Fighting the Scammers: 7 Tips on How to Avoid Common Scams and Tricks in Bangkok
Nobody likes the feeling of being scammed out of their time and money, especially when you’re in the middle of enjoying a lovely holiday. While Bangkok is relatively safe from serious scams and crimes against foreigners, there are still a few things you should look out for. To help you avoid being swindled for your money by fraudsters, your Bangkokian friends at Lub d Bangkok have put together a list of common scams and how to avoid them.
1. Taxi and Tuk Tuk Scams
Taxis refuse to turn on their meters despite “Taxi Meter” clearly written on their roofs, and Tuk Tuk’s charging extortionate prices are very common not only for tourists but also for locals. Always insist that you use the meter before hopping in the cabs or try to negotiate a reasonable price that you’re comfortable with if they insist on not using the meter. Some Taxis and Tuk Tuk drivers also prey on naïve tourists by pedaling special deals for sightseeing tours or shops from which they receive a commission. If you want to be completely free from these scams, the alternative services of Grab, Bolt, and inDriver would ensure that you will reach your destination while being charged reasonably.
2. Attractions Closed Scam
In many popular sightseeing spots like temples (especially the Grand Palace), there will be a “local” a bit further away from the main gate who will tell unsuspecting tourists that the venue is closed. The individual will then try to entice the tourists into letting him/her be their guide and take them around other ‘special’ locations that are less touristy and equally beautiful. Unfortunately, these “guides” are scammers who lead tourists to gem shops, tailors, or other souvenir shops where counterfeit goods are sold at inflated prices. The best thing to do in these instances is to make sure that you actually see that the place is genuinely closed for the day. Also, avoid any overly friendly strangers who promise to take you to a shop/store with a very “special discount.”
3. The Khlong Scam
This is pretty similar to the Taxi and Tuk Tuk scam, except it’s in the water so it might be harder to get off if you’ve realized you’re being scammed! A person at a temple or tourist spot near the river offers you a ride along the Chao Phraya River and the canals (Khlong) on his long tail boat. While you might see a few nice things on the ride, the engine magically breaks down a few km away from the drop-off point. The man then demands a hefty amount to help fix the engine and you pretty much have to cough up the money unless you want to go for a swim! The best way to avoid this ridiculous scam is again to avoid overly friendly people promising you a guided tour, and to always book your tours in advance at a reputable agency or company.
4. Jewelry/Gem scam
This scam is often connected to the Grand Palace scam, where tourists are told that a certain venue is closed by a person who promises to take them on a “special” guided tour of other spots. The scammer usually persuades tourists to visit a local jewelry shop to buy authentic gems. On the way there you will strategically meet other people who are all part of the scheme, which may include fake TAT (Tourism Authority) representatives and even fake police officers who claim that the gem stores are legitimate. Once at the store, you are persuaded to buy these “top quality” gemstones which unfortunately turn out to be fake. The best way to avoid this scam is just like the temple and Khlong scams; avoid any overly friendly stranger that is encouraging you to visit a certain shop.
5. Massage Parlor Scam
Another classic scam in the big city of Bangkok is where an overly friendly stranger leads an innocent tourist to a massage parlor at a supposedly discounted rate. Once at the entrance of the store, the man will usually ask the tourist to pay for the massage immediately and then leaves once the money has been collected. After you’ve had your wonderful massage, you receive the bill from the massage lady who claims to have no idea that you already paid (surprise, surprise!). As you’ve noticed, there is a common theme here; Don’t trust friendly strangers! If the person speaks relatively good English and offers you amazing discounts, leave. For this one, it’s best to do your homework by looking up the reviews. Also, go to them directly to make your booking and never follow anyone to a shop.
Our budget dorm Hotel in Lub d Bangkok would be more than happy to help guests to know the ins and outs on how to avoid the most common scams that tourists face. Lub d Bangkok is conveniently situated right next to BTS National stadium station, close to all the major shopping centers and tourist hotspots in the city. So, if you’re tired of Tuk Tuks and Taxis charging unfair prices, just take the Sky train to get around Bangkok!