Some of our other regional Travelfish.org 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!
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.
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.
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.)
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 6th November, 2011.