33 Most Common Tourist Scams in Thailand

Safety at Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, Patong, Krabi, Khao Lak, Hua Hin, Koh Tao, Ko Samui, Chonburi, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Lanta, Khao Lak, Sukhothai, Ao Nang, Bophut, Chiang Rai, Nonthaburi, Chaweng, Ko Chang, Chonburi, Kamala, Karon, Kanchanaburi
Thailand

Source image: huffingtonpost.com

 

Also known as the land of smiles, Thailand has much to offer and has always been one of the top tourist destinations in Asia.

With a tropical climate, white sand beaches, majestic mountains, exotic food, luxury modern shopping centres and many more, the country is bound to delight.

However, accompanying this influx of tourists has been the rise of tourist targeted scams. Read on to learn how to protect yourself in the land of smiles!

 

 

A. TOURIST ACTIVITIES

1. The Grand Palace is closed / this place is closed

thailand grand palace

Image source: cohicatravel.com

 

How it works:

This is a common scam in Thailand and globally (e.g. Brazil, Greece), because it is so easy to pull off. It can be perpetrated by anyone – strangers around the Grand Palace / tourist areas, tuk tuk drivers and even taxi drivers.

One variation is that taxi / tuk tuk drivers will tell you that the Grand Palace is closed today for some special or Buddhist ceremony.

They then recommend an alternative location such as the Happy Buddha / Sitting Buddha / Black Buddha / Lucky Buddha / Marble Temple / Export Centre and claim that it’s only open once a year and that day happens to be today!

Should you go along, you will end up at a jewellery / tailor shop and pressured into buying overpriced crap. Tourists have even been locked in the shop until they started buying!

Another variation is getting approached by strangers near the temple. They claim that the temple is closed, or lead you to an entrance which only Thais can enter.

When the duty officer who usually only speaks in Thai stops you, the stranger will pretend to translate, telling you that the palace is closed for some special ceremony and to come back later, at 3pm for instance.

They recommend alternative locations to visit which sound really good. Should you agree, they will help you flag a tuk tuk which they are in cahoots with.

The tuk tuk will of course, send you to some gem stores or tailor shops.

To make matters worse, when you get back to the Grand Palace, usually later than 3pm, you will find that the Grand Palace has already closed at 3.30pm.

 

What to do:

These scammers can look (wearing formal shirt with “tourist police” tags) and sound really convincing, so do not engage if someone overly friendly approaches you on the streets.

Some of them even operate in the temple! So do not assume that you are safe even when inside the compound.

Finally, the Grand Palace is just an example and this can happen with any tourist attraction. Thus, always check the opening hours before visiting any attraction.

 

2. Jet ski scam

 

How it works:

This is a common scam not just in Thailand (e.g. Pattaya, Phuket), but in other less developed countries as well (e.g. Indonesia, Mexico).

In short, when you return a rented jet ski, the operator will claim that you have damaged it. A substantial repair fee is then demanded.

Should you refuse, there will be men in “uniform” who pass by coincidentally and threaten to arrest you (they can’t).

 

What to do:

First, never give your passport as collateral when renting the jet ski.

Next, examine the jet ski before usage. Document / remember any scratches, dents or potential damaged parts. If upon return the operator demand an unwarranted repair fee, call the local tourist police at 1155.

Don’t vex yourself up when trying to talk sense to these crooks, because it will not work.

To be really safe, avoid jet ski activities especially in Pattaya. Sometimes the police will not be able to help as they have been bought off.

At best, they can help you negotiate a lower fee, as they have a cut in the money as well.

 

3. The gem scam

 

How it works:

This is another scam which can be found around the world (e.g. India, Sri Lanka).

The modus operandi is that in a gem shop, the owner will tell you that gems in Thailand are abundant. Thus you can get them for cheap, wholesale prices.

If you resold these back home, you will make a killing. They might even claim that there is a “government sponsored sale” which is nonsense.

There may even be other accomplices in the shop who pretend to be tourists.

They will tell you that today is indeed the Thai Tourism Day and that they have just bought a beautiful piece of jewellery for a good discount.

 

What to do:

If something seems too good to be true, it is. The gems sold are worthless pieces of glass or synthetic materials. Legitimate traders also would not operate in such a way.

If you have fallen for the scam, contact the tourist police and file a report which you can try to submit for insurance claims.

If you used a credit card for payment, contact your credit card company to either reverse those charges or to dispute them.

 

4. Bird food scam

Image source: thaitravelblogs.com

 

How it works:

You will find this scam around the Grand Palace.

First, the stranger approaches you with a bag of bird seeds. He will forcefully hold your hand, pour the seeds into your hands and then scatter them on the ground to feed the birds.

If you resist, he will claim this is free and done for good luck.

Of course, once you are done with a bag, payment will be demanded not just from the scammer, but from a bunch of accomplices who suddenly appear.

 

What to do:

Firmly reject.

 

5. Bird release scam

Image source: Flickr user Shankar

 

How it works:

A different variation of the bird food scam, this scam happens in temples at Pattaya where someone offers you the chance to release a chance for good fortune.

In most cases, the birds are weak and will be caught after release anyway.

However, a big sum of money will be demanded from you.

 

What to do:

Firmly reject.

 

6. Sombondee Seafood Market scam

Image source: wooramier, imchiasoon

 

How it works:

Very similar to the hotel scam mentioned later.

The Sombondee Seafood Market is a play on the Somboon Seafood Chain which is very popular in Thailand for good food at affordable prices.

However, the Sombondee Seafood Market serves crap at inflated prices. Widely perpetrated by errant tuk tuk and cab drivers in Bangkok.

The reviews say it all: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g293916-d1675970-Reviews-Somboondee_Seafood_Restaurant-Bangkok.html

 

What to do:

Do some research online for reputable food places to eat at, or check with your hotel / hostel.

 

7. Tailor scam

tailoring

 

How it works:

This can happen anywhere, but is more likely at tourist locations and also at locations where tuk tuk drivers send you to.

For instance, halfway through a tuk tuk trip, your driver might ask you to wait as he takes a toilet break.

Coincidentally, a stranger approaches you, claiming that he is a lawyer from the US and he is back in Thailand to visit his dad or some other nonsensical story..

He will then tell you about some bargain he found at a tailor shop which only Thai people know. To boost his credibility, he will talk about Armani suits and how he uses them for work everyday.

Or he could ask which country you are from. and claim that some celebrity from your country have been a customer there.

At this point, your tuk tuk driver will be back and the stranger  will “helpfully” tell him where the shop is. Without hesitation, the driver will bring you there, unless you firmly insist not to.

At the shop, the prices seem like a good deal and high pressure sales tactics are used to make you pay the full sum upfront. They even promise home country delivery!

However, what you get back home will be poor fitting polyester crap, not cashmere or higher quality threads as initially promised.

There are too many scam shops with ever changing names to report, but examples include: Nakorn Sawan Collection (name changed to Vasana), Ram Fashion International, B.B. Fashion (name changed to Thai Fashion), etc

 

What to do:

Never pay upfront. Come up with a story / excuse to do wire transfer instead.

If you want to get tailored clothes in Thailand, do some research and only shop at reputable places. Do not take advice from random strangers, sometimes even the tourist police!

Finally, if what the tailor says sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 

8. Scam tour agencies

Image source: aboutthailandliving.com

 

How it works:

Tour agency touts on the streets (e.g. Khao San Road area in Bangkok), at tourist attractions (e.g. Grand Palace) and those which proclaim to be affiliated to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) are infamous for scamming hundreds and thousands out of unknowing tourists.

These scammers will be dressed in official looking uniform, be it like someone from TAT or from the police, to get you to sign up for:

  • Poor quality tours where more time is spent on visiting shops where they get a commission from (e.g. tailor shop, gem shop)
  • Lousy accommodation which are also places where they get a commission from
  • Inflated bus / train / plane / private transport tickets
  • And they may ask you to pay other charges such as service charge, tour guide fees, tips and what have you!

Usually, they will claim that a tour or certain parts of it only cost a cheap amount at the start to entice you to sign.

Once you start the tour however, you will asked to pay a much higher amount by the service provider who is engaged.

Some particularly infamous scam agencies to avoid are ITAT, Unseen Travel, Blue Asia Travelseeker, etc (please contribute if you know of more!).

 

What to do:

If anyone claims to be from TAT, that is an obvious scam, as TAT does not operate or back any businesses.

All a legitimate tour agency can claim, is whether they are licensed by TAT.

Also, never take a recommendation from a street tout, tuk tuk driver or taxi driver. Check online reviews instead or check with your hotel / hostel.

 

9. Massage tout scam

Image source: Cherepanova Elena

 

How it works:

You will find this scam in the alleys of Sukhumvit.

These scammers pose as massage shop managers, offering a special price to tourists to come to their massage shops as they claim that business has not been so good recently.

Should you agree, once they bring you to the shop, they will ask for prepayment, as they have to go back out onto the streets to find more customers.

These scammers are obviously not affiliated to the massage shop, so should you pay, you will not be getting any massage in return.

 

What to do:

Never pay upfront to a stranger on the street. Only do so inside the shop.

Alternatively, check with your hotel / hostel staff on a recommended massage place to go should you want one.

 

10. Patpong sex show / ping pong show scam

Patpong

 

How it works:

At the red light district of Patpong, you will be approached with “The Menu”, a list of all the fun acrobatic tricks you can see by female performers.

You will be led to some shady, nameless bar upstairs (ground level ones have fixed prices for drinks, those above are likely scams).

You are then made to pay for a couple of “lady drinks” for the girls at your table.

Now, the show begins. A meek and simple trick is performed and you are asked to tipped generously.

Should you suspect something amiss and request to leave, you will be smacked with a check of crazy sums.

Pay you will or the bouncers standing around will give you a good lesson.

 

What to do:

For those travelling alone, avoid such areas as you will be easily bullied and coerced.

Or do your research and avoid the shady / rogue operators, and the nameless bars not on the ground level especially.

If you want to try your luck, then keep your valuables in the hotel safe, use a money belt / hidden pouch to hide whatever valuables you want to bring, and leave a little bit of cash in a cheap spare wallet which you can give up when threatened.

 

11. Bar / cafe scam

Image source: bangkok112.com

 

How it works:

Perpetrated by young local girls, they target single male travellers by approaching them and getting them to go to a local bar or café.

They get you to buy drinks and by the time the bill comes, they will be gone.

Should you refuse to pay the exorbitant amount, you will find some burly men rounding you up.

 

What to do:

Never accept a street invitation to head to a local bar or cafe. Test them by offering to bring them somewhere else instead.

Again, keep your valuables in the hotel safe, use a money belt / hidden pouch to hide whatever valuables you want to bring, and leave a little bit of cash in a cheap spare wallet which you can give up when threatened.

 

12. Extra bills scam

Image source: lovepattayathailand.com

 

How it works:

This happens in Pattaya due to the way your bill is tallied.

Over here, every time you order a new drink, a bill is added into a bucket by your table.

So once you are distracted or get too drunk, some extra bills might be thrown in there without you realizing it.

 

What to do:

Request to pay upfront and not use the bucket method.

 

13. Spiked drinks

 

How it works:

Be it at the Full Moon Party or at a normal club along Bangla Street at Phuket, there is a risk of drink spiking that should be taken seriously by all travellers.

It might be an attractive lady, a ladyboy, a member of a crime syndicate, a staff or someone unassuming who drops a prescription sleeping pill into your drink.

Either way, you WILL pass out and your valuables will be gone when you regain consciousness.

 

What to do:

Do not allow people that you don’t know to buy you a drink, especially in a bar or nightclub.

Watch all drinks being made to ensure that nothing is being added without you noticing. If possible, stick to bottled or canned drinks that can be opened in front of you.

Also do not leave your drink unattended as this may be an opportunity for someone to add something to it.

If you feel unwell after drinking and suspect that your drink may have been spiked, quick alert a friend, your driver or a person in a position of authority.

 

14. Pickpockets

 

How it works:

Crowded streets, train stations, public transportation, markets, shopping malls, tourist attractions, hotels, nightspots or anywhere tourists hang out at are pickpockets’ favourite spots.

For instance, Pratunam Market, in the alley leading to the Baiyoke Sky Hotel in Bangkok is one reported hotspot. There are allegedly two gangs working here, one Thai and one African.

Chinatown, the bus stops in front of Siriraj Hospital, areas around nightclubs are other hotspots as well.

These thieves work in gangs, and will hang around to spot anyone carrying an expensive or neglected phone / jewelery / valuable / bag and where it is stored.

Once they mark a target, they will surround him or her and then work like this:

  • One will keep a lookout and block passer-bys from seeing the scene
  • Another will push or distract the target (e.g. ask you an innocent question / survey / drop something and ask you about it),
  • A third will steal your valuable / slash your bag and then passes it on
  • The last will hide the loot under a jacket / items and then escapes with it

 

What to do:

Stay alert and watch out for suspicious characters, though that is easier said than done in a crowded environment.

The best solution is still, to not make yourself look like a target. 

This is because once you are targeted, you will almost definitely lose your valuables in a split second.

To make it impossible for thieves to steal from you, we recommend:

  • Carry small amounts of cash in a cheap, spare wallet that you wouldn’t mind losing. Do not leave it in your back pocket.
  • Conceal small valuables securely in a slim fitting money belt or hidden pouch.
  • Store larger valuables in an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and lockable. Keep it in front of you.
  • Keep most of your valuables in your hotel / hostel safe, which can be further secured with hotel safety tools.

 

 

B. TRANSPORT

1. Tuk tuk scam

thailand tuk tuk

 

How it works:

Tuk tuks in Thailand prey on your greed with super low offers for all day tours. They justify this by claiming that it is the Thai Tourism Day and that the government is sponsoring free gas.

Also on this day, they know of places with exclusive bargains which they can bring you to.

What happens next, is that they bring you to jewellery / tailor shops where get a commission!

In those shops, many tactics could be used to make you buy something, such as locking the shop or simply by wasting your time. Note that they do not just bring you there without you saying so, they do it in a shrewd way.

First, they will find out the purpose of your vacation. Is it to shop? To sightsee? Then, they ask about your itinerary and make suggestions to “better places” or places with more “bargains”.

They will even claim that this or that place is closed but there’s another which they can bring you to.

If they discover that you are new to the city, they may bring you to a travel agency and offer to help you plan the rest of the trip.

A famous one is the TAT – Tourism Authority of Thailand. It’s bullshit, avoid at all costs unless you do not mind paying exorbitant sums for fake bus tickets, hotel bookings and even plane tickets.

The more scheming ones will bring you out of town / city / to somewhere secluded and then demand an exorbitant amount to send you back.

To top it off and make it even more authentic, sometimes the tuk tuk drivers will not suggest the places. Rather, they send you to a location and claim to go for a toilet break.

Next, a well dressed stranger will approach you from nowhere and share “insider tips” for where next to visit.

 

What to do:

Avoid tuk tuks, no matter how cheap or how sincere they seem.

 

2. Airport security theft

 

How it works:

Be it at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport or at the Phuket International Airport, there have been reports of theft both by luggage handlers and security staff.

 

What to do:

Ensure that your check-in luggage is secured and always check it when you arrive at your destination.

We recommend using additional TSA locks, luggage straps or cable ties. Note that even with these measures, your luggage can be broken into.

However, that’s not the aim. The aim is simply to deter thieves from targeting our luggage.

Most importantly, do not leave your valuables in your check-in luggage. Instead carry them in a money belt / hidden pouch or in a lockable anti-theft bag.

Finally, when leaving your valuables in a tray for the x-ray scan, do not lose sight of it

 

3. The khlong scam

Image source: Flickr – Fabio Achilli

 

How it works:

You will be approached on the streets by a friendly local, who starts making small talk with you.

Once you guys are buddies, he has a great deal for you. Why not take his friend’s longtail boat to explore Bangkok’s famous khlongs, at a price for locals which he can get for you?

So off you go and you have a hell of a time on the tour.

However, on the way back, the boat stops out in the middle of the river. Your new friends hand you a official looking price list, which is a few times more than the initially agree upon price.

If you don’t want to swim back to shore, the only way out is to pay whatever they demand.

 

What to do:

Whenever you are approached on the streets by an overly friendly local, do not let your guard down, especially if he has a great deal for you.

If you do want to do such a tour, check out legitimate operators or check with hotel / hostel.

Never accept a street invitation to head to a local bar or cafe. Test them by offering to bring them somewhere else instead.

If you want to try your luck, keep your valuables in the hotel safe, use a money belt / hidden pouch to hide whatever valuables you want to bring, and leave a little bit of cash in a cheap spare wallet which you can give up when threatened.

 

4. Gang at Hua Lamphong train station scam

Thailand train

 

How it works:

At the train station, an “official” looking person will approach and ask where you are going. He will then go to the counter, pretend to look through the system and tell you that your train has been fully booked.

Surprise surprise, he then offers you a great deal in that he knows a taxi driver who can get you to your location for a minimal cost.

However, should you accept the ride, more money will be demanded once you reach your destination. The more scheming ones will drive you to a secluded location and demand more money.

Another variation is that the “official” looking person will offer to help you book train tickets outside the station.

They bring you to a travel agent nearby, pretend to check with the train company via phone only to find that the train is fully booked.

They will then tell you your only option is to use a cab as aforementioned, on or one of their buses.

 

What to do:

“The train is full” should raise red flags in your mind instantly.

Check with the real staff in the station instead of a random stranger who approaches you.

 

5. Taxi scam

thailand taxi

 

How it works:

There are many ways rogue taxi drivers can scam you:

  • Claiming meter is broken and asking for an exorbitant flat fare
  • Aggressive touts at airports getting you into unofficial taxis for a seemingly cheap rate. These drivers will demand more money midway through the trip.
  • Claiming the fare is only for one person; claiming a fare for luggage in the boot
  • Shortchanging through sleight of hand or claiming no change

 

What to do:

Avoid taxis without meters, especially those with “broken” meters. If you have no choice, negotiate the price first. Make sure the price covers everyone, not only for one person.

For taxis with meters and which still try to negotiate a fixed price, never do so, unless you have already done your research and know what price to pay.

At the airport, take only the official taxis.

Also be wary of the final location which you end up in, as they might send you to a place with a similar sounding name where they can get a commission.

Also, do not reveal too much information and take advice or offers from the driver with a pinch of salt.

 

6. Motorbike scam

motorbikes in thailand

Image source: goingabroad.org

 

How it works:

The first variation is similar to the jet ski scam, but could be a whole lot more troublesome.

The second variation is much more treacherous. When you leave your motorbike parked and locked somewhere, the company will send someone with a spare key to unlock it and steal it back.

Then, you will be forced to pay for losing your motorbike.

 

What to do:

Do not hand over your passport as collateral when renting the motorbike.

A simple turnaround to this problem is to use an OLD passport or a photocopy of your passport.

Also, you can use your own padlock to secure the bike.

 

7. Overnight bus / train / private bus theft

Image source: wanderwithusdotcom1.wordpress.com

 

How it works:

Your belongings are at risk of being stolen on overnight buses or trains if not secured.

Some have even reported being drugged and losing their valuables when they woke up. Be wary if someone offers you food or drink, and keeps encouraging you to consume them.

Note that you can be a victim of theft even in the day, not just overnight!

 

What to do:

Do not expose your valuables in the public unnecessarily. Conceal them in a money money belt or hidden pouch.

Also consider using an anti-theft bag that is slash resistant and has a locking system which you can secure to an immovable object.

Beware of private bus companies with VIP buses. Theft is normal on these VIP buses and travel time takes longer than advertised.

 

8. Get off the bus scam

 

How it works:

While on the bus, a bus attendant will go to every row and shout at people to get off the bus.

He claims that there is a new bus station now that the bus is heading to, not to the old bus station that you think you are going to.

Should you get off the bus, you will find a friendly taxi driver approaching you. He claims that it is too late now to bring you to the bus station, but he offers to bring you to the nearest accommodation instead.

Should you do so, you will be paying an inflated price for the taxi ride there, the accommodation, and the taxi ride the day after to the bus station.

 

What to do:

Do not get off the bus, as you will be brought to your intended destination.

 

9. Cambodia Thailand border crossing scam

Image source: justapack.com

 

How it works:

If you were to take a tuk tuk or a taxi driven by a dishonest taxi driver, you will brought pass a large sign showing “Cambodian Consulate”.

You will then be dropped at large house where you can apply for a visa an inflated price.

Note that the “consulate” is fake – they will simply hand your forms over to the border crossing a mile away.

If you were to take a private minibus, there is a litany of scams which you can fall for.

Along the way, your driver will stop every 30 minutes to refuel. Why? As he has a partnership with the gas stations here to bring tourists to their convenience stores.

Next, you will be brought to a restaurant for a meal, and there will be a helpful Cambodian guide who hands out border crossing forms and visa application forms.

Of course, he will be charging an inflated fee to help you apply. If you do not, you are pretty much stuck at the restaurant.

Then, you will be brought to an ATM at a bank, and encouraged to withdraw Baht as the scammer falsely claims that there are only a few ATMs in Cambodia and those ATMs charge an outrageous fee!

The next stop, is the border crossing. The Cambodia guide will encourage you to pay a bit more to get into the VIP queue. This queue is real, but the scam lies in claiming that the regular queue will take much longer than in reality.

Once you pass the crossing, you will now be encouraged to change your Baht to Cambodian Riel at an obviously unfavourable rate.

You will also be constantly encouraged to take a taxi or a tuk tuk instead of the minibus, as they again falsely claim that the bus will take much longer than in reality.

 

What to do:

To spare yourself all these troubles, you can choose to fly, take the Thailand government bus (from Bangkok’s Mochit 2 Bus Station), a private vehicle and apply for a visa online.

If you find yourself at the fake consulate, refuse to apply for a visa there. Eventually, the driver will bring you to the real border crossing.

 

C. MISCELLANEOUS

1. Snatch thefts

 

How it works:

Unfortunately, snatch thefts have been becoming increasingly common in Thailand and there are endless variations.

One such is thieves on motorbikes driving up to you and snatching your valuables from you. This can be dangerous as you can also get dragged along the road at the same time.

Another variation is that of a simple snatch of your phone / jewelry from behind you, and then running into a getaway car to escape.

  • Restaurants seem to be a favourite place for these thieves, as victims are usually in a relaxed state.
  • A bag, wallet / purse or camera slung around the chair, or left on an adjacent seat are super easy pickings for thieves. The either steal it stealthily, or do a distract and grab.
  • Hotels are another as you will be carrying all your valuables out and are usually distracted while handling the registration process.
  • The seats beside a train’s doors are a great spot as well as the thief can time his escape perfectly just before the doors close.

A third variation could be a thief snatching your valuables through a car / bus window. It will be difficult to catch him, as your car / bus would not be able to reverse into oncoming traffic.

 

What to do:

Stay alert at crowded places, and even at seemingly safe places like at a restaurant or hotel:

  • Do not lay your valuables out on the table or expose them unnecessarily in public.
  • Keep your bags in your line of sight and as close as possible (e.g. on your lap when at a restaurant).
  • Ideally, use a money belt or hidden pouch to conceal your valuables securely.

 

While out walking / on a vehicle on the road or streets:

  • Watch out for motorcyclists who seem to tail you, especially if they have a pillion rider (accomplice).
  • Carry your valuables in a bag across your body with a cross body anti-theft bag, away from the road / windows of your car / bus.
  • Do not carry items in your hands such as a mobile phone when walking by the road or when beside the window in a car / bus.
  • Avoid wearing obvious jewelry which can be easily ripped off your body.

 

 

2. Bird shit / spilled liquid scam

 

How it works:

The bird shit scam is common around the world (e.g. Argentina, USA, etc), just in different forms (e.g. spilled liquid, mustard, sauce, etc).

This works surprisingly well, because when you are hit, your emotions take over and you become distracted.

While distracted, some stranger appears out of nowhere to help you clean up. In the confusion, he might steal your valuables, or let another accomplice do the job.

 

What to do:

If you find a liquid poured onto you, fend off anyone who tries to come near to help you.

The easiest solution though, is to simply use a money belt or hidden pouch and a lockable, slash resistant anti-theft bag to conceal your valuables securely.

 

3. Corrupted police

 

How it works:

It has been reported that there are corrupted police officers who hang around the Soi Cowboy area in Bangkok catching tourists who look high or motorists who look drunk.

They approach their target, ask if you have had drugs / have been drinking and demand that you do a pee test / breath analyzer test.

If you do not wish to do one, you will be hit with a fine of 20,000 Baht.

Most of the time however, if you are ever faced with one, it is for a traffic offence which you have probably not committed, such as driving too fast, changing lane too quickly, hogging the right lane, etc.

This can happen in Pattaya, Phuket, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai, really anywhere where tourists go.

A third variation, is if you were to go to a tourist establishment (e.g. diving school, bar) that does not keep up a regular bribe payment to the local police (corruption is endemic here).

If you are unlucky, corrupted police officers may target the establishment and you on the day that you are here.

 

What to do:

First, don’t do drugs. Next, don’t break the rules.

The thing is the police will not catch locals who break the rules. However, as a foreigner, the onus is on you not to break the rules and give them an excuse to fleece you.

If you are fined, there is really no way out, besides offering to pay a bribe that is less than the fine.

Avoid making these traffic offences which you can be fined for:

 

Image source: thaivisa.com

 

4. Fake police

Source image: thebigchilli.com

 

How it works:

This scam is common around the world (e.g. Malaysia, UAE, etc) but in different variations.

In Thailand, you will be approached by a fake police who will ask to see your passport. Something wrong will be found with your visa and you will be asked to pay a fine on the spot.

Another variation of this is the fake policeman targeting smokers at Sukhumvit Road and litterbugs at metro stations.

Should you be caught throwing a cigarette butt or basically any litter on the floor, even if by accident, the scammer will “issue” a huge fine of 2000 Baht to you.

 

What to do:

Ask for police identification and threaten to call the police hotline to verify (at the end of the article).

Also, do not hand over your passport, but only hand over a photocopy of the passport.

If you are still hounded, ask to only pay the fine at the police station. Find out from a local passerby or use Google maps to identify the nearest station.

In such cases, it is also useful to have a cheap spare wallet with little cash inside for daily transactions, while the rest of your valuables are hidden securely in your money belt or hidden pouch.

This way, the scammers might simply let you go since you do not seem to have much cash on you.

Even if not, you can simply give up that wallet or the cash in it with minimal loss to yourself and save a ton of trouble.

 

5. Timeshare scam

Image source: vacatia.com

 

How it works:

On the streets, you might find a stranger approaching you with a free scratch card or questionnaire. Since it’s free, or so you thought, you proceed to scratch the card or do the questionnaire.

Next thing you know you have won a prize!

However, to claim the prize, you have to head to a hotel which may or may not be nearby. Most tourists would probably have said thanks but no thanks.

However, the stranger will play the sympathy card and claim that if you don’t go, he would not be paid for doing his job.

So you go.. And you end up in a room with other tourists, listening to a presentation on timeshare apartments.

At the end, you are presented with a special discounted offer and pressured into buying. The timeshare scheme on offer probably does not exist by the way.

 

What to do:

Reject the “kind” offer.

 

6. Wrong change given scam

 

How it works:

This scam can happen anywhere as tourists are usually unfamiliar with the local currency. Some do not even bother checking their change.

 

What to do:

There are also of course, honest mistakes, but the onus is on you to check.

 

7. Home gambling / cards / poker / blackjack scam

 

How it works:

A stranger will approach and try to befriend you.

For instance, he may ask where you are from. It does not matter what you say, as he will say that he has a relative who is going there soon (for any reason such as studying).

Or he might share some other anecdotes (they have a template) to build rapport.

Once rapport is built, he will ask if you are willing to come over to his house to help his relatives with some questions. Some will invite you for a game of cards outright.

Either way, at the house, you will be pressured into playing poker or blackjack with them.

They will let you win the first few rounds, but the real fun begins as the stakes get higher.

Your losses start piling up and should you refuse to pay, gang members will appear and threaten your life.

 

What to do:

Never accept an invite to a stranger’s house, and be wary of over friendly local strangers.

 

8. Fake Baht scam

1000 baht

 

How it works:

This is how it usually goes – when you pay for an item, the shopkeeper may claim that your note is counterfeit.

He then brings it to the back / out of sight to swap with a counterfeit note!

He passes you the counterfeit note and demands another note. Should you pay, you will be paying double effectively !

 

What to do:

Never let any note get out of your sight. Also, be wary of the 1000 baht note as it is most commonly used.

Take note of the serial numbers of the large notes as well to ensure that your bill is not swapped.

 

9. Laundry scam

Image source: bicyclethailand.com

 

How it works:

Be careful where you send your laundry, as your (expensive) clothes might go missing and you get no compensations besides an apology.

But that’s just the first part of the scam.

The second part is that the laundry company will offer to bring you to a nearby apparel shop to replace the lost clothes.

Of course, they get a commission there.

 

What to do:

Send your laundry to your hotel / hostel or seek recommendations from them.

 

10. Hotel scams

 

How it works:

There are hotels which trade on the names of popular ones and cab drivers which are in cahoots to send you to a wrong hotel which you think is right.

By the time you realise, you might have already paid in full for the hotel and also a number of tours that you have signed up for.

 

What to do:

Always check that the hotel you’ve arrived at IS the one that you intend to stay at.

Even better would be to bring around a paper / card with your hotel’s name on it. Along the way, use the GPS on your phone to check that you are moving in the correct direction.

 

D. GETTING HELP

1. Emergency numbers to call

thailand tourist police

 

  • Tourist police: 1155
  • Police (general emergency call): 191
  • Ambulance: 1554
  • Fire: 199
  • Medical emergency call: 1669
  • Tourist service centre: 1672

Join the community!

Get protected!

95 Comments

  1. Scott J

    Hello, my wife and I recently got scammed by Nakorn Sawan Tailor trading as Dusit Collection. We took a Tuk Tuk to the Grand Palace where we were approached by a man who claimed that he was a government worker employed to protect tourists. He told us that the Grand Palace was open but as it was a Buddhist holiday, he recommended that we come back after 12pm (lunch time). He then asked if we had a map so that he could point out a few local temples that we could visit while we were in the area. We didn’t have a map so he kindly provided us with one and circled a few temples. Then he told us that we should hire a government Tuk Tuk which we could identify by their yellow number plates and that we should only have to pay about fifty bht fare for two hours. He asked us if we had heard about a special sale on television last night as, this week only, Thai export quality cashmere was available for purchase by the public. He circled a place on the map and said that he would tell the driver to take us there too. So we went to the temples one by one and at one of the temples we started talking to a budhist monk who seemed like a nice gentleman who told us that he was a banker and that he was here on his day off (it being the 8th day of the week and he, being Buddhist, would spend his time at the temple). He told us that just yesterday he had bought four suits as the cashmere was only available for purchase this week. We then went to the tailors, ordered two winter coats on the promise of an international deliver which never came. Our bank said that as we had no evidence of a non-delivery agreement, we could not get a refund of our purchase. So as a heads up, if you buy anything from Thailand on the promise of a delivery. Get a written non-delivery agreement(!) and pay with Visa.

    Reply
    • Tide Swell

      One born every minute. They really saw you coming, didn’t they? Talk about fresh off the boat.

      Reply
      • Daytrip

        What a legend you must be if you’ve never been scammed.

        Reply
    • Arthur

      Also at the airport there are private car or van services that will over charge. Take the metered taxi’s from the pools. Just be patient they go through the numbers quickly.

      Reply
    • Vincent

      With all these scams being run there is it honestly worth it to even go?

      Reply
      • LOL

        No, just stay home. If you want to see Bangkok use Google Earth where you can see everything, but not have to smell it or deal with shitheads everywhere. Plus, you get to keep all your money.

        Reply
    • Ariana

      We almost got skamed today a man approached us then he like where you from so we told him then he said where are you going grand place then he like no that close it open 1:00 we like ok but then he said you need long pants go to this market then my dad said to my mom don’t go she said we won’t ok she said but Neva went

      Reply
  2. dale

    So, just how do you pick a taxi?

    Reply
    • Lee

      I was scammed by taxis in Bangkok as well as in Phuket the first couple of times I went to Thailand.

      When choosing a taxi:

      1. Ask politely if s/he will use the meter. If s/he says no, find one that will. Or, if you know the price to where you are going, negotiate it before getting in.

      2. Beware of highway charges. One taxi driver insisted on taking the highway with me one time despite my wishes to take the local roads. At every toll gate, he shouted at me “100BAHT!!” (the actual toll was 20BAHT as shown on the sign).

      3. If you are backpacking and do not have a hotel reserved, NEVER tell the driver so. This happened to me in Phuket. I was taken off the highway (from the airport on the way to Patong beach) and into the jungle (seemed so at the time as it was night) to a tour agency. I was forced to take one of their expensive hotel packages in order to proceed.

      4. At the airport, only take the taxis that are at the taxi rank and where you buy the taxi ticket from the girl at the desk. I made the mistake of being impatient and flagging a taxi who was sitting on the road just away from the taxi rank. Once on our way, he proceeded to try to charge me triple the charge to downtown BKK from the airport or else drop me and my wife in the middle of the highway. I had to negotiate only paying double the real fare of 300BAHT at the time. (But, I asked my wife for all the coins she had and paid him with a large handful of coins, which I dropped on the ground in front of him when we got to the hotel 🙂

      Reply
      • JoAnne

        Thanks for this. We will be travelling to Thailand in December. And will be needing to take a taxi from the airport to our hotel. We will now known to be patient and wait for the rank taxis.

        Reply
        • global Travel

          beware as even the rank taxis that come in line in bangkok airport will try to cheat. if he refuses to put the meter, just go back to the booth, get another ticket and when your number appears take the new taxi. if they make a fuss do it again. I know this can be fastidious after a long flight, but you should give in to those thai taxi thieves who just rob foreigners as their government just ignores these forms of theft towards farangs and tourism will suffer.g

          Reply
      • Frans Goedhart

        The girls are replaced by printing machines. It will print a paper for you with the lane number where you can find your taxi waiting for you. If you drive ‘on meter’ 50 extra and toll fees, risk of traffic jam, (and tip) are for you. If you negotiate a price, everything is included.
        For example Suvarnabhumi – Pattaya: Meter 1250 + 50 + 60 + 50+ 100 tip = 1560.
        Last week I offered 1600 before turning on meter and that was accepted as a small present.
        € 40, US$ 45 for a 125 kilometer trip. No problem to make a stop halfway at a 7-eleven to buy something to drink/eat/smoke. Give the man 30 Baht extra for a meal and he will never forget you. Everybody happy.

        Reply
        • Dannyslonelyplanet

          nice one!

          Reply
        • Jay

          Or make a reservation upfront with one of the private taxi services like Cherry or Mr T . Taxiguy waiting for you at the meeting point , nice clean cars and 1000Bht all in from the airport to wherever you want to go in Pattaya .

          Reply
          • Kourosh Taraz

            Are you the taxi driver? It seems like a scam already

        • Tilly

          You paid too much. We pay 300 but to get from BKK to the Marriott near the rail station. We go to the fourth level of the airport and hail a cab that is dropping someone off. We have the hotel address in Thai and show it to the cab driver. When we find one that will accept 300 but, he gets our business. In the lobby, we hear tourists say they paid 3000 but for the trip from the airport. We never buy souvenirs in Thailand. We only take clothes from WalMart, no jewelry, no valuables of any kind. We only take carryon luggage and 2 changes of clothes, which can be washed in the sink at the hotel. We’ve travelled to 34 countries that way. Doing it that way, Thailand is our second favorite countries to visit. Argentina is first.

          Reply
    • Tide Swell

      Do your homework. Research, research and yet more research. A white face (or even every foreigner) is seen as a walking ATM in Thailand.
      NEVER, EVER forget that simple piece of advice.
      Capisce?

      Reply
      • Admin

        Absolutely!

        Reply
    • Jack

      1dont, use the sky train, local bus etc if you can
      2 if you use a taxi, agree a price before! They even put your suitcase in the boot, agree if the price includes toll fees or not ( if you ask it never will, so say including toll fees yes?)
      3 find out what the average price for the journey is eg bkk airport to nana 350b,

      4 When you get to your destination, grab your bags, give then the agreed money (NEVER give them before), if they start to argue, walk away. Make to too much hassel for them to chase you.
      5 when you get ripped off, and you will, put it down to experience, taxies cost a third of what they do at home, think about what you didnt follow above and learn from it

      Reply
    • Bella

      Note the phone number written on the taxi door. And also note the ID number of the taxi (inside, most of the time). If he refuses to turn on the meter (you can say ‘tick tick tick and point towards the meter), tell him you will call with a complaint, and call. 2 times I tried it, the taxi driver instantly agreed to turn on the meter. Apparently it is illegal for them to refuse in Bangkok. The airport may be different, especially ‘leaving’ the airport.

      Reply
  3. AJ

    Someone attempted to scam me at the airport, but thanks to this list I was wary and caught on fast. I’m very grateful, because it as late at night and could have been a real hassle! I arrived from another part of Thailand into Bangkok, exhausted, at the airport at 10:30 pm. The last buses (2 airport buses and one city bus) from the airport to my hotel area were at 11pm, according to the website, which, if you have traveled in Thailand much, you knows means diddly-squat. Small window to catch a ride on a bus, especially when new to the area, the buses, and not speaking Thai, and likely being misled by the website. I followed the signs to public transportation, but there was no clear bus stop. A friendly looking woman approached me and asked where I needed to go (she was talking loudly with many people, appeared to be directing tourists, and was wearing “official” looking clothing). When I told her my destination, she said the was no more public bus, only the airport bus. She said it would come at 11:30, and pointed the opposite direction from where the signs had pointed. I asked her 2 more times: where is the airport bus stop? She smiled and pointed at the far end of the terminal. I began walking that direction, but sought out more opinions. I chose a couple passengers, and a real traffic cop, and a security guy. The woman had pointed me in the wrong direction on purpose. I was standing at the bus stop when I asked, and she tried to get me to walk away, telling me the bus came at 11:30 so I would feel I had plenty of time. Obviously she was with the cab companies. By misdirecting me, I would have missed my 11pm 30 baht airport bus, and would have been forced to take a cab to the tune of 800 baht. I didn’t even get annoyed, because thanks to reading this, I had seen it coming and had not been inconvenienced. I turned around, walked back to the correct stop where I had been 2 minutes before, and the bus arrived shortly, and I made it to my hotel. Ask around! Be wary of people who approach you! Don’t take one person’s word for anything ( sometimes they are quite honest but just don’t understand you). Leave plenty of time when you are booking your transportations and connections. Have a backup plan. Make sure you have a smartphone and download maps and all your emergency info and have a good SIM card with data and calli so you can reach your hotels and get assistance if needed. Write down or memorize the Thai 911. Be smart, act savvy, and things go smoothly!

    Reply
  4. steve p

    Just been approached in mbk centre. Firstly by a woman who said she loved my wifes dress. She then went on to say that some great shopping centre was having a tax free day. She asked what hotel we were staying in. We walked a bit further down and was approached by another guy who said he worked at our hotel and recognised us. He had an hour to spare as his wife was getting her hair doneand would we like to go to the same shopping centre that the girl mentioned earlier. This was a scam and i picked up on it immediatly. The girl had phoned him and told him which hotel we were staying in. He did not work for the hotel and was somehow going to rip us off. It was funny that he would not let me take his picture. Take care in thailand if someone approaches you and tries to be friendly its usually a scam.

    Reply
    • Dannyslonelyplanet

      I am going to try the picture taking thing! haha Hilarious!

      Reply
  5. karen

    Just back from bkk on 6th jan. My family of 4 uber everywhere we go. Rates from hotel in pratunam to JJ weekend is 113 baht, to union mall is only 93 baht, from central world n mbk back to hotel is only 65 baht! We totally gave up opening taxi doors to ask for metered fare which never seems to exist!

    Reply
    • Admin

      That’s a brilliant alternative as well, thanks for sharing Karen!

      Reply
    • Dick H.

      Were Uber drivers available very late at night? My plane lands at 3am and I was planning to use Uber, but I was unsure just how much of a chance I had to catch a ride around 4am!

      Reply
      • Tushar Jha

        Yes. Uber cabs are available at any time. I always use Uber cabs in Bangkok no matter what. Convenient & Hassle-free ride with Uber is a bonus for Tourists in Bangkok.
        In case you see long waiting time for a Uber Cab, then go fare estimate section in Uber Cab App in order to ascertain the Uber Fare. Then ask any metered taxi driver to turn on the meter and take you to your destination at the Price mentioned in Uber Fare Estimator. Taxi-Driver won’t agree at first but if you offer 20-30 Bahts above the estimated Uber fare, they will agree after 10-15 minutes of Haggling.

        Reply
        • Admin

          That’s a good tip, thanks Tushar!

          Reply
    • Debbue

      That is the most honest and cheapest way? There is Uber in Thailand?

      Reply
      • Vual

        In 7 years living in Thailand on and off, I’ve never had these troubles. Maybe some people just attract scammers.

        Reply
    • Karthi

      hai, how did you use uber there? I have installed uber but i live in malaysia. So when i get the there, how to adjust it?

      Reply
  6. sovann

    The van driver stole my JBL Charge 2+ speaker from my unlock luggage. The situation was simple, there were few luggages loaded to the van especially they should keep at the back but mine was keep close to the driver at the front seats where there were no passengers in front, one the way he complained this and that to make us focus on his problem, traffic but we lost focus than can be one option he could steal my speaker, second, he ask all passengers to take a rest for 15 minutes out of the van, that was also the time when they can easily steal our thing.

    Careful, please lock your luggage at all time when travel
    Do not buy bus/ van ticket or any kind of service from ” Tourism Information” wherever if it’s located in the hotel or whatever ! http://www.richardbarrow.com/2013/05/when-is-a-tourist-office-not-a-tourist-office/ Scame!

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Sovann, thanks for sharing! Sorry to hear that, but this is a great reminder for us to always remain careful even for such kinds of “routine” situations

      Reply
  7. Ali

    Well I will like not to go there anymore lot of options in the world now. If we all start doing this it will send a great reminder to authorities and a simple strong action against such people look like to be long due.

    I know after reading lot of articles but issue is does not look like to be safe for family or friends you travelling with. I will prefer to travel locally than to go to Thailand now.

    Reply
    • Narae

      True. Will not come back since I found out so many scams including that I got yesterday. They need to know that all the scams they did will hurt themselves one day.

      Reply
  8. RAJIV

    I WITH MY FRIENDS WENT TO PAT PONG night market.on 22 april 2016..ONE PERSON APPROACHED US to watch sex show for 50 BAHTS PER PERSON WITH A FREE DRINK….AND SAID.. IF U DON’T LIKE, DON’T PAY. WE WENT IN A SHOW AND DRINK 4 BEERS BY 4 PERSONS. AND DURING THE SHOW, THEY DEMAND TIP..WE PAID. AND WE were not FEEL Comfortable WITH THE GIRLS. AND THEY DEMAND 6600 BAHT INSTEAD OF 200 BAHT. THEY ANGRY AND SAID WRONG WORDS. WE IMMEDIATE PAID 6600/-.. SO BE AWARE..DON’T GET INVOLVE IN PAT-PONG SEX SHOWS..

    Reply
    • Admin

      Hi Rajiv,

      Thanks for sharing! Totally, these scammers love to promise something and not honour their word, be in at the red light district or even in everyday life, such as when dealing with taxi or tuk tuk drivers.

      Reply
  9. Darren C

    Credit card fraud is a major worry for anyone using their credit card online. You may be booking your hotel over a bogus or unsafe wifi network, or even a bogus hotel booking site. So it’s best to use it as little as possible.

    It is possible to completely book your hotel without a credit card, via a reputable and globally recognized booking site. If that interest you, read this guide . http://www.pattayaunlimited.com/thailand-hotel-booking-without-credit/

    Reply
    • Admin

      Thanks for sharing Darren!

      Reply
    • Shabs

      Well that’s just a terrible tip. US personal credit cards have $0 liability coverage. So if someone steals your card info, you don’t have to pay for it. Also chargebacks to a card is much easier than if you pay cash. Not to mention those sweet rewards you get.

      Reply
      • Bella

        Now, what happens if your card is known to have been compromised, will you be able to receive your new credit card in Thailand? Doubt it. Maybe the points aren’t worth it after all?

        Reply
  10. Khun Greg

    I hear the Grand Palace is closed scam every time I go there. They play announcements about this scam near the Grand Palace now. One scammer tried telling me it was closed while the announcement was clearly playing.

    Taxis refusing to use their meters happens sometimes in Bangkok too. I had one pick me up, and tell me it was 100 baht minimum charge as he drove off. I told him no meter 35 baht minimum. He argued with me for 2 – 3 miles before turning on. So I got the first 2 miles free that day.

    Bangkok is a safe place, and I never felt threatened, or in danger, but you do need to be street smart.

    Never tell anybody that it is your first time there. Always say you have been there many times, and have many friends that live there when asked.

    Happy Travels

    Reply
    • Admin

      Thanks for sharing Khun!

      Reply
    • Stan

      Unfortunately we did not hear the announcement.

      After me and my wife got scammed.

      I call this name of this city as SCAMKOK

      Reply
      • Khun Greg

        Stan don’t let this experience leave you with bad feelings about Bangkok.

        There is so much to see, and enjoy there.

        I have noticed the scam artists are mostly near the Grand Palace, and Pat Pong. I have learned to ignore them.

        For a great Seafood dinner in Bangkok check out the Bangkok Seaview restaurant.

        I take a taxi with my Thai girlfriend to a boat dock, than we take a boat to the restaurant. It is on stilts in the water. Bring a camera!!!

        Reply
        • Admin

          Many thanks for sharing Khun!

          Reply
    • Laura

      Thanks for sharing this info Khun!

      Reply
  11. Nailah

    I was scammed at a foot reflexology spot in Koh Chang. My friend and I went into the place, had our foot massages, which were horrible by the way and when it was time to pay my wallet was missing. At first, I thought I was crazy thinking maybe I left it in the hotel or something. Then I realized my bag was moved to the floor next to my chair when I came in by the girl that gave me my massage. I was yelling and screaming at them and I even went in their back room to find the girl who was nowhere to be found. I spoke to the manager and he said that he was confident she didn’t take it. I’m sure they were all in on it. They got away with over 10,000 baht and my credit cards and drivers liscense. I was devastated. Always keep your bag close to you!
    Lastly, be careful in your hotel rooms. I had a friend that was in Phuket sleeping in her room and when she woke up all of their purses and passports were missing. They couldn’t figure out how the person got in without them hearing them. I’m pretty sure they were drugged. I heard they sometimes use a spray that puts you to sleep. What a nightmare.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Argh, I would flip if I was in that situation as well. sucks to be a victim of theft. Good to be extra cautious in a foreign land. Thanks for sharing Nailah! I hope future experiences will be much better for you!

      Reply
    • Frans Goedhart

      “I was yelling and screaming”.
      Absolutely wrong. Stay polite, keep smiling, ask for the manager, tell him that one of the girls might accidentally has moved your bag or wallet to a place you don’t know, and ask him for some cooperation to find it back.
      No guarantee ofcourse, but starting yelling and screaming reduces your changes to zero immediately in Thailand.

      Reply
    • gooftroop

      about probable drugging in hotel room and being cleaned out.not always locals.I personally stood one day at my hotel room balcony and noticed a very thin european young girl climbing over the balcony into another room.she was very athletic.so my opinion is you should not leave your room windows open/balcony door while away.thought I might share with yourselves.

      Reply
  12. Beonca

    Don’t take the floating market tour they make you pay to shop at super expensive prices

    Reply
  13. Andy

    It’s a fee that some hotels impose if one or more UNREGISTERD guests stay overnight in your room. Depending on the hotel, the fee can range from several hundred baht to 1,000 bahtor more. While you can enounter joiner-fee scams, a joiner fee isn’t always a rip-off. It’s a policy decision by the hotel to discourage guests who are likely to bring back P4P providers to their rooms.

    Reply
  14. Aisha

    Some one at Infront of central world robbed my husband’s money. He was asking where are you from ? And we asked him where is he from . He said he is from Dubai. And asked us to show our local currency and while my husband took his wallet, he kind of grabbed half of the usd’s to his hand . And another guy approached me, ( asking me about food ) so I was distracted. The guy who was talking to my husband grabbed 1400$ . Pls be aware , tourists .

    Reply
    • Admin

      Sorry to hear that, thanks for sharing Aisha!

      Reply
    • Azeem

      Ran into a guy claiming to be from Makkah trying to do exactly that. my parents had faced a similar incident earlier. Being wise to it i dodged.

      Reply
    • Thayne

      All my valubles stay in the hotel safe but I carry a flip belt that is almost invsabe to everyone around me. I keep a bulk of my cash in that along with a copy of my passport and a credit card for emergency’s. No more then 1000 BHT in my pocket at one time. If I need more money I take a trip to the bathroom to retrieve it. It allows me to nagotate prices better when I show such little cash and remove myself from thing I have no Interst in buying, “sorry I’d love to but I only have enough money for a taxi fare and some food”. It’s been a great tool for traveling.

      Reply
  15. Frans Goedhart

    Taximeter from airport Suvarnabhumi are allowed to charge 50 Bath extra by government. So that has nothing to do with a scam.
    If you want a taxi from Pattaya to Suvarnabhumi, you will pay about 1000 Baht, which is 200 – 300 Baht LESS then on the meter. So sometimes negotiating is interesting.
    About all of the mentioned scams can happen all over the world. It is good to be aware of them, stay alert, but don’t expect that everyone will try to scam you.
    It may take weeks before you are confronted with one of the mentioned practices. The problem, in my opinion, is that it is so UNcommon, that you might not be that alert after a few weeks without any problem.

    Reply
    • Admin

      Good point, thanks for sharing Frans!

      Reply
  16. Afzal Zaheer

    Hi,
    Thanks for enlightening us with the world of scams happening in different parts of the globe. Quite like what I faced in Thailand, when after descending from TUkTUk, I happen to take out 500 note, and within few second, the driver asked me to pay another 450. Well,he said he only got 50 initially, so he wanted the remaining. I was so confused and tired at that time, that I believed him, but later on I realised, that I was scammed.

    I have also mentioned different scams in my blog

    http://socialchaal.com/2016/09/28/top-16-travel-scams-of-2016-and-how-to-avoid-them/

    Reply
  17. Yerso

    PLEASE BE AWARE: of the Vallet employees at hotels.

    Went to thailand and stayed at a Hansar hotel (a good brand name hotel). I ask the vallet employees where the best way to get to the floating market. He states he knows a travel agency that can arrange a shuttle to the floating fish market for a cheap price flat (1200 baht)- not sure if this is cheap but the travel time was about 1-1.5 hours from bangkok so seemed reasonable and it will also include a stop at the train market. Once agreed with “Jacky” the next day – the “shuttle” shows up which is pretty much a taxi….. An hour and a bit – into the trip we get to the “main floating market stop” this is the first stop the driver brought us to and we thought it was the only one. The prices to enter the market on a little private boat was over 4000 baht (approximately 150USD) – this includes a trip to see a sugar cane factory (just big pot with sugar cane) and the big and small market). At first i thought it was ridiculously expensive but you will see other tourist family who are being scammed to also pay the crazy fees – so you end up agreeing and thinking its reasonable. YOU ALSO DON’T KNOW THIS IS THE ONLY DOCK SO YOU THINK TRAVELING FOR 1.5 HRS you must pay the fee as you worked so hard to get there already.

    BEAWARE: IF YOU DONT HAVE ENOUGH MONEY THEY WILL TELL YOU THERE IS AN ATM IN THE FLOATING MARKET SO THEY WILL TAKE YOU THERE TO GET MORE MONEY IF YOU DONT HAVE ENOUGH. At the end of the day due to MY bad planning – I realized there was a offical dock stop for entering the market at prices of 30-50 Baht at the most – which you can ask the driver to speicically go to…..Please do not fall into this trap as many of the taxi drivers/vallet employees are all into the SAME scam to make you pay the most expensive fees to get to tourist attractions such as the floating market.

    ….I soon realized that day after the TAXI driver was a security guard of another hotel down the road – WHOM MOST LIKELY WAS PALS WITH THE VALLET EMPLOYEES AT MY HOTEL.

    Reply
    • Admin

      woah! damn, sorry to hear that, many thanks for sharing Yerso. This is definitely a decently well thought out trap for unsuspecting tourists :/

      Reply
    • Afzal Zaheer

      See, they kept on increasing the price.
      Do these scammers think us fools or what?
      Time to take action as I have also been a victim of the same

      Reply
  18. Francois Williams

    I strongly advise everyone to NEVER visit Thailand but rather go to Philippines, the REAL land of genuine smiles!! I stopped going to Thailand ten years ago…at that point over several trips there I had been drugged – lost 1000 USD – been threatened with a gun in the face twice, and 3 of my friends who have died unnaturally there, including one blatant murder on the BIG scam you never mentioned, the train between BKK and Laos where the train attendants are a big gang ripping off foreigners and even killing them if you should resist…stay outta that hole@!!!

    Reply
    • Marcell

      Killing, are you serious?

      Reply
    • Kenji

      I completely agree with this, he’s not joking. The best way not to be scammed in Thailand is by not being there. I felt lucky to make it out alive and in one piece after facing similar threats.

      Reply
  19. Karen

    Came back yesterday from a 3 day trip , got almost every scam in the city …. until I grimas and told the tuk tuk driver I was not going to any Taylor shop!!! I am sooo angry to be reading my own story!! Temple scan? Check
    Tuk tuk scan? Check
    Restaurants scan? Check
    Trade export scan? Check
    Almost all of them, feeel so stupid, is like a conspiracy thing they have going on… like a triangle of scams

    Reply
  20. Richard Parker

    I visit Bangkok practically every year. Here’s my tips to avoid being scammed:
    1. Book your hotel near a Skytrain station. Then use the Skytrain from the main airport to your hotel. It’s not complicated and there is help at the station.
    2. Shop at malls near Skytrain Stations
    3. Don’t engage in polite conversation with “helpful” people in the street
    4. Use the ATMs inside and outside banks
    5. Book your hotel directly with the hotel or something like Booking.com
    6. Book train tickets at the official ticket counter.
    7. Signs reading “Tourist Information” do not belong to the official tourist authority. They are just folks trying to sell you something.
    8. Give the taxis and tuk-tuks a miss. Use Uber or the local alternative called Go Taxi (get the app).
    9. Finally, shop at places with fixed prices. Haggling is not fun — and you will lose.

    Thailand is a great place to visit if you use common sense. I have never felt unsafe there.

    Reply
  21. John Hagen

    I must warn everyone about a massage shop in Patong.
    It is called Tantawan Massage & Beauty.
    I have been visiting Thailand for a while now and thought I was up to speed with all the scams.
    I met a girl who worked in the massage shop and we started dating about 6 months after I met her.
    Her name is Jinnaree Kongsin, Em is her nickname.
    We dated for months then got engaged.
    I paid for all her expenses and would go back every month.
    Then I found out she was engaged to someone else as well and he was paying all her expenses too.
    I approached the shop owner and asked why did she not tell me Em was engaged as I thought we were friends.
    The answer I received was this.
    ” Yes we lied to you , so what ? ”
    So even if you think you are being careful and take things slowly they will still find a way.
    It’s a shame that the bad few gives Thailand a bad reputation.
    They have ten girls working in this shop and they all helped to keep the scam going.
    So beware of Tantawan Massage & Beauty.
    Soi Patong Tower

    Reply
  22. Simon

    Writing this from my hotel room in Bangkok. Variation on the Taxi scam: had our hotel call a taxi for us to the Grand Palace. About 5mins into the trip the driver says bad accident, he heard on the radio, much traffic, take 3 hours to get there. I take you to boat, no traffic. Of course we tried to find alternatives but in the end language was the issue. He dropped us in a Soi on the river with travel agents booking tours. I clocked it straight away, and took my wife by the hand and walked past a line of others either leaving angrily or being dropped off.(The real pier was 300m away) As we were leaving a young couple told us they were charging 2000 baht for tours. When we got to the real pier another couple tried to sell tours, then two guys waving red/green flags told us pier is closed and several boats went past. Frustrated we walked the additional 500m to the next pier and paid 16 Baht each for the boat. We were lucky as we were only scammed out of 20mins of time…That said the other 3 taxi drivers we have had have been friendly and professional. Will I take a taxi tomorrow? Probably.

    Reply
  23. Kerry

    Taxis in Bangkok are horrible. It was so hard to find any taxi that had a ‘working’ meter. We had to bargain about the fair just to get anywhere. it was such a relief to go back to Vietnam. If people scam you here, it’s only for small change and most taxis use their meter. Bangkok hadn’t changed for the better in any way since I was last there.

    Reply
    • Bella

      Taxi drivers legally have to use a meter. Call the phone number on the side of the car and make a complaint against the driver. Better yet, tell driver you’re doing this, and his meter will magically start to work right away. This was a tip from a travel book, tried it twice, worked both times. What they are doing is illegal and against their company’s policy, and they will get in trouble if you report them.

      Reply
  24. kerry

    Sorry, I meant ‘fare’

    Reply
  25. RT

    When people will realise that Thailand is the biggest scam land and fake people on earth? It’s all about dirty money and ways how to get it from you or any other visitor. There are better alternatives in this world.
    Boycott Thailand

    Reply
  26. Annie

    Out of MRT station Hua Lamphong I tried to take a Tuk Tuk to the Grand Palace, one person in the street going to his job gently started to explain us that traffic is terrible at that hour and that we should take a boat and that it will only cost us 150 baht to the Grand palace. He told us to get a Tuk Tuk and go to pier number 2 Wat Muang Kae. Tuk Tuk driver was two meters away and tolds us the exact fare (30 baht) the man already mentioned us (which was the first alarm, because Tuk Tuk drivers see you as foreign and try to charge 100baht as minimum for short rides). When we arrived at the pier it wasn’t N2, it was a private pier, and they told us it will cost 1200 baht per person to get to the Grand palace. We try to walk direct to the pier to get a public boat and they got aggressive saying it was a pier with only private tours. We didn’t pay and we left. The real pier N2 was a block away.

    Reply
  27. victor

    Scams are not only limited out there on the streets of Pattaya.Online bookings has its own too.I booked tickets for Tranny shows.The van showed up and the driver said that we’re not paid.So we paid this asshole thinking that the paypal will take care of refunding our money.So the show ends,i checked paypal if they have refunded, but no.So i realized that i have been scammed.The moral story here do not trust any one on the street.If they approach just keep walking fast.Do not smile at the locals,For women,do not walk around with nice hand bags.Always have your exact change fare ready when riding baht-bus.Almost all locals who hang around the beach knows each other.When they know your new or have money they would follow you thru a series of cell phone callings with their buddies spread all over the beach.You can be as far away as 5miles but you’re still under their track.Always change clothes everyday,wear different hats everyday as much as u can so wont be followed around.Keep a low profile.

    Reply
    • gooftroop

      thailand is not that bad.1 out of 10 is perhaps rotten.just be cautious as you would be anywhere in unfamiliar terretory.if you behave stupid,stupid things will happen.nuf said

      Reply
  28. Ken G

    On March 1st 2017, 11 pm, a Thai guy followed me from behind and did a surprise lightening speed move and grabbed my upper arm with military force. He looked like a martial art guy, wearing a white t shirt. It was well lit and people around 10 meters away on Silom road. He was yelling Passport, Passport. I was dumbfounded and I was extremely shocked of this violence like never before. He wont let me go and kept asking me the passport. Just 20 meters from Crowded Patpong, 15 meters from a night time Police check point. I said PP in hotel and asked him to come. He walked with me 4 meters, BTW my hotel was just 10 meter from the place of occurrence. He found some excuse when I said I am Canadian and left me. This happened By soi 6 and silom about 10 meters away. I was trying to find some food. He also asked me what was I doing there? Thought Thailand was a free country to walk around. I am wrong. Things are changing fast. Take care when you here.

    Reply
  29. Ken G

    The also showed me a Thai Immigration ID, similar to FBI id in movies. A nice shiny metallic plated id. That made me asked him to come to hotel to show him the passport.

    Reply
  30. Steve

    Hi !
    A woman From Cambodia who scammed me made several frequent trips to Thailand to meet other men for money for prostitution in Thailand as part of sex trade industry there.
    was scammed by well known Internet Scammer Thavra Pich AK Thavra Choun, It was a advanced marriage Scam with the whole family involved in this in fact she has multiple facebook accounts on the Facebook with Different names.I had legal engaged with all cultural and legal protocols witnessed by the family and community . During the time we were engaged to be married I found out she was having relations with 3 different men in the time frame . From all the internet activity of scams she does she has had multiple cars during this time frame.I was applying for a fiancee visa to take her to the US the whole things was advanced scam put on by her and her family.I hired investigators to bust her for this scam

    Reply
  31. Casaporn Bob

    From all the stuff one reads here, and having experiences cheats who try to ripoff foreigners, my final recommendation would be to fully avoid Thailand, as the country is getting bad to worse If you enjoy lovely beaches try the other asian countries around, but avoid Thailand.

    Reply
  32. John

    Reading these comments gives the impression that everyone in Thailand is trying to rip off the foreigners. This is very far from the truth. There are specific things to try to avoid or to be wary about. I have been ripped off more in all other Asian countries that I have visited, mainly because a reliance is made upon the completely rediculous price expectations for things that tourists have. For example, many westerners will think that paying around forty to sixty Euros a night, sounds reasonable for reasonably OK accommodation, outside of a Capital city, of a room with basic amenities and bathroom. Wrong! Correct price should be around 12 Euros. This scam is FAR, FAR more evident in the Phillipines, Cambodia and Indonesia. The same vous for food. Twenty Euros for a nice meal is NOT reasonable. One Euro is reasonable. Again, Thailand is perhaps the least likely country to scam you on this one. In all Asian countries you can be scammed at Airports and bus stations by taxi and motorbike taxi people. Other Asian countries are far WORSE than Thailand for this. People think that Thailand is worse because the driver changes the price after starting the journey or some other obvious tactic to increase the price by perhaps around 30 percent. In many other countries they will charge you three, four or ten times the correct price and be proud of achieving it because you are a foreigner. Biggest problems in Thsiland are no 1. Local builders 2. Foreign owned and managed legal companies and the like ( resputable Thai run services are more trustworthy ) 3. Girls from bars who agree to certain sexual activities when in the bar, with no intention of doing such things, who when you go back to your hotel room will start to scream at you angrily that they will basically do nothing and that you have to pay them of they will make make trouble for you. I have travelled quite extensively through Asia and find the challenges far less in Thailand. Vietnam you will get charged orders of magnitude more for standard route bus tickets and bottles of drinking water from a shop. The Phillipines and Cambodia, accommodation priced at five times a reasonable amount. The Phillipines, Loas, Cambodia motorbike or Tuk Tuk prices up to TEN times the correct fare ( please do not reference Tuk Tuks in Bangkok as a comparison, as these are NOT a form of local transport, just as the Loch Ness Monster is not a genuine form of fish and chips. Only the really nieve get caught with that one!). As far as ” I thought she loved me ” stories are concerned, if someone is asking for something different than what is being made available, disappointment should be expected. It is as true for ordering roast chicken from an Ice Cream shop as it is for requesting a wife from Phuket.

    Reply
    • Jake

      these are the same scams I encountered in Europe 15 years ago. The same naysayers tell you to just stay home. Educate yourself first. Be smart about your cash, passport, and belongings second. And third have fun telling the scammers you are not interested. After a few scammers have approached you, They will be easy to spot and you can avoid them altogether. Remember they work in groups. Don’t make yourself an easy target, and you should be fine.

      Reply
  33. Octaviani

    For the first since I’ve been in Phuket I got scammed and harassement. I was using a motorbike to phuket old town from where I stay. And also try to use the same one as I want to go back. I was thinking to use a taxi to go back. But, when I walk on the side of the road, suddenly one motorbike stop in front of me and ask me where I am going. And I told him the place where I stay. And he ask me how much did I pay before, and I told him It was 50 baht when I came here. He said ok, and ask me to hop in to the bike. I ask a helmet from him and he say sorry he forgot to bring it, and I ask is it ok to ride without helmet, and he say ok. He was so bad in driving. I think he was drunk. The way was one way , but he against the direction, he drive so fast and kept moving the bike. Half of the way, he blamed me that I am the one who kept moving. I told him, I AM NOT. I just sit as he was driving. And he was angry and shout at me. I just silent, then almost near my apartment he did it again, and told another vehicles behind us that I am the one who cause the bike moving like that. He was shout at me and ask me to go down. And I did go down. He shout at me to pay, and I did pay him 50 baht. And he shout at me to say sorry, and I did say sorry because I don’t want to cause any problem. Then I across the road, and suddenly he took the picture of me. And I realize it since everyone look at me. I run as fast as I can to my apartment and met my landlord of my apartment. I can’t handle myself and traumatized, I have no clues why he did it like that. I should have took his picture and report to the police. Such a big regret. This is the reason why it’s not easy for tourist to use public transportation in Thailand. Even though not every driver will act like that, but as I did traveling I saw a lot of tourist got scammed as they traveling. I wish this will never happen to anyone else who like to traveling. What a shame.

    Reply
  34. Rajitha

    If you still visit after reading these comments (not the post),
    You pay for Flight/Hotel/Food to goto a scared city hahaha… Not to have a free time but to always stay aware from these idiots.

    Reply
  35. isaacpeters147@gmail.com

    in my case i lost money to some fake online binary merchant but with the help of a refund expert i was able to recover my money.

    Reply
  36. Tg

    Oh wow, I really got drawn into all these stories… For the first time traveller to Thailand, still do go, as this – to my experience from about seven trips to Thailand – is only happening to a very small portion of tourists and can easily be avoided. Being tall, blond and pale I surely fall into the target group for tourist scams, with some luck indeed, and being wary of bad people who want to approach me, i had no trouble whatsoever (just politely say no and walk away, and do not do anything you would not feel comfortable with in your home country either, like showing all your money to a stranger on the street?!?).
    And for scams in the red light zones, well, if you go to dodgy places dont complain if dodgy things happen… So better stay away from there in the first place!

    Reply
  37. Sam Hayman

    Money Stolen from In Room Safe Scam :

    $100 Australian dollars was stolen from the in room safe between 13th – 23rd Feb this year 2018. I stayed in room 608 at Somerset Park Sathorn, Bangkok.

    On the evening of the 22nd i contacted guest services as i couldn’t access the safe using the password i had entered which i found strange as its the same as my keycard which i have used for more than 8 years. Someone came to my room and unlocked it for me however the password displayed was wrong so it must have been changed.

    I took a photo of the money before i left arrived in Bangkok as proof.

    I can only assume whoever knew how to unlock the safe has stolen the money and continues to steal because they get away with it because they know the mastercode http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/hotel-room-safes-master-code-default-override-hack-security-thieves-use-a8177831.html

    Reply
  38. Harry Greene

    Avoid tuk tuk drivers like the plague. They are without doubt the most unhelpful form of transport anywhere in the world. Use one of the ride share apps available instead.

    Reply
  39. Dionne

    Travelers going to Thailand be aware of those scams above. I regret I didn’t have time to read those reminders.
    We had a very bad experience in Thailand.
    Entering their border via Poipet-Ayanpratet took us almost 4 hours to get out from their immigration. We thought that’s the worst experience in Thailand. As we pass departure scanner, an officer stop one of our friend telling that there is packed cigarettes in her baggage even though she doesn’t smoke. They forced her to open the bag and see no cigar. All they saw are 6 Kipling bags (gift for family), coffee,souvenir and clothes. They took all the bags.
    It took us 5 hrs going to Bangkok. We look for the hotel (near Khaosan) where we were booked but it was a crappy shit when we get there!!
    The next day, we planned to tour the city. We walk through the streets,then one tuk-tuk driver approach us and offer to accompany us. He brought us to a temple. They have an accomplish at the temple promoting the products in Thailand like ruby and sapphire jewelry. This tuk-tuk driver brought us to the jewelry store and we were greeted by friendly personnels offering drinks. We spent 260$ just for small piece of sapphire in silver ring for my wife. They also tried to force to buy one for me around 650$ but I declined.
    The driver also brought us to a tailor shop and the personnels convince me to get a suite which I think very pricey. I told them, I don’t wear suits. T-shirts are enough.
    The experience with the tuk-tuk diver had only sit in mind upon reading this web page that it was a scam.
    Exiting Thailand is also heart nerving. You don’t know if you will be left behind there after what we’ve gone through. It’s only after passing their immigration our heart stops pounding so fast. At last I’m heading to my country.
    I’ve been to Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore,Saudi Arabia, Qatar and only Thailand gave me night mares on travelling.

    Fellow travelers don’t include Thailand in your lists. Maybe if you really want to visit Thailand at least be informed.
    I don’t intend destroying the reputation of Thailand but at least give warning also to travelers. It is a wake up call for their authorities to stop such kind of scams destroying the whole country.
    Thank very much.

    Reply
  40. struan bray

    I lived in Chiang Mai for 2 years and toured up to Mai Sai and then to Udon Thani and up to Nong Khai and not once did I have any trouble on the road or trains or buses and walked back to my apartment off Chiangpuak Road at 2 AM with no problem. That’s why you don’go to places like Phuket, you only see the seedy side of Thailand the same if you went to Kings Cross in Sydney , Australia.

    Reply
  41. Ross

    This is a racist place. They hate westerners and will rip you off at every turn. So many good places in Asia and elsewhere. Go somewhere else.

    Reply
  42. Ross

    Rock hotel is a scam. Charged 4350 baht for damage to towels and linen. A tenth of that would have been reasonable. Thailand, never again.

    Reply
  43. C-LN

    I have been to Thailand 3 times and I have been a victim of the Tuk-Tuk scam, the tailor scam, and now the “short changing” of the bill scam. These scams are now ubiquitous and leave such a bad taste in my mouth, unfortunately, it makes me not want to return anymore. Fortunately, while we did fall for “the palace is closed today” story, we did not buy any “tailored clothes” from the shop we were rerouted to. Being rerouted in a tuk-tuk is a waste of precious vacation time.

    We were short-changed in the hotel (IDLE RESIDENCES). We paid a 120 baht bill with a 1000 note and we were given change as if we had given a 500 note! When I turned to count, I immediately called after the room service attendant (MR. NATTHAPOL) but he was long gone. I called the hotel front desk immediately to report it. I was first told by the front desk manager (MR. KAEWLAMOL) I would be refunded the money, but as I waited in the lobby to be paid, the manager then called to say he will not pay back the money “stolen”. While it may seem like a small amount of money, it never feels good to be the victim of crime, even petty scams like this.

    Reading this article and all of the comments made me feel a bit better, knowing these scams are occurring every day targeting tourists, but the sheer frequency of these scams makes Thailand one of my least favorite places to travel. I let my guard don for just a moment and I fell victim. I am an experienced traveler and am kicking myself for turning to count as the door closed.

    Reply
  44. Biff Hooper

    I have been to Thailand five times for vacations of 2-3 weeks. I agree that there are a lot of scammers, but there are also some very nice, sincere and honest people, so while being cautious, we also need to be careful of stereotypes an open to human honesty and kindness.
    Two years ago I was in Bangkok and I had lunch and a few beers at a trendy roadside restaurant in the downtown area. I paid the bill in cash, and when the change came back I added to it to leave what I thought was a decent tip, and then got up and left on foot.
    A few minutes later as I was continuing on foot up a main road, a young waitress and waiter from the restaurant came running and shouting after me with cash in hand. They had run about 500 meters, and they gave me all of the cash I had left and explained that I had left a 1000 baht note by mistake, when I thought I had left a 100 baht note.
    I thanked them profusely but I must admit I was somewhat startled by the incident so I didn’t think to give them both a tip from the cash they returned to me. So these two very honest young people wound up with no tip at all. I was leaving the next morning so I did not return to properly acknowledge their honesty, to my continuing regret. This is an event that will stick with me, and just something to be aware of: where there is bad there is often good, and vice versa. Kudos to those two young people.

    Reply

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