Top 10 Scams in Thailand

Most tourist destinations around the world have their scammers. Thailand is no different. However, what is more tragic here is that Thai people are naturally very hospitable. They love playing the host and welcoming guests to their country. I am sure many of us have seen this generosity on long train journeys when families share their meals with you. At my school, we often have tourists visiting for a tour. The school administration always welcomes the visitors and even gives them presents. In the early days, when it was still a novelty, we even took them to local tourist attractions and paid the admission costs for these complete strangers. That is how generous Thai people normally are. But, it is unfortunate that once they start to have prolonged contact with foreigners, they begin to change. It is no longer “be our guest”. They will lie, cheat and even blindly rob you into order to get as much money from you as they can.

We started the website www.BangkokScams.com in order to make people aware of some of the more common scams that take place in the Kingdom of Thailand. But, even we were overwhelmed by the large number of scams and comments that were being posted every day. These are not isolated incidents. Despite the warnings in guidebooks and in websites like ours, these scams are still happening. It is really tragic because some tourists get hurt so much that they will never return to Thailand again. Even worse, they will tell their friends to avoid our adopted country like the plague. I really feel sorry for the tourists who go to the Grand Palace on their last day only to be told by scammers that the palace is closed. I was there the other day with my sister and her family and we were told several times that the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun were all closed on that day. They said that it was our lucky day as they knew a temple called the Big Buddha which was open. What they didn’t mention was that they would drag us to a gem store where we would get a hard sell to buy worthless gems.

To help you be more street savvy on your next holiday in Thailand, we have decided to put together a top 10 of scams in Thailand. It is by no means definitive. If you have any scams that you would like to report, then please post them at www.BangkokScams.com.

1. The Grand Palace is Closed Scam – This scam can happen near any tourist attraction but still happens a lot outside the Grand Palace. As you approach, someone will tell you that the palace is closed for various reasons. Ignore them as you will end up in either a gem store or a tailor shop.
2. Thai Gem Scam – If you are not an expert on gems then I strongly urge you not to take the word of other people on how much money you can make if you sell these gems on return to your home country. People are losing a lot of money every day. Don’t make the mistake that you are different.
3. Wrong Change Scam – A common scam at places like 7-Eleven and Family Mart in tourist areas is to give you change as if you gave them a 500 baht note instead of a 1,000 baht note. Many tourists are not familiar with Thai money and often give the wrong money or don’t notice that their change is incorrect. Most shops will say out loud the denomination of any paper money you give them. Check your change!
4. Jet Ski Scam – Many people in Pattaya and Phuket are being scammed after renting jet skis. When you come back after your fun, they will point out scratches and dents in the jet ski and they will demand large sums of money. What they fail to mention is that a dozen other customers have already paid for those scratches. If you rent anything, be it motorcycle, car or jet ski, make sure all scratches and dents are documented.
5. Patpong Sex Show Scam – Don’t believe the touts outside who say free sex shows and drinks for only 100 baht each. You will end up paying a bill in the thousands. Stay clear if you are alone as they can turn violent if you refuse to pay.
6. Hualamphong Scam – Outside the train station you will meet official looking people who will say they will help you book the seats. They take you to their nearby travel agent and pretend to ring the train booking office. They then say the train is full and your only way to travel is on one of their buses.
7. Long Distance Bus Scam – Many people have had things stolen from their bags on overnight bus trips. Some have even reported they were drugged and found their money missing when they woke up.
8. Airport Taxi Scam – Official looking touts will pretend that they are meter taxis and tell you that it is 500-1000 baht to go into town. The meter taxi outside is less than half this. The police have tried to crack down on them but they are back. Ignore anyone who asks if you want a taxi. The real taxi drivers are waiting outside by their cars.
9. Blackjack Scam – This usually starts when someone asks you where you are from. If you say, New York, then he will say he has a sister who will be going to study there. He then asks if you can go and meet her as she has some questions. At their house, you somehow end up playing blackjack with them. They then ask you to help cheat someone out of their money. Don’t get tempted as it is you who is being scammed.
10. My Girlfriend is Pregnant Scam – A popular scams these days is your long distance girlfriend writing to you to say she is pregnant with your baby. She either asks for help to pay for the aboriton or for money to raise the baby. What she doesn’t tell you is that she has already written to five other foreigners telling them that they are the father too. The latest gimmick is some medicine circulating in Isaan that swells their belly to make them look pregnant in case you fly in to visit them. The only way to know for sure is to go with them to the doctors to get an ultrasound.

Please remember, most scammers are successful because they play on the greed of their victims. If something is too good to be true then it probably is. As kind as Thai people are, they are also very shy. If you are approached by a well spoken Thai person on the street then the chances are high that this person is a scammer. Thai people are not normally so forward. However, please give them the benefit of the doubt unless, of course, they give you the codeword “Big Buddha” or “Lucky Buddha”. This is then their admission of guilt. Finally, it is sad to report that there are now foreigners praying on helpless tourists. So, be weary of any unsolicited help.

Visit www.BangkokScams.com and www.2Bangkok.com for more details of scams. Coming soon will be the “Dummy Guide to getting your money back after being hit by the Thai Gem Scam”.

36 responses to “Top 10 Scams in Thailand

  1. excellent !

    I’ve fall for Airport Taxi scam the first time around, and live to experience Grand Palace and PatPong Sex show scam but manage to escape !

  2. [quote]
    If something is too good to be true then it probably is
    [/quote]

    Rings true every single time, caveat emptor – Buyer beware! Think twice before you part with *any* cash.

  3. On my first trip to Thailand by myself I was so afraid of scams that I only ever walked everywhere and never caught a taxi.
    I spent 6 hours walking to get from one bus station to another once. What an experience.

  4. Yes it is so sad that a country that fascinates so many and generally has a great reputation has so many scammers. I have been to many countries and none of them have come close to the intensity and frequency of scammers preying on tourists. The only one that got me was the taxi scammer at the airport.

  5. the chief guard at the palace is the biggest crook of all telling you the palace is closed ( when it very obviously is not) and sending you off with some girl selling river trips ( he’s on commission) you can see all these places in a tax for a tenth of what they are asking . JUST WALK AWAY FROM BOTH OF THEM.

    TAXI DRIVERS DO NOT APPROACH YOU IN THE U.K. SO DON’T FALL FOR THAT ONE. THEY ARE IN A LINE OUTSIDE AND GENERALLY VERY NICE PEOPLE.

    90% of Thai people are wonderful.

    don’t be scared . oh and save money on everything , go to roi-et . delightful and cheap.

  6. There is also another scam….the Restaurant Scam whereby your “helpful” taxi driver recommends an overpriced bad restaurant. He gets petrol vouchers in return.

  7. I fell for the 100 baht drink scam. I had one drink and also bought one lady drink. My bill came to 1,300 baht. They said I bought a short time room and drinks for all the bar staff. I never ever did. About 4 guys with pipes came out to get me to pay the check. I did and went to the tourist Police. I got my 1,000 baht back and Tourist Police warned me to lay low as they will be looking for me.

  8. Forgot to mention, in the Touristy Restaurants i have my Thai Girlfriend check the tab cause at least 25% of the time there is a over charge. In Lop Buri the food is sooooo cheap and never a bad tab. Always on the up and up. Those Touristy places we are just asking for it.

  9. Stephen Cleary

    Great list.

    Mr Bok wrote:
    “your “helpful” taxi driver recommends an overpriced bad restaurant. He gets petrol vouchers in return”.

    That’s untrue, he does not get petrol vouchers at all – he gets cash commission. Those petrol vouchers tuk-tuk and taxi drivers pull out and show foreign tourists are Fake! They are just a ploy to make you take pity on them and so help him out. They are used mostly by tuk-tuk drivers on the 10Baht scam ride, common lying line is: “Pls Mr Farang, i little money. Pls go into gem store, help me, i get free petrol coupons, you buy or not”.

    Like Thaiville mentioned, get off the beaten-track in places like Lopburi and you’ll hardly ever have to worry about being scammed/over-charged.

  10. “Finally, it is sad to report that there are now foreigners praying on helpless tourists. So, be weary of any unsolicited help.”

    Many times when I walked past Central World where the big Elephant Buddha is, I see touts talking to tourists and trying to convince them to visit the Gem or Tailor shop. I wanted to approach them and warn them but I’m afraid I might:
    1) Get beaten up by the touts
    2) Get mistaken for being a con-man

  11. What’s ironic is that some people stay on the Tourist Trail and can get bled dry whereas if you don’t ‘play safe’ you can have an excellent time, enjoying more of the culture and not scammed over!

  12. Police Scams in Phuket area.

    People should be aware that the local police in the Kata/Karaon/batong area are 9/10 time in on most of the scams. They may take an interest in helping you, but only for you to give them a heafty back hand payment. But sometimes thats not enough, they will work with the local brothels to arrest unsuspecting tourists to make money.
    So be care full, just use the tourist police, but there again I am not too sure about them.

  13. Hassan Al-Azzam

    Hi Richard.

    This is a real excellent article and very useful blog.

    I’ll be more than happy if you contribute and republish some of your articles one my travel website.

  14. Sure, those two guy in the top picture look like scammers I could tell at first glance. Poor Cleary being approached by them. Three men walking on the street are definitely not scammer, I’ll bet. Don’t you western people being told to read people from their look. A boy about seven could discriminate them out here.

  15. Thai people are the warmest and friendliest group of people on the planet. They are extremely hospitable and love to share whatever they are eating/drinking. This is engrained within their culture and not simply (in most cases) to lure tourists into some kind of scam.
    Just remember at the same time…. that there is no such thing as a free lunch… no matter what country you are in. Play it safe but not too safe that you are unable to experience these amazing people.

  16. I had falled prey to the patpong 100bht free show tactic. Bill was for 2000bht. They had bouncers and muscular men demanding money. So I paid and took a bill. Went out and called tourist police who escorted me into the same place and got my money back. Will never go to such places offering too good a deal to be true.

  17. travelphilippines

    wow this is a great im going to thailand in nov and this is very useful.

  18. Wonderful article Mr. Barrow!

    I read up on these and recommend others do the same before traveling to this otherwise beautiful country.

    Read, read, read and be weary of your surroundings and safety for sure!

  19. I wish i have come across this excellent web of yours… Anyway, I know all these scammer are only minority, Thailand is still a nice place and the people there are nice too. Will be extremely careful the next time… For all you know, I only bought the jewels becos I like them so much and it’s my wedding gift.. turns out they are worth much lesser than i bought.

  20. Thanks for the comprehensive list of common tourist scams.

  21. The Scammer News

    The Scammers News…

    is a ongoing project to help bring to focus the scams and people that use them in our chat rooms on a daily basis, costing consumers millions of dollars monthly.

  22. i live in thailand FOR YEARS and i have been reading these comments some are true,in my experiece of thialand if anyway comes up to you for anything speaking to you THEY WANT YOUR MONEY!! JUST IGNORE ITS NOT IGNORANT ITS ASIA,DONT TAKE TUK TUKS UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE RIPPED OFF,TAKE A TAXI METER THEY ARE EVERYWHERE IN BANGKOK START AT 35 BAHT VERY RESONABLE SEE THE RED LIGHT ON AND THE TAXIS VACANT AND JUST FLAF IT DOWN BANKOK TAXIS ARE GREEN YELLOW OR PINK ,TUK TUKS WILL JUST TAKE YOU TO SHITTY INDIAN SUIT MAKERS WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN A PROPER ARMANI SUIT IN THEIR LIFE BUT WILL MAKE 1 FOR YOU FOR 100 US !! EXPENSIVE RESAURANTS ABOUT 5 TIMES THE GOING RATE,SHITTY GEM HOUSES AND SHITTY RATES FOR MASSAGE(YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN LADS!)IN MY OPINION TUK TUK DRIVERS GIVE THAILAND A BAD NAME THEY ALSO GET 40 BAHT FOR EVERY PLACE THEY TAKE YOU FOR THEIR COMMISION!!BUSES RANGE FROM 8 BAHT FOR FAN BUS AND 18 BAHT FOR AIR CON BUSES GOOD SERVICE AND VERY CHEAP YOU CAN GO ROUND THE WHOLE OF BANGKOK ON THESE WITHOUT GETTING RIPPED OFF,THE MRT UNDERSGROUND GOS THROUGH BANGKOK AND IS SPOTTEST PRICES RANGE 20-40 BAHT WHAT A SERVICE, TRAINS ARE ALSO CHEAP BUT BE CAREFULL A BEER ON THE TRAIN IS 90 BAHT AND A BREAKFAST 90 BAHT ON THE SLEEPOVER FROM BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI IS GREAT BUT YOU DO GET THESE SCAMMERS THE STAFF OF THE TRAIN TRYING IT ON AND CHARGING STUPID AMOUNTS TO TOURISTS WHO DONT KNOW SO BE CARFULL ASK FOR A PRICE LIST AND SEE THEIR FACE ITS GREAT!!
    ALL IN ALL THAILAND IS A BRILLAINT PLACE BUT LIKE ALL COUNTRIES THERE ARE SCAMS FOR TOURISTS TO LOOK OUT FOR IF YOU ARE COMEING DO THINGS YOURSELF ITS REALLY SAFE HERE DONT RELY ON THESE SHITTY TOUR OPERATORS THEY JUST RIP YOU OFF FOR A SERVICE YOU CAN DO YOURSELF AND BETTER, IF PEOPLE WOULD STAY AWAY FROM THE TOURIST AREAS LIKE KHAO SAN,PAT PONG,NANA,SUMUMVIT,AND VENTURE OUT ABIT THEY WOULD HAVE A TOTAL DIFFERENT OUTLOOK OF THAILAND,PLEASENT PEOPLE,KIND,GENEROUS,AND HELPFULL

    HAVE A GOOD TIME
    SWADSDEE KRAPP

  23. Golden Argosy Thai Export GEM SCAM STORE AVOID!!!

  24. The above post from The Scammer News, is a liar/scammer himself. He steals other blogs from other bloggers and attempts to call them his own without permission. He has no business posting blogs. Read about his own ripoffreport here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/396/RipOff0396756.htm. His ID in Yahoo chat rooms is mrm_netpros_services. He has threatened people in a Yahoo chat room as noted below:

    mrm_netpros_services: I’ll come visit you again one day…give it time…maybe your wife won’t be there and you’ll have to answer the door this time.

    mrm_netpros_services: ! I would like a room alone with him…teach him a lesson…the scumbag.

    He sits in this chat room posting the same negative comments and most have ignored him. But he continues to post the above link of a site that does nothing but flame other business people. He makes NO money from it, however he claims he’s making a LOT of money from it. We are trying to get people to see the REAL guy as he really

  25. Hardly covers the number of scams you’ll see. This is just for those who visit for a week or two. Try living in Thailand, and the scams aren’t just for 500 baht anymore . . . I’ve been scammed for 11,000 baht once (the postoffice/customs scam).

    In total, I’ve fallen for about ~10 scams here, and managed to fight off about twice as many. Thai people just don’t have any morals.

    Few things to always remember:
    – Scammers *will* outsmart you
    – You can’t beat all scams, so don’t lose your head when you lose your money
    – Ignore anyone who approaches you for money
    – If you feel pressured, just say no and walk

  26. > If you feel pressured, just say no and walk
    Well said! If you follow just this one rule you will avoid probably 99% of the scams.

  27. There is a new scam goin on pls add this to the site.
    Read all about it its called the airport scam search google for: thailand airport scam.
    All the info will be revealed.
    Stay safe!

  28. That is so funny, you guys always fool yourself. everytime when i go to bangkok i have the most fun, a free ride plus earn some money.
    when a tuk tuk driver ask me for tailorshops tour then i say okay, why not, we make a 50/50 share and i’m in. so usually they get 200-300baht per shop i tell him that i’m okay with 100baht per shop. so after around 1hr i had a free trip around bangkok and 500baht plus in my pocket.
    Sex Show Scam: my first time when i went to a place like that they charged me a 1000baht plus, i told them as a joke that when i have to pay this amount atleast i wanna have a free girl but they took it seriously and after a few minutes they gave me a free girl for 1hr. thats just great.
    Tips:if they are trying to scam you then try to scam them so easy it is the most people(scamers) in thailand are nice peoples who are just trying to make a living if you are nice with them then they are nice with you.
    so if you are going to thailand then enjoy your stay you have a lot of time to discuss with locals and get there culture to know.
    girls: thai girls are just great same as the western girls but less greedy, emancipates and complicate.
    the most thai girls i met whant to have a lot of money and want to live in life of diamonds the dream of the most humans. but what i see is that when i spend some time with a girl they have more fun on a normal 25baht meal then a 1000baht meal. but whatever we are now on a scam topic so the pregnancy thing, i would say if you guys would open your eyes even if you are full in love the girl would know that you are not so stupid and that she wont get much money out of you. fazit: dont be stupid, take your time to think about your action and situation in normal live and scams or any other cheatings in the world would not sucess.

    sorry for my grammer i am not English native

  29. To: John in BKK

    I lived for 4 years in isaan, 10 years in phuket and since 1 year in the north.

    of course when they see a foreign face in a police-station, post office or where else, they trying to charged 200%-300% more its hard to get correct rights. but where ever you are even in western countrys if you build up a sympathy with your opposite in just being patient, nice and polite you will move mountains, i even pay for a ticket (not wearing helmet) 100baht instead of 300Baht for thai / 500baht foreign sometimes they let me go for free(well known costumer).

    last time i was trying to import a mercedes benz 350 sel 1990 from malaysia i get the car for free (acquaintance) the department told me that i have to pay 30000+baht to get register so i brought it and when they viewed the good condition of the car price came up to 500’000+baht that was the time when i get really pissed and lost my politeness and i didn’t reached any of my goals it even came out that i had to pay 3000baht for there time or they won’t let me drive out with the car.

    i had a 30days temporary import paper so i just brought the car back to malaysia and payed them.

    what i learnd:
    In everyday situations we have to communicate with other people to get information, to gain knowledge about a topic or to reach a variety of goals. To be successful, one has to follow an important strategies “BEING POLITE”

    Thank you

  30. Got conned at Grand Palace,not so bad as didnt cost much,just lost time,didnt get to see it all.Biggest scams are tailors and holiday clubs.Will NOT be going back

  31. Mr Wichian ‘…they gave me a free girl for one hour…’ – what, – piece of property was she? Men like you are a disgrace.

  32. Bee on February 14, 2010 at 8:41 am

    Mr Wichian ‘…they gave me a free girl for one hour…’ – what, – piece of property was she? Men like you are a disgrace.

    ————————————————————-Yeah, for that price I would of asked for 2 of them

  33. 1st time in Thailand

    Thanks for all of this info!!i didnt realise just how bad it was till i got here and got scammed within a minute of walking out of the airport.Our family had a transfer organised for our arrival at the airport however we were held up in customs and he had obviously left. Anyway stuck for a ride we fell for the airport taxi scam!although it was only 650 thb, this thai man realised we were puzzled as to how we were going to get to our hotel so he offered a ride we refused at 1st but then had no other choice,we had assumed he was in a marked taxi as he was saying u want a taxi turns out he walked us thru the carpark to a car that was unmarked so it very well could have been the family wagon for all i know, he was also holding a pricelist and then concealed it under his top once he showed us briefly of the prices into patong beach. From the moment i noticed the car and the way he put his pricelist under his top i was definetly not feeling good about going however I did,he then had the audasity to try charge my partner and i the cost of his parking at the airport, where he had been sitting for a long time he mentioned!I was onto him from the start but felt pressured,i refused to pay parking and then threatened to get into another cab!He got us to our destination after much of the ride being full of tension as i was suspicious of his every move, what a terrible welcoming to this country, since the taxi scam i have been border line harassed 5 times if we need a ride and we have only been in patong 4 hrs.Not good! advice to anyone that is reading these reviews. This is the reality and be prepared to use the word NO more often than not.

  34. A holiday in Koh Samui, Thailand, sounds like the perfect getaway. With its nice beaches, clear waters, cheap living and wild parties, it makes it the perfect place for seven teenagers to go to during our holidays. So off we went to Koh Samui, staying in a beautiful villa and finally getting away from Singapore.

    This is where the perfect trip turned sour, on the second day here we were itching to go out and explore and of course spend the day at the beach. So off we went, first stopping by the local travel agencies to check if they have any good packages for water sports. We found it strange that none of the agencies had any packages that included jet skiing even though they had packages that included almost everything you could do on the island. Determined to have some fun we brushed off our suspicion and decided to go to the beach to find the jet ski vendors. Once at Chaweng Beach we were bombarded with the huge amount of jet ski vendors all trying to get us to rent the crafts from them. This is where the second hint came in, even though the beach was crowded with tourists from all over the world, there wasnt a single jet ski that was rented out.

    But being young and excited over having a high powered craft in our control, we didnt connect the dots, and decided to rent from this vendor who gave us an offer we couldn’t refuse, 40 minutes for 1000 baht. The usual pricing was 20 minutes for 800baht, so to us this was a steal.

    So the paper work began, the staff were extremely friendly even offering to sell us Cannabis (which we refused). We signed an agreement that was written in english, gave them our villa name, paid them and then was led to our individual jet skis to check for “damage”. Everything looked good so off we went. So after 40 adrenaline pumping minutes we headed back to shore, this is where the full force of the scam we were hooked into played out. As we all returned to the beach one by one, myself leading the group, I was confronted by the “boss” of the vendor claiming that one of us has been in an accident. This struck me as strange because before all the crafts were even back he was able to determine that they were damaged and that we have been in an accident even though NONE of us had collided, crashed, hit any rocks or anything of the sort. But assuming he had made a mistake I heard him out.

    Once all of us had returned to the beach the staff of the company (Sritong water sports) went to inspect the crafts. What they found was that ALL of our jet skis have been damaged but said that two of them didn’t need repairing. So that left us with FIVE broken jetskis to pay for. So there we were protesting our innocence and claiming that they are trying to scam us, this of course angered them further seeing as how we were kicking up a ruckus on a crowded beach where they were trying to do “business”. So after talking and arguing the “boss” gave us an “estimate” of the total repair costs, which was a total of 120,000 baht (5,000 SGD). This of course angered us even more, because being students we don’t have that kind of money and there is no way that we were willing to pay that kind of money for something we did not do in the first place.

    A brief side note: the five jet skis that were “damaged” had scratches on the sides and hull. On multiple online forums they stated that what these scam artists do is cover up the scratches with paint before renting them out, so after 40 minutes of hard usage the paint wears off and exposes the scratches. This enables them to allow the customers to “inspect” the craft before usage and note that there is “no” damage. As for the hull, it is already damaged all along but when they allow us to “inspect” for damage the craft is still submerged in the water so there is no way we are able to tell if the bottom is damaged or not. But when they bring the craft back for the final inspection, they ride the jet ski up onto the shore so that they can look at the hull and charge us for the damage. Once a victim has paid for the “repairs” the scam is repeated over and over again.

    Back to the story, so there we were at the beach angry and in a position where we can’t do a runner. So we thought the next logical step would be to call the local police, that of course proved to be no use and even angered the vendor further seeing as he won’t be able to repeat the scam today. At that point of time we were certain that the police would be able to help us and take the vendor down, but as we then found out the police are rather good friends with him. They told us all they could do was to help translate and negotiate with the vendor to give us a discount. Being even more frustrated that these officers were clearly on this guys payroll we decided to go to the local police station to ask the Singapore Embassy for advice.

    We got to the station where we waited and waited and waited for help, when it finally came the officer told us that we can either negotiate and pay the vendor or go to court. When we chose to go to court it seemed to anger the officer because now we had “made it difficult for him”. But on the advice of our embassy we were told to go to the Tourist Police.

    Off we went again, once there we were relieved to find officers who spoke english and agreed that the price quoted was over the top. But that relief soon disappeared when they told us they had NO power and were unable to enforce anything, their only role was to help negotiate and settle disputes.

    We once again found ourselves in a position where we had no choice but to pay.

    The vendor who had followed us all the way seemed to be getting tired of dealing with us so he started sprouting lower offers from 120,000 baht to 100,000 baht to 90,000 baht. Since we were unable to pay them as we simply did not have that kind of money and it was obviously a scam, we constantly rejected his offers. Which then pushed him to his boiling point, where he then said he doesn’t care about that money any more and then challenged me to a pistol duel or fight, accepting the offer only angered him even more, I guess constantly having your bluffs called must suck.

    Now we were stuck at the tourist police with no way out and no compromise, but the vendor had another trick up his sleeve. He called in a “mechanic” to convince us of the damage we inflicted. The only problem was that we had seen that guy on the beach with him before we rented out the jet skis plus it didn’t help that we was still wearing the same things he wore earlier and the fact that he was barefoot covered in sand.

    But all this waiting and wasting of time seemed to be breaking him down further he then offered us 50,000 baht and then 40,000 baht. Still unwilling to pay him, he told us that we should go back to the local police station to make a full report and then settle this issue in court. We gladly agreed and off we went to take on the full legal proceedings.

    Once at the police station the gravity of the situation we were in set in, and us pissing him off had its repercussions. Because once we got there all the officers acted like they could not see us, they wouldn’t even look at us or respond. That’s when the “Big” Boss stepped in and all the officers stepped out, so we were literally in a local police station with no police officers. Now it was only us and the Thai Mafia.

    Another side note: The Singapore Embassy’s only advice to us was to pay them off, not very useful at all.

    So now we were cornered with a violent Mafia boss and his lackies in an empty police station, he then proceeded to almost punch my friend, while his style of hard negotiations began. His wife was by his side attempting to reason with us for our “wrong doings” and insisting that we were the ones who were being “very bad human beings”. Being stuck in a situation like that, and out gunned we agreed to just give him all the money we had, this was so that we could get back to our villa and get more help, he agreed to this and suddenly became a caring human being asking us how much money we would need so that we can eat and go back to Singapore.

    Once back at the villa we learnt from the villa’s owner and staff how this is a common scam that has been repeated over and over again. The owner being pissed off that this is happening to his customers again, went out to talk to the Mafia boss. This of course turned into a big argument where the Mafia Boss claimed that the villa’s owner wasn’t speaking very nicely. (Mind you their definition of “speaking nicely” is when one agrees with them completely, taking a different stance from them is deemed as “Not Speaking Nicely”.)

    So after an intense argument that almost turned into a gang fight, we settled on just paying them off to get rid of them and so that they won’t hurt the owner. There goes our holiday money but at least they are gone for good right?

    WRONG. Now they are even more pissed off with the Villa’s owner, the owner was equally pissed off at them for bullying their way into getting money again.

    That’s when a member of the villa’s staff came up to me and asked me to follow him to some negotiations so that that particular mafia won’t come after the villa or the owner. Feeling like I owe the owner for sticking up for us, I agreed to follow him.

    We set off on a motorbike and turned onto a dirt path whch then led to the middle of nowhere there was a hut full of people, judging by the number of motorbikes that were parked outside it seemed like a big meeting. We parked the bike and then proceeded into the hut where it was full of men gambling. The staff member from the villa then proceeeded to talk to the men, and about half an hour later we were on our way back to the villa, where the staff updated me on what just happened. Apparently the hut that we were in was full of drug dealers, mafia bosses, “mercenaries” and the like. He told me that he had talked to another Mafia Boss who knows of the Mafia Boss that scammed us and that the Mafia Boss he talked to had a problem with that guy too. And that they will see what they can do to make it all go away.

    And that’s the last we heard of them.

    What upsets us the most is that just a simple google search reveals the large number of jet ski scams reported from not only that area but most of the popular beaches here. Although we were lucky, we were upset at ourselves for not doing research but also at the Thai Government who constantly promotes the beach and the island as a perfect tourist destination but refuse to crackdown on these vendors.

    Of course we heard from a lot of other locals that the administraion here is also on the payroll of these Mafia bosses, which would explain the lack of action. But whether it is true or not, it won’t be surprising after being in a local police station where all the officers left us to get beaten down by the mafia.

    For a country that constantly wants itself to become a world class tourist destination, it doesn’t seem to be bothered about the safety and security of the tourists. Once the Mafia Bosses step in and decide to scam someone here there is practically nothing that the toruist can to do defend themselves. The police won’t help and their embassy can’t do anything.

    So to all those who wish to visit Thailand for a holiday think twice, I don’t know how many different types of scams there are here ( I’ve heard quite a few ranging from car rental, motorbike retnal to tuk tuk scams), but if you are hit by one do not think that you would be able to refuse and get out of it, or turn to the authorities because in reality you would have no choice but to pay them off. So unless the Thai government wants to crackdown on the corruption, I suggest be very careful when visiting Thailand, don’t rent anything especially not jet skis. And hopefully this message can be spread around the world so that less innocent people get conned and maybe the Thai goverenment would respond.

  35. I dont think i will go to Thailand for a vaction. Need to relax not to worry about being scamed.

  36. Canadian Thai

    Even as a Thai person myself..I still got harassed at the Grand Palace in Bangkok to pay foreigner or “farang” price because they heard me speak English and my Thai is not so good. I had to show my passport to show that I was a Thai citizen, luckily my Thai mother was there to give them shit so we ended up not paying it.

    Be very wary of go-go bars or any bars where girls sit with you for a drink or ask you to buy them one! On my first visit to one of these bars in Chiang Mai, I had not realized that I had to pay for the girls’ company and how expensive the drinks were. They hit me with a bill for over 1000 baht(roughly $30 USD/CAD) for things I did not even order. I paid for half the bill and told them I had to go to a bank or ATM to get more money. I pretended to be pissed drunk and got on my motorcycle and drove off.

    The jet ski scam is probably the worst of them all as police are in on it and it is probably the most costly. I suggest if you really want to rent one, then do not rent them in touristy areas and go with a Thai person to negotiate the prices.

    As far as transportation goes, it is highly recommended to go with taxi cabs or motorcycle taxis rather than tuk-tuks because they are cheaper and more legit. If you insist on going on a tuk-tuk for the experience then go with a Thai person as it can be very costly otherwise.

    All in all, the best thing to have by your side when travelling in Thailand to avoid scams and also to get the best deals, is a Thai person. Whether that be a good friend you make or a girlfriend, they will help you immensely as they are locals and know the do’s and don’ts.