Tourist scams in Thailand


7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Images adapted from: Hotels, pptvhd36, Feetdotravel, Lonelyplanet

Thailand has been a vacation paradise for folks from all around the globe since, well, forever. It’s known for flavourful cuisine, stunning nature spots, and kindhearted opeople – hence its nickname,“the Land of Smiles.” 

Unfortunately, Bangkok’s bustling streets and Phuket’s sun-lit beaches have proven to be perfect lairs for scammers who prey on local and international tourists alike.

We don’t want that to happen to you, so watch out for these common scams in Thailand that can easily turn travellers into victims.

Note: All pictures for illustration purposes only.


1. Overpriced tuk-tuks and taxis with “speedy” meters


Overpriced tuk-tuks and taxis in Bangkok are a tale as old as time. This scam is commonly found around tourist attractions like the Grand Palace and Khao San Road, where lines of taxis wait for unsuspecting tourists to hop on. 

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Florian Wehde

While you can ask for a flat rate to determine whether it’s overpriced or not, the “speedy” taxi meter scam is much more tricky. The metre machine is rigged on purpose so that the price jumps high over a short period of time. 

Many passengers, even locals, wouldn’t catch this until they see the glowing number flickering faster than Bangkok traffic. 

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Line

To avoid paying an exorbitant fee, don’t be timid – ask for the price before jumping into the ride, whether it’s a tuk-tuk or taxi. And when taxi drivers shout ‘no metre,’ you can take your business elsewhere. Or, use trusty applications like Grab or Line Taxi to avoid the problem completely.  

If you don’t know how much the normal rate should be, kindly discuss this with the staff at your accommodation, who might be able to book a ride for you.


2. Sexy show scam


There’s nothing wrong in seeking a little bit of excitement in Bangkok’s red-light district. But watch for men who randomly approach you on the streets and offer you a “cheap” sexy show. If agreed, he’ll take you to some of the most secretive clubs that are deep in the alleyways.

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Feetdotravel

When these men say “฿100 per drink with free shows,” he really means “oh, the drink might cost up to ฿300 each, which you’ll end up paying double for. Every time you order a drink, another drink goes straight to a showgirl. And did we mention the extra charge for the show?”

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Fightchase

If you refuse to pay for whatever’s on the bill, the staff will put enormous pressure on you to do so. They might end up giving you “discounts”, but it’s still going to be much higher than what you signed up for.   

Save yourself trouble and money by simply saying no. And if you’re really keen on seeing these shows, just choose one of the clubs located along the main streets with the drink prices clearly listed on menus at the entrance. 


3. Jet ski and scooter “damage” 


7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Lonelyplanet

As you’re relaxing in the sun and sand on Thailand’s beaches, you might think about renting a scooter or jet ski to roam around the island for some extra fun. This might lead you to the jet ski/scooter scam.

How the scam works is that when renting a vehicle, you’ll be asked to leave your passport with the operator – which is something you shouldn’t do. Once you return the bike/jet ski, the operator will claim that their vehicle has been damaged – which isn’t true. Then, they’ll demand you to pay a lot of money in exchange for your passport.

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Siaminsight

To avoid this, go with more reliable rental shops that don’t require you to present them with your actual passports – a photocopy should be enough. Then, take photos of the rental vehicle from all angles before leaving the shop, so you have it as a reference if needed. 


4. “Wrong change”


This one is quite simple, and many people have fallen for it without even realising.

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Straitstimes

Basically, some “clever” sellers in stores in tourist areas will give you back change that are a few baht short. And if you do figure it out and ask them, they’ll simply say, ‘Oops! wrong change.’    

It’s quite difficult to separate folks who make an honest mistake from those with malicious intent. So, make sure to count your change before leaving stores or restaurants. The best thing to do is familiarise yourself with Thai currency before spending it.  


5. Closed tourist sites


7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Hotels

When roaming around major tourist attractions like  The Grand Palace you might be approached by an individual who’ll tell you that the place is closed. Spoiler alert: it’s not closed – chances are, you might be at a less crowded gate.

After that, the person will persuade you to get into a tuk-tuk or taxi for a cheap fee and take you to another nearby “temple” or must-visit “museum.” Well, turns out these destinations are just expensive jewellery or suit shops. 

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Into-asia

While here, the owner and driver will try to convince you to buy their goodies, saying it’s on a super sale for some weird reason like “government discount week” – what’s that? 

The solution to this problem is to dismiss the person and check the official signs at the main entrance of the location you’re at. Or, you can do a quick Google search to check the opening hours instead.     


6. Fake beggars


While walking along the streets of Bangkok, you might have come across people begging for money. You might even have given them some baht to help out. However, it’s not always that your dime goes to those genuinely in need. 

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: pptvhd36

In fact, many of such beggars you see are part of a larger fake beggar syndicate. Thai news outlets have reported a fake beggar who was spotted stepping out of an expensive car before dressing up as a blind person and going to “work.”  

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Image credit: Matichon

Oftentimes, this scam sadly exploits innocent children. Many infants and toddlers are seen begging with their “parents.”

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell the difference between the real beggars and scammers. Instead, you can look into donating to legit charity organisations – this way, you can help out without unknowingly supporting this cycle.  


7. Overpriced restaurants


While Thailand is best known for cheap and tasty street food, there are many fancy places where you can spend more to get a better experience. 

However, if you’re unlucky enough, you might encounter some regular restaurants that charge a 5-star price.

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

One such restaurant is listed as a “Scam Shop” on Google Reviews

Surprisingly, these restaurants fly under the radar and don’t attract customers directly. Instead, they rely heavily on tuk-tuk or taxi drivers to bring them visitors who aren’t familiar with the area. And before the poor customers realise what they’ve gotten themselves into, they’re already being charged with staggering prices.

7 Common Tourist Scams In Thailand & How To Avoid Them When Travelling Around The Land Of Smiles

Minced pork omelette is ฿300 and Tom Yum Kung is ฿1,000? – ouch!
Image adapted from: Pantip

It’s not easy to pick out the bad apple when there are tons of restaurants before you, but reading reviews online before going on a food hunt can help you a lot. Also, don’t forget to check the menu beforehand to see if it’s worth paying for.  

Most of the time, visitors are brought to places like this by tuk-tuks or taxis who have made arrangements with the restaurant. So, you should choose your dining spot by doing some research online, or simply read our food articles!

Cheap and delicious local food spots in Bangkok:


Travel around Thailand with ease and safety


Just remember to stay alert on your next trip to Thailand so you’ll know how to avoid such scams, and experience this beautiful country stress-free!

And if you find yourself in a stressful situation, do not hesitate to find the nearest police or contact the Tourist Police at 1155.


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