Thailand is like any tourist rich destination; there are locals or ex-pats trying to scam tourists. Now don’t get too worried you can still have a good time, we will take you through the most common scams in Thailand so that you can keep your eyes and ears open and avoid wasting your time and money. We had a few encounters in Bangkok and were glad we were prepared!
Our #1 rule – Always be polite! Getting angry won’t help.
Our #2 rule – If it seems too good to be true it usually is.
“The Gem and Tailor scam”
You will be approached by a taxi driver or Tuk Tuk driver and offered to be taken somewhere for a ridiculously cheap price such as 50 – 100 baht. eg: a tourist hot spot or back to your hotel or somewhere to shop. They conveniently make a few stops at a gem store or a tailor where the owner or sales person put the heavy sales “tactics” on you, next minute you are giving over your hard earned cash for shiny plastic or glass worth mere pennies out of pure guilt or because they are fantastic sales people. The driver then picks up a commission. You could end up purchasing $2,000 (AUD) worth of gems but in reality they are worth $0.20 (AUD)
“It’s closed for a private viewing for the King or closed for a public holiday”, which is what the taxi driver will tell you when you jump in their cab after asking to go to the Grand Palace in Bangkok or another popular tourist sight. You will then end up at a gem or tailor store or even better they can take you to a better tourist attraction or a beautiful attraction not known by too many tourists. Sounds fishy hey!
Most people on a beach holiday to Phuket want to go on jet skis! We were thinking it would be good fun but after a bit of research we found out that there is a large problem with jet ski scams in Thailand. It goes a little something like this: You hire a jet ski, you have a fantastic time racing around, you return the jet ski and the owner comes up to you and says that you have damaged the jet ski, whether it is a small scratch for a large dent that you didn’t previously notice, you immediately feel awful, thinking you have damaged their jet ski and as you didn’t check before hand you can’t argue.
Make sure if you do hire a jet ski, you take photos of all sides of it. If you are smart and plan this far, it may not always work as the owner will call over the “local police” who are likely to be fake police or “dirty cops”, the police insist you pay and then they end up with half. Best way to avoid it is just don’t hire a jet ski or hire one at your own peril.
This scam will usually start with someone very friendly (more than often a foreigner) coming up to you and asking if you would be willing to come to a 3 hour presentation on timeshare and as a reward you will be provided with free accommodation at a well-known hotel.. or they will give you a scratchy card where you will scratch and win a t-shirt then try a new card and win a major prize which is free accommodation, you will then be asked to participate in a presentation in order to claim your “prize”. You will be offered to buy into a lifetime membership timeshare where you get a week’s stay at various resorts in Thailand, most of the time these resorts don’t actually exist sadly people tend find out the hard way.