Traveling to Thailand is a lot of fun and you surely do not want any petty crimes to affect your peace of mind while on vacation. Travel scams in Thailand are infamous, but if you take the right amount of precautions, you will not be affected by any of it. We have put together a list combining our experiences as well as those by other fellow travelers in the recent past, and have crafted perfect solutions to these common scams.
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TOP 10 TRAVEL SCAMS IN THAILAND AND HOW TO AVOID IT
1.FAST TRACK VISA APPLICATION SCAM
During peak season, the immigration lines are crazy long. It is during times like this that you will be approached to pay a tip to an official to quicken the entire visa process. There is no such scheme and now signs have been put up at the airport clearly stating that you should not tip officials to clear immigration.
WHAT TO DO: Research online on the visa cost and that is all you need to pay at the airport.
2. FAKE POLICE IN THAILAND
If you are caught throwing cigarette butts or for littering, these “officers” will pull you aside and give you a fine of 2000 Baht
WHAT TO DO: Stay calm, do not get intimidated. Verify badges, threaten to call the police helpline -191. Also, ensure that you keep very little cash in your wallet and stash the rest of your money away from plain sight. Never hand over any ID in original to these officers. Best to carry photocopy. Find useful numbers for tourists here
3. THAILAND-CAMBODIA BORDER SCAMS
The Thailand-Cambodia border is absolute chaos. You will be overwhelmed by the traffic, people, noises and most of all, the scammers. You will need to be extremely careful as this is a scam filled border.
1. Fake officers may direct you to a fake visa office.
WHAT TO DO : If you are planning to take a bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok or the other way around, either book with Giant Ibis or Nattakan. These are the only buses that can cross borders and the staff will direct you to the Visa office. If you book with other bus companies, you will need to change buses at the border. This will lead to a lot of confusion.
2. Visa Assistance Scam
Before you arrive at the border, your bus company may suggest that it is better if they handle the visa process for an additional cost of $5 to $20.
WHAT TO DO: Carry passport size photographs and photocopies of your passport. The visa process is simple and it is best to do it yourself. Do not handover your passport to anyone else.
3. Visa Processing/Exit Fee Scams
You will be asked to pay an additional $3 as processing or exit fee at the visa office. There is no such thing.
WHAT TO DO: The visa fee is $30 (2019). Ensure you carry the exact change and tell them that you do not have anything more than the visa fee on you.
4. Taxi Scam
If you plan to cross borders by taxi, please note that these vehicles will not cross borders. This will not be informed at the time of booking. Once you are at the border, you will be told that another vehicle representing the same company will be waiting at the other side. In most cases, once you cross borders, you will be directed to a mini van or told to pay more as the booking is no longer valid.
WHAT TO DO: Book your taxi until either Aranyaprathet (From the Thai side) or Poipet (Cambodia side), cross border and take a local taxi from there. Do not pay anything more than the agreed price.
4. WOULD YOU LIKE A DRINK AT THE BAR SCAM
This scam targets single men who are asked for a drink by girls. Drinks at inflated prices are ordered on your tab and then they will disappear. If you refuse to bay, burly men will show up and get you to pay.
WHAT TO DO: Simple, just do not wander into bars with strangers.
5. BUYING ELECTRONICS AT PANTIP PLAZA SCAM
The products sold here may either be counterfeits or they may get swapped to inferior quality goods at checkout.
WHAT TO DO: Ensure you go to reputed stores for your electronics and check the items at the counter.
6. DRINK SPIKING SCAM
There have been many reports of drink spiking at all the main tourist hubs in Thailand.
WHAT TO DO: Do not accept drinks from strangers and try to stick to bottled drinks that are opened in front of you. Do not leave your drink unattended.
7. FREE PING PONG SHOW SCAM
A friendly & persuasive staff will stop you on the street and urge you to watch a Ping Pong show for absolutely free. Once you are in, you will be told to order one drink minimum per person at an inflated price. Some have reported to being manhandled when trying to leave.
WHAT TO DO: If you are traveling alone, it is best to avoid such activities.
8. ‘THIS PLACE IS CLOSED’ SCAM
Mainly seen at tourist attractions in Bangkok, you will be told by your guide or a random person on the road that the place is closed for a ceremony and that there is a nearby attraction that is much better and only opens once a year. If you follow this guide, you will end up at some random gem or tailoring store.
WHAT TO DO: Walk up to the entrance of the attraction and see for yourself if it is closed. Avoid the alternate attractions at all costs.
9. GEM SCAM
Avoid taking suggestions from Tuk-Tuk guys on places of interest. Your Tuk-Tuk guy will suggest an ‘authentic’ gem store and the staff at the shop will urge you to buy due to some government approved discount offer. The gems sold here in most cases will be worthless.
WHAT TO DO: If you intend to buy gems in Thailand, look up online for authentic dealers and stick to those shops only.
10. CURRENCY SWITCHEROO
Reports of tourists handing over a note of 1000 Baht, only for the cashier to swap it with a 100 Baht bill and asking you to pay the difference.
WHAT TO DO: It is always best to have change and be extremely careful when handing over notes of bigger denomination. Say aloud the denominations you are handing over.