Saturday, January 16, 2010

Arranging trips in Thailand

Activities for tourists are everywhere, and it seems like every street and hotel has an agent to sell tickets. Presumably they all get a commission, and it is hard not to assume that a price is higher than it should be. When we booked transportation from Pattaya to Koh Chang, the hotel owner’s web site said a taxi would be ~140 bhat from the ferry, so we were tempted to just pay for the minibus to the ferry—instead of paying the extra 300 bhat to go all the way.

Good thing we let ourselves be persuaded by the travel agent: as we left the ferry in our reasonably comfortable minibus we saw dozens of bhat trucks (taxis) waiting for fares. And by the time we’d arrived at the far end of the island—and past the many resorts and up and down precipitous switchback roads—we were very happy to have paid the extra 160 bhat each!

We’d used the travel agent our friends use, and she had been delighted to know they’d recommended her. Of course, if she’d ripped us off, our friends would know and she would lose their business…

Bottom line: agents can make things a lot easier. But of course, do some research; ask questions; use connections—and don’t assume that everyone is trying to rip you off.