The nasally way he stressed the last letters of the sentence tickled my insides and I nearly giggled out loud.
“Yea, umm, I want to go to the palace…and this temple…and the sleeping Buddha. How much?”
“I make special price. 100 Baht for youoUUU.”
Wow, that’s cheap, I thought to myself. It was 200 baht/6$ just from the metro to Khao San road.
“Can you really take me to here, here and here for 100 Baht?” I asked, pointing to each place on the map.
“Yeaaa, let’s goAAA,” he said with a grin while motioning for me to hop into his couch on wheels.
I studied his face. His grin seemed genuine, so did the jovial look in his eyes. But that’s too cheap…what’s the catch?
Although the Tuk Tuk driver will take you to all the places you want, they’ll also take you to a couple places you don’t, like luxury boutiques, gem shops and art galleries.
As it turns out, these shops have pre-arranged deals with Tuk Tuk drivers. In exchange for bringing potential customers, the shop will provide 60 Baht compensation usually in the form of a gas voucher.
How To Capitalize On The Catch
Always on the look out for a win win situation, I decided to propose a little arrangement of my own to another Tuk Tuk driver the following day.
“Where you goAAA?” he said looking at me as if I were a bank machine.
“I go with you to 6 shops. We split the money 50/50. 30 Baht for you, 30 Baht for me. Ok?” I said.
His smile vanished and he looked at me a bit wryly while he contemplated the deal.
“Ok” he finally said with a smirk.
3 Hours Later
After feigning interest in gems, jewelry and tapestries that I neither wanted nor could afford we finally arrived back on Khoa San road. There he tallied up his gas vouchers and reluctantly offered me half, or 180 Baht.
“Thank you, Kep Kun Kraab!” I said as I hopped out of the Tuk Tuk.
“You come back tomoroOOO?” he said with a grin.
“Maybe,” I smiled as I walked away.
Although talking with relentless sales people at each shop got old quick, it was a great day. Not only did I leave with 180 Baht or food money for the rest of the day, but I got to know the driver and experience Bangkok from the back of a speeding Tuk Tuk. Plus, he was happy being able to fill up his tank.
While you could do what I did and make a bit of spending change, the best arrangement is three shops in exchange for three attractions. This way you won’t get too tired out and you’ll actually get to stop and see the sights.