I’ve always told people that I never worried about getting mugged in Thailand because if the Thai’s want to rip you off they’ll do it with a smile and have you thanking them for doing it.
Case in point, last trip to Thailand I walked out of the arrivals terminal and was greeted by the usual throng of cabbies and hired cars offering to take you to your hotel for some absurd price. One guy who was acting like he had some sort of official role at the airport (he didn’t, it’s part of the scam) tells me that for just 900 baht (about $28) and a nice tip he’ll have a car take me to the hotel. Now, having been to the hotel before I know there’s no way it costs 900 baht for that ride. I couldn’t remember exactly how much but I know 900 was way, way out of line. When I laughed at him he pulled out a very official looking fare chart showing that 900 was the published rate. Of course it is, he made up the chart! I finally bargined him down to something more reasonable but I still grossly overpaid. In the end I was just happy to get to the hotel as it was 6am in the morning, I was dead tired, and I just wanted to get some sleep. So, I got ripped off and tipped him for the pleasure of being taken advantage of. I’m such a chump :-)
This trip I took someone’s excellent advice and skipped exiting the airport at the arrivals terminal and went upstairs to the departures where all the metered taxis are dropping off passengers. I jumped in a cab and arrived at my hotel for 170 baht (about $5.25). I gave him a pretty generous tip because he was quite a friendly guy and I noticed that he took several short-cuts instead of trying to milk me for more fare by taking the longer route.