Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok-tourist-scamsBangkok, a vibrant metropolis of more than 15 million people and the capital of Thailand, is an ideal gateway to South-East Asia to many tourists. The city offers a fascinating blend of eastern and western culture, with thousands of temples, hundreds of fashionable shopping malls, and trendy bars. Tourists become quickly overwhelmed by the damp heat, the busy traffic, the contrast between the ultra modern skyscrapers and the harrowing slums, but also the irresistible smiles of the local Thai people. Thanks to the relatively high humidity and tropical heat, exotic orchids are to be found all across the city. Despite the sometimes sensational reports in the international media, Krung Thep, as the Thai call Bankok, is surprisingly safe, less disorderly than expected and full of hidden secrets waiting to be discovered.

However, as in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” tourist-scams-Bangkokholiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with tourists who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

Bangkok tourist scams

  • Beware of scammers dressing up as a Tourist Police Officer in order to win your trust and then direct you towards a shop or restaurant from which they take a commission.
  • Want to book a train ticket? Don’t let fake guides make you believe there are no more tickets and you have to travel by overnight bus. Buy your train tickets only at the counter inside the station and beware of the risks when taking a bus.
  • If you are not an expert in diamonds, be careful when shopping for jewellery, even in an official shop, and even with certificates. Bangkok is famous for its fake jewellery scams.
  • The best way to travel around Bangkok is by taxi. Tuk tuks may seem more fun, but are most of the times more expensive and you run a greater risk of being ripped off.
  • One of the most infamous scams in Bangkok is the overpriced drinks scam which happens mostly in nightclubs but also in some dishonest restaurants.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Baht, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

Keep in mind: local Thai (or most Asian) people are generally very timid towards foreigners and will never spontaneously approach them or start a conversation. Even if they speak English very well, they’ll wait for you to make the first contact. Any local who is daring enough to approach tourists spontaneously will have an agenda of his/her own, even if they seem friendly and helpful at first. It’s that simple!

Bangkok-tourist-rip_offsBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Bangkok is unsafe. On the contrary: most of the people are incredibly friendly, sincere and honest, especially away from the tourist hotspots, and because Bangkok is such a popular destination, it is also one of the most traveler-friendly cities in Asia.

Did you get into trouble anyways? The Thai Tourist Police is available in all major cities across the country under the special phone number 1155. They are there to help foreigners in case of theft, robbery, traffic accidents and as arbitrators in disputes with local shop keepers or accommodations. Tourist Police officers speak English, and some speak other European languages as well.

  • Fake tourist police


    The Bangkok Tourist Police can be seen around every major tourist hotspot in the city, they are in uniform and are easily recognizable thanks to the distinctive badge with the official Tourist Police logo on their uniform. The Tourist Police officers all speak English very well, and some also speak other European languages. They are […]

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  • Cheap overnight bus scam


    Traveling by (overnight) train is a cheap and fast means of transportation in this large and stretched-out country, even for crossing the border to Cambodia (read the Cambodia cheap bus tickets scam). But beware of a scam by fake tourist guides, specifically aimed at luring unsuspecting and unknowing tourists into taking a bus ride instead. […]

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  • Fake diamonds scam


    Khao San Road is a popular destination for backpackers and tourists from all over the world. They come here to party, eat great food, and shop till they drop. But it’s also one of the locations where tourists are a prey for a classic Bangkok scam. A lot has already been written about this rip-off, […]

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  • Tuk-tuk scam


    A similar scam to the Bangkok fake diamonds scam, except for the diamonds. Tourists are lured into a super cheap ride by a friendly looking tuk-tuk driver, who will tell them the government gives him fuel coupons if he takes foreign tourists for a ride in his tuk-tuk. Of course this is not true, he […]

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  • Somboondee Seafood Market scam


    The Somboondee Seafood Market is an infamous restaurant in Bangkok that is well-known to pay high commissions to taxi drivers and tuk-tuk drivers (among others) who bring tourists to eat there. The tourists are then exorbitantly overcharged, they often end up paying three to four times of what they would usually pay at one of […]

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  • Overpriced drinks scam


    This rip-off is also known as the Ping Pong show scam, because you are lured in by promises of girls performing an X-rated show with pingpong balls. It’s not necessarily limited to Bangkok, as Pattaya is famous for this rip-off as well, and other cities around the world (check the Istanbul bar scam as well). […]

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