How to Negotiate with a Tuk Tuk Driver in Bangkok

Hey! Here are some quick, non-comprehensive tips for negotiating with a Tuk Tuk driver — many of these tips could apply anywhere, but Bangkok has some of the sheistiest drivers around. Tuk Tuks may not be the safest form of transportation, but they sure are fun to ride in! And they can weave through traffic better than cars.

And hey, you’re in Asia… haggling is half the fun!  If you’ve not acquired some mean haggling skills after a few days in a Southeast Asian country, there may not be much hope for you. Also, my favorite thing about Tuk Tuks is that they are named for the sound they make. Love me some onomatopoeia.

Tips for yo Tuk Tuk’in:

Don’t. Grab a meter taxi instead. The meter fares are so damn cheap in Bangkok, even in traffic it’s usually less than 100 baht to get anywhere around town. If a driver doesn’t want to turn on the meter, just hop out and hail the next taxi. But, for those times when a meter taxi is nowhere in sight, you may have to go Tuk’in…

Offer way less than the driver asks for. At least a third of his starting price or less. So a typical encounter with a driver will go like this:

– Driver:  Tuk Tuk? Tuk Tuk? Where you going?

– You: Royal Palace. How much?

– Driver: 200 baht

*At this point you laugh at him and start to walk away, scoffing. ‘Scoff scoff scoff. I’m such a seasoned traveler… can’t fool me!’

– Driver: Okayyy, okayy!  How much you pay?

– You: 50 baht

*Now it’s his turn to laugh and scoff. ‘Noooo… too far! So much traffic this time of day! 180?’

So it will go back and forth like this for a bit until you meet somewhere in the middle, you will probably pay around 100 baht in the end. Don’t pay anything more than 150, unless you are going quite a distance. Also, don’t pull your money out until you’ve agreed on a price. If they see a wad of bills, your negotiating powers may have just gone kaput.

If a fare sounds too cheap, it is.  Sometimes a driver will offer you a really cheap price, and then mutter something about making a stop on the way. ‘Just one stop, ok.’  Don’t get in the Tuk Tuk and in fact get away from this guy quickly — it’s a scam and he’s trying to take you to a gem shop or somewhere random. Unless you are in the market for some fake gems… then go for it! Christmas presents for everybody!

Know where you’re going, and at least three ways to describe it. If the driver isn’t clear on the destination, he may still take you in the general direction and drop you at some random spot.  Know the name of the place, the main street, cross streets, any landmarks in the area, and a map will definitely help. The tourist maps are not drawn to scale and can sometimes be confusing. You can download Google maps on your phone when you have wifi, and it will be saved for offline viewing later.

Be ready to walk away. If a driver is not bending enough on the price, just walk away and find another one. In the end you may only be haggling over 2 bucks, but this is how it’s done. Don’t give in!

– Don’t pay 600 baht for the driver to take you to a ping pong show. There are better rates from the guys on Pat Pong.

 

– Michelle

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6 Responses to How to Negotiate with a Tuk Tuk Driver in Bangkok

  1. Dave says:

    Great article! it made my morning. Keep those entries coming.

  2. bnadle says:

    Very helpful and funny tips!
    Sounds like you learned quickly:)

  3. cubiclethrowdown says:

    Sounds like the taxis here – never pay the first price! If you’re white, he’s giving you the real price plus a hefty “gringo tax”. I see so many tourists paying it 😦

  4. When we were in Thailand, we met some traveling girls who insisted that everything was 50 baht — drinks, cab rides, hotel rooms, massages, personal servants — everything. Though I suspect that it was actually because they liked to shriek “50 BAHT!!!” at the top of their lungs into the face of any Thai vendor who approached them. I recommend this method as well.

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