Top 11 Scams in Thailand

Last updated: April 9th, 2016 | in Living | Traveling

If you read through all the different Thailand forums on the internet you have so many foreigners complaining about their bad experiences being ripped off in Thailand. It’s always about Thai people that tell you a lie in order to get some money out of you without providing the promised service, sometimes not giving anything in return at all. This is what is called a scam and not just tourists in Thailand encounter them but also expats actually living here that just haven’t got the experience to know when to believe a Thai person and when better to be careful.

So why are there so many scams in Thailand? Is it because a large part of the Thai population is still extremely poor working for 300 baht a day or even less and see a “walking ATM” in every foreigner they come across? Or is it because we always have that nice marketing slogan “Thailand – Land of Smiles” in our head and just tend to believe all the crap Thai people are telling us if they give us their charming smile? As usually, it must be a combination of both.

Below are ten of the most common scams in Thailand and a few of them are actually being conducted by foreigners that run out of money – there is a growing number of them who rather go this way than “giving up” and getting on a plane back to their home country.

Patpong Sex Show Scam

The famous scam that a lot of newbies to Thailand run into as they think experiencing a ping pong show in Bangkok’s oldest red light district, Patpong, is a must do. The scam consists of Thai guys approaching you at the night market in front of the go go bars offering free ping pongs shows and even better: drinks for just 100 baht each. This often turns into a nightmare when it’s time to check the bill and it’s rather a couple of thousand baht than a couple of hundred. You then have no choice but to pay what they ask for as it can turn violent if you start make an argument.

Thai Beer ScamBeer Tower Scam

This one doesn’t seem to be discussed (or noticed) anywhere but it’s really annoying. Just yesterday I went to one of my favorite bars here in Bangkok with a few friends who visited me from Germany (not going to mention the name, I’ve seen it before at other places) and I thought it might be a good idea to share a beer tower. It’s supposed to be 3 liters of draft beer and if you look at the outer tube that is actually the case. But then they put an additional smaller tube with ice inside that takes off at least 20-30% of the space. So you don’t get 3 liters but less than 2.5 liters. I didn’t even start complaining with the manager – next time I will just order 3 jugs instead.

Wrong Change Scam

The most simple kind of scam. Well it’s really fraud when you are given the wrong change in the restaurant, bar or even at the 7-eleven by purpose. Like you pay with a 1,000 baht note and they give you change as if you paid with a 500 baht note. Or just “forget” a one hundred baht note. This almost exclusively happens in the most touristic areas like Phuket’s beaches, Khaosan Road and Sukhumvit in Bangkok and most areas in Pattaya.

Temple – Tuk Tuk – Gem Shop – Silk Shop Scam

All these terms are closely related to each other. So it happens at famous tourist attractions like the Grand Palace or National Museum in Bangkok that you are approached by a local Thai before you even reach the attraction and he tells you it’s closed today (usually they give you a Buddhist national holiday as a reason which they assume foreigners don’t know about).

They are then inviting you to go to another attraction together which turns out to be a gem, silk, tailor or other kind of shop. They try to rip you off by telling you lies like you can buy the products there for a very cheap price and make a huge profit by reselling them in your home country. Tuk Tuk drivers are also often involved in this kind of scam, however again most of these operate in the tourist areas of Sukhumvit, Silom and Khaosan.

Renting Scam

If you are going to rent any kind of vehicle in Thailand whether it’s a motorcycle, car, jet sky or boat – make sure you let document all scratches and dents along with signing the renting contract (if any). It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the vehicle from different angles. Very famous are the jet sky scams in Pattaya and Phuket where tourists are regularly blamed and held liable for damages they haven’t produced.

Travel Scam

Several scams in Thailand are related to travel. So it happens that tourists are approached in front of Hua Lamphong railway station in Bangkok by local Thais pretending to be “officials” working for the State Railway of Thailand and helping to book the train ticket. They take the tourists to a local travel agent and pretend to call the ticket office then saying the train is fully booked and offering you an overpriced bus ticket instead on which they make some good commission.

There are also regular incidents where foreign travelers report being robbed valuables, especially during overnight trains and buses. This even happens during day travel when buses stop for food and all passengers are requested to leave. Also beware of strangers in overnight trains who invite you for drinks as some foreigners get drugged and when they wake up they find their money and other belongings gone.

Top 10 Scams in Thailand

Price Discrimination Scam

Apparently it’s not enough that foreigners pay regular visa fees and spend a lot of money for modern accommodation, western standard products and quality food. Thai people even demand higher prices for entrance fees from foreigners compared to local Thai people. Examples: The Grand Palace in Bangkok, free entry for Thai people, 400 baht for foreigners. University fees are at least 30% higher all over Thailand for foreign students as opposed to Thai students. And probably the most extreme price discrimination I’ve encountered so far: While Thai people can buy a ticket for the Muay Thai fight in Bangkok for 180 baht, the cheapest ticket for foreigners is 2,000 baht. That’s insane, what you think?

Nightlife Scam

It doesn’t matter if you go to a beer bar, go go bar, karaoke bar or night club as a foreigner – there is always the possibility that one of the Thai staff who is handling your bill writes down the extra beer you didn’t order, the lady drink you didn’t agree on to pay or just charges for a few extra pool games and then puts the additional cash in his or her own pocket. Especially when you have had more than just a couple of small beers. Even happened to me quite a lot in my favorite pool bar in Bangkok, when I checked the bill they just told me it’s 13 games instead of 11 so what I do now I let them count the papers right at my table in order to avoid this kind of scam.

Thai Bar Girl Scam

There are countless of Farangs who come on a holiday to Thailand and fall in love with a Thai bar girl. When they return to their home country they try to keep the relationship by sending her money as she promises to stop working in the bar and sleeping with other guys. Of course in 95% of the cases that’s a lie and the girl will continue working while receiving regular payments from their foreign boyfriend (or rather sponsor) and a lot of these girls even have several guys abroad sending them money at the same time. Everyone seems to know about it but still there will always be foreigners who trap into the bar girl scam and believe crap like the family’s buffalo has died or her parents need money for paying the hospital bill.

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Time Share Scam

You might not even have heard about this kind of scam yet but this is actually the crime tourists lose the most money in Thailand and it’s one of the scams that mainly foreigners are organizing. What happens is you are given a scratchy card by a stranger on the street for free. He then immediately lets you know that you’ve won a massive price or he gives you a call later to make it appear more authentic. In order to claim your price you have to accompany him to a hotel.

Once arrived there he will bring you to a conference room along with other tourists who apparently have won as well and then there’s a presentation held by slick Westerners, all of them being well trained sales agents. Now the scam is they offer you timeshare memberships at luxury hotels, resorts or apartments to spend several weekends or weeks in every year at an extremely discounted rate. If you do enter one of these too-good-to-be-true deals and make a down payment of several thousand dollars you might end up driving along the beach with your contract in the hands looking for a property that doesn’t even exist.

These timeshare companies are illegal as well as the work of the foreigners who do not hold a business visa and work permit.

Thai Dating Sites Scam

There are foreigners who send presents and even money to girls they meet on the various Thai Online Dating Sites without ever having met them in person. My ex student girlfriend told me that she once received a big package full of candies sent from a guy in the United States and she hasn’t even had a video call via skype with him before, they just wrote each other text messages for a couple of months and then he asked her for her post address.

Now where are the scams in online dating sites? There are some foreigners who get their Thai girlfriends to create a profile on dating sites and respond to messages of guys promising to meet them but she is out of money so she asks him to pay for the bus or flight ticket to travel to Bangkok from her province. The guy transfers the money on her bank account and never hears from her again.

How to avoid getting scammed in Thailand

Well, by having read this article you are now familiar with the most common scams in Thailand. Generally, the more “touristy” and inexperienced with Thailand you appear to Thais the more likely you are getting scammed. Most Thai people are rather shy and if someone approaches you very straight forward and in fluent English you should always be skeptical. The same thing applies for Thai girls by the way, even in Thailand guys are supposed to make the first step.

About Redcat

Redcat

Redcat lives his dream by living and traveling in Thailand. On Thailand Redcat he shares his experiences and advice to all aspects of (night)life in Thailand. Redcat is also fluent in Thai both spoken and written and is author of the books Thai Beginner’s Course and Thai Love Course.

26 Responses

  • David Behr says:

    Something not mentioned, taxi drivers. They will try to bargain with you about the fare. Only go with the drivers who have a meter that works. If you bargain with the driver you will pay more. Also, beware of the joy ride, best advice is to take your gps with you as you travel.

  • stanleaverStan says:

    I get nothing in AU and don,t Trust AU women anymore, I am 63 fit and don,t drink a lot, I find Thai ladies have a sense of honour in any situation and deserve my respect. I like to travel a lot and have been in many situations, if you want to get ripped off go to Hanoi. I am going back toThailand.
    SL

  • IMHO says:

    I’ve had positive and negative experiences. Two taxi journeys spring to mind. First one wanted to go off meter and give a fixed fare. My Thai wife seemed to think this was fair but really she was saving face and had no clue. The driver then proceeded to get lost and charged us nearly 100% more than he quoted because HE got lost.
    The second taxi ride, the driver used the meter, also got a bit lost but refused to take the meter price, only taking less because HE got lost.
    Moral of the story, there are good and bad people everywhere.

    • dejacket says:

      I feel that pretty much covers the human spectrum, no matter were you, except perhaps Bhutan, where the GDP is measured by happiness… I feel there is a sexual strangulation here, I am sort of new to Thailand, I stop here as a transit spot…the sexual tourism fall in the domain of defecation, as far as I understand the best of human nature, and are predatory, yes they are predatory on others who are in need, and when I see an overly obese man, who has not had the grace to look after himself during his life, it feels suffocating, perhaps in many instances is just seeking company, sure but under economical inequalities it verges in cruelty and hedonism, can’t these old man go and spend time in a temple and find who they really are, not that age difference is an issue, while consent is there, sure fine, but it is irrefutable that there is monetary dependencies, and that my friends is part of of the banking sector, perhaps if they are fertile enough to even have kids… will they donate they siblings to the next generation of degenerate old cashed up ITM’s…

  • Tom says:

    I had a great time in Thailand . Once when I was haggling price with A pushcart guy we settled on a price, then by accident I gave him way too much money and he corrected me and handed it back. I went to the next higher price to make up for it

  • David says:

    I have lived here for 10 years now seen it all and done it all, please read the book Private Dancer, before you come here, not all Thai girls are the same, think with your brains not you cock.

  • Thunda says:

    This is not a perfect world we live in.

    I’m a retired Aussie bloke that would like to find a lady around the same age as myself from the province’s to share some time with learning each other’s cultures.
    Experience Thai food, do some traveling, in Thailand and other Asian countries.

    All without any sex.

    Sounds a bit strange don’t it.

    But there are some of us that aren’t bludgers or con artists that just want a genuine sharing relationship that don’t smoke or drink.

    And respect other people and their way of life, I am even prepared to pay all expenses in Thailand and help get them a passport and visa to accompany me back to Australia and show them around.
    The ideal situation for me would be to find a Thai woman that would like to live in Australia for six months of the year and return to Thailand with me for the other six months.

    Reason?

    So I can have a six months holiday in a warmer climate to get out of the freezing bloody cold of Tasmania during the winter.

    And she can experience some Aussie hospitality, it’s called give and take, time sharing, living in the best of both worlds.

    Do you think l can find her?

    No way, I can’t speak Thai and finding a middle aged Thai woman that’s unattached that can speak even a bit of the Aussie lingo is impossible.

    And even if l could she probably wouldn’t be able to get a passport to enter Australia with me as sponsor.

    • Anthony says:

      Hi Thunda, I travel to Thailand 2 to 3 times every year and have been doing so for a decade. During that time I have met many genuine and fantastic thai ladies. Most of them were aged between 35 and 45. They worked in bars, shops, schools, hospitals etc. I am still friends with many of them. I can’t speak thai either but it hasn’t hampered the relationships. I also teach or improve the girls english, they are keen to learn. Try one of the dating sites, I find these pretty good, just don’t get fooled by fake contacts. They are pretty easy to figure out, example a photo of a beautiful girl or very little personal information on their page.

  • Nittaya says:

    Some farang treat the girl like shit.. Why expected a good one

    They can’t treat the girl like this in they own country..
    Why Thai girl have to live with this shit!!!!!?

    • STEVE says:

      Yes, what you say is true. I know at least 6 Australian guys who married Thai girls and all divorced now after treating them with contempt,ie all thier time and money on drinking, smoking and gambling while expecting thier wives to work, clean, cook and then be on hand for sex. The girls all divorced them and I dont blame them. Strange thing is, 4 of these guys are doing it again with Phillipino women expecting them to put up with thier crap as if they are a different species to the Thai girls.

  • Nittaya says:

    Hey guys
    I have been reading all of this..
    Lots of things that are true.. But have to look at farang too.. Lots of them old/ fat / ugly/ can’t find any girl in they own country.. Just come here to stay and try to get a girl to live here in a small pension… Right? Why they are expected the perfect girl in they life.. Some old living on a Thai girl income.. They house.. But no one complained about…

    I’m Thai girl who been working all of my life since I marriage with farang guy… He lives on me … He was a good guy from beginning to make sure I love him and look after him,. All is just for living

    • christopher Gregory says:

      I have read & heard so much about female scammers in Thai which sounds like nothing but complaining & whining.
      I lived all my life in America and in reality the women of America must be some of the very worst I’ve ever seen. Money, sex & not love is the western woman’s intent. They look for the wealthiest guy they can grab, marry, complain, boss orders & then take everything in a divorce after cheating.

      The guy is not much better, he cheats, beats, father’s a child then walks. 60% of all US marriages fail within 7 years while 20% of the remaining 40% live a miserable marriage.

      From my observation my opinion most men travel to Thai merely under the impression they can screw any woman they want for mere pennies. O’K, if this is the intent and they feel they’ve been scammed then whose fault is it.
      . If a man travels inside another country with the intent on taking advantage of the poor then whose scamming who. The world is full of money taking advantage of the poor and when the money uses these beautiful girls to filth on and dispose of because they can then it’s the money which I find disgusting. Business is business and love is love. If sex for money is the intentions then this is business, a price is set, the job is done and life goes on but love cannot be bought. As with any place in the world true love can be found but this isn’t going to happen in one week after paying a young girl a few dollars and anyone believing this could actually happen is the idiot and idiots should never think, it’s too dangerous for them.

      I have no idea why these men cry so much, two hours at an American brothel might set a man back $1500 US and they have no problem paying. If sex for money is their intentions then pay a better fee and walk away but if love is the interest then this takes time. Move there, meet a girl and if she truly falls in love then a man has become luckier than he’d ever expect.

      I’d give my life to have found true love with one of these most beautiful women but such takes time.

      For these men who feel scammed I say grow up and get real, if a girl went with them for sex then don’t expect love.
      From all the videos I’ve seen 90% of the farangs have the appearance of an old pregnant drunken bald man and in reality how many of these most exotic drop dead gorgeous girls would actually even glance at them if not for the $$$.

  • Alan says:

    In my opinion, there is something very major missing here: and that is intellect. As the saying goes: “Beauty is only skin deep” and that is for sure as hell true here in Thailand
    (Several of my (Farang) neighbours are married to local Thai women, and at a recent evening bbq and the long after dinner drinking, it transpired that none of the Thai wives had heard about WW2, knew that a man had walked on the moon, or knew if Thailand was north or south of the equator.
    So after the sexual facination has finished, what do you talk about? The price of soap powder at 7/11?

    • dejacket says:

      I have been curious for a while as it relates to intellect, and so then, as I tread along this lands with internal curiosity, I think Alan, your statement covers it all as far as I am aware, only last night I hooked up, though it was an interesting encounter, there was simply no form of communication, and that maybe fine, silence is a blessing, perhaps the events of WW2, walking on the moon (great song by “the Police”), and the geographical understanding of your positioning relative to other places on earth may be digestible if the person in question is simply of good nature…perhaps it is a form of meditation that these are not points of interest, then you have to question the education value of time and historical events, but sure these are difficult events to ignore, which brings me to question the character type of the individual who adheres to such relationships, are they aware of these events themselves, the male spectrum, and could it be that simplicity plays a greater role than historical knowledge? in any case, it could a bliss not to remember any war…and what about the Roman empire, I’ve thrown that one in, to both female and male characters and it simply does not exist…your point is valid, but the Roman never got to Asia, so then we should ask the people in Peru about it…I guess you may know what am getting at…some say ignorance is a bliss…is it?

  • John says:

    Someone tried the scratch ticket scam on me. It was very slick. The ticket was a “reward” for taking a tourism survey. I didn’t win anything. However, I had mentioned that I was meeting a second party soon, so the older survey girl handed me a second ticket (off the bottom of the stack) and insisted I scratch it for them. Oh my! I’ve won 2000 baht (or something like that)! I just had to go with them to a meeting to collect it. I declined. Oh no! Now the younger survey girl won’t get her share of the prize! She’s also supposed to get money when someone wins a prize! Now I’m basically stealing her livelihood!

    It was the way the setup hit me on so many levels at once that alerted me to the bullshit. It was too slick. There was too many reasons to go. I was even the bad guy if I didn’t. Unfortunately for them, I’ve never felt swayed by social pressure to do anything, so I eventually just walked away while they were still mid-sentence.

  • jimmy says:

    I have beend in thailand 2 years and have seen and hear it all. Thae money mom hospital bill , pay for family cremation, kids motorcycle wreak, sisters loan money and need to pqy themafia man back, give money for bus ticket , only to loòk online and offer to buy it and they say you not trust them.. so they say that they not want stingy farrang.. always if you give once then you decide not give again then the oĺd sayimg up to you … which means they are in the clear if you give .. because then it is all your karma..

    Then on the othe side thai is poor and it is built on bettering thier life and family which you will always be outsider.. but they will take care of you unbieveable.. but money is first love is second .. period.. not bad or good just Thailand and get use to it. I love thailand and cost of living here is great for me.. dure i have been scamed and learned alot but get away from the touristy places and meet some real people.. i have had thai help me for nothing in return .. stay st homes for free and eaten with strangers. And even had thai bf tell lady to give me my money back . Yes that is true .. show respect and get respect but dont believe anyone until your sure then only time will be the true answer.. i love thai ladies and am here to stay ..but pls people do t be dumb and follow your common sense.. young lafys only love old for security.. and older one uslally have big debt from first husband becuse if thai lady has good life and money she does not want old man..enjoy thailand and if you want to cry about being scam go home to your country.. just saying buyer beware.

    • Eatpoo says:

      So you are saying its ok to pay for scams? I disagree. I’m happy to pay a higher price than usual, which is why I tip or let them keep change… but when I get conned or scammed, I’m not happy. I’m happy to pay a bit more for anything but not when people try and fuck my ass for a bit more.

    • christopher Gregory says:

      American women scam much worse.

  • jay says:

    I work with just Thai People and they rip each other off all the time lying and borrowing money and never paying back and then stabbing each other in the back, It is total Madness and they play their men be it Thai or Farrang just the same, The Thai men are just as bad cheating on their partners all the time, All in all they live in hell most of the time and never seem to understand just being decent would solve the problem a few of them wont have anything to do with other thai people just to get away from the madness, Most of it is money motivated sad really

  • Jazzy says:

    Hi , I’ve been chatting on and off with a Thai lady of 37 years old for two years now . We met on Thai Cupid and exchanged emails . We have video skyped etc . Now we both feel we want to meet in person . We have said both of us will go halves on the cost for me to meet her in Phuket as soon as we both have the money saved .
    She seems very genuine , I just wondering if there is some sort of scam I should be aware of ?

    • Redcat says:

      I don’t think you need to worry about anything here, Jazzy. You have chatted for two years, scammers wouldn’t put so much time into it as there are always heaps of other guys they can contact instead if their technique doesn’t work with one guy. I have been using Thai Cupid for 2 years now, dated at least 50 girls and never run into a scam.

    • Franky says:

      Only Give what you are prepared to lose…

  • Peter says:

    Another Scam is I got to know all of the girls working a fun bar across the street from my hotel. The owner of the bar lived in France (married) and had a small wife in thailand that ran the bar (very hot). She was starting her own bar on Bangla. The girls that worked for her at that bar would meet her at this bar and the would all walk together to the bar on Bangla. Anyhow I befriended some of them (I didnt sleep with any of them) and on a few occasions went with them to Bangla road. One night I ran out of money and one of the girls loaned me money. The next day I payed her back +%50 for helping me out. After that she was always offering to loan me money even though I never needed it again.

    She also figured out my memory was pretty fuzzy about the night before depending on how much I had to drink. On multiple occasions she tried to tell me the night before she had loaned me money when she didnt. I fell for it once, 1000 baht down the drain. Not a huge loss.

  • miles says:

    Farangs do complain a lot and always think that they are the victims but do believe me if you understand thai than you must have notice that Thai people do scam each other too and even worse !Thai people do not discriminate !
    Often Farangs do get better room rates than thai people because Thai people do know that we farangs always shop around in order to get the best room rates !
    My Thai girlfriend is absolute not aloud to walk in to a hotel because she gets always terrible room rates .
    Please guys to speak Thai is a great advantage and it will safe a lot of money .
    A lot of con artist stay away from you when they know you speak Thai .

    Cheers
    Miles

    • Yankee Noodle says:

      I’m American and can’t speak more than a few words of Thai, but am pretty good at judging character and have traveled several places worldwide. What I notice is that if I or my Thai girlfriend, who does shop around and bargain, are alone, we each get better rates than when we are together. Some assume she is scamming me and won’t speak up or never return when they overcharge. Happens in tourist areas and almost never in business or mostly Thai neighborhoods. Last time was when the fish curry was 100 baht extra because, when asked after the bill arrived, they were “out” of the “normal” fish and had to “substitute”. Funny thing is that they lost repeat customers, and when that happens I let her pay the bill and Thais don’t tip. When they are honest I pay the bill and tip or give some gift I have brought to Thailand.

      Most of these scams happen everywhere in the world and tourists and Immigrants are always the easiest prey with the least protections. Prostitutes and strippers are in the business of emptying your wallet legally or not wherever you go. The examples of price discrimination scam are specious at best. Why should I pay taxes to support schools for my kids and community and give someone who is visiting the same benefit? Hell, even Disneyland gives locals a better deal, but locals have to put up with the negatives of tourists too. Maybe tourists should support their local sex industry and get ripped off at home.


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