Nov 06 2011

Chiang Mai scams?

Published by at 2:31 pm under Health & safety

Some of our other regional blogs have been busy of late giving you the rundown on popular and prevalent scams in their respective patches (such as here and here) so we thought we’d do the same for Chiang Mai… the only problem is we can’t find any!

Scam free town? We'll find one somewhere...

Scam-free town? We'll find one somewhere...

Many scams in other cities involve transport so that ought to be a good place to look… Jewellery or tailor shop scams a la Bangkok? Nope, not here, and we’ve never heard of a tuk-tuk offering a 10 baht ride to Sankamphaeng on the off chance you’ll buy a parasol.

The old  “no it’s closed, let me take you somewhere else” routine may have happened but I’ve never heard of it personally. “My meter’s broken” — Chiang Mai taxis don’t use meters anyway (see previous transport post), while the Phuket “you’ve damaged my jet ski, that’ll cost you!” trick falls flat where there are not a lot of jet skis, as in Chiang Mai. Rip-offs in the style of having to bargain for the price of a bottle of water as you may need to do in Saigon — nope, not that either.

"I'll give you 10 baht for it but that's my bottom price"

"I'll give you 10 baht for it, but that's my bottom price."

We’ve heard rumours of one-offs in our many years in Chiang Mai: an idiot backpacker buying grass from a tuk tuk driver only to find the cops banging on his door 10 minutes later (that was about 10 years ago) and the “someone put something in my drink in Loi Kroh Road” line — yes, it’s called alcohol — but nothing that can be classified as a regular scam.

Yes, there’s a two-tiered entrance fee system in operation at many spots, but what’s new, and you’re going to get that in many places.

A worst case scenario transport-wise is that you’ll be overcharged a bit, but bear in mind a Thai tourist from Bangkok or even local residents are also occasionally overcharged. Wouldn’t want to tar them all with the same brush but many Chiang Mai tuk tuk drivers do have a tendency to overvalue their services and even after 15 years in the city we still frequently have to bargain and always double check the agreed on price.

As in most other places they’re banking on the fact you don’t know what the correct fare should be, so after having checked with a bunch of drivers that we know it may be of use to note the following standard tuk tuk fees. (All fares are from Tha Pae Gate.) And please note, if you are reading this in say 2015, prices are likely to have risen by then.

Short distances e.g. Night Bazaar, Central Huay Keow = 60 baht

Railway station or Arcade bus station = 80 baht

Airport or immigration = 100 baht

The following longer destinations include waiting time and return:

Wiang Khum Kham or Sankamphaeng = 300 baht

Mae Sa = 400 baht

Hang Dong = 500 baht

Note you can add on a 20 baht night fee supplement. If they don’t agree then hail another — there’s always plenty about.

Prices courtesy of Neung - English spoken - 089 051 1437

Prices courtesy of Neung -- English spoken and he's on (089) 051 1437.

Red songthaews (a kind of bus-taxi) have a flat fare around town of 20 baht per person and if you hire them privately for more distant destinations expect to pay slightly more than equivalent tuk tuk fares. (See further songthaew details in earlier post.)

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4 Responses to “Chiang Mai scams?” ...

  1. Markon 08 Nov 2011 at 10:00 am

    Quite true!

    Yesterday I was surprised to see a sign in Chiang Mai warning tourists about the standard helpful local scam. You know, where they tell you something is closed or whatever and offer a cheap tuk tuk ride to somewhere else. thankfully, I’ve never come across this scam in Chiang Mai and I’ve spent a lot of time here.

    Sure, as a tourist unaware of typical prices you might end up overcharged for a redcar but unless you’re going to Doi Intanon or something, they’ll often charge you regular fee. l quite like the redcar service.

    I sincerely hope that Chiang Mai remains the wonderful friendly place it has always been.

  2. Ingeron 29 Nov 2011 at 4:16 pm

    During my last visit we stayed closed to the shopping mall Airpoort plaza. And found it to be very convienient and cheap to go by local songthaews, since so many are passing by out to the suburb or villages. The yellow ones charged us only 15 baht, and some days as less as 10 baht (guess we those days looked very young (student price) or very old.)

    Never any negotiation, just jump on and off and pay the driver afterwards.
    With the red ones, I have never sucseeded to get the promised flat prize.

  3. Roryon 04 Dec 2012 at 3:19 am

    Hi yes Phuket was the least favorite place for me. No problem with scams well used to tricks . Keep your head on and just smile back and be pleasant they all get the idea
    Now Chiang Mia , udon Thani etc brilliant. I must also say once you get to grips with Bangkok it’s a great city. Takes time though. I love to fit in with local culture and people so perhaps I am a bit different from your normal 3 week tourist.

    There’s scams and rip off merchants all over , but it is frustrating having the motor bike and ski bike scams. I rented but always took photos before accepting the bike. I also told the man that I was in no mode for nonsense. Difficult when your in a group flying a bit high. True.

    Hope you all enjoy Thailand and any trouble doesn’t come your way.

    Police forces need to clamp down on their own people clean up their act quickly.
    Before bad publicity ruins a very lucrative industry.

  4. Danielleon 19 Dec 2012 at 5:05 pm

    I just read your Phuket-Scams and Chiang-May-Scams pages… and can tell you that in Chiang Mai they also ask for your passport when renting motor bikes. We went to 3 different local rental places and they all asked for our passports. But, there was not scam such as the damaged motor bikes fees as described in Phuket.

    Also, another tip of advice, even if you go to Chiang May on New Year’s eve, don’t book your hotel at the train station – even if they tell you it is all booked. If you are an experienced traveller / backpacker, you will find something much cheaper if you walk around.

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