet skis that were hired on Patong Beach.

We were threatened and forced to pay, despite the fact that we did absolutely no damage to the jet-skis at all. Locals told us to go to the police, but when we did, the officers literally just laughed at us.

I'll never go back to Patong again!

Posted by Anonymous on December 6, 2009 16:53

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I spent THB4000 in just one day which is a lot of money even by the standards of my country. It started at the airport where I got shafted into getting into a taxi for THB800 when I later found out that there was a THB180 option. The markets and stalls are a rip off. Massages, ping-pong shows. I almost cut my trip short when I discovered all these rip offs. The tours are reasonably priced and so I will not be spending anymore money in Phuket. I will do two tours then go to Bangkok for the rest of my time here before returning to Phuket for one day so I can fly out to Bali. Make sure to avoid Patong. They will harass and cheat you. This has ruined my holiday for sure and its only day 1.

Posted by Nomazulu on July 13, 2013 06:38


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