Before even going through the scams, the best advice to avoid these scams in Thailand is to avoid engaging strangers, in general Thai people are extremely decent and friendly, and when shown respect also display respect, but this is only relevent to where you are traveling.
If you are spending your time in the high volume tourist places, these are where most of the problems, scams and potential for problems will occur.
If you find yourself in one of the high tourist places and getting hastled by potential scamers, and you are unable to walk away easily, the best solution is to lie, tell them you have been in Thailand many times, this will give them the impression that you are in deed not a soft target. So lets get into some of the more common travel scams in Thailand. Check out how to keep your luggage safe.
Pattaya and Phuket Jet Ski Scam: This one has been around for years, has seen a great deal of publicity on national news and Youtube, yet people are still being stung by it. Essentially the company which you rented the jet ski from will claim that you have damaged their jet ski and demand a substantial repair fee. Should you refuse, there will be men in “uniform” who coincidentally passes by and threaten to arrest you (they can’t), they are normally in on it also. To protect yourself from this, the first thing you should do is never give your passport as collateral when renting the jet ski, or ANY motorcycle / Scooter rental.
Always examine the jet ski prior to the rental, and take photos of any scratches, dents or potential damaged parts. If they demand payment from you, call the local tourist police at 1155.
I have personally rented a jetski in Cha Am, north of Hua Hin and had zero issues, which illustrates that these scams are in the more popular tourist beats.
SexShow Scam: At the red light district’s of Patpong, Pattaya and Bangkok, you will be approached with “The Menu” while you are one one of the many walking streets, with a list of all the crazy antics available for your viewing pleasure. Upon accepting the invitation, you will be led to one of the smaller nameless bars, normally upstairs (ground level ones have fixed prices for drinks, those above are likely scams) and made to pay for a couple of “lady drinks” for the girls at your table.
Now, the show begins. A meek and simple trick is performed and you are asked to tip generously to encourage more outlandish tricks.
Should you suspect something amiss and request to leave, you will be smacked with a huge table bill. Paying up fast is the safest bet to escape this situation or the bouncers standing around will give you a fast lesson. For those travelling alone, avoid such areas as you will be easily bullied and coerced.
Tuk Tuk Scams: Tuk Tuks in Thailand can prey on your want to make huge savings, with super low offers of all day tours. They justify this by claiming that it is Thai Tourism Day and that the government is sponsoring free gas.
And so it happens, on the tours, what they do is they send you to jewellery or tailor shops along the way where they earn commission should you make any purchase! In those shops, many tactics could be used to make you buy something, such as locking the shop or simply by wasting your time.
Of course, they do not just bring you there without you saying so, they do it in a smart way.
First, they will find out the purpose of your vacation, is it to shop? To sightsee? Then, they enquire about your itinerary and began making suggestions to “better places” or places with more “bargains”. They will even claim that this or that place is closed but there’s another which they can bring you to.
If they discover that you are new to the city, they may bring you to a travel agency and offer to help you plan the rest of the trip. A famous one is the TAT – Tourism Authority of Thailand. It’s bullshit, avoid at all costs unless you do not mind paying exorbitant sums for fake bus tickets, hotel bookings and even plane tickets.
The more scheming ones will bring you out of town/city/to somewhere secluded and then demand an exorbitant amount to send you back.
To top it off and make it even more authentic, sometimes the tuk tuk drivers don’t suggest the places. Rather, they send you to a location, go for a toilet break, and a well dressed stranger will approach you from nowhere, chat with you to build trust and then share “insider tips” for where next to visit.
Taxi Scams: Obviously, avoid taxis without meters, especially those with “broken” meters. If you are left with no choice, negotiate the price first.
For those taxis with meters and yet try to negotiate a flat rate price with you, never do so. Beware of the taxis in airports as well, as they cost more than taxis outside. Also be wary of the final location which you end up in, as they might send you to a wrong place with a similar sounding name to fleece you of your cash. Also, do not reveal much info and definitely do NOT take up advice or offers from the driver.
When you leave your motorbike parked and locked somewhere, the company will send someone with a spare key to unlock it and steal it back.
Then, you will be forced pay up for losing your motorbike. Again, do not hand over your passport as collateral when renting the motorbike.
A simple turnaround to this problem is to use an OLD passport and also to use your own lock, no matter how troublesome it is. Better to be safe than sorry.
Fake Thai Baht Scam: When you pay for an item, the shopkeeper may claim that your note is counterfeit, bring it to the back/out of sight to swap with a counterfeit note! He comes back, gives you the counterfeit note and demands for new payment.
This is a double or triple whammy as you had to pay more than the original plus you get a counterfeit note! The solution to this is to never let any note get out of your sight. Also, be wary of the 1000 baht note as it is most commonly used. Take note of the serial numbers of the large notes as well.