Top 7 Tourists' Scams in Thailand

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top 7 thai scams

Have you noticed that not all tour operators in Thailand (especially local tours) are licensed? Also, do you know what are the Top 7 Tourists’ Scams in Thailand? Check this out!

1. This Place is Closed
– This happened some time back when I was travelling with my mum and wife to Bangkok for a short break. We wanted to go to Chinatown for some Sharkfin soup and seafood, so we hailed a taxi outside Platinum Mall. Once we boarded, the taxi driver commented that there was bombing and Chinatown is closed for redevelopment and insisted to take us somewhere else for dinner. As we started driving off, I felt something wasn’t right and googled while in the taxi on redevelopment of Chinatown after bombing… nothing came up. I immediately yelled at the driver to stop and he dropped us off the roadside, in the middle of nowhere. With my awesome navigation skills, my family walked back safely to our hotel 15mins later.

– Another common version of this scam can happen near any tourist attraction but still happens a lot outside the Grand Palace. As you approach, someone will tell you that the palace is closed for various reasons. Ignore them as you will end up in either a gem store or a tailor shop.

2. Damaged Jetski / Motorbike
– Some of us like to play watersports and explore the city in a motorbike by renting them from local pop-up stalls along the beach, especially in Phuket or Pattaya. It’s all smiles of happiness when you scoot-off, but when you come back after your fun, they will point out scratches and dents in the jet ski (or motorbike) and they will demand large sums of money. What they fail to mention is that a dozen other customers have already paid for those scratches. If you rent anything, be it motorcycle, car or jet ski, make sure all scratches and dents are documented.

3. Help me get FREE Gas
– This happens every so often on a Tuk Tuk ride where the driver will bargain with you on the pricing for his ride to a location you wanna go to. He will then tell you that in order to match your price, he will need your help to visit a Gems factory or Tailor shop for a short while so he can get FREE gas. If you are not in a rush for time and have a big heart, you will walk right in t o this scam.

4. Priceless Gems
– Not sure about you, but I am no expert on gem stones so I will typically avoid any gems factory outlets visits no matter which overseas destination I go. It is just too common to be pressured in to buying something very expensive which may be worth next to nothing just for a SAFE ride back to your destination once you are stuck in that situation. Of course, to make you feel better, the shopkeeper will have “actors” who will tell you what a great bargain you had!

– A variant of this scam revolves around the shopkeeper accusing you for paying with a counterfeit note. He or she would go to the back of the store, away from your sight, swap the note you handed over with a realistic counterfeit one and return. Giving the fake note to you, he or she would demand for new payment, leaving you to pay for twice or thrice the original amount.

5. Tailor, Tailor, Alligator!
– Similar to the Gems factory, such tailor shops are typically low quality in workmanship and materials used. This can happen anywhere, but is more likely at tourist locations. Halfway through a Tuk Tuk trip, your driver might ask you to wait as he take a toilet break. Coincidentally, a stranger approaches you, and start telling you about some bargain he found at a tailor shop which only Thai people know.  At this point, your tuk tuk driver will be back and the stranger will “helpfully” tell him where the shop is. At the shop, the prices seem like a good deal and high pressure sales tactics are used to make you pay everything upfront with FREE home delivery! Too good to be true? You decide!

– If you want a genuinely great tailor, go to Paul’s Fashion at Sukhumvit Road (BTS Asoke) SUKHUMVIT SOI-20 (200 meters inside the Soi opposite 7/11 )

6. Ping Pong Show
– Don’t believe the touts outside those shady bars, especially when you are at Patpong area. They will lure you with free sex shows and drinks for only 100 baht each. You will end up paying a bill in the thousands. Stay clear if you are alone as they can turn violent (some may even threaten your life with “tainted” needles with AIDS virus) if you refuse to pay.

7. Meter? No Meter, Spoil
– This is probably the most notorious of all; even the Tourist Police acting deputy commissioner Pol Maj-General Surachet Hakpal vowed to step up its crackdown on taxi drivers who take advantage of foreign tourists. Many Taxi drivers were accused of refusing to use the meter (claiming the meters are spoilt), and some tourists complained that they were charged Bt800 (S$33) for just a 300-metre ride!

Article contributed by Calvin Ng, Fitness Trainer and Online Business Trainer