parallax background

COMMON SCAMS IN THAILAND – July 2017

No wonder why Bangkok is such an immensely popular destination in Southeast Asia and many travelers have called it their second home.

Some people, however, dislike this vigorous Thai capital after their very first visit due to the scams, tourist traps, boiling heat, traffic jam and pollution, etc. After our current trip back to Thailand, we decided to write down all the travel tips you must know to avoid the most common scams in Thailand and ensure a pleasant experience in this bustling country.

The Grand Palace Scam - “It is closed today!!!”

You’ve heard it – One of the most common scams in Thailand – the one that still exists after a decade and is still widespread. Even though countless pages have been written to keep naïve visitors away from this scam, some still fall for it eventually. It happened to us twice on our way to the Grand Palace.

A guy approached us with his friendly gesture, “Guys, don’t wear your backpack on the back and beware of pickpocket.” To make it even more impressive, he started with some small talks in our languages and ask if that was our first time in Bangkok or not. Knowing that we were on the way to the Grand Palace, he said “My friends, it’s already closed today. Come back tomorrow. But if you want, I can suggest some alternative locations: the Golden Mount temple and other temples nearby. 200 Baht per person only. Not far, not touristy, not expensive.”

And, from a middle of nowhere, a Tuk Tuk was pulled over in front of us. “You know Tuk Tuk? Iconic and beautiful. You see this police badge on the windshield? It belongs to the Government, meaning these drivers are trustworthy. And only 80 Bath for 2 people,” continued the guy.

Damn. We knew it. It was way too good and organized to be true. As we noticed, people like him talk really fast so you have no chance to interrupt. He took out a map and circled some spots for suggestions and acted like he would dispense all tips about the city for all people he meets on the street. Sound too nice?…Yes! It was so obvious that he was in collusion with the Tuk Tuk drivers to scam people, so when we smelled a rat, we said thanks and walked away.

COMMON SCAMS IN THAILAND - what to do in Bangkok - Grand Palace - temple bangkok - best thing to do in bangkok - Buddha statue Wat Pho W-min

When this scam happened again near the Grand Palace under another version, it really got on our nerves. One walked towards us saying that the place was closed for a special national event and pointed to the entrance where only Thai people can enter. He recommended some other options which sound really good (again!!!).

What happens if you believe and take his suggestions? According to people who reported these common scams in Thailand: you will end up visiting nearby small temples that you can actually walk to, gem or souvenir stores. They would bring your back to the Grand Palace at around 3 PM something when it is actually closed for the day. We were irritated and tired of that shit. We just frankly said No and moved on.

Recognize a scam:

  • If someone approaches and tries to be friendly, it is usually a scam
  • They ask where you are going to and try to break the ice with some small talks (then they analyze and have a “customized plan” for you)
  • They speak good English and a bit of your language
  • They often have a map and offer you for free
  • They hail a Tuk Tuk for you, offering some tours that are too good and cheap to be true

Broken Meter

The Taxi Scam - Fixed Rate?!!

Broken Meter

One of the most common scams in Thailand that annoyed us so much were the taxi driver inasmuch as they always wanted to give a fixed rate instead of turning on the hardware meter. Oftentimes, they offered a price which is 3 to 4 times higher than the metered fare. They know that it is illegal but I guess they think they are the boss.

On a raining day or in rush hour, it is really hard to get a cab/tuk tuk. Drivers, especially on these occasions, know how to burn a hole in your pocket. Some drivers agree to go with meter but ask for >100 Baht more because “the traffic is bad, or you get off”. Some claim that the meter is broken, you then have to agree on the bloody awful price. Take it or leave it, up to you!

common-scams-in-thailand---what-to-do-in-bangkok---tuk-tuk-in-bangkok-M

What you should do:

  • Give the address and ask to go with meter before getting on the car
  • Avoid taxi with a broken meter, but if you have no choice, try to bargain. HOW? Read below:
  • Open Grab or Uber app, enter locations to check the estimated fare, then you have an idea how long it would take and how much it would cost
  • Always say the currency. It can be 100 Baht or 100 USD. You never know
  • Say clearly the number of people: 100 Baht for how many people in the car. Some cunning driver will say: “No, 100 Baht is for 1 person only. 2 people = 200 Baht.”
  • Ask if the fare includes the toll fee or not and if it’s the total fare
  • Some drivers do not speak English so be sure to have a map of the destination or your phone for navigation
  • Many drivers can’t read the address in the Latin Alphabet, so write it down in Thai scripts. Also, bring a hotel visit card with you so driver as least can call and talk to your hotel representative
  • Take a photo of the license plate and drivers’ information. Just in case you forget your belongings or for reporting

The Motorbike Scam - Hidden scratches and broken components!

Wandering around Thailand on a scooter can be so much fun, but it is not recommended for a complete novice, especially in big cities. Riding a motorbike in Chiang Mai, Koh Phangan, etc. is way easier; however, you should bear in mind that some common scams in Thailand can kick your ass anytime.

It commonly goes like this: when you bring back the rented scooter, you have to shell out thousands of cash for some hidden scratches or broken elements on the scooter that you don’t even make. Some other people reported that their rented bike was “stolen” by the owner who has the spare key. Luckily, this scam didn’t happen to us.

Our advice if you want to rent a scooter:

  • Rent a scooter from the hotel can be a bit more expensive but less hassle. Hotel can also recommend a few reliable shops. You can take their advice or do your own research
  • Most shops will keep your passport to ransom. Ask if a copy of your passport is enough. If not, offer to put down a deposit instead. If it still doesn’t work out, move on to another shop
  • If you have to leave your passport there: Be sure to check out motorbike carefully before renting. Take photos of the scooter from every angle, and in details. Oftentimes, you will receive a sketch of the scooter to mark all the scratches down; hence, note down every broken thing you see on it
  • Check the helmet. Check the gas level. If you receive a scooter with a full tank, bring it back with the same amount
  • Bring your (international) driver license
  • In case you do make some small scratches, consider bringing it to a repair shop to get it fixed with a  more reasonable price

Common scams in Thailand are in different disguises, widespread and uncontrolled. Some mentioned above are just a few in their scam collection. We were lucky that we didn’t get to taste them all 😀 The scammers are skilled, but all we need is to do our homework before the trip. In all case, try to keep an easygoing attitude and avoid hassle. Be savvy, act smart, don't let them look at us as a walking ATM!

AnhThy
AnhThy
AnhThy(Tea) started to travel at a very young age, but things get serious during her years living abroad where she was exposed to majestic nature and wonderful people from all walks of life. Apart from photography, writing becomes part of her life in which she relives all of the memories built up along the way, and in which she can become as many different characters as she always wants to be. Following her journey to discover more of the personality that comes across in her work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *