Phuket’s Rip-Off Taxis Go Viral Following Tourist’s Complaint

Phuket officials have stepped up efforts to tackle expensive taxi fares after a tourist complained online about service prices and being ripped off.

The tourist wrote a complaint on Phuket Tourist’s Facebook page, saying that her hotel had charged her 900 baht for a taxi ride from the airport to Patong Beach.

However, the woman said she was familiar with the route because she had previously visited the tourist destination and knew the fare was exorbitantly high.

Reports of shady practices shortly after the island’s major reopening to international travelers have quickly made headlines.

In response, Phuket Professional Tourist Guide vice president Nattakorn Ruengroj posted a warning on his personal Facebook page.

He asked tourism-related business owners not to fall back to their old ways, claiming that the island is under the microscope and things have changed for all Thais in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Nattakorn said that tourists were the leading actors and actresses who would advertise Phuket tourism for free.

“Let’s not let ourselves down with the same bad habits,” he wrote.

Besides, Phuket’s transport chief Banyat Kantha confirmed that the 900 baht taxi fare was an old rate.

Mr. Kantha responded to Mr. Nattakorn’s post, raising serious questions about how much Phuket’s taxi drivers can charge.

The registered tour guide’s post was tagged in Thai with #sameoldproblem and #classicproblem. Later, Mr. Nattakorn told the media that he was shocked to see the foreigner’s post complaining about taxi fares.

“I do not want to use the word ‘take advantage’, but the fare is overpriced for this situation,” he said.

“When the pandemic first came, they could reduce the fare to 400 baht for [fares from the] airport to Patong. Why don’t they think of the tough time?” he went on. Furthermore, he stated that some tourists were invited to visit the island to promote tourism.

“If they are not satisfied and post about their negative experience, what will we do? Will tourists want to come if they are taken advantage of like this?” he asked.

According to official data, 8,000 foreign tourists have requested Certificate of Entry (COE) to visit Phuket under the sandbox scheme that kicked off last Thursday.