Bangkok Scams

  • Posted onFebruary 11th, 2013

3 Bangkok Scams to Avoid

No different from any other major city or capital of the world, Bangkok has its fair share of scams and tourist traps to test your awareness and patience. Though many of the most notorious scams in the city mean being taken for just a few baht, maybe no more than 20 or 50 baht, you are likely to face several of them more than once which can leave you feeling frustrated and annoyed at the very least. Being aware of them and seeing them coming usually means being able to avoid the scam with a wry smile, continuing on with your day undisturbed.

Whether you are on your first trip to Thailand or a seasoned traveller, it still pays to be fully aware of who, where and how you may get ripped off.  Here are a few of the most common scams in Bangkok and some tips for avoiding them.

The closed temple scam

It’s quite shocking, the amount of tourists who get stopped by a tuk tuk driver or helpful looking local on the way to visit a temple, only to be told that it is closed due to religious holiday or some other plausible sounding excuse. They will then act very friendly and helpful, suggesting other attractions, even offering to take you there themselves. The truth is temples are very rarely close, and the alternative attraction they are offering to take you too (most often a gem shop), is paying them commission, and looking to rip you off further with counterfeit items or over charged services.

Avoiding the scam:

If anyone close tourist attraction or temple tells you that it is closed and offers to take you to an alternative venue (especially tuk tuk drivers), check at the entrance or kiosk for confirmation. Some of the people running this scam close to the major sites even wear official looking uniforms with ID cards.

The cheap fare

You may be leaving a popular tourist area or nightlife spot hoping to flag down a taxi when you spot a smiling tuk tuk or taxi driver already parked by the entrance, smiling and waving as if you have been friends for life. He then offers to take you to anywhere you like for as little as 10 or 20 baht, you can’t believe your luck, this really is the land of smiles.. The truth is it’s one of the most common scams run in the city, especially by tuk tuk drivers around the Khao San Road area. As soon as you are in the taxi you will be whisked away to a isolated tailors or gem store where he is receiving a commission and within which the goods are either overpriced and/or fake. If you ask him to continue the journey he will give you a sob story and likely charge you a twice the price to continue to your destination.

Avoiding the scam:

If the price seems too low don’t take the deal, and make it very clear you want to go straight to your destination. If you find yourself already sucked in, looking out of your ride at a gem sop you have no intention of visiting ask your driver to continue at on the meter or negotiate a sensible price, otherwise just walk away and flag down a new  taxi. Even if you enter the shop and pretent to be interested, some drivers will still not continue on the  journey unless you buy something (and they get their commission).

Taxi Prices

You may well find yourself getting in a meter taxi only to notice that they have not turned the meter on and your journey has already begun. When you remind them that it is not on they will just smile and give you a price (say 200 baht for  a journey which should cost you  less than 60 baht). It may not seem much difference and the taxi is already rolling so you might feel a little guilty or uncomfortable having to negotiate – well that is what they are praying on. If you are here for any length of time it could happen to you several times and get very frustrating. If you do question it they are likely to play on your guilt and give you a sob story that the traffic is heavy and your destination is very far. The meter is there to do its job and its illegal for taxi drivers to refuse to use it.

How to avoid this scam:

Before you get in any taxi talk through the window or open the door and let them know your destination. If they are happy to take you point to the metre and ask for them to turn it on, before getting in and closing the door. If they don’t acknowledge this and leave it off, or come back with fixed price, just walk away. You may even find 4 or 5 taxis in a row will not want to use the metre, but the majority of good taxi drivers will. If you do find yourself already out on the road without the meter on, tell them to turn it on and if they refuse ask them to let you out. At that point they are very unlikely to cause you any problems and either negotiate a lower price, turn the meter on, or let you out to flag down another taxi.

One general tip to help you avoid these scams is to avoid taxis that are waiting outside of major tourist attractions or busy hotels, instead flagging down a taxi in the street.

Click here to read our tips on avoiding taxi scams in Bangkok

If you do find yourslf the victim of a scam in Bangkok then contact the Bangkok Tourist Police on 1155 (regular police 191)


  1. […] There are a number of small scams to avoid in Bangkok, here are a few of them – […]

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