Common Tourist Scams in Bangkok
When people travel in Bangkok, they seem to forget that they are in a big city just like Paris and New York and they become too trusting. . As a tourist, you stand out as an easy target regardless of how much you think you blend in. Keep your guard up and if you wouldn’t do something in your home country, don’t do it in Bangkok and you will be less likely to get scammed. There are a few well known scams that take place on a regular basis in Bangkok. Before traveling to Bangkok for the first time, familiarize yourself with some of them so that you will be able to spot them if you become a target.
Photo by Trey Ratcliff
Gem scams are probably the most known of scams in Thailand. Even though many people have heard of the scam, they are still caught off guard by it and fall into the trap. Travelers who are visiting Thailand for the first time are the most targeted which is why so many of the con-artists hang around the main tourist attractions of Bangkok. The scam usually starts with someone approaching you outside of a main tourist attraction, such as the Grand Palace, and telling you that it is closed for one reason or another. If this happens to you, your best defense is to ignore them even if you feel rude. If the place really is closed you will find out at the entrance and no one will be offended if you check it out for yourself.
Regardless of what you decide to do, it is in your best interest to avoid conversation with them. If they are trying to scam you they will make it extremely difficult for you to end a conversation. In many cases, they will mention that they know of another place that is just as good to see and will help you get transportation there at a discounted price. Remember that tuk-tuks and taxis are pretty much the same price so if the price of a tuk-tuk is low, something is probably going on. You will eventually end up at a gem shop where you will be talked into buy various gems to resell in your home country for a much higher price. Unfortunately, these gems are not worth what you will pay for them as they are often just pretty pieces of cut glass. They can be very persuasive and believable so many people don’t realize that they are being scammed until they get home even if they have heard of the scam before.
If you consider yourself to be a seasoned traveler and want to go off of the beaten path, this is where you are most likely to get into trouble. Bangkok isn’t a country village so it’s not that common that a local will invite you to their home without having some ulterior motive. If someone does invite you into their home, you should refuse the offer even if it is difficult. Often times, these kinds of invitations end in something less than desirable. Drugs and robberies are common in these kinds of situations which are something you definitely do not want to be a part of while traveling abroad.
We all like to help out when we think we can so it can be easy to fall into this trap regardless of where you are traveling. Don’t give money to kids begging on the street regardless of how much you want to. This is usually a scam as these children are usually a part of a trafficking system and are not likely to see any of the money. There are also instances in which the children have been put up by their parents to ask you for money because you are seen as an easy target. Don’t fall for it. If you want to help, donate your money to reputable charities.