We have just returned from an amazing 3 week cruise from Australia to Singapore via Bali, KL, Penang, Langkawi and Phuket, we had a fantastic time and all the countries and Islands we visited and they ran shuttle bus services for a small fee into the local town for those not doing organised tours. This was a great way to get around and all was good till we got to Phuket, now we are Phuket junkies with 12 or so trips there so we know the place very well. We spoke to many passengers about how good Phuket was and we gave the place a huge wrap as we always do. We told many people it’s very easy to get around once your in Patong or Phuket town the transport was easy and reasonably cheap.
Well I was disgusted when we arrived in Phuket as an announcement came over the PA on the ship that due to Local regulations there will be no shuttle bus but plenty of taxis! What they failed to mention was that the Taxi Mafia would not allow it!!!
Now those drivers allowed inside the gates of the deep sea port ( the Taxi Mafia) wanted ridiculous prices to take us to Patong, I approached a couple of drivers and they wanted 2500Baht for a one way trip!!! So we walked outside the gates around one Kilometre from the ship and there were hundreds of drivers waiting there. I did as I usually do and walked past the many shouting at me for business and walked up to an older Thai man and said how much to Patong. He led me away from the others and we negotiated a price away from their ears of 800Baht. As we walked towards his van he paid some money to someone, turns out it was a Mafia boss, I asked how much it cost him and he said 200 Baht. We have local knowledge and know the prices but I cam only imagine just how many passengers were ripped off, the ship was full with 2300 pax so at a guess 1/3 would do there own thing! I wonder how many would not venture out due to the price?
When ever will the authorities and these standover people learn that more and more people will come to Phuket, or return there if these actions are stopped. I know this debate comes up many times on this forum, I for one have entered into this discussion many times but unfortunately I guess many of us are used to it so we put up with it.
I am sure this also turns many, many people away. Many of the people on the ship were also disgusted with the prices and said they would never return.
Why should we accept this!
When will they wake up and realize this will eventually destroy tourism on an island that we are so passionate about!!!