The Top 10 Scams In Thailand And How To Avoid Them

If you’re going to Thailand now or at any time in the future this list below will help you to avoid the top 10 scams in Thailand.

We all love to travel, for some of us it’s in our blood. There is a wanderlust that takes over and calls to us.

We dream of seeing far off distant lands while meeting new and interesting people.

But, no one wants to get scammed, we don’t want to get taken for a ride and fleeced of our money or belongings.

Yes, Thailand is relatively safe. Heck, it’s safer than some places in the United States. However, every place has its bad side. There is no perfect place you can go that’s nothing but sunshine and rainbows.

Thailand is no different. The vast majority of the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. They don’t call it the land of smiles for nothing.

Before you go there take a little time and learn as much of the language as you can. You’ll be absolutely amazed what a little effort in speaking to them in their native tongue will do. Even if you hack it up so bad you wonder if they can even get the gist of what you’re attempting to convey, they will greet you with smiles.

The locals really appreciate the effort and once you show you’re trying they will help you with your Thai, help you solve your problem, buy what you need or find the right directions.

The Thai people are awesome.

However, just like anywhere you have some bad apples. Most of the scams are physically harmless, they just want to get some money and see you as being rich.

99% of the Thai people would never scam you, but, there is always that one you have to watch out for.

The Top 10 Scams In Thailand And How To Avoid Them

  1. The Tuk Tuk Scam

Tuk tuk drivers are everywhere and there are virtually no regulations on them so it’s nearly impossible to tell the good ones from the bad.

Tuk tuk scams usually involve taking you on a tour where you’re told it will be all palaces and temples.

In reality you get taken to jewelry stores, tailors and other merchants he’s made commission deals with.

If you tell them no, that you don’t want to stop there, they give you a song and dance about how it will just be for a minute while he uses their phone to call home about his sick kid or another excuse to get you to go in there.

Once inside, they pressure you into buying something,

The best way to do this is not to go inside. Tell him that if he has a sick kid to give you your money back and you’ll find another tour driver so he can go be with his kid.

Never give them all of the money up front. Give them half up front. If they don’t like it find another driver. There are tons of them.

The other Tuk Tuk scam is taking you out to the edge of town and demanding a high price to bring you back. If this happens just tell him that you’re not getting out of his Tuk tuk until he brings you back and you’re not paying another dime.

  1. The Grand Palace Scam

This is pretty simple.

When you go to the grand palace in Bangkok there are two gates for entrance. One is for foreign visitors and the other is for Thai residents only.

When you go up to the resident gate you’ll get denied entry by the guards who don’t tell you why, they just say go away.

You’re then approached by a guy who says that the grand palace is closed today until much later.

But, lucky for you there is a special tour going on today only and he has just the tuk tuk driver to take you there.

You then get taken to all the shops or to the outskirts of town as in the scam #1 mentioned above.

  1. The Spilled Product Scam

Here you’re just walking down the street and a lady bumps into you spilling here rice all over the ground.

She then asks you to pay for it and the price she wants is 10 to 20 times the real price she paid.

The way to avoid this is to know the local price of things and offer to pay her that price only.

You could tell her to take a hike, but she will be carrying on and wailing quite a bit.

She will have only spilled a kilo or so. In this case it’s better to give her the .60 cents and move on.

  1. The Taxi Scam

Here you go to get into a taxi and the driver informs you that the meter is broken.

He then says for you to just get in and that he’ll take you. Once there he asks for a super high price.

The way to avoid this is when they say the meter is broken just get out of the car.

They will always tell you ‘wait’. Then you negotiate a price in advance of how much the trip will cost and you can go or leave, it’s up to you.

  1. The Bird Poop or Mustard Scam

You’ll be approached by a friendly person offering to clean up something on your clothes (that they put there without you’re knowing they did).

While they are helping you clean up they and or their friends pick pocket you or steal stuff from your bags.

To avoid it, tell them NO when they offer help. If you do accept watch your stuff and put your bag around to the from to you.

  1. The Motor Bike Scam

You rent a bike, you have to give them your address and they come at night and take the bike.

When it’s time to return it, they make you pay for it.

The way to avoid this is to chain the bike up at night with keys you keep on you. Or park it inside a paid parking spot with security.

  1. The Jet Ski Scam

You rent a jet ski at a water resort town and before you leave they take pictures of you on the jet ski.

Everything looks fine, the jet ski looks great.

When you go out on the water the water-soluble paint they covered up all the scratches and dings with wears off and when you come back they show you that you damaged the just ski and they have the proof because they have your picture with it looking perfect.

The way to avoid this is to take a really wet rag and wipe down the front area of the jet ski very aggressively. If you see stuff coming off on your rag then you can walk away from the deal.

  1. The Baht Swap Scam

For the most part this is played out with 1,000 baht notes or higher. It just wouldn’t be worth it to them to do it for less.

You give them a note and they look at it very suspiciously and then go behind a partition or into the back room. They then come back with a fake baht note and hand it to you saying that this is fake and then tell you to be on your way.

There is almost nothing you can do. It would be very hard to prove anything and it’s their country.

The way to avoid this is to not let them leave with your money. Never let your money out of your sight.

If they insist, tell them no, collect your money and leave.

  1. The Empty Bar Drink Scam

You’re walking down the street and are invited into a bar. You go in and it’s now very populated at all and in many cases quite dimly lit.

A girl comes over and asks you to buy here a ‘lady drink’. You say sure, why not. Then her friend comes over and asks for the same thing. You agree. Then another and another start asking you all piling up on you rubbing you etc.

You aren’t even saying yes, but they are signaling the bartender that you are.

You’re then shocked when you get the bill.

The best way to avoid this is to only go into the popular places that are well lit and look legitimate.

  1. The Visa Problem Scam

The Thai Police stop you and ask to see your tourist visa. They then tell you that there is a problem with it and tell you to pay them a fine in cash.

The problem is, for a 30 day stay there is no visa required for U.S. citizens.

The way to avoid this is to ask to go to the police station and talk to their superiors about this. They will almost always back off, unless there really is a problem with your entry stamp or your passport has expired.

In Conclusion

As mentioned above, the Thai people are wonderful, you’ll really like them. But, no matter what country you’re in, be sure to keep an eye out for the scammers.

Then, please realize that most people in any country are not like that. It’s just the few jerks that make everyone have to be on guard.


The 17 Best Travel Safety Tips

Travel safety

Many look at the world as if it is dangerous, but believe it or not, it is quite the opposite. Sure, there are some dangers out there, but they’re a minority. If you follow these travel safety tips, you are more likely to get in trouble in your home town than traveling.

Travel safety
Safe Air Travel

1. Don’t Pet Stray Animals

It’s hard to resist the urge to pet a cute stray dog or cat, but it’s not a good idea because they could sink their teeth into your skin. Plus, stray animals could be carrying rabies and other diseases. Also, avoid feeding monkeys for the same reasons. They might be cute, but they are wild and can give you serious problems you just don’t need.

Once while in Paraguay I saw the monkeys steal a mans shoes right off of his feet. He was sitting and feeding them fruits.

The slip on loafers he was wearing while dangling his feet were easy prey for these skilled thieves and off they went with them.

He never did get them back. I’m sure somewhere they have a pile of tourists shoes a few feet high, because it didn’t look like the first time they had done this.

2. Avoid Public Displays of Affluence

When you’re traveling abroad, you probably have more money than the locals. Avoid wearing gold jewelry and carrying around an expensive camera, because you are only broadcasting your wealth. This will make you a target for thieves.

Unless you fancy yourself a professional photographer, just carry a point and shoot. The one that I carry is the Canon PowerShot G7 X Digital Camera – Wi-Fi Enabled
and it outputs the best images I’ve ever seen in a pocket sized camera, by far. Seriously, you won’t be able to tell that they weren’t taken by a high end camera. The reason is it has a full 1 inch CMOS sensor so that the saturation is the same as if you were using a much larger camera.

3. Your Travel Companion Could Get You in Trouble

You probably love your travel companion, but they could be your worst enemy. Some travel companions put other people’s safety at risk. They may be arrogant, which will aggravate a situation or they may ask you to help out a person that you normally wouldn’t approach. Don’t give in to their peer pressure, make sure you stand your ground. If they continue to be unsafe and ignore our travel safety tips, you may want to consider going separate ways.

4. Make Sure You Have Travel Insurance

If you get injured or sick while traveling abroad, the travel insurance will help you. Without insurance, hospital costs could run up to thousands of dollars, even if it is a small injury.

5. Keep Your Money Sources in Separate Places

You probably keep all of your money sources (bank cards, checks, etc.) in your wallet. However, you shouldn’t do this while you’re traveling. Keep at least one card in a different place. If you lose your cards while you’re traveling, it’s going to be difficult for you to get replacements and being without money in a foreign country isn’t fun at all.

6. Get Vaccinated

Before you leave, visit your doctor in order to get all of the necessary vaccinations for the destinations you plan on traveling to. During this time, ask your doctor about the health precautions you should follow.

7. Be Careful Using Your Credit Card at Internet Cafes

Using your credit card at Internet cafes isn’t a good idea, because they could have keylogging software or hardware on the computer – this will record your key strokes, so the criminal can easily take your credit card information (not necessarily the owner of the café).

8. Don’t Go to a Foreign Country to Perfect Something

Learning how to ride a bike, jet-ski or motorbike in a foreign country isn’t a good idea. Take Thailand as an example, 38 people a day die in scooter-related accidents. Some travel insurance policies won’t cover certain injuries, such as scooter-related injuries, so check the policy to see what it covers. But, don’t learn how to scooter by renting a scooter in Thailand. Or learn to jet ski by renting one in Aruba. You’re increasing your odds of getting into a bad situation.

Protect Your Documents While Traveling
Protect Your Documents While Traveling

9. Scan All Important Documents

Scan all of your important travel documents and email them to yourself.

Back in the day, people use to take photocopies of their visas, travel insurance, passports, etc. and keep them in their luggage. These days, going digital is the best route to take – this way, if your bags go missing, you will still have your documents.

10. Hand it Over

This is a simple rule that many people have a hard time following – if you are being mugged, give over your watch, wallet, etc. If you have insurance, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal. You shouldn’t go risking your life over material items. Leave all of your irreplaceable stuff, such as your grandma’s necklace, at home. Just hand it over so that you can walk away uninjured. You can always buy more stuff. But, laying in the street bleeding in a foreign land is no joke.

11. Be Careful Where you Keep Your Wallet/Purse

Don’t keep your wallet/purse in your jeans’ back pocket, because it could easily get stolen. Instead, you can use a money belt that fastens inside your shirt. Or at a minimum keep it in your front pants pocket. Much harder to pick pocket.
12. Keep an Eye on Your Belongings

This is obvious but I feel the need to talk about it, because people still do this. Travelers have a tendency to leave their bags hanging from the back of chairs when they’re at restaurants. Don’t do this. Instead, keep your belongings on your lap or if you keep them at your feet, wrap the strap around your leg.

Check the Small Print and Certificates of Instructors

If you plan on doing something risky, such as scuba diving or bungee jumping, make sure you check the small print and certificates of instructors. There may be a reason that course you found is cheaper than the others – do your research on the instructors.

If you’re traveling alone, here are some solo travel safety tips you can use when going solo.

13. Don’t Get Distracted

If anyone, even children come up to you holding something in front of you, push them away immediately and protect your belongings. This is a famous distraction people tend to use in order to get their hands on other people’s valuables.

In many countries they will send the children after you selling gum or carved trinkets. Then, they have others waiting for you to show how much money you have so they can take it.

Cruise Ship Travel Safety
Cruise Ship Travel Safety

14. Make Sure You Secure Your Luggage

When you’re carrying everything around with you, it is important that you keep it safe and sound. Since you’re alone, you can’t ask someone to watch your luggage for you and you should never trust a stranger with it. This means you need to keep the luggage in your view at all times. You may want to invest in a lock to put on the suitcases.

15. Secure Your Laptop

Amongst the safety tips when traveling alone, we cannot forget about the laptop. If you are a “work-anywhere” type of entrepreneur, your laptop is probably one of your most important items you are carrying. Not only is it needed for work, it probably cost a lot of money as well. There are certain precautions and measures you can take to secure your laptop, such as a laptop lock. You also have to think about the type of bag you’re carrying your laptop in. Yes, there’s some pretty fancy bags out there, but you may want to tone it down a bit because it will entice criminals to want to rob you.

16. Stay Alert

There you are, in a city you’re probably not familiar with, so you definitely need to stay alert. If you see threatening looking people around you, walk confidently in the direction you came, without getting your map out – stay in a “touristy” area.

17. Try Not to Stand Out

The trick is to blend in with the locals – on your first day, take a look at how they dress and try to dress like them. The trick is, to try not to look like a tourist – don’t carry a camera around your neck, don’t flash the tourist map around and don’t wear sandals with white socks.

If you plan on traveling alone, you definitely need to keep these solo travel safety tips in mind. Remember, don’t ever let your guard down.

Two Bonus Travel Safety Tips For You

18. Use A Camera Lanyard

If you’re using your camera like the great one I recommended above attach the lanyard and each time that you take it out to use it slide your hand in the lanyard.

The reason is; most camera thefts are grab and go. This is to say that; they mostly attempt to grab your camera and run. If they are not successful very few if any will attempt to take it again and will instead just run.

This also helps keep you from dropping your camera by accident while engaged in the moment leaning over a railing to get that once in a lifetime shot. So, it’s a great practice to get into anyway.

19. Don’t Let Them Swarm You

When overseas, if a group of kids swarm you asking you to read something out loud, wanting to sell you something or telling you how great or pretty you are, get them away from you without hesitation.

You may be the best looking person on the planet, but, 99.9% of the time they are robing you.

The thing is, most of the time you won’t even feel it. There will be a swarm touching you pleading with you to buy gum, read something or another ploy. Then, like magic they scatter and you’re missing multiple items.

Don’t hit them, they are children after all. But, do whatever it takes to get away from them fast.

Yes, these are safety tips, but never forget why you came. You went there to have fun, so go have some fun then!