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Bangkok Art & Culture

Guide to common scams in Bangkok

By Centara Hotels & Resorts Posted on 24 Aug 20

Like many other major cities across the world, Bangkok has its fair share of scams. However, you’ll quickly come to realise the city has a much higher level of security guaranteed to its visitors when compared with other tourist hotspots around the globe. While Bangkok is a fantastic place to visit and is generally one of South-East Asia’s safer cities, there is no harm in exercising that extra little bit of caution.

Many of Bangkok’s scams have been around for decades and the modus operandi of the scammers has yet to modernise. These scams have long been identified by the local authorities and they have constantly taken action to ensure that tourists in Bangkok feel safe and comfortable while visiting the city. Thailand has a dedicated Tourist Police Bureau (TPB) that are polite, professional and extremely efficient and will go that extra mile to ensure that your stay in the Kingdom is trouble free.

To ensure you enjoy a fantastic stay, we have created this useful little guide about scams in Bangkok and how to avoid them.

Guide to common scams in Bangkok

 

Grand Palace closures

The Grand Palace scam is one of the oldest tricks in the book. These scammers will appear friendly and welcoming and conveniently tell you that the Palace or another significant tourist destination is closed for a special religious or royal ceremony. Normally well-dressed and carrying a map and an umbrella, these people will reel off numerous other ‘tourist’ destinations that are open and then offer to take you in their friend’s tuk tuk. Be warned that they will try to take you to some tourist trap that charges ludicrous prices.

How to avoid:

  • Politely decline any advances of such nature
  • Check the Grand Palace’s website in advance for religious and royal ceremonies

 

No meter

While the vast majority of Bangkok’s tuk tuk and taxi drivers are decent, honest working people, there are a few that try to prey on vulnerable tourists.

The no meter scam happens daily and is a thorn in the side of locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately, taxi drivers refusing to put on meters and tuk tuk drivers overcharging are a part and parcel of living and visiting Bangkok.

How to avoid:

  • If in a taxi, ensure the meter is switched on
  • Always set a price before you get in a tuk tuk
  • Use the Grab App – Thailand’s best booking service for private cars, motorbikes and taxis

 

A longer than usual boat ride

When you’re casually exploring the streets of Bangkok, you might find a man approaching you and striking up a conversation. As soon as you start walking with them, he’ll offer you a ride in his friend's boat around the khlongs (canals) of Bangkok at the cheapest price. It is very unlikely that you will end up paying the agreed price or getting the tour you wanted.

How to avoid:

  • Only book tour activities through your hotel or reputable tour companies
Guide to common scams in Bangkok

 

Street beggars

In the Lower Sukhumvit Area and other major tourist destinations, you may come across the occasional street beggar, usually with a child or baby in tow. Be warned that they are usually victims of human trafficking and it is likely that any money given to them will find its way to their trafficker.

How to avoid:

  • Never give any money to beggars
  • If you want to give something; clothes, food or drinks will be the best option

 

Guide to common scams in Bangkok

 

More than you bargained for

In some of Bangkok’s shiftier areas, there will be touts trying to entice you into local bars with the offer of cheap drinks or special shows. If you fall for this scam, expect to get much higher bar bills than what you bargained for. This scam is notoriously common in the Patpong district, so ensure that you use your common sense when venturing into this area.

How to avoid:

  • Stick to well established nightlife venues
  • If you find yourself in a sticky situation, do not get aggressive or confrontational
Guide to common scams in Bangkok

 

A great place nonetheless

In a country that highly values tourist safety and wellbeing, it’s very unlikely that you will fall victim to a major scam on your travels within Bangkok and Thailand. When weighed against the honesty and warmth that Thailand has to offer to its visitors, these scams appear weightless.

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