Tourist Scams, Thailand

Thailand is not only wonderful, colourful, and exciting. Thailand is also a very popular travel destination and with this comes native people who are trying to build their income. Of course there are better and worst ways to do this. Some people try to open honest businesses while others are taking what it might appear as an easier and more profitable in a short run. This article talks about the darker side of Thailand, which I have seen, noticed or experienced myself.  

Ping Pong Show

Do you know what a Ping Pong show is? With my entire nativity I did not, so I had to do a bit of Googling. Basically you are promised a show, where a female is pushing out various objects starting from ping pong balls, pens, apparently chopsticks, with the use of her pelvic muscles. 

What happens when you decide to go to one of these bars, of course after the promise of free entry, just sit there and watch? You will more than likely be forced to pay an obscene amount as an 'entry' or 'exit' fee, pay for overcharged cocktails, and often buy drinks for the girls too. This scam is mainly focused on attracting young male travellers. As a female I was only ask a few times in Bangkok. If you have not seen a documentary about sex workers in Thailand you can see them on YouTube, for example here and here. It is important to know that often sex workers are underage and forced to prostitute themselves from a very young age.

 Diamonds, diamonds everywhere 

I was also approached on the street with the best deal of my life to buy real diamonds for an obscenely cheap price. Too good to be true? Of course it is! These diamonds or any other gems are nothing else other than cheaply made pieces of glass or plastic. Can you imagine a real jeweller walking around with a pocket full of diamonds in one of the world’s most touristy places? Neither can I.  

Kids Selling Items

Parents/Guardians sometimes following a not very young child who sell things. It can be anything and everything such as flowers little girls in Phuket after 11pm, chewing gums boy in Bangkok again after 10pm, flower chains... I was on the receiving end and it was very hard to say no, especially when you see how tired the kids are. 

Tailor Scam

I am not even going to lie, I do not see the charm of Khao San Road in Bangkok. I would much rather walk down Rambuttri Alley because there was definitely less people trying to aggressively sell me a suit. Basically what happens is a stranger approaches you and tries to persuade you to buy a suit from a local shop. Quite often they try to guess what country you are from to build trust and claim that other celebrities bought their suits from them. And I was born yesterday to believe in this... When you make this mistake and enter one of their shops the best quality materials: cashmere, tweed, Armani Cut, whatever you wish are promised for a very cheap price. Payment upfront required. As you can already imagine the tailored suit is nothing more than a cheaply looking polyester piece of clothing that was nowhere near cashmere. 

I was not bothered by their lies. What really irritated me was how persisting they were, how they tried to push me into a dodgy looking shop with their bodies, how they would get closer and closer, they tried stand to me, and most of all trying to touch me and change the direction of my walk. My personal space was invaded more than once.  Quite frankly I felt not only uncomfortable. but also threatened.  

 Tuk Tuk

The Tuk tuk scam is a very simple scam. You ask to go and see place A, driver claims that the place is closed and suggests place B. Surprisingly not place B is his friend's shop with fake jewellery/suits/you name it. 
Before jumping into a tuk tuk agree first on a price for the ride. It is worth having a little google about how much roughly the ride should cost. You will know if you are being taken advantage of.

 Broken Taxi Meter

Similarly, as with the tuk tuk. Instead of 100 baths you will end up paying three times as much and that is if you are lucky. When you refuse to pay the driver they can get very pushy and aggressive.  Always demand fort he meter. 

Motorbike Scam

Before renting out a motorbike check its condition thoroughly in front of staff, and take loads of photos and videos. On this occasion this might save you a hefty sum that can be claimed you when you return the motorbike, when they conveniently notice that something is 'wrong' with the vehicle. They can turn aggressive and try to persuade that you caused the damage even if the scratches were already there when you rented it out. Videos and photos always help! I would strongly suggest not leaving your passport as the deposit and choosing to pay deposit with cash instead. Most of the places want passport because when you do give it to them they basically own you, and you become dependable from them. Yes, they can be honest but what if they are not? 

Jet Ski 

Similarly as with the motorbike scams. You want to have fun and own the waves... However you are then forced to pay extra for a purposely damaged machine prior to your Jet Ski ride. Always check the underside of the Jet Ski; here concealed damage could be present. Before renting out a jet ski check reviews online. It is worth paying more to save yourself stress. 

 Wrong Change

Familiarise yourself with Thai money because some people will try to check if you know how to count it. The saddest thing I noticed about this is the small honestly working juice bar/stall on a street market never failed to give me the correct change. The issue started with small shop owners, who appear to be wealthier, especially in Phuket. Always double check your money in front of the sells as it is too late when you leave the store.   


Although it was not as bad as it was in Paris it is still a popular practice.

What are other scams you are aware of?

Read more about wonderful Thailand:
Chiang Mai
📷Chiang Mai
Kata Beach
What to pack to Thailand?
Phi Phi Islands
📷 Phi Phi
Hotels in Thailand Reviews
What surprised me in Thailand?
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Share your thoughts :

  1. I know this way too much ! Got so many scams in Thailand, was hard lol ! Well... or at least they tried. It's a bit sad when you are travelling in a very good mood. Like, as a open minded traveller and not a unsensitive and disrespectful tourist. Unfortunately they don't know how to make the difference between the two.
    I can understand them, though, so many tourists everyday. And a family to feed. I guess :D
    Lovely article !

    1. Definitely I see why they doing it but for me it is a big no when someone is invading my personal space. However Chiang Mai, the cultural capitol, was still almost scam free. Possibly this is why I loved it there so much! Save and happy travels! Iga x

  2. Very helpful post! Will keep all of this in mind, although you'd hope that some things are common sense. I can imagine how hard it is to say no to a child and I absolutely hate being pestered by salesmen. But it must work on some people I guess otherwise it wouldn't be such a common tactic?


    1. It is very hard to say no to a child, especially when you see it how tired and sleepy they can be. Unfortunately Thailand is still country with issues that need to be solved.

  3. This all sounds so so scary! My boyfriend is terrible in situations like this so I'm definitely not taking him here haha, he takes anything from anyone and has to pay for them haha! xx

    Tamz |

    1. It is very uncomfortable at times. I was only separated with my partner by people trying to scam us in Italy, very unpleasant.

  4. It makes me so sad to hear of scams like this - why are people so nasty, ugh! I've always wanted to go to Thailand, so I'll definitely be considering these if I ever do go. And the ping pong show? Naive me thought that was going to be a show where people play ping pong haha

    Steph -

    1. I have to say that I actually did think it is a show where people play ping pong. My travel partner quickly explained why we should not go and see one haha

  5. I went to Koh Samui with my parents when I was a lot younger but I guess we were all naturally pretty wary of anything that seemed suss so we avoided all of this. That ping pong show though, when I read the title I so innocently thought it would be a show where you watch people play ping god, how wrong could I be!

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    1. I must admit Julia that I had no idea what ping pong show is. After I was slightly too keen on talking with the person advertising the show my fiancé whispered into my ear what it actually is. I have to say that I do not feel that it would be my kind of show. :)