Bangkok, Thailand is a great and wondrous place to visit and live. And just like anywhere else in the world there are some bad people who are looking to take advantage of the people who are constantly pouring into this country. Since we have lived here for the last year these are some of the most common scams we have seen or heard of.
To be clear some of these scams are not used on an individual basis and rather used in conjunction with one another. For example someone will use the Palace is closed along with a Tuk Tuk or gem scam.
- “The Palace is closed” This is probably the most common Scam here in Bangkok and one that people are still falling for everyday. This isn’t a scam reserved for just the palace. Essentially this could happen at every major tourist attraction. Usually what happens is that someone who speaks a great deal of English approaches you (Thais are generally very passive and will not approach foreigners) and asks where you are going and tells you the place is closed either for a holiday, a ceremony, or just lunch. Since the 👑 has died the scammers have been telling people that the palace is only open for locals to mourn. This could not be further from the truth. The Grand Palace is open every single day from 8:30AM to 4:30PM (last admittance is at 3:30PM), unless it is being used for state functions or royal ceremonies, which is very rare. They will then go on to tell you that they can take you some place similar or better. Trust me, it won’t be similar and it for sure won’t be better. It is always best to be told a place is closed from the actual ticket office rather than some random person in the vicinity of the actual location. Usually this scam is combined with the Tuk Tuk Scam or the Floating Market Scam.
- Taxi Meter Scam- Before coming here please understand that Taxis in Bangkok are required by law to use their meters. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Before you get in the taxi ask if they use the meter. If they don’t no biggie, just move on to the next ride. If they do not turn on their meter when you get in they will drive you all the way to your destination and argue that you pay them some exorbitant price. I have also had it where they tried to turn off the meter or cover it with a towel in route, hoping you won’t notice, but when you do they say that they are “not allowed to run the meter downtown.” Immediately ask to get out. They may try to negotiate a price. Do not bother. It will be way more than whatever the meter would have said. I have also seen where they do have the meter on but once you arrive ask for more than that amount. Tip: Usually drivers will ask you if it is okay to use the highway. Note that this does not always make the route faster. You will be expected to pay each toll. The tolls are no more than ฿75. Sometimes the driver doesn’t ask you for money at the toll plaza. He pays then tries to add on more than the toll amount to the final fare. Avoid this by just paying for your tolls at the booth. To prevent all of these thing just download Uber or GrabTaxi. Use our codes for money off your ride.
- Taxi Wrong Route Scam- For someone not from here this can be a hard one to avoid. Tip: Find out from your hotel how to say the street name in Thai. It makes a world of difference since a lot of drivers claim they can’t see (read) on your phone. If you are lucky enough to have service here use Google Maps as a guide. It’s not perfect since not every single road is listed on there and some drivers take back routes to get where you need to go, but it’s better than nothing. You don’t have to have the volume on but just occasionally look at it for your piece of mind that you are going the right direction. Drivers do this scam often in order to hike up the fare. Sometimes they drive into traffic so they can sit for a while. We have been gotten by this one night returning from partying. Since we were
drunktired we fell asleep. When I woke up we were so far off course from our house and the driver was about to make another wrong turn. By the time we got home we ended up having to pay around ฿300 for a route that usually costs ฿180. Sometimes during rush hour they will tell you they have reached your destination and make you get out of the cab. Do not get out unless you are 100% sure this is your intended destination. They often will tell you it is a short walk to where you are going but in all honesty it is probably further than you would like to walk. Again the solution is to just use Uber or GrabTaxi.
- Tuk Tuk Scam- Tuk Tuks are notorious for a few different scams. The first one being over charged for a short distance. It is imperative that you establish a price with the driver before going anywhere, as they do not have meters. No matter the distance you shouldn’t be paying more than ฿300 to go anywhere. These are significantly more expensive than a taxi but you do them for the experience not for the efficiency. I have heard of people being charged ฿1000 ($30USD) to go less than 3miles. Another trick they like to employ is charging per person don’t fall for it. Work out a one price for all. The second scam is the driver saying he will take you to your destination with one stop. Firmly tell them no stops OR move on to someone else who isn’t apart of this ring. Another scam is Tuk Tuks telling you that they will take you around all day (usually after someone tells you the a palace is closed) for ฿20 per person. This is one of those too good to be true/ you get what you paid for type of things. During this all day tour they will take you to multiple places, which might start off with a few temples then it quickly goes down hill. Afterwards they tell you they want to take you somewhere else; a restaurant, a Gem Shop, a Travel Agency or a Suit Shop. They tell you they just want you to visit so they can get a gas card but you don’t have to buy anything. This takes us to the next scam.
- Gem/Suit/Restaurant/Travel Agency Scam-So on this scam the Tuk Tuk driver takes you to one of these locations. For the gem scam they take you to a “jewelry” store where prices of gems like “sapphires,” “rubies,” and “emeralds” are deeply discounted and they try to push you to buy them and sell them back in your country. Turns out that these “gems” end up being pieces of glass or not the quality you have been told and you have been swindled out of hundreds of dollars. At the Suit shop you are shown patterns of fabric and while there are legitimate Suit shops in Bangkok it would be who of you not to trust anyone on this path of discovery. You are told that if you pay around ฿6000 ($173USD) they will make you a whole custom suit and you can return tomorrow to pick it up. When you go to pick it up either there won’t be one, shop will be closed, or it is such poor quality you can’t wear it. Obviously at some point during the day you will get hungry and of course the driver knows the perfect place 🙄. He will take you to an expensive restaurant, where he not only eats for free but also receives some sort of compensation. The food will be shit nasty but you will eat it for fear of being rude. At the travel agency they will convince you to book tickets that more than likely don’t exist with the actual company (airline, bus, train, etc) Read these girls experience about Getting Scammed in Bangkok.
- Cheap Sex or Ping Pong Show- For those of you who choose to partake in the infamous red light districts be weary of anyone who approaches you to offer you a free show and all you have to do is pay for ฿100 drinks. I guarantee you the show isn’t free and the drinks are way more than ฿100. I have heard of people only staying for a few minutes, being brought drinks they didn’t ask for, then trying to leave. When they attempt to leave they are met with a huge bill and a bigger man who physically won’t let you leave until they pay the outrageous charges. Be careful. These instances are known to become violent. My tip would be to not go alone and don’t flaunt the fact that you have money. Calling the police will not help you in this situation. If you ask me it is best to avoid all of that.
- Wrong Change Scam- This could probably happen anywhere but it is a common occurrence in 7-11. If someone can tell you don’t know the currency very well they could shortchange you. Always make sure to count your change right in front of the person who gave it to you. What they usually do is give you change for ฿500 or a ฿100 when you originally handed them a ฿1000 bill and they will be adamant that you did not give them the higher bill. Best tip is to just give someone the bare minimum for what you purchase.
- Pregnant Scam- No judgment for those who partake in Thailand’s extracurricular activities but be careful of the women you keep. Especially the ones taken home from a bar. Sometimes a woman will seem to genuinely like you while you are in town but once you get back to your home country there may be problems. She may contact you and tell you she’s pregnant. She tells you that she needs money for an abortion or money to raise the child. She may send you pictures of her swollen stomach. Do not believe this without proper proof. There is a pill here that allows the stomach to become swollen making the women look pregnant and it is easy to obtain. There is no telling how many men she has told this to. If you have the funds I would fly back to Thailand and go with her to get an ultrasound. It’s the only way you can see for yourself that there is an actual baby in there. Then once the baby is born make sure you get a DNA test. It is a running joke here that these women can’t be trusted if they tell you within the first week/month of knowing you that her mother is sick. If she tells you this and expects you to help foot the hospital bills RUN!
- Long distance/over night bus Scam- If this is truly the only route you can take to get to your destination make sure you do not have large bags or suitcases that have to go underneath the bus. People have found the contents of their bags to be missing upon reaching their destination. There have also been cases of people being drugged and getting their personal bags, that were in their laps or under their seats, riled through. I would avoid any drinks you are given for free as it may end up costing you in the end.
- Floating Market Scam- A couple friends of mine got got by this scam when they visited us. First things first. The floating market you have seen online IS NOT in Bangkok. It is about an hour and a half to two hours away depending on traffic. So anyone who tells you otherwise has ill intentions and should be left alone. Secondly this market closes at noon so if some approaches you after that time telling you they will take you there they too, should not be trusted. My friends were approached outside the palace and told it was closed. The man promised that he could get them a ride on a Tuk Tuk to a boat where they could be taken to the floating market and ride on one of the long tail boats. It was after 1pm at this point. This man charged the ฿800 per person. One of my friends knew this didn’t sound right but ultimately went along with it anyway. They got in the Tuk Tuk and the driver drove them to some random pier. When they got there it was a speedboat and they asked where was the long boat. The man told them they would change boats later. Still thinking it was all good they got in. The boat driver drove them through trash, canals, and people’s backyards. In someone’s backyard they happened on ONE woman selling overpriced souvenirs from her boat. Obviously they didn’t want any and knew they were being played but still kept a good spirit and just had fun anyway. At the end of the ride the boat driver attempted to drop them off at some random pier. When the complained for him to take them back where they got dropped off he got mad and told them they would have to pay an additional ฿20 per person for a “landing fee.” They openly laughed at this man and got out and just walked away. He said he would call the police but obviously didn’t cause he was the one who scammed them. If you are interested in going to the actual Floating Market it is only ฿200. I will post an article on how to do that at a later date.
- Motorbike, rented car, jet ski damage– This is a pretty common scam that happens in the islands. When renting any type of motorized vehicle make sure you properly document (pictures/videos) of the equipment before you even touch it. Also avoid giving your real passport to them. It is best to just tell them it’s locked in your hotel and just give them a copy of it. Sometimes when you return the bike/car/jet ski the company will try to say you caused some type of damage to the vehicle and try to charge you some type of fee to fix it. More than likely you didn’t cause this damage but if you have no evidence to prove it they may hold your passport ransom until you pay the fee.
Like I said in the beginning Bangkok is a great place but it is always better safe than sorry. Reading these tips could save you a lot of time and money!