Thailand is a very safe country. You can walk alone almost everywhere and anytime, and never experience any problems. Thai swindlers don’t rob you at gunpoint; they take your money with a smile. Here are some scams you should be aware of:
Karaoke bar scam
Thais love karaoke. There are two kinds of karaoke bars; Thai and Japanese. When you arrive a karaoke bar will you meet a sweeet girl who encourages you to buy a bottle of whiskey. You proceed to a private room where she makes sure your glass is full and program the karaoke machine with your favourite songs. After the session will you be presented a hilarious large bill. The highest amount I have heard about is 50,000 baht. It included a teddy bear priced at 3,000.
My advise is: Don’t go to a karaoke bar unless you are invited by a local hero. Some upscale Thais like to show off their wealth, and a karaoke bar is the place to do just that. A much better alternate is to go to a restaurant with karaoke rooms. They are honest.
Ping pong show scam
In the walking streets of Patpong (Bangkok), Patong (Phuket) and Pattaya may you be offered to watch Ping Pong shows. The venue is often a bar without name. They tell you that you only have to buy one drink… Well, get ready to be ripped off!
A Ping Pong show is a woman shooting a ping pong ball with her vagina. After the “show” will they ask for a tip to the lady. Ka-Ching! Then there’s a new “show”. And they ask for a tip again. Ka-Ching! And so on. Ka-Ching! Ka-Ching! They offer you a drink; only 100 bath. Ka-Ching! They will ask you to buy a ladys drink, but you will be charged for every girl in the room. And each lady drink costs you 200 to 300 baht. Ka-Ching! Ka-Ching! Ka-Ching! The final bill will be very high, and you cannot argue with them. If you are alone, just smile, pay and go. At least you have a story to tell your friends!
The rental scam
You rent a jetski and have fun for 15 minutes. Or you rent a motorbike or a car for some days. You never hit anything, but when you return the equipment to the lessor are you told that there are scratch marks and that you have to pay 5,000 or 10,000 baht in compensation. This scam can be a problem at popular tourist places. The police has some campaigns now and then, but the scammers tend to return again and again.
To protect yourself, you have to inspect the equipment you are renting carefully and identify any scratches and dents you can find. Tell the lessor and take pictures.
And when you rent a motorbike or car, make sure you get full insurance coverage. It may double the cost, but is worth every bath.
The closed temple/jewelry sale scam
You go to see a temple. At the gate are you greeted by a man who tells you that the temple is closed for non-Buddhists because of a ceremony. Instead does he suggest you travel to another temple. Next to him is a tuk-tuk, and you will get the ride for free or as little as 50 bath if you allow the driver to bring you to a shop on the way. You accept and off you go.
You arrive a temple and “accidently” do you meet a person who “accidently” mentions that there’s a big sale of jewelry (or other goods) in a famous shop nearby. Then the driver takes you to that shop, where you are told that they have a big sale, “but this is the last day”. The products they are offering are real, but the “discounted” price is well above the value of the goods.
And the shop shares the profit with the tuk-tuk driver and the people you met on your journey.
Serious jewellery shops will from 2018 be certified in a “Buy With Confidence” program, which is created in cooperation between the government and Gem and Jewellery Institute of Thailand.
The honey trap
You meet the woman of your dreams, and shortly after the wedding are you living in her village in Isan (the north east). Your wife has a big family; siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieses and nephews. They are poor, so you help them when they need a new refrigerator or need medical care. Then you buy your wife a car. Then you build her a house.
When your bank account is empty are you told to leave, because your wife’s “brother” is her legal husband. Thank you and good bye.
The borrow me money “scam”
A Thai ask you to borrow him or her money. In 99 % of the cases will you never get the money back. Technically, this not a scam, but a cultural issue. In the old days did every village have a “big” man who decided what people should do. They worked for him, but in return did he also protect them and help them when they had a problem. So if they couldn’t pay a hospital bill for a family member, they asked the “big” man for help. Today is a foreigner considered to be a “big” man, because he certainly has to be rich when he can afford to travel to Thailand. So when you give somebody money, it is because you can afford it.