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A few common Scams in Thailand to Avoid

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!

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!

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Thailand

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)

Thailand

“It’s Closed”

“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!

“Jetski scam”

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.

Wave Runner Jet Ski at Kata Beach Phuket Thailand

Photo Credit: Captain Kimo

“Timeshare scams“

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.

 What Scams have you encountered in Thailand?

Article written by:

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious! With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!

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  1. Katherine Belarmino

    We encountered the “It’s Closed” scam. We didn’t fall for it because I had read about that scam, so it was kind of funny to run into something you read about, since that doesn’t always happen.

  2. Travelling King

    There are some interesting scams out there – we always do our reseach and then follow along a little..

  3. Ourjourneytothesea

    The tuk tuk drivers apparently get paid a commission for driving tourists to certain shops whether or not the tourists make purchases, just if they come into the shop for 10 minutes. If I wasn’t in a hurry to go to my destination I would play along and let the driver make his little bit of extra money. But if I needed to be somewhere I wouldn’t play along.

  4. Travelling King

    That is very true.
    We jumped into a cab in Bangkok and the driver asked if he could take up to a shop so that he would be able to get a petrol voucher, if i wasnt hot, tired and cranky i might have said yes

  5. Jennifer

    These are good to know since we’re off to Thailand next month.

  6. Travelling King

    Thanks!
    You probably wont encounter too many but the ones you do, you can have a laugh about later 🙂

  7. Heather

    A guy told us the Palace was closed, and I told him ‘OK, but if I walk by the guard with the big gun and *he* tells me it’s closed then I’ll believe it.’ We walked in.

  8. Travelling King

    they are terrible arent they!
    Better to go away and find out that way i think 🙂

  9. Lawrence Michaels

    Not really a scam per se, but before getting into a non-metered Taxi or a Tuk Tuk, always ask how much the trip is going to cost. There is no room for negotiation once you have arrived at your destination.

  10. Travelling King

    Hey Lawrence.
    You are exactly right! and when in a metres taxi, always make sure they put the metre on, if they say its broken, say thank you and get out and walk away because “Aint nobody got time for that!”

  11. Koh Samui Villas

    If you’re not in a hurry, you can negotiate a free journey in return for a stop. Also add the fake ‘official Thai Tourism’ offices to the list of places the tuk tuks take you and try to charge obscene amounts for train tickets and the like.

    Best wishes, Kate

  12. Travelling King

    Thanks for the greta tips Kate!

  13. Emily McIntyre

    Good grief, thanks for the tips! I’ll be filing this away in my ‘future’ file!

    EWM

  14. Travelling King

    Glad we can help 🙂

  15. Frank

    Appreciate your tip about the jetski scam! I guess the same thing as the motorcycle scam and the car rental scam. I’ll remember next time!
    Oh yes, the famous gem scam – I’m an expert on it: http://bbqboy.net/falling-for-the-bangkok-gem-scam/. Feel pretty stupid about it today 😉
    Good job with the bog!
    Frank (bbqboy)

  16. Travelling King

    Hey Frank!
    Yep lots of random scams not matter what mode of transport.
    I will have to check it out thanks

  17. Jean| Holy Smithereens

    Unfortunately these scams exist generally in touristy areas. I was a “victim” of those time-share schemes in the Philippines. It wasn’t really a scam because the properties do exist, but the way they got me to go to their presentation was THE scam. I watched a concert which had a “raffle draw”, the next day I was contacted to say that I “won” a trip to Spain from the raffle draw (Woo hoo!) and I just need to attend a talk to claim my prize. The sales talk was SO aggressive and pushy, they wanted me to invest BEFORE i can claim my prize. NO WAY. the sales guy and I got into an argument as I wasn’t going to give away even a dollar. His manager was called in, and I was asked every reason why I would not invest in it. I just said simply because I dont want to and they can have that “prize trip” to Spain. It’s such a pain and frustrating, the lengths people go to for schemes and scams.
    Anyway bottomline it exists everywhere we just have to be really cluey about it. And know how to get out of one as painless as possible 🙂

  18. Danielle (Bubs on the Move)

    We were actually kicked out of one of the Gem Scam shops. We had heard about the scams but somehow ended up taken to one of these shops anyway. My brother in law started asking questions in a loud voice that demonstrated he know they were shonky and we were politely ushered out the door.

  19. Travelling King

    Exactly right, mostly located in the touristy areas waiting to prey on a poor little tourist, minding their own business.
    Yeah i have heard that about the time share scams – we almost got sucked into one of the time share presentations in Koh Samui airport – We needed help calling the hotel as we arrived a fair bit earlier and they wouldnt hep us until we had filled in a form with our names and phone number and hotel – so we did but then ignored their phone calls 🙂
    They can lead into violence if you get too aggressive but i guess better to be assertive than end up being scammed!

  20. Travelling King

    Hahahah – Good on you Danielle!

  21. Jo (The Blond)

    Jet ski – the same happens with the scooters – at least that’s what I heard.

  22. Travelling King

    Really – I havent heard many good things about scooters but didnt think they were too bad

  23. Fred Yummy

    When we were in Bangkok, a guy on the street told us it was a special day in Thailand and we had the unique opportunity to visit some of the temples for a very cheap price. If we wanted him to he could help us stop a tuk-tuk for us and arrange everything with the driver so he took you to those wonderful places for a fair price. It was like you said, too nice to be true so we politely declined 😉

  24. Victoria

    These scam reminders are so important. Thank you.
    I’ve fallen for the “just go into this shop and I’ll get paid a commission” scam in India. I tried to help the rikshaw driver so I said yes. I wanted to go to book shops and he took me to as many jewellery shops as he could. I got so fed up that I refused to get out of the rickshaw and only then, did he actually take me to the book quarter.

    We wanted to go for dinner in Bangkok and we waved down a tuk-tuk who then took us to a girlie bar instead. I got suspicious as there were no tourists or women about, there was an iron-steel door, and all the men were fighting outside! Thankfully, we hadn’t yet paid the tuk-tuk driver as the area was so dodgy. He refused to take us to our restaurant and I refused to pay him. We got the hell out of there and flagged a passing taxi instead. My tip. Always take a metered taxi!

  25. Travelling King

    Thanks so much!
    yikes! Looks like you find yourself in some interested situations!
    Glad you got out okay

  26. Ole

    No need to explain the scam, but the tailor “Dusit Collections” used tuk tuk driver to trick you into their store! They make you pay up front and the. Give you crap. I hope this prevents others from being tricked like I was!

  27. Steven

    I’ve had similar ones in Thailand, Morocco etc.

    A certain attraction is closed because it’s a religious festival, it’s only locals allowed in etc. For this, I’d normally just suggest a “”no thanks”” and walk on towards the entrance anyway.

    The guy in Marrakesh got really annoyed though, he said he wasn’t a tour guide and didn’t want money so I didn’t give him any money after he walked about talking to us and pointing lots of stuff out.

  28. Travelling King

    Hey Steven,
    Thanks for stopping by.
    wow, they really do try anything dont they!

  29. Herman

    I heard about the The Gem and Tailor scam and It’s Closed scam before from friends and family. I’m going to Thailand in less than 2 weeks so it was good that I read this because I totally forgot about these scams until I read this.

  30. tom

    Tuktuk drivers even charge you a multiple of what was originally agreed. Never use them ! Fraudsters !

  31. mia

    The tuk tuk scam. So me and my boyfriend are travelling Thailand. Our first two nights being in Bangkok, although we weren’t central Bangkok we were more in the suburbs so we decided on our second day to venture in to the city centre. We got a taxi wich cost 49 baht. Then a sky train which cost 40 baht. When we got to paya Thai we decided to do the typical tourist thing and get in a tuk tuk. Big mistake. The driver was really nice and chatty at first asking us if it was our first time in Thailand ect (In future if anyone asks this lie and don’t say yes) anyway he kept on going on to us about ‘free gasoline’… Not speaking very good English basically saying if he takes us to one of his partnership shops and we look around we don’t have to buy anything but he’ll then get a free token for gasoline. We kept on saying no temple. But anyway he pulls up outside this tailors shop and showed us in we immediately left. (Now I’ve been looking up about it its a very common scam where the driver will convince you he gets a free gasoline coupon so you want to help him out he seems nice. But once you get to these shops they can be known to lock the door on you until you buy something (very expensive) and then when you go to pay they say they can deliver to your home address and when it eventually gets to you its crappy material/goods and the tuk tuk driver obviously gets his share in the money. Anyway so we left the shop and naively got back in the tuk tuk he started driving his face changed completely ‘why you no look??’ We explained we didn’t want a suit we wanted to go to the temple. Two minutes later he pulls up outside the ‘temple’ wasn’t a temple at all. We ask how much he pulls a 1000 thb note out (£20) should have been a 100 thb journey if that. My boyfriend straight up said no we can get to the other side of Thailand for less than that. The guy starts screaming at me – not my boyfriend me – (YOU PAY YOU PAY) at one point I even thought he was going to grab my purse from me. After much arguing we managed to get it down to 500thb. He sped off. As we were going back to the station later on that evening still shook up and upset we saw him sat outside the station probably waiting for the next easy target/ backpackers go prey on. My advice is to just avoid tuk tuks. The green and yellow taxis are much safer – just make sure you tell them to turn the meter on or you’re not getting in.

  32. Samantha Duffield - Travelling King

    Oh Geez Mia! Sounds like you had a terrible experience!!!!!

  33. Per

    Me and my fiance almost got suckered into a “90” minute presentation. It was a really hot day at Karon beach in phuket and an older English-speaking man claiming to be from Wales drove a bike with a blonde finnish girl .
    Claiming it was a hotel promotion and in any case it’s all right if we don’t buy anything but making sure we would spread the word. We never got their names or what company they represented and when we arrived at the hotel they stated that the prize had already been given for the day? But we were welcome the next day for a free breakfast and the presentation.

    Of course i started googling the m.o and started to feel really stupid. Well we decided not to go and to skip the pickup from the hotel (making sure they dropped us off at a different location) The taxidriver was on time and caused quite a scene, I know this because I had a friend at that location who was keeping a lookout at the time. Short story; avoid at all costs

  34. Samantha - Travelling King

    Thats terrible Per!
    Sadly they seem to target people who haven’t travelled often or to that destination – its like we all have this shiny new look! haha

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