Daily Archives: April 9, 2007

Tourist Scams in Ayutthaya


** Report your scams at our new website: BangkokScams.com

The other day I had a really enjoyable time in Ayutthaya. But, it was marred at times by the scams. This kind of thing can spoil anyones holiday. No-one likes to be scammed. So, what is the definition of scammer? The dictionary says “A person who swindles you by means of deception or fraud”. So, is the person above a scammer? The sign clearly says that entrance for the toilet is 5 baht. But, take a look at the sneaky Thai above. Normally Thai people only use Arabic numbers like ourselves. If you see numerals written in Thai numbers then you can safely guess that you are being scammed. In Thai, this sign says “Toilet 3 baht”. So, am I being scammed? OK, it is not a lot of difference between the prices. But, the definition of a scam is “Deprive of by deceit”.  It is not the amount that is of concern. It is the fact that I am being deprived of an extra 2 baht by deceit. I hope she feels good that she made an extra 2 baht. She certainly didn’t look happy that I was taking her picture.


We all know about the two priced system in Thailand. It is quite widespread. But, is it acceptable? Are we being scammed? In the above case we have a sign for the entrance fee to one of the ruins in Ayutthaya. And yes, we are being scammed. They disguised the real entrance fee by using Thai numerals again. This is another clear case of “Deprive of by deceit”. OK, again we are not talking about a big difference in price. Thai people are 10 baht and foreigners are 30 baht. Incidently, although I have lived here a long time and pay taxes for the upkeep of places like this, I still have to pay “foreigners price”. Anyway, I didn’t argue or try to get in for 10 baht. It is not worth it as we are not talking about a lot of money. It just got a bit boring after a while to keep paying 30 baht each time. After ten locations it started to add up.


There are plenty of scams in Ayutthaya. It is a major tourist attractions and it is a good opportunity for the locals to make a lot of money. I don’t really want to give the impression that all Thai people are like this. Most of them are the kindest and most generous people on the planet. However, the ones that have mixed with foreigners change in some ways and become greedy and corrupt. Take a look at this elephant ride through the ruins of Ayutthaya. For 500 baht you get a 20 minute ride on the back of an elephant. For me that is a bit expensive (two days wages), but a lot of foreigners think, that is cheap. So, they do it. Most of the people in the elephant camp were foreigners. But there were some Thai people too. I looked around and could only see a price written in English. No sign of any other prices. Seemed strange so I queued up behind a Thai family at the ticket office. They asked how much for adults. The answer – 100 baht! The real price wasn’t even being advertised this time. “Deprive of by deceit”.


I think the most outrageous tourist scam I came across was this one at a restaurant called Khun Ton Fast Food, which is in the market area near Wat Phra Si Sanphet. I went in there and the first thing I saw was the usual menu in Thai up on the wall. I decided to go for fried rice with pork. The price was marked at 30 baht. A bit expensive but prices have started to go up these days. Before I had a chance to order, this plump waitress came over and said in broken English, “sit down sit down”. She then brought me over a menu in English. So, here I am looking at this menu and straight away I spotted that all the prices were 50 baht. So, I called the waitress over and said in Thai to her, how come it says 30 baht on the wall and this menu says 50 baht for the same dish. She then tried to make an excuse that it was a misprint in the menu. I told her that I hoped she wasn’t trying to cheat the foreigners. She didn’t reply. I decided not to stay. She had already offered me the real price, but I didn’t want to patronize this establishment any longer.

I honestly don’t think that these methods of deceit that they use are doing them any favours at all. Firstly they are creating bad feeling. Secondly, and more importantly, they will lose business when people like me start to campaign for foreign tourists to have the right to choose. By all means charge foreigners more if you like. But, don’t do it in a deceitful way. The people at Vimanmek Teak Mansion are doing it exactly right. No deceit there. They clearly say in English the price for Thai people and foreigners. Top marks for them. I had no problem paying them the foreigners price. They gave me the right to choose. These other people in Ayutthaya didn’t. They will hurt financially in the end. I know many people who never take tuk tuk rides. They would rather walk because they don’t want to be cheated. So, the tuk tuk driver loses out on a fare. While I was in Ayutthaya, I was thinking about going on a boat ride. I like boat rides. But, I don’t like being cheated. I just couldn’t be bothered arguing with the boat owner about the price. So, I never even went to take a look. Maybe he actually had a fair price for both Thailand foreigner alike. I will never know and the boat owner lost out on a potential fare.

Of course, this just doesn’t happen in Ayutthaya. Bangkok is just as bad. Yesterday I went into Bangkok with our Steve from Suphan Buri. We wanted to get scammed by the tuk tuk drivers. I wrote before that I was having difficulty in being scammed by these guys. Some forum members at thailandQA.com suggested I wasn’t wearing touristy enough clothes. So, did we get scammed inthe end? Find out in his blog tomorrow exclusively on thai-blogs.com.

** Report your scams at our new website: BangkokScams.com

The Great Tuk-Tuk Scam!

After, having talked about the idea for ages and ages, myself and the Webmaster Mr Richard finally got round to seeing for ourselves first-hand just how the cheapo Bangkok Tuk-Tuk scam works.

Up early, adorning the most touristy-looking set of clothing, cap and sunglasses that I could find in my wardrobe, I went to meet Richard before the scam-baiting and discuss our plans. Both of us, having lived in Thailand for donkeys years had read and heard so much about the supposed 10Baht Tuk-Tuk, that it was certainly time to get scammed deliberately just to see how it was for the average unassuming tourist/backpacker.

Parking the car near Pinklao Bridge, the first destination of the day was….of course….the epicenter of ‘scamming the naïve tourist’ – The Grand Palace. Alas though, after having walked just 50 meters from the car carrying a Lonely Planet map, pretending we were lost and didn’t speak a word of Thai, we were approached by a young burly looking guy, politely offering advice on sightseeing. And, before we could hardly mutter a word, he was suggesting a tour of the Big Buddha temple, the Lucky Buddha temple and fortunately, by complete chance – a government fashion shop was holding a grand Thai New Year sale which…..wasn’t to be missed! Just as he was explaining that a Tuk-Tuk ride would cost an unbelievably cheap 10Baht, we were once again granted heavenly luck when a cheerful-looking Tuk-Tuk driver appeared from absolutely nowhere. Such incredible co-incidence!

Getting out a pen and paper (every darned scammer asked us for a piece of paper to write on!) he wrote down the itinerary:
11am – Go see Big Buddha
12 o’clock – Get the good luck; visit Lucky Buddha
1pm – Take photo Marble Temple (Richard and I turned this one down)
1:30pm – Shopping at groovy Government fashion shop

Now, what the heck was this Big Buddha and Lucky Buddha?! Once whisked away, we soon realized that our Tuk-Tuk hardly spoke a word of English besides “Very good shopping fashion shop, special price for you” and “You want massage sexy girl?” Arriving at the first spot, we realized that The Big Buddha was in fact Intaram Temple in the Dusit area. Walking around, Richard took the cheap opportunity to snap loadsa pics and we noticed dozens of other tourists who had also arrived in a scammy Tuk-Tuk. Giving him his dues though, the Tuk-Tuk was cheerful friendly guy.

On asking why the fare was so cheap, all the Tuk-Tuk drivers reply “If you go to look Fashion Shop 5 minutes I get free petrol coupons”. This is absolute nonsense! As they do in fact get 200baht commission, regardless to whether you buy or not. To add more to this complete lies, our Tuk-Tuk guy even showed us a corny counterfeit coupon – with Esso printed on it! Laughable.

So, our next stop was The Lucky Buddha Temple (aka: Sitiram Temple, near Ratchadamnoern Road) which Richard was quite chuffed about as he had always wanted to visit. Just as he was taking some pictures, a shabby-looking guy came up to us and said “You no take photo”. Now, this guy was pretty rude and when we protested he pointed to a sign in Thai language about ‘Buddhism’, and lying through his grimy teeth explained “This photo, say in Thai – can not take photo”. Next, he really flipped-out when Richard turned around and took a quick snap of the sign. Who the guy actually was we had no idea, but he was definitely a scammer of some kind. To add more to his lies he said “Foriegner can not photo because not Buddhist” and to top it off reckoned “You listen me, I am security guard”. Now this guy was speaking so much ‘bull’ that you could almost smell it on his breath!

Next destination was the wonderful government fashion shop. Of course, it was nothing of the sort, but instead a huge Indian run tailors. Richard pretended that he needed the toilet but instead went for a quick look around the back. As for me, I was lynched immediately but a couple of English-speaking Thai-Indians. On asking them whether the shop-gaff was government-run, he also lied “Oh yes, the government is giving the foreigner very special prices today”. Sat down, I was offered a coffee and handed a set of brochures full of corny pictures of models with their head and legs edited in wearing a Cashmere Suit – tacky Photo-Shop style.

Here, myself and Richard, kinda got our stories mixed-up! The Indian guy asked “Good Sir, I am wanting to know where you are going after Thailand” to which I replied “Mmmmm….. Singapore”.
“And where are you staying in Bangkok?” “Mmmmm….The Riverside Hotel”.
Next, I tried to say to the guy that I wasn’t interested but my friend in the toilet certainly was. Richard, when he finally got back immediately stated that he wasn’t interested! And to blow our undercover even more quickly, replied to the above same questions
“After Thailand, we’re going to Japan” and “Yes, we’re staying on Khao Sarn Road”. Nevermind, we soon headed for the door and back to our ever-smiling Tuk-Tuk.

As scammers always are, his faced soon dropped when we told him that we wanted to get back to The Grand Palace. He was insistent though, that we check out a Jewelry Store (again, friggin government owned!). Great, I had always wanted to be taken to a scammy Gem Shop. I was a little disappointed though, as this gaff did not look like one of those infamous gem scam stores which are always closing down (and opening up again) for ripping of tourists. In the car-park were tens of Tuk-Tuks, and we noticed a couple of foreigners arguing with their driver looking obviously cheesed-off like “I told you that I wanted to go to The Grand Palace”.

We were welcomed at the entranced by a couple of pretty promo girls who offered us a drink. Incredibly I saw a few foreigners in there drinking beer! So, the next time you fancy a tour of three temples and a free beer thrown-in, you know what to do! They gave us a guided tour of their small factory (which was quite interesting) before being taken into the main shopping hall. I had a good look at their rings, they were nice-like, but the prices weren’t that much different to what you find in Europe, I thought the place was real expensive for Thailand. Our guide was quite polite though and wasn’t that pushy. After telling her that we weren’t interested in buying she took as next door to a spacious gift shop full of overpriced souvenirs. After a quick browse, we fled the scene and the taxi driver agreed this time to take us directly to The Grand Palace.

Don’t forget your map if you want to be scammed!

Strolling around The Grand Palace we were approached by swarms of scammy Tuk-Tuk drivers and their cronies offering trips to a couple of other temples and more darned government fashion shops and jewelry stores. Of course, even though we were just 100 meters from the entrance, they all claimed something along the lines of
“You go Grand Palace? Can not! Now, have a Buddhist ceremony, tourists can not go in, only Thai people. But open again 3 o’clock, I send you back here after you go with me”.
Again, all the scammers offered silly fares ranging between 5-40baht. I would guess however, that if you said “How about a trip for free” that they would agree.

These scammers claiming that the Emerald Buddha Temple and The Grand Palace are closed, when they are not, are in theory seriously breaking the law. These Tuk-Tuk scams have been going on for years and the government has never enforced any kind of severe crackdown. I advise that they do something right now, otherwise The Kingdom will continually lose floods of potential tourists.

And finally, all the foreigners suck-up to the scammers about receiving petrol coupons for taking them to such stores. That is complete quack-wack – help to spread the truth! They get cash!

Come back to thai-blogs.com tomorrow for Richard’s own report and more of his exclusive pictures of the scams that we experienced “on the side” on this same day. Richard said that he has never been scammed so many times in his entire life.

Edited: Check out Richard’s scam report Tourist Scams in Bangkok.