Thailand is always listed as a must-visit nation in every traveler’s bucket list for its cheap cost, unique culture and good food. However, with the growth of tourism, there are many opportunists who are ready to take advantage of tourists. Before even going through the scams, the best advice to avoid these scams in Thailand is to avoid engaging strangers. A simple "No, thank you" is all you need to say.
Here are top 4 popular scams in Thailand
1. Your intended destination is currently closed
It’s is one of the most common in Thailand.
This scam starts from when you get on a cab/ tuk tuk, the drivers will lead you to a tourist area and tell you that this place is closed today for renovation or a Buddhist ceremony. Afterwards, they advise you to visit an alternative place as Reclining temple or Marble Temple and claim that these temples are only opened once a year. Sounds attractive, right?
Another way is that they will take you to the gate for the citizen. When the security officer stops you getting inside, they will talk to the guard and then inform that you are not allowed to enter the site for some political issues or the site is temporarily closed until 3 p.m. They will ask to drive you to another site of tourists and promise to turn you back at 3 p.m (the closing time of some tourist destination).
Finally, your trip will end up with some gem and clothing shops.
In these shops, you are forced to buy their stuff.
Note that it’s not easy to get out if you don’t want to buy. They will close the doors; stop you unexpectedly until you agree to buy something at a super-expensive price.
Photo by PRODavid McKelvey
How to deal with it:
- Look for some reliable tuk tuk or meter taxi to get on.
- If you are told that the tourist destination is closed, let them know you have checked the information before and ask to get down. Then walk by yourself to the spot.
- If the drivers insists on their statement and tend to be arguing with your answer, tell them that you have lived in Thailand for days and you know what they are doing.
- When it’s in need, contact with the security guard or local police to protect yourself.
2. The tuk tuk scam
Who is the one contacting with tourists most in a city?
That is drivers (tuk tuk or taxi).
It’s why many of them can easily cheat on the witting tourists.
Apart from telling you your intended destination is currently closed, these opportunists have many different variations to withdraw your money.
Photo by Jody Sticca
The process is described as followed
Firstly, they will try to know more about your trip’s purpose. You come here for what? Sightseeing? Shopping? Or business?
Depending on each purpose, they will set a plan to take your money away.
If you are on the way to get to your hotel. They will pretend to give you some feedbacks from “other tourists” who had stayed in that hotel and left with a huge disappointment. They, immediately, become a new friendly – helpful local guy to recommend and take you to a new hotel which is “more comfortable, better service, and cheaper cost” but they forget to tell you this is also a place they get a lot of commission.
Or they promise to take you to a travel agency where you can book anything from tours, hotels, bus tickets or even flight tickets at “reasonable price”. Note that these agencies are called “The virtual agency” as their businesses are not real, they just get your money and disappear.
The more fluent they talk to you, the more you need to be aware of them because they are so experienced in cheating tourists and you are just one of their preys.
What is the solution?
- Do a research on where you are going to visit, which is the trustworthy travel agency before your trip.
- Refuse all their recommendation taking you to their “reliable” hotels, tourist offices.
3. Airport taxi scam
After emerging into the arrivals hall on Suvarnabhumi’s second floor, you have to avoid the man who offers “Taxi services” and look for the signs “Public taxi” or “ Taxi stand” which are waiting for you on the ground floor.
After reaching the 1st floor, you now search for one of two official taxi stands run by the airport authority (off course, no fake taxi stands). Approach the official or kiosk with a sign that reads “TAXI – METER ONLY”. They’ll ask where you’re going, give you a printed piece of paper and point you in the direction of a taxi.
Now is when the scam begins!
The drivers, firstly, will ask you some questions to understand more about your situation, whether you are new in Thailand or not. At that time, you are tired and not too concerned about being scammed after going through such an “official” process to get a taxi. Then, they pretend to take that piece of paper and neglect to give it back. (Why they do that will be explained later).
If the meter clock is not switched off, travelers have no way to negotiate for a better deal because they can’t get down. Granted, the drivers still leave room for negotiation. They will now drive slowly and ask 200 bath for each person. That means the more people in your group, the more money you give him, which never happens with the metered taxi.
Normally, these drivers pretend to have problems in finding your destination or a major main road to locate. They then will drive you through backstreets for about 15 to 20 minutes before exactly dropping you off the destination and ask for a ridiculous sum of money which they deserve to have. Now, it’s not 200 bath per person anymore, it can be up to 1000 bath for each one.
A tour from the airport to Bangkok city normally costs 200 to 500 bath depending on which part of the city you stay and how far it is. That means you have to pay double or even tripple the typical price in such scam situations.
Photo by Sippanont Samchai
How to avoid being a victim:
- Say 2 words: “Meter please” immediately before you get in.
- Keep the door open until you see number 35 presented on the meter clock. (35 is the starting point for the price calculation of Thai taxis).
- DON’T give that piece of paper to the drivers. It’s the record of your arrival requested destination and taxi license number. No one has the right to take it from you. An identical record is kept at the airport. If the drivers take advantage of tourists, they will be fined and suspension.
- Try to bargain for the cheapest cost if you forget to ask for the meter clock.
4. Wrong change scam
This is another usual scam for all tourists.
When you get in the cashier in a department store to pay for goods, he will claim your note is counterfeit and he needs to check more closely. He then takes it out the back to inspect more carefully, but that's where he swaps your genuine note for a counterfeit.
At the end, you walk out with a counterfeit and a number of problems with that fake note if being caught by a police.
To keep away from this kind of scam, you just need to be familiar with Thai banknotes and never let the money out of your sight. Or you should remember the license number on your note and check one again when the counter gives it back.
Photo by Karn Bulsuk
When coming to a new country, it’s the excitement and eagerness to explore a completely new culture and people. However, it is when you need to worry about tens of tricks and scams you may face during the trip.
Even though a lot of tourists have faced these problems every year and these illegal treats have been shared or published widely, there are still many people meet the same problems when they come to Thailand.
Are you planning a trip to Thailand? Here are some suggestions from our experts:
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