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.

Bangkok-rip_off-cheap-overnight-busThese official looking guides swarm around the entrances of the train station, approaching every tourist looking to buy train tickets. They then tell the tourist to buy the tickets at a tourist office, somewhere behind the train station. This should warn the cautious traveler, as it doesn’t make sense to buy train tickets anywhere else but the train station itself. At the tourist office, which is just another commercial company with a smartly-chosen name, the tourist will be informed that the train they are trying to book is already fully booked and they need to buy a bus ticket, which they can buy at the spot, of course. Sometimes the fake guides at the train station claim the same thing, before leading their victim to the tourist office. This is a scam! Just walk past all these so-called guides and walk into the train station to the ticket counter. This is the only place where they can give you reliable information on the availability of tickets, and it doesn’t happen often that a train is fully booked.

Bangkok-scam-cheap-overnight-busThe risk you take by going on an overnight bus trip with an unofficial bus company, besides being way overcharged by the so-called tourist office, is that most of these private bus companies don’t have reliable staff. Valuables kept in the luggage  have often been reported stolen during the night, sometimes even from carry-on bags, while the tourists are sleeping. Some tourists have even reported being drugged into a deep sleep, before waking up to find their money stolen. The thieves belong to the bus crew and the extremely early time of arrival, when people are still sleepy and not on guard, makes sure the bus has already continued its journey by the time the victims realize there’s something missing. Or another scam with these buses is that they don’t take their passengers into the destination city, but rather to a transit station outside the city, where they then have to pay additional fares to take a minivan or taxi to reach their destination. Of course, the bus company takes a kickback from those taxi drivers.

Most of these malicious bus companies depart from the Khao San Road area, while the government buses depart from the official bus terminal. There are also a few other reputable private bus companies, which you can find with a bit of research on the internet, but traveling with the BKS and booking directly at the main bus terminal is the best way to avoid getting ripped off. And don’t forget to buy a lock for your luggage.

Despite that this tourist trap has been around for many years, and warnings from previous victims can be found all over the internet and in travel guide books, there are still tourists who fall for the scam and take a cheap overnight bus, falling victim to this scam.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Bangkok and Thailand Tourist Scams

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