12 Tourist Scams in Thailand to Avoid

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The popular Southeast Asian destination Thailand is popular among tourists for its beautiful beaches, delicious food, and rich culture. The place is beautifully decorated with magnificent monuments and historical parks with a touch of countryside spark. However, it is also a country where scams targeting tourists are common. These scams can range from minor theft to elaborate ones and cause significant financial harm. 

Here are the 12 most common scams in Thailand faced by most tourists:

Gemstone Scam

Gemstone market in Thailand
One of the most common scams in Thailand is the gemstone scam, where local people dressed as certified gemstone sellers sell fake products to tourists. It is more common in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where many visitors purchase gemstones as souvenirs. Scammers often set up shop in these areas and use high-pressure sales tactics to convince tourists to buy low-quality or synthetic gemstones at inflated prices. One common tactic is for scammers to claim that the gemstones are rare or valuable and that the prices being offered are much lower than the actual value of the stones. 
They may also claim that the gemstones are natural, but in reality, they are synthetic or treated in some way to appear more valuable. Some scammers may also offer to certify the authenticity of the gemstones, but these certificates may not be legitimate.

Tuk Tuk Scam 

Tuk Tuk in Thailand
While tuk-tuk is a convenient way to wander around in the open streets, there are many tuk-tuk scams in Thailand. It is common for tuk-tuk drivers to offer a low price for a ride to a popular tourist attraction or shopping area but then take tourists to other shops or businesses along the way, where the driver will receive a commission for bringing customers. These shops may include gemstone shops, tailors, or other businesses that sell overpriced items. Tourists may feel pressured to buy something or be held hostage until they pay a high fee for the driver's services. They charge exorbitant fees for a short ride or for taking a longer route than necessary to inflate the fare. Some tuk-tuk drivers may also refuse to use the meter and negotiate a much higher price for the ride.
Some drivers may also take tourists to a secluded location and demand a much higher fare to take them back to their destination. Also, some drivers may falsely claim that the attraction is closed or the route is blocked and offer to take the tourists to another location, usually a commission-based shop.

Jet Ski Scam

While maneuvering in the Thai beach resorts, keep an eye open for the Jet Ski scams happening in the neighborhood beaches. It is mainly seen in Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui. It involves Jet Ski rental operators overcharging tourists for pre-existing or fabricated damages or renting out faulty or damaged equipment. It typically starts when the tourists rent a Jet Ski and are required to leave a deposit or passport as collateral. After the rental period, the operator will claim that the Jet Ski has been damaged and demand payment for repairs, often at inflated prices. In some cases, the operator may claim that the damage was caused by the tourist, even if it was pre-existing.

The scammers also rent out faulty or damaged Jet Skis, which can lead to accidents or breakdowns. In these cases, the operator may demand payment for repairs or the Jet Ski cost. Some operators may also force tourists to purchase unnecessary insurance or add-ons, such as fuel charges, which can significantly inflate the rental cost.

Taxi Scam

Taxi in Thailand
This is one of the most common kinds of scams happening in Thailand from the airport itself. Once you land in Thailand and approach the official taxi stand, you will be given a printed piece of paper with your destination. Once you approach the drivers, you can be scammed randomly if you are not careful. Some unregistered taxis operate in tourist areas and are not equipped with meters. Thus they can force you to travel without the meter on and ask for a high amount of money at the end of the journey. Some drivers may refuse to use the meter and instead try to negotiate a flat rate. Some may try to charge additional fees for using the air conditioning or carrying luggage. To avoid this trouble, always ask the driver to use the official meter; if they refuse, it's best to find another taxi. Another common tactic is to take longer routes to increase the fare, especially if they believe you are a tourist and unfamiliar with the area. To avoid this, you can research the route before you get in the taxi or ask your hotel or locals for advice.

Nightlife Scams

Nightlife in Thailand
Nightlife scams in Thailand can target tourists looking to enjoy the country's vibrant nightlife scenes and trick them into trouble. Bars and clubs in tourist areas may overcharge for drinks, often charging tourists significantly more than locals. It is always better to know the rates before entering these bars. It is also quite common in clubs and bars where the hosts themselves stage fake police raids as a way to extort money from patrons. If you are caught up in a raid, ask for official identification from the police and not get worried for any reason. There are ladyboy shows or bars that may try to overcharge tourists or lure them into expensive bar scams. Apart from these, pickpocketing in these crowded areas with vibrant nightlife is common.

Khlong Scam

Khlong in Thailand
The Khlong scam in Thailand is a common scam that takes advantage of tourists who want to explore Bangkok's waterways. The boat driver offers a tour of the khlongs, promising to take you to scenic or historic sites. During the tour, the boat driver may make several stops, sometimes at shops or vendors, where they receive commissions for bringing in customers. At the end of the tour, the boat driver will demand an exorbitant fee, often much higher than what was agreed upon before the tour started. If you refuse to pay the inflated fee, the boat driver may become aggressive or threaten to call the police. You must know the rate chart before visiting any tourist place in Khlong and avoid being tricked.

Attraction Closed Scam

Major attractions in Thailand
This might be a new kind of scam for you, but it is not new in Thailand anymore. Some tour companies and tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand utilize the "attractions closed" con to trick tourists into going to places they may not have wanted to go. The tour guide or driver often offers to transport the tourist to an alternate location, which is frequently a commission-based store or business, after pretending that the tourist's preferred site or destination is closed or undergoing renovations.

It is prevalent in tourist hotspots such as Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket. In some cases, the alternative destination may not be a tourist attraction but a business that sells overpriced goods or services, such as gemstone shops or tailors. Tourists may feel pressured to buy something or be held hostage until they pay a high fee for the driver's services. Another tactic used in this scam is to claim that the attraction is only open for a limited time and pressure the tourist to take advantage of the limited opportunity quickly.

Pickpocketing Scam


Pickpocketing is very common in Thailand, particularly in crowded tourist areas such as markets, temples, and transportation hubs. The scam involves thieves stealing money, passports, and other valuables from unsuspecting tourists.

Pickpocketing scams can take many forms; pickpockets may create a distraction, such as a staged fight or commotion, to divert attention from their actions. They often operate in crowded areas, such as markets or festivals, where it is easier to blend in and steal from unsuspecting tourists. Some of them may pose as distressed individuals, such as lost children or beggars, to gain tourists' trust and steal from them. They can also work in groups, with one member creating a distraction while another steals from the unsuspecting tourist.

Tailor Tricks

Tailors represent the materials used in the garment as being of a high caliber, such silk, when they are of a lower caliber. In tourist destinations like Bangkok and Pattaya, scams of this nature are prevalent. The "special deals" or "one-time offers" that tailors can make to tourists are intended to compel them to make a rapid selection without allowing them to check the fabric's quality beforehand.

Another strategy is to charge outrageous costs for the clothing, which are frequently far more significant than what the identical thing would cost in a conventional store or market. While some tailors promise to provide the clothing quickly, they frequently don't do so by the deadline.

Fake Tourism Scam 

Some people utilize the "fake tourism authorities" scam in Thailand to trick tourists and take their cash or possessions. A person posing as a representative of the government or a member of the tourist police contacts tourists and accuses them of breaking the law in the area or of having expired identification documents like passports or visas. In exchange for keeping the tourist out of jail or for solving the issue, they might subsequently demand cash.

It can happen everywhere, but tourist destinations like Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket are where it is most common. In other instances, the "fake tourist official" may go with a companion who poses as a witness to the claimed infraction.

Money Exchange Scam

The money exchange scam in Thailand is a tactic used by some money changers to deceive tourists into receiving less money than they are entitled to when exchanging currency. This scam is particularly prevalent in tourist hotspots such as Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket. They use false exchange rates, which are not in line with the market rates, to cheat tourists out of their money. They may also use old or torn bills, which are not accepted by other money changers or banks, to cheat tourists out of their money. They may also tell you the rate is different once you hand over your money and you are already committed.

Another tactic is to use sleight-of-hand tricks, such as palming or switching bills, to give tourists less money than they are entitled to. Some money changers may also use a variety of tactics to distract tourists, such as offering a good deal or using a calculator to show a different amount to cheat them out of their money.

Bird Food Seed Scam

Another common scam happening in Thailand is the bird food scam. It is not something special happening in Thailand, but it is happening worldwide in significant tourist places. You can often find local faces offering you bird food to feed the birds around. Once you have fed the birds and are about to leave the place, you can be asked by this bunch of people for the money of the bird food seed. You can also get tricked into buying birdseed for yourself as well. Stay aware of such scams and, before getting involved in these activities, always ask about the money before avoiding falling into their traps.

These are the nine significant scams happening all around Thailand. All you need to do is be aware and open your eyes! Most of the prominent tourist places in the world face similar scams, so do not worry.

This post was published by Sreyashi Paul

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