11 Most Common Tourist Scams in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the world. It has spectacular things to offer such as its sandy beaches, tropical islands, flora, heritage sites, Buddhist temples, and its nightlife. Thailand is a place, which has managed to preserve its culture along with its beauty. However, it has also earned much notoriety due to its prevalent tourist swindles. Travelers and tourists are prone to many scams in this beautiful yet infamous place.
Most common tourist scams in Thailand –
Taxi Scams: The taxi and cab drivers use many tactics to overcharge the tourists and travelers in some way. One of the ways is the rigged taximeter, where the taxi driver sets up the meter in a way that it ends up charging up to ten times of the normal fare. Another way they use is to charge a fixed price instead of going through a meter, claiming that the meter is broken, or if you hire them in crowded places, where demand is more than supply, and hence overcharging works well.
The best way to avoid such scams is to know the average prices of cabs, install a local taxi application in your phone and get an estimate of your trip prior to booking.
Tuk Tuk Scam: Thailand Tuk Tuk drivers entice you by offering really low prices, and that in fact is a trap because ultimately, they take you to the gem stores or tailor shops or local travel agents, and if you end up falling for any of these (and people do!), then their real income comes from the commission. They will claim to get you some of the best deals with huge bargains, which would actually turn out to be as good as mugging. Sometimes, they take you to an isolated place with no access to any transport, where you would have to buy the package or gems if you want them to take you back.
If you find some really cheap tuk tuk, just avoid it. Try taking a walk for short distances, or use public transport wherever possible.
Fake Tourist Packages for local prices: Either the Tuk Tuk driver or some local person would offer you to get some tourist package for the local price instead of the general tourist prices. When you fall for this ploy and end up booking an awesome package for cheap prices, you would get to know that they money has been debited, but there was no tourist agency!
There are plenty of genuine travel agents, you can also ask your hotel/hostel staff to help you in choosing one.
Jet Ski Scam: Everyone loves an adventure sport on a holiday or while traveling and Jet Skiing is one of the most loved sports. This scam prevails in many other countries including Thailand. After you are done with skiing and go to return the Jet Ski, they claim you have damaged it while skiing and demand a high compensation for its repair.
To save yourself from all this trouble, we advise that before renting it, you should carefully check all the scratches or dents which are already there and take a picture of them. Honestly, there are also stories where they would crash your Jet Ski with one of theirs to later ask you for compensation, so if possible, just give up on the idea of going for a Jet Ski ride unless you are 100% sure of not getting scammed.
Bars: Thailand is famous for its nightlife and party culture. Sometimes a hot girl approaches a solo male tourist and allures him to a bar for some drinks. Before you know it, the hot girl is gone and you are left with this overcharged bill. Many other times, random people tell you that you can enter some show just by buying a beer, which later turns out to be a swindle as that one beer’s price is unreasonably high, and if you refuse, there are huge well-trained guards to scare you into paying it. There are many other scams in the form of games and what not.
Try visiting some reputed bar, say no to all the games which involve any sort of bet. Also, after you are done ordering your beer or food, don’t let the bar girl or the waiter take that menu away, they often swap it with similar looking menu which has higher prices than the one people place an order from.
Patpong Scams: Patpong is a red light district famous for its ping-pong shows. Random people approach you with “The Menu” and offer cheap prices for different enticing shows. Enticing or not, you end up paying a huge amount just for a few drinks and a show which can range anywhere from bad to average.
Simply avoid those shows, unless you are there just to boost the economy of the country.
The Grand Palace is Closed Scam: This is a pretty common scam in Thailand where random locals or drivers would approach you and tell you that The Grand Palace is closed, and you should probably visit some other place because it is some auspicious day or something. They do so with an intention to make you a prey to their tactic for buying gems or tourist packages.
Either google the places before visiting them, or just go and see for yourself. Don’t believe what you are told, unless you are told by someone you trust.
Wrong Change: When tourists are not familiar with the local currency, it becomes easy to fool them. Many people in Thailand use this tactic and end up taking advantage of the tourists and traveler while giving them a change.
Check all the currency notes patiently before leaving the store.
Bus Scam: This scam is common in the long distance travel buses in Thailand. They would often ask you to get off at some secluded place giving unsatisfactory reasons, and if you somehow end up believing them, you would be left there with no access to any means of transport. Then, their partners in crime would show up and act as saviors who have come to save the day and overcharge you for transport and/or any overnight stay.
Do not get off until the bus gets to the stop you have paid for.
In addition, there are some stories which say that in some overnight buses in Thailand, the bus operator drugs the passengers with free water, gas or something else. The passenger passes out, just to find his cash and/ or belongings missing.
Try to stay away buses which you are not sure of, avoid drinking the water provided by them, and keep your belonging properly locked.
Gem Scam: Thailand gem scam is very popular, and somehow people still get caught up in it. Either the tuk tuk drivers or some very friendly local, who generally hangs out around the malls and the temples, would very skillfully convince you to go to a gem store. They would talk you into buying Thai gems, because according to “them” you will end up earning a lot by reselling those gems, or you are just too lucky to have found the genuine gems. They pressurize you into buying such gems.
It is better to refuse and get the hell out of there.
Tourist Police: The locals posing as a tourist police or sometimes the tourist police on their own would show up and ask for your tickets and visa. They would claim that there is a fault in your documents and end up taking money from you in the name of a legal ticket.
The best solution is to talk yourself out of this, which you would have to do on your own (based on the situation).
If you are planning a trip to Thailand, check out our – Travel Packing Checklist so that you don’t miss out on anything.
Thailand, being one of the most famous tourist destinations, has fraudsters of different nationalities, not just Thai people. You should visit Thailand, it surely is an amazing place, but it is best to keep your eyes and ears open all the time for any possible swindles. It’s better to take extra care than regretting later. If you have some similar experiences to share, use the comments box to comment below.