The Thai people are overwhelmingly polite, honest, and friendly people - and yet scams, confidence tricks and rip-offs are very common in the tourist parts of Thailand. So let's shed some light on the subject with this list of the most common scams, and how they work:
Most scams rely on a steady stream of gullible tourists being delivered to their doors. Tuk tuk drivers can make more money in kick-backs delivering 'targets' than from fares. The 'friendly' driver will find out the purpose of your trip, - shopping, sightseeing or finding accommodation - then tell you:
It's a lie, he gets paid for delivering you to the over-priced shop, unspectacular temple, shoddy hotel.
There's even an entire fake tourist centre not far from Bangkok airport, where the travel agents will say they've never heard of your booked hotel, but thankfully they can arrange a room at another establishment.
The best protection from being ripped off by dodgy drivers is to check out our guide to riding in tuk-tuks and look like a local.
Ask a Bangkok tuk tuk or taxi driver to take you to a good restaurant, without saying exactly where you want to go, and you may find yourself at the notorious Sombondee Seafood Market.
This establishment is not to be confused with the popular Somboon Seafood restaurant chain - actually that's exactly what they're trying to do! The Somboon Seafood chain serves good food at a reasonable price and is very popular in Thailand. But at Sombondee the food is sub-par and the prices are hugely over-inflated. The driver gets a kick-back for delivering you there.
This is a classic Thai scam. The intricacy and depth of it's execution - the number of people involved in it and the effort required - is remarkable.
You learn from a series of seemingly random strangers you encounter that there's an incredible bargain to be hand on some precious gems. Your own greed gets the better of you and you agree to "take a look", but of course all the strangers were in on the game and you've paid thousands of baht for really nicely coloured pieces of glass.
Who wouldn't want to holiday in Thailand again and again? It's warm, cheap and beautiful. So when the chance of buying into a timeshare scheme is offered, you're tempted to have a look.
The scam varies; at the low end you're delivered to a remote location and bombarded by a high pressure sales pitch. If you want to leave, the taxi fare back will be exorbitant.
At the upper end you may hand over tens of thousands of dollars to opt-in to a scheme that doesn't exist.
This is a scam on a scam. When you attempt to pay for goods with a banknote, the shopkeeper will claim it is counterfeit.
The 1000 Baht note (about $33) is most notorious for this. He'll take it out the back to inspect more closely, but that's where he swaps your genuine note for a counterfeit. You put the counterfeit away and pay for your goods with another note.
You just paid double the asking price AND you got stuck with a counterfeit note.
Never let banknotes out of your sight, or if you're handing over big denomination bills, have a look at the serial numbers first - and let the shopkeeper see you do it.
Also find out if it's safe to go shopping with credit cards and use ATMs.
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