Phuket Gazette

PHUKET CITY: The director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in Phuket says her agency is ‘working on a plan’ to deal with aggressive tuk-tuk drivers in Phuket, the Gazette has learned.

Bangornrat Shinaprayoon, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) South Region Four office in Phuket, told the Gazette today that she was aware of the problems, but said her office in Phuket Town had not received many complaints from tourists over the issue.

“We have a plan which has not been made public yet. We have to wait for it to be announced by the Minister of Tourism and Sports. The problem is very important as it affects tourism, so I would like local organizations including the police to co-operate to work out the problems,” she said.

The Gazette explained that its editorial offices and on-line forum have been flooded with complaints from around the globe by disgruntled tourists complaining about being overcharged for tuk-tuk rides or forced out of public parking areas by gangs of tuk-tuk drivers who monopolize them illegally for their own benefit. Many have vowed never to return to the island as a result of their experiences with taxi and tuk-tuk drivers.

Ms Bangornrat, who took up her post last month, said word-of-mouth complaints among foreign tourists about transport in Phuket was certain to have a negative impact on tourism, but it is difficult to assess exactly what the long-term effects have been.

“I haven’t had any information about the impact on tourism, but I can say that the TAT is concerned about this matter,” she said.

Last month, Minister of Tourism and Sports Chumpol Silpa-archa held meetings in Bangkok to try and solve transport problems there as well, and police were asked to play a more active role, she said.

Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop has already set up a work group to study the issue, she said.

At a meeting of Provincial Department Heads at Phuket Provincial Hall this morning, Gov Wichai raised the topic of tuk-tuk gangs and said his office had received numerous complaints, especially from Patong.

In some cases, people who defy tuk-tuk drivers’ demands not to park in certain public parking areas have had their vehicles vandalized, he said.

Other tourists have complained about being overcharged for damages to rental cars, he told the meeting.

Gov Wichai asked the heads of each department to work on the problem, but no official strategy was announced.

In an update on the case of the French family who were attacked outside Karon Municipality offices in Kata by a man thought to be a tuk-tuk driver, Chalong Police say they know the identity of the man and that a summons for him to appear for questioning has been issued.
– Atchaa Khamlo

1

Like I said before. Words are nice but we need ACTION.

Posted by cubitus999 December 29, 2009 06:55:19PM

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It is about time that these tuk-tuks are cleared from the streets. Let's introduce a proper, organized public transport system on the island. This would solve a few problems in one go: more parking space will become available; transport will be cheaper and affordable to Thais; there will be fewer cars and motorbikes on the road, and fewer accidents; far fewer complaints about tourists being ripped off....

What are the authorities waiting for?

Posted by Paul December 29, 2009 07:05:43PM

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I would be glad to show Khun Bangornrat the damage to my car which arose when I questioned someone why I could not park on the beach road in Rawai. There were of course no 'no parking' signs. There were no taxis and at least 5 spots were open, but I was still told to Move!

When I did move my car it was nevertheless hit by something causing a dent in the door. I no longer visit Patong but now the problem is moving across the island. We employ 15 Thai nationals in a small business and love Phuket, but the ever increasing level of intimidation is giving me serious thoughts of moving on.

This is the worst tourist season in the last 10 years and stories like this are not helping things.

Posted by John December 29, 2009 07:12:09PM

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Yes, right. The TAT is going to help sort out the tuk-tuks. Millions of tourists will never set foot back in Thailand, let alone Phuket, because of the tuk-tuks.

We will believe action plans after they have been implemented, when the tuk-tuks have been banned as a mode of transport on this lovely island. No amount of sweet talk will bring back the lost tourists until that is done.

Ban the tuk-tuks now!

Posted by Mouse December 29, 2009 07:20:46PM

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Tuk-tuks are a cancer. Cancers kill. Goodbye, tourism....

Posted by Sean Healey December 29, 2009 07:37:09PM

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It´s a shame, nothing will happen unless the Thai government gets involved. Since 1997 I have been in Phuket every year, and now I will go to Bali. It´s safer and all taxis are friendly and have meters.

Posted by Gerd December 29, 2009 07:49:35PM

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Ahhh...... Looks like high season is upon us. Clueless foreigner's, greedy businesses, gov't always several steps behind. Judging from the amount of folks on the island, I don't buy into "This is hurting the tourism industry". In fact it's the growing tourism industry that is causing this problem. Good luck, new TAT Director.

Posted by Khun Ron December 29, 2009 07:47:44PM

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Tuk-tuk mafia events like this are exactly why we are taking all of our groups to the Philippines instead of Phuket now. For 6 years we were faithful to Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata, but NO MORE. These tuk-tuk drivers have stolen the last dollar from our groups, endangered the last of our clients, threatened and attacked the last of our guests, and we refuse to have even one more incident with people like these.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures December 29, 2009 07:59:08PM

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Been 4 years since I used a tuk-tuk because of my last use of one. It was in a monsoon and we got to my apartment and the fare was something like 280 baht. I didn't have the fare in small money so gave the driver 500 baht and was waiting in the rain for my change at the passenger window. He told me he didn't have change...yeah, right. He made some searching moves around the cab like he was looking for money but kept saying he didn't have any change. Meanwhile I was getting soaked.

Then he leaned across and opened the glove box on the passenger side, so right under my nose. I saw the gun in there! I got the feeling he wanted me to see it. So I just told him to keep the money and went into my apartment.

I've never used a tuk-tuk since.

Posted by Rex December 29, 2009 08:05:23PM

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Good if TAT finally wakes up and does something about this serious problem. I was hit in the head by a tuk-tuk gang member in a dispute about a public parking space. I think this kind of thing scares a lot of tourists away from Phuket.

Posted by Another offer December 29, 2009 08:04:54PM

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Tuk-tuk drivers have always thought they were a law unto themselves, though now the police evidently have a good lead as to who the perp is. I just wonder if justice will really be served. Let's watch and see!

Posted by Davey December 29, 2009 08:08:22PM

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"Last month, the TAT governor held meetings in Bangkok to try to solve transport problems there as well, and the police were asked to play a more active role."

Herein lies the problem. Maybe if the police (and some other authorities) took a less active roll the tuk-tuks could be dealt with. Just look at the number of illegally parked tuk-tuks in the red and white no-parking areas around Patong.

If the more than 100 tuk-tuks parked there every day were getting ticketed at 300 baht each, there would be huge amounts of money flowing into the local government for the benefit of the Thai public. Right? But the tuk-tuks are NEVER ticketed, so.... I guess the Thai public is being very kind to the tuk-tuks. Right?

Posted by Mister Ree December 29, 2009 08:23:45PM

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I have been living on Phuket for 15 years and can count on one hand the times I have, out of desperation, used the services of a tuk-tuk. It is my personal protest not to use tuk-tuks for any reason unless it is an emergency, and there are few of those.

I also do not patronize the establishments who advertise on tuk-tuks. I invite others to join me in this.

Posted by Mr. Sotu December 29, 2009 08:36:22PM

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The TAT knows for sure what damage the tuk-tuks do to the tourist industry here in Phuket, and I think they will be the ones to take action against this problem.

Last time I used a tuk-tuk was in December last year. He picked me up at the corner of Bangla Rd/Beach Road to take me to Club Lime, a trip of about 500-600 meters. I forgot to bargain about the price. When we arrived at Club Lime he wanted to 500 baht. When I refused, he pointed a GUN at me and told me I´d be dead if I didn't pay.

I paid and said to myself, "This is the last time I will ever use a tuk-tuk". It was.

I was scared and shocked and did not contact the police. I regret that now. I love Phuket and the Thai people, but beware of the TUK-TUKS!

Posted by Johnny W December 29, 2009 08:37:44PM

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I have not been permitted to park my car in Karon for the past two years by the tuk-tuk or car service gangsters. I just have to spend my money in Rawai or Chalong.

Posted by Restless in Rawai December 29, 2009 08:42:17PM

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This is the MOST serious long-term "tourist" problem in Phuket. Phuket is the ONLY province in Thailand which doesn't have a standard pricing structure for taxis/tuk-tuks! That is criminal!

Also, in beach areas (especially Patong and Kata/Karon) the competition (metered taxis and motorcycle taxis) is chased off by tuk-tuk gangs.

I don't know why the police are never stationed in tuk-tuk areas to protect tourists from these criminals. I can only assume that the police are afraid of them.

Posted by Glen December 29, 2009 08:53:05PM

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There is a petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tuk-tuk/

Posted by LivinLOS December 29, 2009 09:11:22PM

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Without doubt the biggest problem on Phuket island is the lack of public transport and the tuk tuks. From my personal experience of the tuk tuks the drivers tend to be aggressive drivers and aggressive people generally. They over charge, and there are far too many of them.

The public transport system would be much better if the taxi meters were allowed to ply their trade as they are in Bangkok, offering a fair price in a comfortable car.

There should also be a bus service running along the coast road from, say Nai Harn to Surin. I suggest that the army is brought in to get rid of this problem of the tuk tuks, and to give protection to new taxi meter drivers and bus drivers as the come to the rescue of Phuket.

Posted by Paul December 29, 2009 10:14:11PM

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I hired a car last year from a company near the airport. They marked down all damage to the car and gave me a copy. when I took the car back they said I'd scratched it. The scratch was already noted on their paper work before I drove off with the car, but when I returned it they told me that the scratch was BIGGER than before. I had a flight to catch. They knew this and I had to pay or miss the plane home. Not nice people at all. What a con!

Posted by trevor December 30, 2009 12:17:16AM

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The government has to reduce the number of tuk-tuk licenses for each district on Phuket, like they have done with the jet-skis. That´s the only way to control these gangs. In addition, Phuket needs parking areas where tuk-tuks are not allowed to park, and the police have enforce that rule very strictly.

Posted by Bagsida December 29, 2009 10:36:43PM

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Unsurprisingly, most, if not all, wouldn't even know the existence of the TAT office in Phuket Town, so how can people be expected to complain direct to them? Are there signs in every hotel/guesthouse room in Phuket saying: "If you have a complaint, please telephone the TAT at 076-xxxxxx'?

Surely the responsibility of the local TAT office is to sift through the multitude of complaints received from all sources (hotels, tour operators, media forums, etc), and then investigate for background, relativity and whether real or not. Then assess the impact.

Talk about 'knee jerk'. Great advert for Phuket: "Welcome to our Island, but park in my space and I'll break your arm."

Posted by pag December 29, 2009 11:31:09PM

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I have often tried to contact the TAT Phuket office but found no email on the TAT website. The one I had does not work any longer. I would like to pass it on to people who want to complain as the complaints need to go there. Perhaps the TAT Phuket office would be more aware of the feedback if there were an easy way to contact them.

So what is their email address for tourists to send feedback? Does anyone know?

Posted by S. Effay December 29, 2009 11:57:31PM

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Ms Bangornrat may put in whatever plan she likes, but until her peers in other government offices in Phuket have the will to address the tuk-tuk problem, and until the tuk-tuks are fitted with meters, there will be no end to the complaints and bad press. It's not just about rules. It's about proper enforcement.

Posted by Dave Lombardi December 30, 2009 01:00:05AM

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Why not set regulations on fares between places in Phuket? Maybe 100 baht from Kata to Patong, or 200 from Patong to Phuket Town. There is way too much supply and not enough demand. Meters would even work, although I can't see that happening in the tuk-tuks.

Posted by The Situation December 30, 2009 01:07:18AM

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There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to provide a regular bus service if they dare. Even if there were just a single basic route running every 15 minutes. Patong, Karon, Kata, Chalong, Phuket Town (bus station), Tesco Lotus, Kathu, and back to Patong. After midnight, the buses could be every 30 minutes or on the hour even.

This would break up the gangs of tuk-tuks hanging around Soi Bangla, Karon and Kata. This bus could also link up with an airport bus.

Posted by Nip December 30, 2009 01:07:11AM

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Having lived here for awhile and owning a vehicle, I too have had run-ins with them. I was told that certain parking spaces had already been paid for. Therefore they had the right to be there regardless. There are a few unwritten laws at work in Phuket, that tourists from different cultures would never know about and shouldn't be blamed for, let alone attacked.

I hope one day there are limits placed on the number of tuk-tuks and 'taxis'. I'm afraid as long as Thailand remains this way, the quality of tourists all over the island will soon drop significantly.

Posted by Kamala Resident December 30, 2009 01:17:23AM

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Hope the government will take care of this BIG problem with the tuk-tuk drivers before it's too late. I have so many problems with the tuk-tuks, so I will never go back to Patong again. But if the government can clean up this mess, I may change my mind because I love Phuket (but do not accept about 90% of the tuk-tuk drivers).

Posted by Tomas December 30, 2009 01:40:25AM

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Well, when it comes to tuk-tuk and taxi drivers on Phuket, only one word comes to mind: disgrace! It's a cancer that slowly eats into the beauty of the island, leaving a bad smell and aftertaste. Who wants to return to a place that is so infected by gangs and scammers?

No doubt, Thailand's most important tourist area is losing its atraction in the long run. Sad. The responsible people have let it happen, ignoring the matter for all too long.

Posted by Mr John December 30, 2009 02:06:50AM

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In my opinion there is only one Solution to this. Call in someone else to deal with the problem. Maybe the Army would be the best qualified.

Posted by Richi December 30, 2009 06:28:59AM

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Patong will never be really tourist friendly until it has a 10-baht bus system like Pattaya. Then the tuk-tuk drivers will no longer be an issue. I go to Patong every year, and simply don't use the tuk-tuks .

Posted by george kelly December 30, 2009 07:02:09AM

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Khun Bangornrat says her office in Phuket Town has not had many complaints. Well, I would put that down to the fact that tourists are on holiday and prefer to enjoy their time here, rather than traveling to town and trying to find the TAT office. So, many people do not complain; they just won't use the tuk-tuks anymore. That's why the tuk-tuk drivers say they now only earn 300 to 400 baht a day. (What a pity.)

So, please, TAT, this problem needs urgent attention, and sooner rather than later.

Posted by clickblade December 30, 2009 07:50:12AM

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When will the officials wake up? This is a problem known to them for years. Reading between the lines. They say they will do a study. It means they will do nothing, other than try to sit it out.

The tuk-tuk people control the island. Nobody will touch them.

There are two options for tourists. 1) Never use a tuk-tuk. 2) Think twice about coming to Phuket.

Posted by watchdog December 30, 2009 08:16:12AM

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Tuk-tuks are the worst gangs in Phuket, and mostly in Patong. All the authorities know about this, and they do nothing. Why?

Posted by Robert December 30, 2009 08:27:04AM

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Please keep the tuk-tuk stories coming. Perhaps institute an online "Tuk-tuk Watch" web page, inviting readers (especially tourists) to describe their tuk-tuk experiences - and the consequences for tourism.

A print-out of all the comments delivered to the TAT Director's office each week could be helpful in implementing "The Tuk-tuk Plan".

Let's not allow this issue to fade away.

Finally, where is the BBC when we need them? They did a great job on the jet-skis...

Posted by Grenville Fordham December 30, 2009 08:33:14AM

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Yep, easy fix. DONT USE THEM. They'll have to go away eventually.

Posted by Muzza December 30, 2009 08:53:50AM

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We have been assaulted on the same spot. I pulled up in front of the police box after being assaulted by a tuk-tuk driver. The guy followed me to the police box and was banging on my window. Only after several minutes did the police guy come out of his box. He told the tuk-tuk driver to go away and we must follow him to the main station. There we were fined 300 baht for wrong parking of our car at the police box.

After living more than 7 years on this island I have heard several times that the tuk-tuks would be banned. But then the government person suggesting it, or the one charged with implementing it, or both, is/are transferred to another province. Then the whole story starts again from zero.

Posted by No thank you December 30, 2009 08:59:16AM

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Why the police don`t do anything? Well, maybe some of them drive tuk-tuks in their spare time. Could that be part of the reason the gangs can do as they wish?

Posted by Baloo December 30, 2009 09:00:01AM

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I would like to see the army called in to remove the tuk-tuks. Then a good, regular local bus service can be introduced and metered taxis can ply their trade anywhere on the island.

The abhorrent behaviour of the tuk-tuk drivers is reported worldwide, and it is very bad publicity for the tourism business of Thailand.

Posted by Khun Paul December 30, 2009 09:07:23AM

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Lets talk truthfully. The tuk-tuk mafia seems to be more in control than the TAT. Phuket's tourism industry will die if this continues. Restaurants, bars and resorts will close and good Thais will lose their jobs and families will suffer. Crime will increase. Anyone getting the message?

Posted by The Realist December 30, 2009 09:26:47AM

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I have lived in Phuket since 2001, and after my first six months have never used a tuk-tuk, nor will I ever use one again. The unpleasant negotiations re the fare, the rudeness, aggression and downright cheating have resulted in me and my foreign guests using ANY available option to avoid the tuk-tuks. And, unless there is a drastic improvement in service, this is the way it will continue to be.

Posted by Jamie December 30, 2009 09:32:28AM

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I have experienced this behaviour regularly, and also from unmarked taxi operators who sent me off from parking on a public road. If you don't bow to their orders, budget for a new paint job on your car.

Remember how the mayor vowed to remove all the transportation businesses from public parking areas along Patong's beach road? Well, that was just talk, I guess.

Such is life in paradise.

Posted by Ian December 30, 2009 09:52:31AM

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Take note of the comment from NORTHERN TOURS AND ADVENTURES! When travel and tour companies say they will take their customers to other countries rather than subject them to these tuk tuk people. it makes me worry a lot! I am in the hospitality business and can't afford to lose more customers.

Will the authorities wait until we have lost all of our customers? Between the red shirts, yellow shirts, demontrations, protests, Thakisn nonsense and now these tuk-tuk gangs, we in the tourism business don't stand a chance!

TAT: Please solve the tuk-tuk problem, because if the tourists stop coming to Thailand I will be out of a job, and so will you!

Posted by Tom December 30, 2009 10:27:15AM

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A few years ago, the Gazette ran a photo feature about the tuk-tuks, motorbike hire operators and jeep rental businesses taking all the PUBLIC parking spaces on the beach road in Patong.

The then mayor took action, lambasted the chief of police, and cleared the PUBLIC parking areas. Gradually, they've crept back until there is now no PUBLIC parking again.

Furthermore, the tuk-tuk gangs now appear to think they have a right to parking in PUBLIC areas, and that they are somehow untouchable.

Whose job is it to keep these PUBLIC parking areas clear? Because that person is not doing his or her job very well, we need to find someone who can measure up.

Parking for tourists is important. Remember, at least 90 percent of the tuk-tuks' revenue comes from tourism. You don't see many fare paying Thais in a tuk-tuk, do you!

Posted by Mr Bean December 30, 2009 10:30:04AM

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Reading the comments, it is extremely shocking how often guns, knives and sticks are mentioned with tuk-tuk rows. Interest groups often come into disagreement and that is normal, but violent intimidation should not be tolerated in any law-governed society.

The sheer fact that this gang violence has existed for years in Phuket is the most worrying sign. It shows the government has neglected the problem completely.

As responsible citizens I believe we should boycott the tuks-tuks. We have to show them that the people of Phuket, like so many tourists, will no longer tolerate this kind of behavior.

Posted by as December 30, 2009 10:41:02AM

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I stopped using tuk-tuks several years ago for all the reasons posted here. I'm using private taxis instead. Cheaper, friendly, reliable and real cars with all their safety measures in place.

Over the years I have collected quiet a few phone numbers from taxi drivers, and it never takes more than about 5 minutes, day or night, to get picked up right at the spot. No worries about overcharging, unfriendly drivers, or unsafe transportation.

Tuk-tuks? Never again.

Posted by oliver December 30, 2009 10:47:04AM

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Please explain to me the reason for anyone to do anything regarding this problem. As we all know this has been going on for a long time and nothing happens until it hits the news – and then all they do is give it a lot of lip service until the tourist season is over. Then, lo and behold, the same problem raises its ugly head again the following year.

I think that if people want respect from the tourists they need to solve problems before they become newsworthy. Please don’t get me wrong, but I also think that we the tourists need to behave better than we do at times. Just remember that if you would not do it at home, don’t do it here.

Posted by Fred December 30, 2009 11:04:20AM

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Don't expect any serious action from the TAT. It is basically an advertising agency (and an 'inaccurate' one at that). Their biggest recent contribution to Thai tourism appears to have been the change in the label for low season to 'Summer Season', thereby misleading European tourists into the belief that they were coming to a destination where they could enjoy sand, sun and beautiful beaches.

Is it any wonder they risk ignoring the 'red flag' warnings and drown? When you pay good money to fly half way round the world, you expect what is advertised.

Does the false branding of low season mean that we will now change 'high season' to 'Winter Season'?

Hats off to the TAT also for 'Amazing Thailand'. People sure do have fun with that one :)

Posted by Laffinmahedoff December 30, 2009 11:07:23AM

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I got charged 400 baht from Bangla to Nanai Road a few weeks ago. What a rip-off. I only used the tuk-tuk because I left my bike at home. Will never usea tuk-tuk again. But the thing is, all these new tourists don't know about this problem, so they will use the tuk-tuks.

Posted by John December 30, 2009 11:21:39AM

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Thanks to the Gazette and it's readers, the message might finally be getting through: Don't negotiate with the tuk-tuk drivers. Get rid of them.

Posted by geoffphuket December 30, 2009 11:21:58AM

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Only 3 waiting tuk-tuks every 100 meters should be allowed. the Patong beach road is a 2-km-long parking lot for tuk-tuks. Someone should make a youtube video showing all the waiting tuk-tuks, especially at night time. Go out and spread the word and let everybody know about the tuk-tuk problem.

Posted by Frank Heise December 30, 2009 11:42:27AM

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Does anyone know where I can buy a tuk-tuk? Then I could drive at 5 mph holding up traffic or race around at 100 mph. I could also park anywhere I wanted, drive on the wrong side of the road, carry a weapon and never get stopped at check points. Come on TAT, wake up and introduce Pattaya's 10 Baht bus system!

Posted by John December 30, 2009 11:48:33AM

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I have a house in the Laguna area but recently had a vacation in Bali. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that all the taxis in Bali were metered, and in 9 days not one taxi driver tried to add on extra costs.

Phuket needs to learn fast or risk losing high end customers who are here to relax and not be hassled by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers who clog the parking spaces and block sidewalks hassling people for minimum charges of 200 baht to go 1 block, or up to 2,000 baht to drive to Laguna.

If the tuk-tuks were metered, then their drivers would have to work for their salary like everyone else.

Posted by Kevin December 30, 2009 11:53:14AM

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From the Phuket Gazette:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Headline: "Patong beach road to become ‘clearway’

From story: "From next high season, the busy Patong beach road (Thaweewong Rd) will be free of parked vehicles, leaving traffic to flow along the popular beachfront," says Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukkabal.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Headline: "Patong to get B20 tuk-tuk service"

From story: "A fleet of 24 tuk-tuks will ply a circular route through the streets of Patong for no more than 20 baht per passenger by the time the next high season arrives," Teerayuth Prasertphol, Chief Technical Officer at the Phuket Provincial Transportation Office, announced today.

What happend to these plans and the people who announced them? Who is responsible for the failure to stick to the plans?

Posted by Frank Heise December 30, 2009 12:02:29PM

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Tuk-tuk mafia events like this are exactly why we are taking all of our groups to the Philippines instead of Phuket now. For 6 years we were faithful to Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata, but NO MORE. These tuk-tuk drivers have stolen the last dollar from our groups, endangered the last of our clients, threatened and attacked the last of our guests, and we refuse to have even one more incident with people like these.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

If what you say is true, have you reported this to the TAT?

Posted by Lincoln December 30, 2009 12:07:49PM

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The TAT needs to come out of its tower and address this problem. First, put meters in all tuk-tuks (its simple). Then clear the tuk-tuks from taking all the parking spots along all Karon Beach road.

Come on, please do something before all the tourists are gone.

Posted by stephen December 30, 2009 12:09:44PM

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Tuk tuks by defintion are 3 wheeled vehicles. These things in Phuket are taxis, and taxis worldwide are suspect. I had one driver swing a punch at me because I honked at him for nearly backing into me as he was reversing near Bangla against the traffic....

Posted by anti tuk tuk big time December 30, 2009 12:55:06PM

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As long as the tuk-tuks dominate the transportation system in Phuket, the rate of tourists visiting will decline. But don't make the mistake to believe the situation is worse in Patong compared to other villages. It's the same everywhere, but only concentrated more heavily in Patong.

I have had my run-ins with the tuk-tuk drivers over the years, but they have become a lot more aggressive over the last 3-4 years. I NEVER use tuk-tuks myself.

Posted by Mojo December 30, 2009 12:57:35PM

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When I came to Phuket, I was staying in Karon and had a hard time finding a taxi to the airport because the several taxis that we asked to come get us at the hotel said they were scared to do so because of the Karon tuk-tuk cartel. They said that they had been warned to stay out of Karon.

We actually had to run into back road and hide waiting for a secret taxi. Ridiculous! Something like this stays in your memory forever.

Posted by Tiffany December 30, 2009 01:15:06PM

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I come to Thailand every three months or so. I never go to Pattaya (only idiots go to Pattaya). I never go to Phuket either. The last time? 10 years ago. Phuket sucks big time!

Posted by Alan Lee December 30, 2009 01:23:48PM

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The problem with Phuket is the tuk-tuks, because there is no rule of law on this island anymore. The authorities are just as afraid of the tuk tuk drivers as the public are.

Just go to Chalong any morning and see the poor tourists getting arrested by the traffic police for minor things while the real criminals are all over Kata, Karon, Patong and elsewhere on the island.

I worry that Phuket is turning into a joke for many people.

Posted by Joker December 30, 2009 01:26:17PM

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Last month my wife and I went to Kata to visit some friends. We parked our car in a public parking space and were told by a tuk-tuk driver that if we did not move our car something might happen.

We moved it, but I was disgusted. But I'm not about to take on the tuk-tuk mafia and possibly die over a public parking space.

These people are the worst. Thailand has a reputation for being a friendly country but you would never know it here in Phuket. No one should have to put up with it.

I would hope that the government would do something about it, but perhaps they too are intimidated by the tuk-tuk gangs.

I personaly know many people that will never come back here because of the aggressive and dangerous behavior of many of the locals.

Posted by Steve December 30, 2009 01:27:42PM

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Tuk-tuk mafia events like this are exactly why we are taking all of our groups to the Philippines instead of Phuket now. For 6 years we were faithful to Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata, but NO MORE. These tuk-tuk drivers have stolen the last dollar from our groups, endangered the last of our clients, threatened and attacked the last of our guests, and we refuse to have even one more incident with people like these.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

Have you told the TAT about this?

Posted by Lincoln December 30, 2009 01:51:10PM

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There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to provide a regular bus service if they dare. Even if there were just a single basic route running every 15 minutes. Patong, Karon, Kata, Chalong, Phuket Town (bus station), Tesco Lotus, Kathu, and back to Patong. After midnight, the buses could be every 30 minutes or on the hour even.

This would break up the gangs of tuk-tuks hanging around Soi Bangla, Karon and Kata. This bus could also link up with an airport bus.

Posted by Nip

Well said, Nip. Your idea of a bus service from Patong along the coast road makes perfect sense. This should be looked at immediately – if not all the way, at least to Karon and Kata from Patong.

Tourists and locals are being held to ransom by tuk-tuk drivers for this journey. I've even heard of tourists being charged extra on top of high prices for going "over the hill" because it uses more petrol.

I have told numerous people that if they visit Phuket they must be very careful of the tuk-tuk drivers, and if possible avoid them at all costs.

Phuket remains in the dark ages when it comes to reliable public transport into and out of Patong.

Posted by Micky M December 30, 2009 02:02:43PM

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I have been to Phuket 8 times. All the tuk-tuk drivers I dealt with were very friendly and very helpful! I only recall one problem, and that was related to overcharging late at night. But in my view, Phuket tuk-tuk drivers are angles compared to Bankok tuk-tuk drivers, who are very abusive....

Posted by Naz December 31, 2009 01:17:54PM

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The tuk-tuk drivers have been ripping off tourists and locals alike for years. They think they own Phuket and behave like hooligans, as they charge ridiculous prices for their services – prices not heard of in other tourist destinations in Thailand. This problem cannot be resolved unless the authorities take serious measures to stamp out the unruly behaviour.

Posted by sawansam December 30, 2009 02:55:28PM

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Police should be paid a better salary. As a consequence, they would become proud members of Thai society and stop being friendly with the tuk-tuk gangs below them.

Posted by Dieter Staerk December 30, 2009 02:46:50PM

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Earlier this month we parked our cars about 700m from the beach road in Kata and walked to the beach as we had been harassed before when trying to park on the beach road itself. On the way back to the cars we took 2 tuk-tuks, all the adults in one and 8 teenagers in the other.

We then did the same the next day.

On the second day, we did not use the same tuk-tuks as the first day. Yet on both occasions the tuk-tuk drivers tried to sell Yah-Bah to the kids. And on both occasions they charged me 1,000 baht for the two tuk-tuks to take us 700m.

There should be a military blitz to search these vehicles for drugs and firearms. You won't ever see us in Phuket again.

Posted by Anthony December 30, 2009 02:54:38PM

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As first-time tourists to Phuket may not be aware of the problems with tuk-tuks – the fares, theft of public parking and aggressive driver behaviour – it might be an idea to make some flyers and hand them out at Phuket airport, aboard arriving flights, and in hotel lobbies. Newspaper warnings and radio announcements would also help.

This action would not be intended to scare off the tourists, but rather to make them aware of the current tuk-tuk situation and protect them from encounters of the type we read about here.

Also, I do hope that the TAT and other government officials will acknowledge the problems now and get them terminated quickly.

I have to add that, like so many others here, I have had bad encounters with the tuk-tuks myself.

Posted by Dan Mc December 30, 2009 02:57:02PM

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The problems we encounter with tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis, beach umbrella operators, bars opening late at night, etc, are the result of a lack of enough crackdowns by the local police and administrative authorities. Unfortunately, this is a national problem and not one that is going to be solved quickly.

Posted by Whistle-Blower December 30, 2009 03:09:53PM

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Enough of this crap. I believe they need to live, but ethical behavior is a must too! How dare they take the law in their hands. I'm losing my customers and more and more are promising not to come back to Phuket. (NO) thank you, tuk-tuk guys.

Posted by Amorn December 30, 2009 03:28:10PM

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How do I get from the airport to Patong in Phuket? There are no normal taxis or tuk-tuks! I just want an honest, reliable local bus service, thank you.

Posted by Darius December 30, 2009 04:18:35PM

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"Bangornrat Shinaprayoon, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) South Region Four office in Phuket, today told the Gazette that she was aware of the problems, but said her office in Phuket Town had not received many complaints from tourists over the issue."

Please provide us with a link and/or phone number so that we may help the TAT. And please to anyone who has had one of these bad encounters, do not keep silent about it. Call the police immediately. If you keep silent about it you are part of the problem.

Posted by Bob December 30, 2009 03:45:58PM

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I have said this before and will say it again: Nothing has been done to these guys because they are being protected by someone in power. If anyone else had committed this aggressive action against the French tourists, they'd be sitting in prison right now.

And now the TAT tries to appease us by telling us they are beginning to have meetings about how to handle it. That is slightly encouraging.

These drivers have continuously caused enough problems and embarrassment to Phuket. Enough is enough!

Posted by sky December 30, 2009 04:05:58PM

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This has been a problem for years now! Seems like the thing to do is to get it on video tape and let it run on youtube. Like the episodes with the jet-skis. Families who used to visit Phuket in earlier years say that the tuk-tuks are one of the things that have made them pick other holiday spots. Might be something to think about!

Posted by Fred December 30, 2009 04:36:59PM

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A few years ago, the Gazette ran a photo feature about the tuk-tuks, motorbike hire operators and jeep rental businesses taking all the PUBLIC parking spaces on the beach road in Patong.

The then mayor took action, lambasted the chief of police, and cleared the PUBLIC parking areas. Gradually, they've crept back until there is now no PUBLIC parking again.

Furthermore, the tuk-tuk gangs now appear to think they have a right to parking in PUBLIC areas, and that they are somehow untouchable.

Whose job is it to keep these PUBLIC parking areas clear? Because that person is not doing his or her job very well, we need to find someone who can measure up.

Parking for tourists is important. Remember, at least 90 percent of the tuk-tuks' revenue comes from tourism. You don't see many fare paying Thais in a tuk-tuk, do you!

Posted by Mr Bean

Yes, Mr Bean, I agree. Let's not forget about the motorcycle taxis also taking up parking spaces along public streets. I often ride my motorcycle to the beach. Every time I try to park along the beach road a motorcycle taxi person (male and female) has told me to move. One time I was told to pay 10 baht to a lady on the beach to park. I politely said "No" and was lucky my vehicle wasn't damaged. Mr Mayor, it's time once again to move these people so that tourists can park without harassment and fear.

Posted by Dive Doc December 30, 2009 05:06:01PM

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Used a tuk-tuk 3 times, and payed insane prices for short drives. So I don't use them anymore. I'd rather walk. But for the benefit of the unknowing tourists, what about giving flyers to them on arrival at the airport, warning them to avoid the tuk-tuk gangs.

Posted by Joshua Leaves December 30, 2009 05:35:03PM

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My daughter came back to Sweden on December 23 after staying 14 days in Phuket. She said everything was very nice except for only 1 problem: the tuk-tuks. And she had trouble with them every day.

Posted by Dick Nordin December 30, 2009 05:38:15PM

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Over 40 more negative posts and well over a 100 on the other tuk-tuk story. Do you think anyone has got the message yet? Is there anybody out there?

Posted by Richie December 30, 2009 05:34:02PM

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Guns in tuk-tuks? Threats to tourists by drivers? It's about time those in charge sorted out these gangs and cleared the streets of these people, most of whom are from outside Phuket.

Posted by sam swellbelly December 30, 2009 05:39:47PM

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Got charged 300 baht from Bangla to Nanai. Its about 1 km to my house. They knew exactly where it was, but at the bottom of the hill... 100 more, 100 more, uphill 100... Unreal. It's tragic to read so many stories of weapons being used. Everybody needs to report these incidents. Combined, something eventually has to be done.

Posted by Antony December 30, 2009 05:40:41PM

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I have been visiting Phuket several times a year for the past 10 years, and have never used a tuk-tuk. You can just see it is a mafia organisation, and they become more prolific every year.

The minimum wage is just over 200 baht a day; however these guys are demanding (and getting) more than double that for a short ride which takes a few minutes. (It works out at about 1 baht per meter.) Is it surprising, then, that the problem is increasing?

I guess it is a sad fact that Patong and such areas are a magnet for questionable people of many varieties! I personally am offended very much by the constant 'in your face' tuk-tuk drivers.

Posted by Raymundo December 30, 2009 10:32:31PM

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The Thai authorities and the TAT must be scared of the Phuket tuk-tuk gangs as these gangs, with illegal firearms under their seats, lose more and more of their most valuable source of income, the tourists.

Posted by Buck Wild December 30, 2009 06:18:41PM

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Can someone send a copy of all these complaints to the TAT office in Phuket? Please also let us know the e-mail address of the TAT office. Then maybe we can make sure our complaints get read. But maybe they will need to double or triple their staff to read them.

Posted by Karsten December 30, 2009 06:20:17PM

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Just put meters in tuk-tuks and give them half the parking spaces from now on. Have checkpoints for control of use of meters.

Posted by nick December 30, 2009 06:59:49PM

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The above comments make it very clear: get rid of the tuk-tuks. But is there anybody out there to listen? The TAT doesn't seem to have a clue!

Posted by Boonlom December 30, 2009 07:03:04PM

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What will make the tuk-tuks drivers accountable and professional? An efficient and reasonably priced public transport system. No tuk-tuks to be found in Penang, but a great user-friendly bus service gets everyone where they need to go with a minimum of fuss.

Posted by Chris L-D December 30, 2009 07:04:02PM

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Do you remember the t-shirts? I added a new thing on it, so now it reads: .2002 Birdflu, 2003 SARS, 2004 Tsunami, 2005 xxxxxx, 2006 xxxxxx... 2010 tuk-tuks.

If the TAT really wanna do something to keep the high amount of tourists in Phuket, they should make some realistic prices for tuk-tuk rides. Something like 10 baht per km. There are so many other places on earth to have a nice vacation, and if the tuk-tuks are the reason why many people skip Phuket and Thailand, it is a great shame for the good and fair Thai people who live off of tourism.

Posted by Vander December 30, 2009 07:11:50PM

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There is a particular gang of tuk-tuks who are very aggressive by the roundabout in Karon and in front of the Best Western hotel in Karon. I have seen them a few times using threatening behavior when dealing with tourists. And I once was threatened myself with a stick when I refused to pay a 700 baht charge from Patong!

Posted by benphuket December 30, 2009 07:34:43PM

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All agreed. It's an outright horror and the number 1 problem in Phuket. It will remain unsolved until the tuk-tuks are eradicated. I was having a pizza on a corner street in Patong. A tuk-tuk pulled up and parked illegally at the corner. During my whole meal the fumes of his running engine (while awaiting a customer) spoiled my meal.

I could tell that if I asked him to shut off the engine it would result in an argument I did not need nor want on top of a fumed pizza. It was obvious to the driver I was annoyed, but he couldn't care less.

Posted by Paulie December 30, 2009 08:04:18PM

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The headline: "TAT 'worried' about Phuket tuk-tuk gangs". But are they worried enough to take action? Or are they worried if they do take action?

Bring in a local bus service connecting the beaches (or even a baht bus service) and let people get back to having a good time on holiday rather than trying to work out how to get around without having to resort to being in the hands of the tuk-tuk gangs!

Posted by Billy December 30, 2009 08:10:09PM

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One would almost say: does the above need any more comment? The tuk-tuks are indeed a rip-off, and are recognised as such by most tourists... and hence all the negativity around them. Maybe a few big international complaints by foreign governments, as happened with the jet-skis, might stimulate the locals here to start paying attention.

Why not install the Pattaya has with the baht buses? Like I said the other day: The rule of law should be the same for everybody, and the police should act accordingly... no exceptions. One clears/cleans the steps from top down.

Posted by Rob December 30, 2009 09:13:17PM

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It's all a joke. Expats know better than to hire these people. And guidebooks should do a better job explaining the do's and don't's when travelling in Phuket. Anything remotely resembling a concern from the local authorities is nothing more than a few words on parchment.

Licenses to conduct business with tourists should be reviewed annually! A complaint hotline should be established. I hope that the jet-ski guys got the message. The tuk-tuk guys are long overdue.

Posted by peter rawai December 30, 2009 11:05:38PM

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There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to provide a regular bus service if they dare. Even if there were just a single basic route running every 15 minutes. Patong, Karon, Kata, Chalong, Phuket Town (bus station), Tesco Lotus, Kathu, and back to Patong. After midnight, the buses could be every 30 minutes or on the hour even.

This would break up the gangs of tuk-tuks hanging around Soi Bangla, Karon and Kata. This bus could also link up with an airport bus.

Posted by Nip

Truly a great idea. I think 110% of the people reading this topic would agree. No degree of rocket science is necessary to know this could work, but I think you are are a recent arrival here in Phuket, to what was once a beautiful, honest, peaceful island that some of us call 'home'.

This idea was tried quite a few years ago. I think it was on the second day that the driver was "roadblocked', pulled out of his bus and beaten to a pulp with what I think was a tire lever or a pick handle. You wonder why no service exists to this day?

The concession from the transport department for the route is still up for grabs. Give it a go if you wish, but inform your next of kin first!

Posted by concerned December 30, 2009 11:17:57PM

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I used to come to Thailand a lot. I no longer do. I value my safety. Riding a tuk-tuk is simply not safe. For those of you who think there is no better place than Thailand, take a look at the Philipines, Gambia, Bali, etc. Much more fun in all sorts of ways.

Posted by Alan December 30, 2009 11:20:28PM

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I've been telling customers to be extremely wary of tuk-tuks since the late 1980s. When I accidentally rubbed up against one outside the Expat Hotel, they came upon me like a swarm, threatening to beat the hell out of me unless I kissed the owner's foot, which I did. Luckily I escaped unharmed from this vile, vicious mob.

Unfortunately, there are not enough words allowed in this posting window to detail the countless horror stories from my customers over the years. Isn't 20 years enough time to diagnose and attack the cancer? Does the TAT have sufficient courage to remedy this slow-motion Holocaust? Or are they simply waiting for this story to blow over and once again be tucked neatly under the bug-ridden rug?

Please everyone, help keep this crisis on the front burner. We have to STOP the tyranny!

Posted by Robert - Rock Hard A Go Go December 30, 2009 11:48:26PM

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I’ve been living in Thailand for 4 years now. Out of all the destinations I’ve been to, Phukets transport gangs have to be the ugliest I've encountered. Many of my friends have been over to see me and I’ve advised them all to stay away from Phuket. Phuket's image is quickly being eroded by the likes of these people.

The island may have beautiful beaches, but hey, guess what? So do a lot of other countries in SE Asia! All of which will be only too happy to treat you the way you deserve.

If you are a tourist in Phuket, you will have ZERO rights if you confront the public transport gangs. Which, to be honest, it’s very hard not to during a visit here.

BTW, thank you PG for giving us a voice!

Posted by Chris December 31, 2009 01:50:31AM

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I got charged 400 baht from Bangla to Nanai Road a few weeks ago. What a rip-off. I only used the tuk-tuk because I left my bike at home. Will never usea tuk-tuk again. But the thing is, all these new tourists don't know about this problem, so they will use the tuk-tuks.

Posted by John

I got charged 400 baht from Bangla to Surin Beach last weekend, which is reasonable – though I do speak Thai to them which may help.

The sad thing is that so many tourists are getting ripped off and this influences their decision to not return to Phuket. The TAT and other authorities should take a tour, in unmarked cars, of Patong and Kata/Karon in the evening to see the problem for themselves. I will drive them if they want.

Seriously, if the number of tuk-tuks were halved, there would still be too many. To tourists, they are oppressive, aggressive, omni-present and a bothersome nuisance. We need a plan to clear this nuisance from our streets, and to introduce alternative transport choices.

I also echo the comments made about this thread being made available to the TAT.

Posted by Mr Beanz December 31, 2009 08:43:37AM

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A few years ago, the Gazette ran a photo feature about the tuk-tuks, motorbike hire operators and jeep rental businesses taking all the PUBLIC parking spaces on the beach road in Patong.

The then mayor took action, lambasted the chief of police, and cleared the PUBLIC parking areas. Gradually, they've crept back until there is now no PUBLIC parking again.

Furthermore, the tuk-tuk gangs now appear to think they have a right to parking in PUBLIC areas, and that they are somehow untouchable.

Whose job is it to keep these PUBLIC parking areas clear? Because that person is not doing his or her job very well, we need to find someone who can measure up.

Parking for tourists is important. Remember, at least 90 percent of the tuk-tuks' revenue comes from tourism. You don't see many fare paying Thais in a tuk-tuk, do you!

Posted by Mr Bean

The mayor in Patong has done nothing to solve this problem in Patong. Maybe there is some kind of conflict of interests.

Posted by j d December 31, 2009 08:45:09AM

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I would like to see the army called in to remove the tuk-tuks. Then a good, regular local bus service can be introduced and metered taxis can ply their trade anywhere on the island.

The abhorrent behaviour of the tuk-tuk drivers is reported worldwide, and it is very bad publicity for the tourism business of Thailand.

Posted by Khun Paul

Well said, Paul, I couldn't have put it better myself, and I know the majority of residents agree with you. Come on, let's have some action! It is about time that these tuk-tuks are cleared from the streets. Let's introduce a proper, organized public transport system on the island. This would solve a few problems in one go: more parking space will become available; transport will be cheaper and affordable to Thais; there will be fewer cars and motorbikes on the road, and fewer accidents; far fewer complaints about tourists being ripped off. What are the authorities waiting for?

Posted by Tony December 31, 2009 09:46:51AM

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I would like to see a tourist map printed that includes the common routes. For example, the Patong to Karon route, the Patong to Kata route, Phuket Town to Patong, etc. This map would include the Fair Going Rates for these Trips. The map would also include a Fair Trip Logo.

Tuk-tuk drivers who agree to charge Fir Trip prices for these routes would have a sticker attached to their tuk-tuk that shows they agree to the map-based prices.

This would create BASIS rated fares (not including the tip), therefore stopping much of the abusive rip-offs. Tuk-tuks without the logo can charge whatever they want; buyer beware.

Now... if we could just get a NEWSPAPER to print such a map... and sell the stickers to the tuk-tuk drivers for revenue... Hmmm, I am open to making this happen for part of the pie.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures December 31, 2009 11:20:26AM

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Like I said in the last issue... Let the Russians come in and set up a metered taxi or bus service. The tuk tuk gangs wouldn't dare do a thing against them, hah! I'd rather have a gang with good service than the current one with their terrible service.

Posted by roberto December 31, 2009 12:55:01PM

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I would like to see a tourist map printed that includes the common routes. For example, the Patong to Karon route, the Patong to Kata route, Phuket Town to Patong, etc. This map would include the Fair Going Rates for these Trips. The map would also include a Fair Trip Logo.

Tuk-tuk drivers who agree to charge Fir Trip prices for these routes would have a sticker attached to their tuk-tuk that shows they agree to the map-based prices.

This would create BASIS rated fares (not including the tip), therefore stopping much of the abusive rip-offs. Tuk-tuks without the logo can charge whatever they want; buyer beware.

Now... if we could just get a NEWSPAPER to print such a map... and sell the stickers to the tuk-tuk drivers for revenue... Hmmm, I am open to making this happen for part of the pie.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

A good thought. Sorry for the negativity but I'm afraid it cannot fly. Briefly, they are all brothers in arms and drink in the same pub. They in their own eyes will be loyal to their cause and not cut each others' throats. As is obviously well known, they are a Mob and rule the island's public transport as such.

Don't forget the petition being publicised by many forums. It's at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tuk-tuk/ Every signatue will help and you don't have to donate if you don't wish to.

Posted by concerned December 31, 2009 01:15:28PM

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Wouldn't it be a good idea to have a random search of these tuk-tuk drivers? They must all carry a weapon of some sort.

Posted by Brian December 31, 2009 02:41:03PM

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I read a few months back that the owner of the leased tuk-tuks is wanting to put 300 or so more tuk-tuks on the road. Have seen no more info on this....

Posted by Tezza December 31, 2009 02:42:29PM

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Just when is Thailand, especially Phuket, going to wake up and realize that it has a tourism-based economy which if not cared for properly will be lost in a very short period of time. The tuk-tuks can only survive because of their cartel and its obviously satisfactory relationship with law enforcement. The drivers' behavior (attacks on tourists, etc) should be dealt with severely.

Posted by lawman December 31, 2009 03:43:55PM

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Pattaya Baht buses and Bangkok style metered taxis are the only way to go. Sure, getting rid of the tuk-tuks will cost some jobs, but others will be created as the buses and taxis will all need drivers, and more reasonable fares will increase demand for transport services.

A few years ago the tuk-tuks all had a laminated point-to-point fare card. This system didn't work as the cards were generally hidden or ignored (unless you asked to see one). Tourists are deterred from spending their money at many attractions and restaurants in Phuket because of the high overall cost of an outing, the majority of which is generally the outrageous tuk-tuk or "taxi" fare.

The transport debacle is costing Phuket tourist operators and restaurants dearly, and is doing severe damage to the image of the island.

Posted by Peter from Hong Kong December 31, 2009 05:25:07PM

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I've only visited Phuket once on a day trip and saw nothing to attract me back. All the tales of tuk-tuks and jet-skis, not to mention the bad publicity from the bar mat incident, should be enough to turn anyone away.

There are much more pleasant parts of Thailand to visit without being preyed on by the scammers and rip-off merchants. I would suggest Krabi to anyone wanting to visit the area.

Posted by Lionel December 31, 2009 08:56:35PM

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I would like to see a tourist map printed that includes the common routes. For example, the Patong to Karon route, the Patong to Kata route, Phuket Town to Patong, etc. This map would include the Fair Going Rates for these Trips. The map would also include a Fair Trip Logo.

Tuk-tuk drivers who agree to charge Fir Trip prices for these routes would have a sticker attached to their tuk-tuk that shows they agree to the map-based prices.

This would create BASIS rated fares (not including the tip), therefore stopping much of the abusive rip-offs. Tuk-tuks without the logo can charge whatever they want; buyer beware.

Now... if we could just get a NEWSPAPER to print such a map... and sell the stickers to the tuk-tuk drivers for revenue... Hmmm, I am open to making this happen for part of the pie.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

A good thought. Sorry for the negativity but I'm afraid it cannot fly. Briefly, they are all brothers in arms and drink in the same pub. They in their own eyes will be loyal to their cause and not cut each others' throats. As is obviously well known, they are a Mob and rule the island's public transport as such.

Don't forget the petition being publicised by many forums. It's at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tuk-tuk/ Every signatue will help and you don't have to donate if you don't wish to.

Posted by concerned

You may be right, I have only been here personally for a month a year since 1992. The several hundred tuk-tuk drivers COULD all be united and in 100 percent agreement with each other 100 percent of the time. Hmmm... perhaps not.

I have missed a couple of the last years as the company I work for is taking groups to other tourist areas because of just this kind of thing. However, I have seen this program work in other resort areas and I think it could be a solution here.

Document a Fair Rate, Map it, and see what happens. Right now, they all charge whatever they want. Some could choose the Fair Rate, others could do what they want. The tourists decide based on a lot of things. Cleanliness of the tuk-tuk, appearance of the driver, negotiability, language barrier, etc. How about Fair Rate?

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures December 31, 2009 09:04:37PM

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The tuk-tuks on Phuket are indeed a problem. They have been spreading and increasing in numbers for years and years. Like a cancer, they are killing tourism but the local authorities are not acting.

I really hate to see vacant public parking spaces barricaded with unofficial 'TAXI' signs and tuk-tuks illegally parked with the police turning a blind eye. Maybe they are scared of the tuk-tuk drivers. I know I am!

Posted by Peter January 1, 2010 02:17:43AM

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Reading the comments, it is extremely shocking how often guns, knives and sticks are mentioned with tuk-tuk rows. Interest groups often come into disagreement and that is normal, but violent intimidation should not be tolerated in any law-governed society.

The sheer fact that this gang violence has existed for years in Phuket is the most worrying sign. It shows the government has neglected the problem completely.

As responsible citizens I believe we should boycott the tuks-tuks. We have to show them that the people of Phuket, like so many tourists, will no longer tolerate this kind of behavior.

Posted by as

No need to be shocked that there are a lot of guns in Thailand. There is indeed a strong gun culture here. Farangs usually get away with being (in the eyes of the locals) rude, loud or obnoxious, mostly because the Thais know you are not well versed in the ways of their country. But that kind of behaviour will get you killed very easily if you are a Thai.

Posted by christos January 3, 2010 01:01:07AM

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I have been fortunate to travel all over Thailand but the last time I visited Phuket, 2 years ago, I was appalled at the behaviour of the majority of the tuk-tuk drivers. Leaving aside the surly attitude, they all overcharged. My friend had his tyres let down when he parked near tuk-tuk territory!

Although Pattaya was not my cup of tea, the tuk-tuks were miles cheaper and safer. I'm not sure I will bother with Phuket anymore. It seems overpriced and a little threatening compared to Krabi, Samui, Bali, etc.

Posted by tim January 3, 2010 04:25:42AM

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All those tuk-tuks cost someone a lot of money (someone with connections), so don't plan on things changing anytime soon.

Posted by mikey January 3, 2010 05:48:55AM

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143

Time to get new police. Or time to get Charles Bronsen.

Posted by jay January 3, 2010 08:41:57AM

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Why not put meters in the tuk-tuks? That way the drivers can still support their families, and with honest money.

Posted by john January 3, 2010 10:14:29AM

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Why not put meters in the tuk-tuks? That way the drivers can still support their families, and with honest money.

Posted by john January 3, 2010 10:14:29AM

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143

Time to get new police. Or time to get Charles Bronsen.

Posted by jay January 3, 2010 08:41:57AM

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All those tuk-tuks cost someone a lot of money (someone with connections), so don't plan on things changing anytime soon.

Posted by mikey January 3, 2010 05:48:55AM

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I have been fortunate to travel all over Thailand but the last time I visited Phuket, 2 years ago, I was appalled at the behaviour of the majority of the tuk-tuk drivers. Leaving aside the surly attitude, they all overcharged. My friend had his tyres let down when he parked near tuk-tuk territory!

Although Pattaya was not my cup of tea, the tuk-tuks were miles cheaper and safer. I'm not sure I will bother with Phuket anymore. It seems overpriced and a little threatening compared to Krabi, Samui, Bali, etc.

Posted by tim January 3, 2010 04:25:42AM

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Reading the comments, it is extremely shocking how often guns, knives and sticks are mentioned with tuk-tuk rows. Interest groups often come into disagreement and that is normal, but violent intimidation should not be tolerated in any law-governed society.

The sheer fact that this gang violence has existed for years in Phuket is the most worrying sign. It shows the government has neglected the problem completely.

As responsible citizens I believe we should boycott the tuks-tuks. We have to show them that the people of Phuket, like so many tourists, will no longer tolerate this kind of behavior.

Posted by as

No need to be shocked that there are a lot of guns in Thailand. There is indeed a strong gun culture here. Farangs usually get away with being (in the eyes of the locals) rude, loud or obnoxious, mostly because the Thais know you are not well versed in the ways of their country. But that kind of behaviour will get you killed very easily if you are a Thai.

Posted by christos January 3, 2010 01:01:07AM

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138

The tuk-tuks on Phuket are indeed a problem. They have been spreading and increasing in numbers for years and years. Like a cancer, they are killing tourism but the local authorities are not acting.

I really hate to see vacant public parking spaces barricaded with unofficial 'TAXI' signs and tuk-tuks illegally parked with the police turning a blind eye. Maybe they are scared of the tuk-tuk drivers. I know I am!

Posted by Peter January 1, 2010 02:17:43AM

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I would like to see a tourist map printed that includes the common routes. For example, the Patong to Karon route, the Patong to Kata route, Phuket Town to Patong, etc. This map would include the Fair Going Rates for these Trips. The map would also include a Fair Trip Logo.

Tuk-tuk drivers who agree to charge Fir Trip prices for these routes would have a sticker attached to their tuk-tuk that shows they agree to the map-based prices.

This would create BASIS rated fares (not including the tip), therefore stopping much of the abusive rip-offs. Tuk-tuks without the logo can charge whatever they want; buyer beware.

Now... if we could just get a NEWSPAPER to print such a map... and sell the stickers to the tuk-tuk drivers for revenue... Hmmm, I am open to making this happen for part of the pie.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

A good thought. Sorry for the negativity but I'm afraid it cannot fly. Briefly, they are all brothers in arms and drink in the same pub. They in their own eyes will be loyal to their cause and not cut each others' throats. As is obviously well known, they are a Mob and rule the island's public transport as such.

Don't forget the petition being publicised by many forums. It's at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tuk-tuk/ Every signatue will help and you don't have to donate if you don't wish to.

Posted by concerned

You may be right, I have only been here personally for a month a year since 1992. The several hundred tuk-tuk drivers COULD all be united and in 100 percent agreement with each other 100 percent of the time. Hmmm... perhaps not.

I have missed a couple of the last years as the company I work for is taking groups to other tourist areas because of just this kind of thing. However, I have seen this program work in other resort areas and I think it could be a solution here.

Document a Fair Rate, Map it, and see what happens. Right now, they all charge whatever they want. Some could choose the Fair Rate, others could do what they want. The tourists decide based on a lot of things. Cleanliness of the tuk-tuk, appearance of the driver, negotiability, language barrier, etc. How about Fair Rate?

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures December 31, 2009 09:04:37PM

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I've only visited Phuket once on a day trip and saw nothing to attract me back. All the tales of tuk-tuks and jet-skis, not to mention the bad publicity from the bar mat incident, should be enough to turn anyone away.

There are much more pleasant parts of Thailand to visit without being preyed on by the scammers and rip-off merchants. I would suggest Krabi to anyone wanting to visit the area.

Posted by Lionel December 31, 2009 08:56:35PM

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Pattaya Baht buses and Bangkok style metered taxis are the only way to go. Sure, getting rid of the tuk-tuks will cost some jobs, but others will be created as the buses and taxis will all need drivers, and more reasonable fares will increase demand for transport services.

A few years ago the tuk-tuks all had a laminated point-to-point fare card. This system didn't work as the cards were generally hidden or ignored (unless you asked to see one). Tourists are deterred from spending their money at many attractions and restaurants in Phuket because of the high overall cost of an outing, the majority of which is generally the outrageous tuk-tuk or "taxi" fare.

The transport debacle is costing Phuket tourist operators and restaurants dearly, and is doing severe damage to the image of the island.

Posted by Peter from Hong Kong December 31, 2009 05:25:07PM

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133

Just when is Thailand, especially Phuket, going to wake up and realize that it has a tourism-based economy which if not cared for properly will be lost in a very short period of time. The tuk-tuks can only survive because of their cartel and its obviously satisfactory relationship with law enforcement. The drivers' behavior (attacks on tourists, etc) should be dealt with severely.

Posted by lawman December 31, 2009 03:43:55PM

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132

I read a few months back that the owner of the leased tuk-tuks is wanting to put 300 or so more tuk-tuks on the road. Have seen no more info on this....

Posted by Tezza December 31, 2009 02:42:29PM

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131

Wouldn't it be a good idea to have a random search of these tuk-tuk drivers? They must all carry a weapon of some sort.

Posted by Brian December 31, 2009 02:41:03PM

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I would like to see a tourist map printed that includes the common routes. For example, the Patong to Karon route, the Patong to Kata route, Phuket Town to Patong, etc. This map would include the Fair Going Rates for these Trips. The map would also include a Fair Trip Logo.

Tuk-tuk drivers who agree to charge Fir Trip prices for these routes would have a sticker attached to their tuk-tuk that shows they agree to the map-based prices.

This would create BASIS rated fares (not including the tip), therefore stopping much of the abusive rip-offs. Tuk-tuks without the logo can charge whatever they want; buyer beware.

Now... if we could just get a NEWSPAPER to print such a map... and sell the stickers to the tuk-tuk drivers for revenue... Hmmm, I am open to making this happen for part of the pie.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

A good thought. Sorry for the negativity but I'm afraid it cannot fly. Briefly, they are all brothers in arms and drink in the same pub. They in their own eyes will be loyal to their cause and not cut each others' throats. As is obviously well known, they are a Mob and rule the island's public transport as such.

Don't forget the petition being publicised by many forums. It's at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tuk-tuk/ Every signatue will help and you don't have to donate if you don't wish to.

Posted by concerned December 31, 2009 01:15:28PM

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129

Like I said in the last issue... Let the Russians come in and set up a metered taxi or bus service. The tuk tuk gangs wouldn't dare do a thing against them, hah! I'd rather have a gang with good service than the current one with their terrible service.

Posted by roberto December 31, 2009 12:55:01PM

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128

I would like to see a tourist map printed that includes the common routes. For example, the Patong to Karon route, the Patong to Kata route, Phuket Town to Patong, etc. This map would include the Fair Going Rates for these Trips. The map would also include a Fair Trip Logo.

Tuk-tuk drivers who agree to charge Fir Trip prices for these routes would have a sticker attached to their tuk-tuk that shows they agree to the map-based prices.

This would create BASIS rated fares (not including the tip), therefore stopping much of the abusive rip-offs. Tuk-tuks without the logo can charge whatever they want; buyer beware.

Now... if we could just get a NEWSPAPER to print such a map... and sell the stickers to the tuk-tuk drivers for revenue... Hmmm, I am open to making this happen for part of the pie.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures December 31, 2009 11:20:26AM

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127

I would like to see the army called in to remove the tuk-tuks. Then a good, regular local bus service can be introduced and metered taxis can ply their trade anywhere on the island.

The abhorrent behaviour of the tuk-tuk drivers is reported worldwide, and it is very bad publicity for the tourism business of Thailand.

Posted by Khun Paul

Well said, Paul, I couldn't have put it better myself, and I know the majority of residents agree with you. Come on, let's have some action! It is about time that these tuk-tuks are cleared from the streets. Let's introduce a proper, organized public transport system on the island. This would solve a few problems in one go: more parking space will become available; transport will be cheaper and affordable to Thais; there will be fewer cars and motorbikes on the road, and fewer accidents; far fewer complaints about tourists being ripped off. What are the authorities waiting for?

Posted by Tony December 31, 2009 09:46:51AM

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A few years ago, the Gazette ran a photo feature about the tuk-tuks, motorbike hire operators and jeep rental businesses taking all the PUBLIC parking spaces on the beach road in Patong.

The then mayor took action, lambasted the chief of police, and cleared the PUBLIC parking areas. Gradually, they've crept back until there is now no PUBLIC parking again.

Furthermore, the tuk-tuk gangs now appear to think they have a right to parking in PUBLIC areas, and that they are somehow untouchable.

Whose job is it to keep these PUBLIC parking areas clear? Because that person is not doing his or her job very well, we need to find someone who can measure up.

Parking for tourists is important. Remember, at least 90 percent of the tuk-tuks' revenue comes from tourism. You don't see many fare paying Thais in a tuk-tuk, do you!

Posted by Mr Bean

The mayor in Patong has done nothing to solve this problem in Patong. Maybe there is some kind of conflict of interests.

Posted by j d December 31, 2009 08:45:09AM

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I got charged 400 baht from Bangla to Nanai Road a few weeks ago. What a rip-off. I only used the tuk-tuk because I left my bike at home. Will never usea tuk-tuk again. But the thing is, all these new tourists don't know about this problem, so they will use the tuk-tuks.

Posted by John

I got charged 400 baht from Bangla to Surin Beach last weekend, which is reasonable – though I do speak Thai to them which may help.

The sad thing is that so many tourists are getting ripped off and this influences their decision to not return to Phuket. The TAT and other authorities should take a tour, in unmarked cars, of Patong and Kata/Karon in the evening to see the problem for themselves. I will drive them if they want.

Seriously, if the number of tuk-tuks were halved, there would still be too many. To tourists, they are oppressive, aggressive, omni-present and a bothersome nuisance. We need a plan to clear this nuisance from our streets, and to introduce alternative transport choices.

I also echo the comments made about this thread being made available to the TAT.

Posted by Mr Beanz December 31, 2009 08:43:37AM

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I’ve been living in Thailand for 4 years now. Out of all the destinations I’ve been to, Phukets transport gangs have to be the ugliest I've encountered. Many of my friends have been over to see me and I’ve advised them all to stay away from Phuket. Phuket's image is quickly being eroded by the likes of these people.

The island may have beautiful beaches, but hey, guess what? So do a lot of other countries in SE Asia! All of which will be only too happy to treat you the way you deserve.

If you are a tourist in Phuket, you will have ZERO rights if you confront the public transport gangs. Which, to be honest, it’s very hard not to during a visit here.

BTW, thank you PG for giving us a voice!

Posted by Chris December 31, 2009 01:50:31AM

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I've been telling customers to be extremely wary of tuk-tuks since the late 1980s. When I accidentally rubbed up against one outside the Expat Hotel, they came upon me like a swarm, threatening to beat the hell out of me unless I kissed the owner's foot, which I did. Luckily I escaped unharmed from this vile, vicious mob.

Unfortunately, there are not enough words allowed in this posting window to detail the countless horror stories from my customers over the years. Isn't 20 years enough time to diagnose and attack the cancer? Does the TAT have sufficient courage to remedy this slow-motion Holocaust? Or are they simply waiting for this story to blow over and once again be tucked neatly under the bug-ridden rug?

Please everyone, help keep this crisis on the front burner. We have to STOP the tyranny!

Posted by Robert - Rock Hard A Go Go December 30, 2009 11:48:26PM

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I used to come to Thailand a lot. I no longer do. I value my safety. Riding a tuk-tuk is simply not safe. For those of you who think there is no better place than Thailand, take a look at the Philipines, Gambia, Bali, etc. Much more fun in all sorts of ways.

Posted by Alan December 30, 2009 11:20:28PM

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There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to provide a regular bus service if they dare. Even if there were just a single basic route running every 15 minutes. Patong, Karon, Kata, Chalong, Phuket Town (bus station), Tesco Lotus, Kathu, and back to Patong. After midnight, the buses could be every 30 minutes or on the hour even.

This would break up the gangs of tuk-tuks hanging around Soi Bangla, Karon and Kata. This bus could also link up with an airport bus.

Posted by Nip

Truly a great idea. I think 110% of the people reading this topic would agree. No degree of rocket science is necessary to know this could work, but I think you are are a recent arrival here in Phuket, to what was once a beautiful, honest, peaceful island that some of us call 'home'.

This idea was tried quite a few years ago. I think it was on the second day that the driver was "roadblocked', pulled out of his bus and beaten to a pulp with what I think was a tire lever or a pick handle. You wonder why no service exists to this day?

The concession from the transport department for the route is still up for grabs. Give it a go if you wish, but inform your next of kin first!

Posted by concerned December 30, 2009 11:17:57PM

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It's all a joke. Expats know better than to hire these people. And guidebooks should do a better job explaining the do's and don't's when travelling in Phuket. Anything remotely resembling a concern from the local authorities is nothing more than a few words on parchment.

Licenses to conduct business with tourists should be reviewed annually! A complaint hotline should be established. I hope that the jet-ski guys got the message. The tuk-tuk guys are long overdue.

Posted by peter rawai December 30, 2009 11:05:38PM

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One would almost say: does the above need any more comment? The tuk-tuks are indeed a rip-off, and are recognised as such by most tourists... and hence all the negativity around them. Maybe a few big international complaints by foreign governments, as happened with the jet-skis, might stimulate the locals here to start paying attention.

Why not install the Pattaya has with the baht buses? Like I said the other day: The rule of law should be the same for everybody, and the police should act accordingly... no exceptions. One clears/cleans the steps from top down.

Posted by Rob December 30, 2009 09:13:17PM

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The headline: "TAT 'worried' about Phuket tuk-tuk gangs". But are they worried enough to take action? Or are they worried if they do take action?

Bring in a local bus service connecting the beaches (or even a baht bus service) and let people get back to having a good time on holiday rather than trying to work out how to get around without having to resort to being in the hands of the tuk-tuk gangs!

Posted by Billy December 30, 2009 08:10:09PM

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All agreed. It's an outright horror and the number 1 problem in Phuket. It will remain unsolved until the tuk-tuks are eradicated. I was having a pizza on a corner street in Patong. A tuk-tuk pulled up and parked illegally at the corner. During my whole meal the fumes of his running engine (while awaiting a customer) spoiled my meal.

I could tell that if I asked him to shut off the engine it would result in an argument I did not need nor want on top of a fumed pizza. It was obvious to the driver I was annoyed, but he couldn't care less.

Posted by Paulie December 30, 2009 08:04:18PM

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There is a particular gang of tuk-tuks who are very aggressive by the roundabout in Karon and in front of the Best Western hotel in Karon. I have seen them a few times using threatening behavior when dealing with tourists. And I once was threatened myself with a stick when I refused to pay a 700 baht charge from Patong!

Posted by benphuket December 30, 2009 07:34:43PM

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Do you remember the t-shirts? I added a new thing on it, so now it reads: .2002 Birdflu, 2003 SARS, 2004 Tsunami, 2005 xxxxxx, 2006 xxxxxx... 2010 tuk-tuks.

If the TAT really wanna do something to keep the high amount of tourists in Phuket, they should make some realistic prices for tuk-tuk rides. Something like 10 baht per km. There are so many other places on earth to have a nice vacation, and if the tuk-tuks are the reason why many people skip Phuket and Thailand, it is a great shame for the good and fair Thai people who live off of tourism.

Posted by Vander December 30, 2009 07:11:50PM

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What will make the tuk-tuks drivers accountable and professional? An efficient and reasonably priced public transport system. No tuk-tuks to be found in Penang, but a great user-friendly bus service gets everyone where they need to go with a minimum of fuss.

Posted by Chris L-D December 30, 2009 07:04:02PM

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The above comments make it very clear: get rid of the tuk-tuks. But is there anybody out there to listen? The TAT doesn't seem to have a clue!

Posted by Boonlom December 30, 2009 07:03:04PM

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Just put meters in tuk-tuks and give them half the parking spaces from now on. Have checkpoints for control of use of meters.

Posted by nick December 30, 2009 06:59:49PM

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Can someone send a copy of all these complaints to the TAT office in Phuket? Please also let us know the e-mail address of the TAT office. Then maybe we can make sure our complaints get read. But maybe they will need to double or triple their staff to read them.

Posted by Karsten December 30, 2009 06:20:17PM

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The Thai authorities and the TAT must be scared of the Phuket tuk-tuk gangs as these gangs, with illegal firearms under their seats, lose more and more of their most valuable source of income, the tourists.

Posted by Buck Wild December 30, 2009 06:18:41PM

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I have been visiting Phuket several times a year for the past 10 years, and have never used a tuk-tuk. You can just see it is a mafia organisation, and they become more prolific every year.

The minimum wage is just over 200 baht a day; however these guys are demanding (and getting) more than double that for a short ride which takes a few minutes. (It works out at about 1 baht per meter.) Is it surprising, then, that the problem is increasing?

I guess it is a sad fact that Patong and such areas are a magnet for questionable people of many varieties! I personally am offended very much by the constant 'in your face' tuk-tuk drivers.

Posted by Raymundo December 30, 2009 10:32:31PM

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Got charged 300 baht from Bangla to Nanai. Its about 1 km to my house. They knew exactly where it was, but at the bottom of the hill... 100 more, 100 more, uphill 100... Unreal. It's tragic to read so many stories of weapons being used. Everybody needs to report these incidents. Combined, something eventually has to be done.

Posted by Antony December 30, 2009 05:40:41PM

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Guns in tuk-tuks? Threats to tourists by drivers? It's about time those in charge sorted out these gangs and cleared the streets of these people, most of whom are from outside Phuket.

Posted by sam swellbelly December 30, 2009 05:39:47PM

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Over 40 more negative posts and well over a 100 on the other tuk-tuk story. Do you think anyone has got the message yet? Is there anybody out there?

Posted by Richie December 30, 2009 05:34:02PM

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My daughter came back to Sweden on December 23 after staying 14 days in Phuket. She said everything was very nice except for only 1 problem: the tuk-tuks. And she had trouble with them every day.

Posted by Dick Nordin December 30, 2009 05:38:15PM

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Used a tuk-tuk 3 times, and payed insane prices for short drives. So I don't use them anymore. I'd rather walk. But for the benefit of the unknowing tourists, what about giving flyers to them on arrival at the airport, warning them to avoid the tuk-tuk gangs.

Posted by Joshua Leaves December 30, 2009 05:35:03PM

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A few years ago, the Gazette ran a photo feature about the tuk-tuks, motorbike hire operators and jeep rental businesses taking all the PUBLIC parking spaces on the beach road in Patong.

The then mayor took action, lambasted the chief of police, and cleared the PUBLIC parking areas. Gradually, they've crept back until there is now no PUBLIC parking again.

Furthermore, the tuk-tuk gangs now appear to think they have a right to parking in PUBLIC areas, and that they are somehow untouchable.

Whose job is it to keep these PUBLIC parking areas clear? Because that person is not doing his or her job very well, we need to find someone who can measure up.

Parking for tourists is important. Remember, at least 90 percent of the tuk-tuks' revenue comes from tourism. You don't see many fare paying Thais in a tuk-tuk, do you!

Posted by Mr Bean

Yes, Mr Bean, I agree. Let's not forget about the motorcycle taxis also taking up parking spaces along public streets. I often ride my motorcycle to the beach. Every time I try to park along the beach road a motorcycle taxi person (male and female) has told me to move. One time I was told to pay 10 baht to a lady on the beach to park. I politely said "No" and was lucky my vehicle wasn't damaged. Mr Mayor, it's time once again to move these people so that tourists can park without harassment and fear.

Posted by Dive Doc December 30, 2009 05:06:01PM

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This has been a problem for years now! Seems like the thing to do is to get it on video tape and let it run on youtube. Like the episodes with the jet-skis. Families who used to visit Phuket in earlier years say that the tuk-tuks are one of the things that have made them pick other holiday spots. Might be something to think about!

Posted by Fred December 30, 2009 04:36:59PM

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I have said this before and will say it again: Nothing has been done to these guys because they are being protected by someone in power. If anyone else had committed this aggressive action against the French tourists, they'd be sitting in prison right now.

And now the TAT tries to appease us by telling us they are beginning to have meetings about how to handle it. That is slightly encouraging.

These drivers have continuously caused enough problems and embarrassment to Phuket. Enough is enough!

Posted by sky December 30, 2009 04:05:58PM

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"Bangornrat Shinaprayoon, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) South Region Four office in Phuket, today told the Gazette that she was aware of the problems, but said her office in Phuket Town had not received many complaints from tourists over the issue."

Please provide us with a link and/or phone number so that we may help the TAT. And please to anyone who has had one of these bad encounters, do not keep silent about it. Call the police immediately. If you keep silent about it you are part of the problem.

Posted by Bob December 30, 2009 03:45:58PM

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How do I get from the airport to Patong in Phuket? There are no normal taxis or tuk-tuks! I just want an honest, reliable local bus service, thank you.

Posted by Darius December 30, 2009 04:18:35PM

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Enough of this crap. I believe they need to live, but ethical behavior is a must too! How dare they take the law in their hands. I'm losing my customers and more and more are promising not to come back to Phuket. (NO) thank you, tuk-tuk guys.

Posted by Amorn December 30, 2009 03:28:10PM

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The problems we encounter with tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis, beach umbrella operators, bars opening late at night, etc, are the result of a lack of enough crackdowns by the local police and administrative authorities. Unfortunately, this is a national problem and not one that is going to be solved quickly.

Posted by Whistle-Blower December 30, 2009 03:09:53PM

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As first-time tourists to Phuket may not be aware of the problems with tuk-tuks – the fares, theft of public parking and aggressive driver behaviour – it might be an idea to make some flyers and hand them out at Phuket airport, aboard arriving flights, and in hotel lobbies. Newspaper warnings and radio announcements would also help.

This action would not be intended to scare off the tourists, but rather to make them aware of the current tuk-tuk situation and protect them from encounters of the type we read about here.

Also, I do hope that the TAT and other government officials will acknowledge the problems now and get them terminated quickly.

I have to add that, like so many others here, I have had bad encounters with the tuk-tuks myself.

Posted by Dan Mc December 30, 2009 02:57:02PM

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Earlier this month we parked our cars about 700m from the beach road in Kata and walked to the beach as we had been harassed before when trying to park on the beach road itself. On the way back to the cars we took 2 tuk-tuks, all the adults in one and 8 teenagers in the other.

We then did the same the next day.

On the second day, we did not use the same tuk-tuks as the first day. Yet on both occasions the tuk-tuk drivers tried to sell Yah-Bah to the kids. And on both occasions they charged me 1,000 baht for the two tuk-tuks to take us 700m.

There should be a military blitz to search these vehicles for drugs and firearms. You won't ever see us in Phuket again.

Posted by Anthony December 30, 2009 02:54:38PM

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Police should be paid a better salary. As a consequence, they would become proud members of Thai society and stop being friendly with the tuk-tuk gangs below them.

Posted by Dieter Staerk December 30, 2009 02:46:50PM

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The tuk-tuk drivers have been ripping off tourists and locals alike for years. They think they own Phuket and behave like hooligans, as they charge ridiculous prices for their services – prices not heard of in other tourist destinations in Thailand. This problem cannot be resolved unless the authorities take serious measures to stamp out the unruly behaviour.

Posted by sawansam December 30, 2009 02:55:28PM

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I have been to Phuket 8 times. All the tuk-tuk drivers I dealt with were very friendly and very helpful! I only recall one problem, and that was related to overcharging late at night. But in my view, Phuket tuk-tuk drivers are angles compared to Bankok tuk-tuk drivers, who are very abusive....

Posted by Naz December 31, 2009 01:17:54PM

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There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to provide a regular bus service if they dare. Even if there were just a single basic route running every 15 minutes. Patong, Karon, Kata, Chalong, Phuket Town (bus station), Tesco Lotus, Kathu, and back to Patong. After midnight, the buses could be every 30 minutes or on the hour even.

This would break up the gangs of tuk-tuks hanging around Soi Bangla, Karon and Kata. This bus could also link up with an airport bus.

Posted by Nip

Well said, Nip. Your idea of a bus service from Patong along the coast road makes perfect sense. This should be looked at immediately – if not all the way, at least to Karon and Kata from Patong.

Tourists and locals are being held to ransom by tuk-tuk drivers for this journey. I've even heard of tourists being charged extra on top of high prices for going "over the hill" because it uses more petrol.

I have told numerous people that if they visit Phuket they must be very careful of the tuk-tuk drivers, and if possible avoid them at all costs.

Phuket remains in the dark ages when it comes to reliable public transport into and out of Patong.

Posted by Micky M December 30, 2009 02:02:43PM

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Tuk-tuk mafia events like this are exactly why we are taking all of our groups to the Philippines instead of Phuket now. For 6 years we were faithful to Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata, but NO MORE. These tuk-tuk drivers have stolen the last dollar from our groups, endangered the last of our clients, threatened and attacked the last of our guests, and we refuse to have even one more incident with people like these.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

Have you told the TAT about this?

Posted by Lincoln December 30, 2009 01:51:10PM

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Last month my wife and I went to Kata to visit some friends. We parked our car in a public parking space and were told by a tuk-tuk driver that if we did not move our car something might happen.

We moved it, but I was disgusted. But I'm not about to take on the tuk-tuk mafia and possibly die over a public parking space.

These people are the worst. Thailand has a reputation for being a friendly country but you would never know it here in Phuket. No one should have to put up with it.

I would hope that the government would do something about it, but perhaps they too are intimidated by the tuk-tuk gangs.

I personaly know many people that will never come back here because of the aggressive and dangerous behavior of many of the locals.

Posted by Steve December 30, 2009 01:27:42PM

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The problem with Phuket is the tuk-tuks, because there is no rule of law on this island anymore. The authorities are just as afraid of the tuk tuk drivers as the public are.

Just go to Chalong any morning and see the poor tourists getting arrested by the traffic police for minor things while the real criminals are all over Kata, Karon, Patong and elsewhere on the island.

I worry that Phuket is turning into a joke for many people.

Posted by Joker December 30, 2009 01:26:17PM

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I come to Thailand every three months or so. I never go to Pattaya (only idiots go to Pattaya). I never go to Phuket either. The last time? 10 years ago. Phuket sucks big time!

Posted by Alan Lee December 30, 2009 01:23:48PM

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When I came to Phuket, I was staying in Karon and had a hard time finding a taxi to the airport because the several taxis that we asked to come get us at the hotel said they were scared to do so because of the Karon tuk-tuk cartel. They said that they had been warned to stay out of Karon.

We actually had to run into back road and hide waiting for a secret taxi. Ridiculous! Something like this stays in your memory forever.

Posted by Tiffany December 30, 2009 01:15:06PM

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As long as the tuk-tuks dominate the transportation system in Phuket, the rate of tourists visiting will decline. But don't make the mistake to believe the situation is worse in Patong compared to other villages. It's the same everywhere, but only concentrated more heavily in Patong.

I have had my run-ins with the tuk-tuk drivers over the years, but they have become a lot more aggressive over the last 3-4 years. I NEVER use tuk-tuks myself.

Posted by Mojo December 30, 2009 12:57:35PM

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Tuk tuks by defintion are 3 wheeled vehicles. These things in Phuket are taxis, and taxis worldwide are suspect. I had one driver swing a punch at me because I honked at him for nearly backing into me as he was reversing near Bangla against the traffic....

Posted by anti tuk tuk big time December 30, 2009 12:55:06PM

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The TAT needs to come out of its tower and address this problem. First, put meters in all tuk-tuks (its simple). Then clear the tuk-tuks from taking all the parking spots along all Karon Beach road.

Come on, please do something before all the tourists are gone.

Posted by stephen December 30, 2009 12:09:44PM

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Tuk-tuk mafia events like this are exactly why we are taking all of our groups to the Philippines instead of Phuket now. For 6 years we were faithful to Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata, but NO MORE. These tuk-tuk drivers have stolen the last dollar from our groups, endangered the last of our clients, threatened and attacked the last of our guests, and we refuse to have even one more incident with people like these.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures

If what you say is true, have you reported this to the TAT?

Posted by Lincoln December 30, 2009 12:07:49PM

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From the Phuket Gazette:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Headline: "Patong beach road to become ‘clearway’

From story: "From next high season, the busy Patong beach road (Thaweewong Rd) will be free of parked vehicles, leaving traffic to flow along the popular beachfront," says Patong Deputy Mayor Chairat Sukkabal.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Headline: "Patong to get B20 tuk-tuk service"

From story: "A fleet of 24 tuk-tuks will ply a circular route through the streets of Patong for no more than 20 baht per passenger by the time the next high season arrives," Teerayuth Prasertphol, Chief Technical Officer at the Phuket Provincial Transportation Office, announced today.

What happend to these plans and the people who announced them? Who is responsible for the failure to stick to the plans?

Posted by Frank Heise December 30, 2009 12:02:29PM

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I have a house in the Laguna area but recently had a vacation in Bali. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that all the taxis in Bali were metered, and in 9 days not one taxi driver tried to add on extra costs.

Phuket needs to learn fast or risk losing high end customers who are here to relax and not be hassled by tuk-tuk and taxi drivers who clog the parking spaces and block sidewalks hassling people for minimum charges of 200 baht to go 1 block, or up to 2,000 baht to drive to Laguna.

If the tuk-tuks were metered, then their drivers would have to work for their salary like everyone else.

Posted by Kevin December 30, 2009 11:53:14AM

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Does anyone know where I can buy a tuk-tuk? Then I could drive at 5 mph holding up traffic or race around at 100 mph. I could also park anywhere I wanted, drive on the wrong side of the road, carry a weapon and never get stopped at check points. Come on TAT, wake up and introduce Pattaya's 10 Baht bus system!

Posted by John December 30, 2009 11:48:33AM

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Only 3 waiting tuk-tuks every 100 meters should be allowed. the Patong beach road is a 2-km-long parking lot for tuk-tuks. Someone should make a youtube video showing all the waiting tuk-tuks, especially at night time. Go out and spread the word and let everybody know about the tuk-tuk problem.

Posted by Frank Heise December 30, 2009 11:42:27AM

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Thanks to the Gazette and it's readers, the message might finally be getting through: Don't negotiate with the tuk-tuk drivers. Get rid of them.

Posted by geoffphuket December 30, 2009 11:21:58AM

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I got charged 400 baht from Bangla to Nanai Road a few weeks ago. What a rip-off. I only used the tuk-tuk because I left my bike at home. Will never usea tuk-tuk again. But the thing is, all these new tourists don't know about this problem, so they will use the tuk-tuks.

Posted by John December 30, 2009 11:21:39AM

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Don't expect any serious action from the TAT. It is basically an advertising agency (and an 'inaccurate' one at that). Their biggest recent contribution to Thai tourism appears to have been the change in the label for low season to 'Summer Season', thereby misleading European tourists into the belief that they were coming to a destination where they could enjoy sand, sun and beautiful beaches.

Is it any wonder they risk ignoring the 'red flag' warnings and drown? When you pay good money to fly half way round the world, you expect what is advertised.

Does the false branding of low season mean that we will now change 'high season' to 'Winter Season'?

Hats off to the TAT also for 'Amazing Thailand'. People sure do have fun with that one :)

Posted by Laffinmahedoff December 30, 2009 11:07:23AM

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Please explain to me the reason for anyone to do anything regarding this problem. As we all know this has been going on for a long time and nothing happens until it hits the news – and then all they do is give it a lot of lip service until the tourist season is over. Then, lo and behold, the same problem raises its ugly head again the following year.

I think that if people want respect from the tourists they need to solve problems before they become newsworthy. Please don’t get me wrong, but I also think that we the tourists need to behave better than we do at times. Just remember that if you would not do it at home, don’t do it here.

Posted by Fred December 30, 2009 11:04:20AM

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I stopped using tuk-tuks several years ago for all the reasons posted here. I'm using private taxis instead. Cheaper, friendly, reliable and real cars with all their safety measures in place.

Over the years I have collected quiet a few phone numbers from taxi drivers, and it never takes more than about 5 minutes, day or night, to get picked up right at the spot. No worries about overcharging, unfriendly drivers, or unsafe transportation.

Tuk-tuks? Never again.

Posted by oliver December 30, 2009 10:47:04AM

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Reading the comments, it is extremely shocking how often guns, knives and sticks are mentioned with tuk-tuk rows. Interest groups often come into disagreement and that is normal, but violent intimidation should not be tolerated in any law-governed society.

The sheer fact that this gang violence has existed for years in Phuket is the most worrying sign. It shows the government has neglected the problem completely.

As responsible citizens I believe we should boycott the tuks-tuks. We have to show them that the people of Phuket, like so many tourists, will no longer tolerate this kind of behavior.

Posted by as December 30, 2009 10:41:02AM

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A few years ago, the Gazette ran a photo feature about the tuk-tuks, motorbike hire operators and jeep rental businesses taking all the PUBLIC parking spaces on the beach road in Patong.

The then mayor took action, lambasted the chief of police, and cleared the PUBLIC parking areas. Gradually, they've crept back until there is now no PUBLIC parking again.

Furthermore, the tuk-tuk gangs now appear to think they have a right to parking in PUBLIC areas, and that they are somehow untouchable.

Whose job is it to keep these PUBLIC parking areas clear? Because that person is not doing his or her job very well, we need to find someone who can measure up.

Parking for tourists is important. Remember, at least 90 percent of the tuk-tuks' revenue comes from tourism. You don't see many fare paying Thais in a tuk-tuk, do you!

Posted by Mr Bean December 30, 2009 10:30:04AM

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Take note of the comment from NORTHERN TOURS AND ADVENTURES! When travel and tour companies say they will take their customers to other countries rather than subject them to these tuk tuk people. it makes me worry a lot! I am in the hospitality business and can't afford to lose more customers.

Will the authorities wait until we have lost all of our customers? Between the red shirts, yellow shirts, demontrations, protests, Thakisn nonsense and now these tuk-tuk gangs, we in the tourism business don't stand a chance!

TAT: Please solve the tuk-tuk problem, because if the tourists stop coming to Thailand I will be out of a job, and so will you!

Posted by Tom December 30, 2009 10:27:15AM

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I have experienced this behaviour regularly, and also from unmarked taxi operators who sent me off from parking on a public road. If you don't bow to their orders, budget for a new paint job on your car.

Remember how the mayor vowed to remove all the transportation businesses from public parking areas along Patong's beach road? Well, that was just talk, I guess.

Such is life in paradise.

Posted by Ian December 30, 2009 09:52:31AM

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I have lived in Phuket since 2001, and after my first six months have never used a tuk-tuk, nor will I ever use one again. The unpleasant negotiations re the fare, the rudeness, aggression and downright cheating have resulted in me and my foreign guests using ANY available option to avoid the tuk-tuks. And, unless there is a drastic improvement in service, this is the way it will continue to be.

Posted by Jamie December 30, 2009 09:32:28AM

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Lets talk truthfully. The tuk-tuk mafia seems to be more in control than the TAT. Phuket's tourism industry will die if this continues. Restaurants, bars and resorts will close and good Thais will lose their jobs and families will suffer. Crime will increase. Anyone getting the message?

Posted by The Realist December 30, 2009 09:26:47AM

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I would like to see the army called in to remove the tuk-tuks. Then a good, regular local bus service can be introduced and metered taxis can ply their trade anywhere on the island.

The abhorrent behaviour of the tuk-tuk drivers is reported worldwide, and it is very bad publicity for the tourism business of Thailand.

Posted by Khun Paul December 30, 2009 09:07:23AM

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Why the police don`t do anything? Well, maybe some of them drive tuk-tuks in their spare time. Could that be part of the reason the gangs can do as they wish?

Posted by Baloo December 30, 2009 09:00:01AM

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We have been assaulted on the same spot. I pulled up in front of the police box after being assaulted by a tuk-tuk driver. The guy followed me to the police box and was banging on my window. Only after several minutes did the police guy come out of his box. He told the tuk-tuk driver to go away and we must follow him to the main station. There we were fined 300 baht for wrong parking of our car at the police box.

After living more than 7 years on this island I have heard several times that the tuk-tuks would be banned. But then the government person suggesting it, or the one charged with implementing it, or both, is/are transferred to another province. Then the whole story starts again from zero.

Posted by No thank you December 30, 2009 08:59:16AM

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Yep, easy fix. DONT USE THEM. They'll have to go away eventually.

Posted by Muzza December 30, 2009 08:53:50AM

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Please keep the tuk-tuk stories coming. Perhaps institute an online "Tuk-tuk Watch" web page, inviting readers (especially tourists) to describe their tuk-tuk experiences - and the consequences for tourism.

A print-out of all the comments delivered to the TAT Director's office each week could be helpful in implementing "The Tuk-tuk Plan".

Let's not allow this issue to fade away.

Finally, where is the BBC when we need them? They did a great job on the jet-skis...

Posted by Grenville Fordham December 30, 2009 08:33:14AM

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Tuk-tuks are the worst gangs in Phuket, and mostly in Patong. All the authorities know about this, and they do nothing. Why?

Posted by Robert December 30, 2009 08:27:04AM

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When will the officials wake up? This is a problem known to them for years. Reading between the lines. They say they will do a study. It means they will do nothing, other than try to sit it out.

The tuk-tuk people control the island. Nobody will touch them.

There are two options for tourists. 1) Never use a tuk-tuk. 2) Think twice about coming to Phuket.

Posted by watchdog December 30, 2009 08:16:12AM

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Khun Bangornrat says her office in Phuket Town has not had many complaints. Well, I would put that down to the fact that tourists are on holiday and prefer to enjoy their time here, rather than traveling to town and trying to find the TAT office. So, many people do not complain; they just won't use the tuk-tuks anymore. That's why the tuk-tuk drivers say they now only earn 300 to 400 baht a day. (What a pity.)

So, please, TAT, this problem needs urgent attention, and sooner rather than later.

Posted by clickblade December 30, 2009 07:50:12AM

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Patong will never be really tourist friendly until it has a 10-baht bus system like Pattaya. Then the tuk-tuk drivers will no longer be an issue. I go to Patong every year, and simply don't use the tuk-tuks .

Posted by george kelly December 30, 2009 07:02:09AM

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In my opinion there is only one Solution to this. Call in someone else to deal with the problem. Maybe the Army would be the best qualified.

Posted by Richi December 30, 2009 06:28:59AM

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Well, when it comes to tuk-tuk and taxi drivers on Phuket, only one word comes to mind: disgrace! It's a cancer that slowly eats into the beauty of the island, leaving a bad smell and aftertaste. Who wants to return to a place that is so infected by gangs and scammers?

No doubt, Thailand's most important tourist area is losing its atraction in the long run. Sad. The responsible people have let it happen, ignoring the matter for all too long.

Posted by Mr John December 30, 2009 02:06:50AM

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Hope the government will take care of this BIG problem with the tuk-tuk drivers before it's too late. I have so many problems with the tuk-tuks, so I will never go back to Patong again. But if the government can clean up this mess, I may change my mind because I love Phuket (but do not accept about 90% of the tuk-tuk drivers).

Posted by Tomas December 30, 2009 01:40:25AM

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Having lived here for awhile and owning a vehicle, I too have had run-ins with them. I was told that certain parking spaces had already been paid for. Therefore they had the right to be there regardless. There are a few unwritten laws at work in Phuket, that tourists from different cultures would never know about and shouldn't be blamed for, let alone attacked.

I hope one day there are limits placed on the number of tuk-tuks and 'taxis'. I'm afraid as long as Thailand remains this way, the quality of tourists all over the island will soon drop significantly.

Posted by Kamala Resident December 30, 2009 01:17:23AM

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There is only one way to solve this problem and that is to provide a regular bus service if they dare. Even if there were just a single basic route running every 15 minutes. Patong, Karon, Kata, Chalong, Phuket Town (bus station), Tesco Lotus, Kathu, and back to Patong. After midnight, the buses could be every 30 minutes or on the hour even.

This would break up the gangs of tuk-tuks hanging around Soi Bangla, Karon and Kata. This bus could also link up with an airport bus.

Posted by Nip December 30, 2009 01:07:11AM

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Why not set regulations on fares between places in Phuket? Maybe 100 baht from Kata to Patong, or 200 from Patong to Phuket Town. There is way too much supply and not enough demand. Meters would even work, although I can't see that happening in the tuk-tuks.

Posted by The Situation December 30, 2009 01:07:18AM

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Ms Bangornrat may put in whatever plan she likes, but until her peers in other government offices in Phuket have the will to address the tuk-tuk problem, and until the tuk-tuks are fitted with meters, there will be no end to the complaints and bad press. It's not just about rules. It's about proper enforcement.

Posted by Dave Lombardi December 30, 2009 01:00:05AM

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I have often tried to contact the TAT Phuket office but found no email on the TAT website. The one I had does not work any longer. I would like to pass it on to people who want to complain as the complaints need to go there. Perhaps the TAT Phuket office would be more aware of the feedback if there were an easy way to contact them.

So what is their email address for tourists to send feedback? Does anyone know?

Posted by S. Effay December 29, 2009 11:57:31PM

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Unsurprisingly, most, if not all, wouldn't even know the existence of the TAT office in Phuket Town, so how can people be expected to complain direct to them? Are there signs in every hotel/guesthouse room in Phuket saying: "If you have a complaint, please telephone the TAT at 076-xxxxxx'?

Surely the responsibility of the local TAT office is to sift through the multitude of complaints received from all sources (hotels, tour operators, media forums, etc), and then investigate for background, relativity and whether real or not. Then assess the impact.

Talk about 'knee jerk'. Great advert for Phuket: "Welcome to our Island, but park in my space and I'll break your arm."

Posted by pag December 29, 2009 11:31:09PM

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The government has to reduce the number of tuk-tuk licenses for each district on Phuket, like they have done with the jet-skis. That´s the only way to control these gangs. In addition, Phuket needs parking areas where tuk-tuks are not allowed to park, and the police have enforce that rule very strictly.

Posted by Bagsida December 29, 2009 10:36:43PM

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I hired a car last year from a company near the airport. They marked down all damage to the car and gave me a copy. when I took the car back they said I'd scratched it. The scratch was already noted on their paper work before I drove off with the car, but when I returned it they told me that the scratch was BIGGER than before. I had a flight to catch. They knew this and I had to pay or miss the plane home. Not nice people at all. What a con!

Posted by trevor December 30, 2009 12:17:16AM

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Without doubt the biggest problem on Phuket island is the lack of public transport and the tuk tuks. From my personal experience of the tuk tuks the drivers tend to be aggressive drivers and aggressive people generally. They over charge, and there are far too many of them.

The public transport system would be much better if the taxi meters were allowed to ply their trade as they are in Bangkok, offering a fair price in a comfortable car.

There should also be a bus service running along the coast road from, say Nai Harn to Surin. I suggest that the army is brought in to get rid of this problem of the tuk tuks, and to give protection to new taxi meter drivers and bus drivers as the come to the rescue of Phuket.

Posted by Paul December 29, 2009 10:14:11PM

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There is a petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/tuk-tuk/

Posted by LivinLOS December 29, 2009 09:11:22PM

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This is the MOST serious long-term "tourist" problem in Phuket. Phuket is the ONLY province in Thailand which doesn't have a standard pricing structure for taxis/tuk-tuks! That is criminal!

Also, in beach areas (especially Patong and Kata/Karon) the competition (metered taxis and motorcycle taxis) is chased off by tuk-tuk gangs.

I don't know why the police are never stationed in tuk-tuk areas to protect tourists from these criminals. I can only assume that the police are afraid of them.

Posted by Glen December 29, 2009 08:53:05PM

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I have not been permitted to park my car in Karon for the past two years by the tuk-tuk or car service gangsters. I just have to spend my money in Rawai or Chalong.

Posted by Restless in Rawai December 29, 2009 08:42:17PM

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The TAT knows for sure what damage the tuk-tuks do to the tourist industry here in Phuket, and I think they will be the ones to take action against this problem.

Last time I used a tuk-tuk was in December last year. He picked me up at the corner of Bangla Rd/Beach Road to take me to Club Lime, a trip of about 500-600 meters. I forgot to bargain about the price. When we arrived at Club Lime he wanted to 500 baht. When I refused, he pointed a GUN at me and told me I´d be dead if I didn't pay.

I paid and said to myself, "This is the last time I will ever use a tuk-tuk". It was.

I was scared and shocked and did not contact the police. I regret that now. I love Phuket and the Thai people, but beware of the TUK-TUKS!

Posted by Johnny W December 29, 2009 08:37:44PM

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I have been living on Phuket for 15 years and can count on one hand the times I have, out of desperation, used the services of a tuk-tuk. It is my personal protest not to use tuk-tuks for any reason unless it is an emergency, and there are few of those.

I also do not patronize the establishments who advertise on tuk-tuks. I invite others to join me in this.

Posted by Mr. Sotu December 29, 2009 08:36:22PM

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"Last month, the TAT governor held meetings in Bangkok to try to solve transport problems there as well, and the police were asked to play a more active role."

Herein lies the problem. Maybe if the police (and some other authorities) took a less active roll the tuk-tuks could be dealt with. Just look at the number of illegally parked tuk-tuks in the red and white no-parking areas around Patong.

If the more than 100 tuk-tuks parked there every day were getting ticketed at 300 baht each, there would be huge amounts of money flowing into the local government for the benefit of the Thai public. Right? But the tuk-tuks are NEVER ticketed, so.... I guess the Thai public is being very kind to the tuk-tuks. Right?

Posted by Mister Ree December 29, 2009 08:23:45PM

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Tuk-tuk drivers have always thought they were a law unto themselves, though now the police evidently have a good lead as to who the perp is. I just wonder if justice will really be served. Let's watch and see!

Posted by Davey December 29, 2009 08:08:22PM

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Good if TAT finally wakes up and does something about this serious problem. I was hit in the head by a tuk-tuk gang member in a dispute about a public parking space. I think this kind of thing scares a lot of tourists away from Phuket.

Posted by Another offer December 29, 2009 08:04:54PM

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Been 4 years since I used a tuk-tuk because of my last use of one. It was in a monsoon and we got to my apartment and the fare was something like 280 baht. I didn't have the fare in small money so gave the driver 500 baht and was waiting in the rain for my change at the passenger window. He told me he didn't have change...yeah, right. He made some searching moves around the cab like he was looking for money but kept saying he didn't have any change. Meanwhile I was getting soaked.

Then he leaned across and opened the glove box on the passenger side, so right under my nose. I saw the gun in there! I got the feeling he wanted me to see it. So I just told him to keep the money and went into my apartment.

I've never used a tuk-tuk since.

Posted by Rex December 29, 2009 08:05:23PM

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Tuk-tuk mafia events like this are exactly why we are taking all of our groups to the Philippines instead of Phuket now. For 6 years we were faithful to Patong, Karon, Kamala, Kata, but NO MORE. These tuk-tuk drivers have stolen the last dollar from our groups, endangered the last of our clients, threatened and attacked the last of our guests, and we refuse to have even one more incident with people like these.

Posted by Northern Tours and Adventures December 29, 2009 07:59:08PM

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Ahhh...... Looks like high season is upon us. Clueless foreigner's, greedy businesses, gov't always several steps behind. Judging from the amount of folks on the island, I don't buy into "This is hurting the tourism industry". In fact it's the growing tourism industry that is causing this problem. Good luck, new TAT Director.

Posted by Khun Ron December 29, 2009 07:47:44PM

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It´s a shame, nothing will happen unless the Thai government gets involved. Since 1997 I have been in Phuket every year, and now I will go to Bali. It´s safer and all taxis are friendly and have meters.

Posted by Gerd December 29, 2009 07:49:35PM

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Tuk-tuks are a cancer. Cancers kill. Goodbye, tourism....

Posted by Sean Healey December 29, 2009 07:37:09PM

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Yes, right. The TAT is going to help sort out the tuk-tuks. Millions of tourists will never set foot back in Thailand, let alone Phuket, because of the tuk-tuks.

We will believe action plans after they have been implemented, when the tuk-tuks have been banned as a mode of transport on this lovely island. No amount of sweet talk will bring back the lost tourists until that is done.

Ban the tuk-tuks now!

Posted by Mouse December 29, 2009 07:20:46PM

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I would be glad to show Khun Bangornrat the damage to my car which arose when I questioned someone why I could not park on the beach road in Rawai. There were of course no 'no parking' signs. There were no taxis and at least 5 spots were open, but I was still told to Move!

When I did move my car it was nevertheless hit by something causing a dent in the door. I no longer visit Patong but now the problem is moving across the island. We employ 15 Thai nationals in a small business and love Phuket, but the ever increasing level of intimidation is giving me serious thoughts of moving on.

This is the worst tourist season in the last 10 years and stories like this are not helping things.

Posted by John December 29, 2009 07:12:09PM

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It is about time that these tuk-tuks are cleared from the streets. Let's introduce a proper, organized public transport system on the island. This would solve a few problems in one go: more parking space will become available; transport will be cheaper and affordable to Thais; there will be fewer cars and motorbikes on the road, and fewer accidents; far fewer complaints about tourists being ripped off....

What are the authorities waiting for?

Posted by Paul December 29, 2009 07:05:43PM

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Like I said before. Words are nice but we need ACTION.

Posted by cubitus999 December 29, 2009 06:55:19PM

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