Top 11 Scams in Thailand

Last updated: March 20th, 2020 | 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 usually 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 330 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.

Scam in ThailandBeer 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 minimart 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 motorbike, car, jet sky or boat – make sure you let document all scratches and dents when signing the rental 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 caused.

Travel Scam

Several scams in Thailand are related to travel. So it happens that tourists are approached in front of the 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 get off. 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.

Price Discrimination Scam

Thailand Price 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, 500 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 into his or her own pocket. Especially when you have had more than just a couple of small beers.

This 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 her family’s house needs renovation or her parents need money for paying the hospital bill.

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 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 to 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 reserved, and if someone approaches you very straightforward 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.

22 Responses

  • Paul says:

    Very true, they dont know sh*t about what is going on in the world, dont care either.
    I had a Thai girl living with me in Holland for 7 years, never watched the news, no interest at all in our culture, just watching Thai soap on their tablet all evening ( at least she worked full time, but not that i saw any Euro from her ).

  • Ed in Korat says:

    Jazzy, I am in Thailand. I meet my Thai woman same as you on ThaiCupid. do you want a suggestion. Get together 1500.00 dollars, and a plane ticket. go see her. take the 30 days to get to know her. and enjoy your time in Thailand. Don’t make her go dutch. You will have the time of your life here. Most Thai people are very good, and will feed you, cloth you if you need. You will get plenty from her. She probably only makes 600.00 a month.
    I came to Thailand 6 month ago and My girl took me on tour to temples all over Isaan her family feed me for the first month everything was paid. I paid very little for the first month I was here. The girl and her family paid it all.
    Just get the Ticket come over and enjoy Thailand.

  • TomTom says:

    LOL, We got 30 minute ride from hell another day. This taxi driver told us how he work 12hr everyday to support his wife. He went home early one day and caught his brother with his wife. Sad part is I really want to laugh but then afraid to furious him even more.

  • John Coleman Vidrine says:

    Doesn’t sound too much different than Colombia but here they will drug you with Bella Dona (escolpamina) which in large doses fries your brain.

  • Sam says:

    I have been scammed with the bing pong show shit, it was my second day in Bangkok ,
    Same story come up and pay for drinks , btw my friend and I didn’t even know what is the show about heheh, after the show finish they brought me a bill with 6800 , we said ofc the guy say pay only for the drinks , and that’s what we will pay , they gathered around us , so I told her I will call the police , she said she will call the mafia , so I told her I’m a Marins serving in the USA embassy ( in not even American ) , and I will call the embassy and let us see who will come faster , in the end I paid 600 for the drinks only, but I guess what helped us the most that we are 2 ugly big guys ( 26-33 ) and they didn’t want to have a fight there, but on the other hand I remember the face of the ppl leaving after they pay the big amount of money ( couples or girls )
    That was bad really
    We went down to beat the man who screw us up but we couldn’t find it

  • Thai man says:

    How the ticket price include in the scams. Let’s say if you are Bangkok citizen, you will go to Grand palace every day? Maybe not right?THB 400 is not very expensive isn’s it.

    If the tourist also free what can the country get from tourist activity, come on it common as we work and live here we have to pay the tax to government but not for tourist. So i think this is just like welfare for Thai. Moreover, the temlle is the religion place, can you paid to attend mecca in Saudi Arabia? Maybe not I think. They reserve for the same religion.

    • Thai man says:

      The university budget partially subsidized by tax. That’s why Thai student pay cheaper than foreigner. If you go to private university i think it may not different. If thais still cheaper that’s the policy or advertisement. Also if you are high academic profile, then you do not pay but to get money from government. To be hornest, I think the quality of university in Thailand is not good enough to attract foreign student. Also Thai boxing, i think all about promotion because Thais cheaper, more opportunity for them to come back for service because they live here. For foreigner it more difficult. Because exhibition is a fix cost, it better to get less than nothing right?. So it’s business opportunity and you can choose to go or not to go they never force you to enter there.

      For other scam i agree. Even us we suffer from taxi because they only wait for foreigner to get more money. So to protect yours and local do not take overprice taxi. Be sure they turn meter on and not pay more than meter except you wish to tip driver. We are suffer because they refuse to give local service instead they wait to rib foreigner off.

      • Thai man says:

        Also for the beer I think it not scam as i think it not include the inner tube. Otherwise i think 1 liter is too much. We generally drink with ice so inner tube is facilitate the cool because Thailand, especially Bangkok to be exact is all-year-hot.

      • chencho272 says:

        In Germany universities are also financed with tax money.

        but they are free for everyone, including foreigners.

    • chencho272 says:

      What makes you think foreigners can’t be Buddhists?

      and only 6% of Thais pay income tax.

      Other taxes like VAT are paid by all people, including tourists

  • Bungalowbill says:

    I have just finished 2 1/2 years with a beautifull chiang Mai lady, a rare northern beautifull, intelligent woman, I have known the family for 20+ years, we got chatting on Facebook 3 years ago, I helped her re- train hairdressing, eyebrow tattoo, make up course & kit , been together 2 1/2 years, I visit Thailand 2-3 times a year, she said she was living her dream job, rented salon for her, found out ( Facebook) she had Thai boyfriend for last year, but still take my money, rent, upkeep, I am bitter, revengeful, but would still take her back, maybe, ( she not bar girl) , hopefully time will help with healing

    • Jan says:

      Do not feel hurt. These women have no moral at all and know that in the near future she will end up like all the others like herself. Why do you think there is so much poverty and prostitution in Thailand ? Smile my friend, one day soon she will get what she deserves

  • Tim Myrtue says:

    If you think the marriage scam is just about bargirls your wrong! I met a woman through a mutual friend. She is working Royal Thai Police. She was a lieutenant when we met. Things were going great. I fell inlove with her. I thought it was all legit because of her position and her family! After I paid a dowry and we were married and of course sending her money. All this was based on her coming to the US. After I had spent 1000’s of dollars and it was coming down to getting her visa all done. She tells me she wants a divorce. After I had given her lots of money for support. Before we were married she told me she had about 20 thousand in debt. No big deal because she could have paid that off working in the US in no time. But then she comes up with that she is in debt 105 thousand dollars or 3.5 million baths. The lies she told finally started to come out. Many times she had lied about many things and all for to get money! Watch out guys because she will play you like a harp! After we were married and things started to appear like finding out she was on dating sights and social sights for the purpose of meeting men. And she was active on those sights after we were married. Watch out guys she proves that’s it’s just not bargirls who scam men.

  • Steve says:

    Hi !
    A woman From Cambodia who scammed me made several frequent trips to Thailand to meet other men for money for prostitution in Thailand as part of sex trade industry there.This woman use the internet and personal contacts I E girlfriends who has( who fathered their illegitimate children out of wedlock ) ( Keeping these women quiet by sending them money to pay for the children ) Asian Businessmen who married elsewhere to assist in making and scheduling this paid sex trips for the rich Asian men.
    I was scammed by well known Internet Scammer, It was a advanced marriage Scam with the whole family involved in this in fact she has multiple facebook accounts on the Facebook with Different names.I had legal engaged with all cultural and legal protocols witnessed by the family and community . During the time we were engaged to be married I found out she was having relations with 3 different men in the time frame . From all the internet activity of scams she does she has had multiple cars during this time frame.I was applying for a fiancee visa to take her to the US the whole things was advanced scam put on by her and her family.I hired investigators to bust her for this scam

  • Stodally says:

    I don’t see the common exchange currency scam in here. This is most common in the airport and can happen even before you leave your home country. To avoid always check the exchange rate and google reviews on the exchange you are using before using their services.

  • remek says:

    First time I came across this “got lost” trick in Sri Lanka many many years ago. After serious argument with the driver who wanted to add 200m “got lost distance” to my bill I started asking driver every time before going in the car or tuk tuk if they know the way. If they say Yes I take the ride and later on if they want to play “got lost” tune I say. “You told me you know the way and we had a fixed price! I won’t pay extra.” Having said that an argument is almost cretain but at least I’ve got valuable argument and can walk away.

    Ps Needless to say we have to agree on fixed price prior to drive.

  • Jack says:

    Ohh so true, Never borrow more than you can pay back, Never lend more than you can lose..

  • 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

  • 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 $$$.

  • christopher Gregory says:

    American women scam much worse.

  • christopher Gregory says:

    America is all money motivated.