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Today I was taking a Songthaew (shared taxi) in Krabi Town and there were only three passengers, me and two friends, present. The normal fare after 6pm is 60 baht.

We were offered to start the ride immediately if we paid 40 additional baht per person (100 instead of 60) or to wait until three more passengers would arrive. We declined the offer assuming that we would not have to wait long.

Nobody arrived for ~20 min and I asked how long we would wait for more passengers. I was told that the shift ends in 1.5 h and that is how long he would wait. After additional ~15 min I agreed to pay the extra and we drove off. We were asked to pay the money in advance, usually passengers pay at the destination.

  1. What is the socially acceptable time to wait for other passengers?
  2. Was the long waiting time (~35 min) and the requirement to pay in advance a show of disrespect/distrust?
  3. Is there something I could have done better, assuming that no immediate alternative in this price range is available?

Additional Info:

  • from Krabi Town
  • to Ao Nang
  • in June, off-season
  • there was a guy sitting with us in the passenger area but who was not the driver, he was the one I talked to, and the one who collected the money and gave it to the driver upon departure, he did not come with us. The driver did not seem to speak English.
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    How big was this song theaw? Were all the passengers 'farang' ([white] western tourists)? Odd that with a standard pickup truck size song theaw would need a 2nd person to collect money. Have u taken this same route before without this issue? – Jon Grah Jun 15 '17 at 1:05
  • It was a smaller one (upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/e/e9/Songthaew_3.jpg/…). Not all westerners but visibly not Thais. When we drove off a Thai woman was sitting next to the driver and got off before us, I don't know if she was a paying customer. We took the return route before without issue but there were also two locals on board that time. With a positive interpretation the other guy helped the driver because the latter did not speak English. – problemofficer Jun 15 '17 at 1:55
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Baht busses or Songthaews are not always on a strict schedule...

Especially outside of busy/tourist areas and off-season. In this case, it could be the last one out was waiting for boat passengers or possibly a few last stragglers to come along if he's not in a hurry. Sometimes you'll even see songthaews deliver packages or produce (usually the early morning ones). Makes sense to make a few extra bucks on a route you are travelling anyway. I've waited over an hour for a songthaew to depart; you just have to be patient sometimes to get that cheap rate.

Also, you can talk with the driver of songthaew and often hire them for an out of route project, which is usually quite favorable to the passenger...A small detour of 2-3km with heavy bags may be nothing to the driver but could really help out the passenger and for 10-30 baht more the convenience is worth it....especially if you hire them for a 1/2 day or something like that.

If it is any consolation, minivans and longtail boats often operate similarly. If full, it will leave immediately. Or it will leave on a schedule if not full. Or you can "buy out" some of the seats such that it makes it worthwhile to the driver to just leave immediately.

Paying up-front is usually done for more regular ticketed service like minibus/coach bus/train. But demanding upfront payment for immediacy varies. Usually if it is likely that confusion about the agreed price could arise after-the-fact, then you may be asked to pay up-front. As long as the other party fulfills their duty, then I don't see any problems with it.

By keeping a cool head and making a choice to pay more for immediacy or just wait for the cheaper ride, I don't think there was much else you could have done. You said it yourself, no other immediate option was available in the same price range. Wait until you go somewhere like Patong where the Tuk Tuk [mafia] charges 200 baht just to go <2km (could be more now).

Krabi...I imagine a tuk tuk taxi wanted like 700-800+ baht to go to your final destination.

Source: 6+ years travelling in Thailand, which includes my own experience + observing what happens to the typical tourist.

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  • Can you please add the "source" of your answer. Have you spend a long time in Thailand? Thanks. – problemofficer Jun 17 '17 at 17:41
  • Yes. Nearly 7 years. I don't think I've actually been to Krabi or Ao Nang. But transportation operates similarly throughout Thailand, and tourist hot spots that attract Western tourist especially have more flexible pricing. But all in all, if you got a good deal, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Most of the time it is a good deal for what you are getting [immediacy]. – Jon Grah Jun 19 '17 at 1:52
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There is no "acceptable wait time", it is entirely up to the driver. Most drivers who are parked will wait until they have enough folks to make it worth their while. And as it was getting towards the end of his shift he would want make the last profitable.

You didn't mention your destination, but that figures into the load/wait time equation as well.

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  • I added the destination to the question. – problemofficer Jun 15 '17 at 9:25

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