Thai Travel Agent Rip Off
Three years ago, a buddy and I went to Thailand for my first trip overseas. I didn’t do much research at all and all I looked up was the exchange rate. We landed at Suvarnabhumi and immediately made the rookie error of engaging one of those pesky taxi men. He followed us all the way through the airport until we had booked our ticket on the Airport Express bus. We aimlessly walked around Bangkok looking for a hotel I am sure doesn’t exist. We soon found out the epic size of one Bangkok block. We got lost and after two hours of walking we hopped on some bus for a few baht and we were dropped off at Sala Daeng. We took the subway because it was cool and found ourselves at Hua Lumphong where we were followed rather closely by a bunch of ladyboys. We booked a train ticket to Chiang Mai for the following evening and then went in search of a hotel and finally booked into Bangkok Centre where we were nearly mugged by a bunch of ladyboys – what the fuck is it with these things?
The next day we are walking through Siam perving chicks and being mesmerised by Bangkok when a very nice lady approached us. She asked us if it’s our first time in Bangkok blah blah, more small talk and then she asks us if we have booked anything for the trip. We told her no and she proceeded to shatter our spirits. She told us it is foreigner off season, but Thai high season and you must book. We were like, oh shit. She then told us she could organise us a 20THB tuk tuk ride to a travel agent. We were like, wow what a nice lady. So we go. Total numb nuts. The long haired, long finger-nailed girly man at the somethingPorn travel agent gave us suggestions for what to do and where to go. We knew not much so we nodded. He booked the trip for THB36,000 each. A total of THB72,000 for the both of us. Accommodation: Three nights in Chiang Mai, three nights in Phuket, two nights in Phi Phi, one night in Phuket, one night in Bangkok, go to Taiwan and then come back for three nights in Bangkok. Flights CNX-HKT and HKT to BKK including transfers on Phuket. One day elephant trek in Chiang Mai. Ferries to and from Phi Phi. Transfer from Chiang Mai train station. Transfer to Chiang Mai Airport.
Oh and on top of that, this guy also knew where a good tailor was. Surprise surprise! We paid 8000THB for a cashmere suit each. I have no idea if this is a good price or not and have never bothered to find out if it is indeed cashmere. I highly doubt it.
We stayed in some no name guesthouse with steep steps and really shitty breakfast. The light fitting in the bathroom had no cover and the ceiling was just above my head. If you put your arm up while in the shower it would go into the light fitting. I did a few times and nearly shat myself every time expecting a jolt that would end me. The beds were the hardest I have ever slept on and the television had a wire coming out of it, but no plug. The pool had recently been refurbished but smelled suspiciously like urine.
I have since stayed in a few places in Chiang Mai and to choose one that is comfortable and very hospitable, I would take Chiang Mai Thai House for 700 THB per night – A/C room with very comfortable beds and a decent shower and nice decor with a television that works – it really is nice. The pool is cool and refreshing and everything in this place is spotlessly clean. I mean everything. One day I saw ladies cleaning the lantern covers with toothbrushes! I think the above no name shithole was far cheaper than this but I don’t remember its name to check up prices.
From the train station and to the airport I would pay THB270 roundtrip. An elephant trek including white water rafting and an orchid farm and only a short stop at those shitty villages would run about 800THB per person. Airfare Chiang Mai to Phuket can be had for 2000THB
Self organised total for two people so far: THB7,970
Phuket and Phi Phi
We stayed at Baan Karonburi on Karon beach in Phuket. This was my first taste of the open drain that is Phuket. So many scummy Brits with red leather skin and tattoos and bleached hair. They all looked like white trash hobos and are the least desirable people I have ever seen. It seems this red leather tan is a pretty popular thing in England because I often see this look on the beaches of Thailand. Phuket for me truly is an awful place – Kata looked nicer and Patong looked worse. The beach is nothing amazing. We have far better ones here in South Africa. But if I were to book this place by myself for the total of 4 nights, it would cost 8000THB for the rooms, transfer 1700THB round trip.
The ferry to Phi Phi would cost 1100THB each, roundtrip. Phi Phi accommodation for two nights in PP Casita where we were booked into would cost, including breakfast, 3000THB.
Flights from Phuket to Bangkok can be had for 1600THB. Phi Phi Don has the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. Staying in PP Casita it is a minute walk to either beach in the middle of the figure 8 island.
Self organised total for two people so far: THB24,770
In Bangkok, we were booked into one of those Sawasdee Inns around Khao San Road. This would cost 870THB per night. This is a lovely place if you think you are Leonardo Di Caprio and you’re gonna find the map to paradise after some guy just cut up his arms. The other place this guy booked us was Samran place. It’s actually not too bad. For the price of 900THB I was happy with the quietness and the lift and the airconditioning. We really didn’t spend much time in the rooms anyway. Samran would cost 900THB per night for a total of 2700THB.
Self organised total for two people so far: THB28,340.
What a huge difference in price when comparing to Naraporn or Jiggaporn whatever that travel agent is called. This leaves 44000THB surplus!
Excluded from the travel agency booking were taxis in Bangkok and food as well as other activities. 400THB per day will feed me easily. Taxis to and from Suvarnabhumi would be approx 400THB per trip one way.
Taxis and tuk tuks and skytrains for two people: 2500THB
Food for two people for the trip: 12,000THB
ATV riding for 3 hours offroad for two people: 2600THB
Shoot a shot gun and some handguns after ATV for two people: 3000THB
Grand Palace and reclining Buddha: 800THB for two people
Flight of the Gibbon in Chiang Mai and the one near Bangkok for two: 9160THB
So far that is 30,060THB of the 44,000 left over. Add in some parasailing, a trip to Phi Phi Leh. That should add up to another 2500THB for two people and you are still left with 10k THB. Upgrade all accommodation for about 800THB per day or just drink more and then we can reach the price this place charged me for the trip. This trip including airfare from South Africa cost me THB80,000.
In subsequent trips to Thailand I have organised everything myself and I eat like a king, am busy most days sightseeing, shopping and really having an awesome trip. Usually they come in, INCLUDING airfare from South Africa to a total of THB54,000 per person for 15 days.
On my next trip after this one, my girlfriend and I were walking from Siam Paragon and those posh places after some perfume shopping toward MBK for some Dunkin Donuts. As I bite into the thing, this lady comes up to us and says hello. She starts chit chatting with us and because I had done endless research before this trip, I knew people don’t just approach you for a chat. I was on the back foot. She starts charming my girlfriend and we answer her questions. We had one day in left Bangkok and just wanted to finish shopping. She tells us we should go to some floating market and to a tiger temple of some sort. We say that sounds nice but we have no time really. She tells us it is late already (12pm) and we should hurry up and go, she can get us a free tuk tuk. Now I am thinking, urm, where do I know this chick from? Then she starts getting aggro and goes totally nuts because we don’t want to go to the tigers. I suddenly remembered her face and this is the same chick who conned me and my buddy! She was going postal so we just walked away from her laughing. Every visit though, I notice more and more scammers everywhere in Thailand and I think I won’t be visiting again for a while.
Anyone who doesn't do any or enough research when going to a new country, particularly a developing country, and then ends up paying too much only has themselves to blame. With the internet there is so much good information out there and that, along with a good guide book should see most people right.