bangkok temple

Last Updated on November 26, 2019 by Dani

We avoided them in Mexico, outsmarted them in Central America and other than a bank card being cloned at an ATM in Panama, the first 18 months of our nomadic travels had been entirely scam free. Until we got to Bangkok, that is – on our first day no less. Here’s our story of how we got scammed in Bangkok.

SCAMMED! in BangkokOur egos are still bruised and it has taken us a few months to sit down and actually write about this because we still feel stupid about how it all went down. But the fact of the matter is – we got soft. We had just done our massive U.S. road-trip, landing safely in Chicago amongst friends and family afterward. Before that there were the three months in Europe and seven weeks in Canada. Surrounded by the safe and familiar, we had let our instincts do most of the planning during the past six months.

Not only did we get soft, we also got lazy. We’ve told a few friends about this Bangkok scam ordeal long before we decided to write about it publicly, and everyone said the same sort of thing – that this could have happened to anyone. To a certain degree, they are right. Plenty of people fall for scams when arriving in Bangkok. Hell, there are even websites entirely dedicated to informing travelers about it – like (now defunct) and the chapter on scams on the Wikitravel Bangkok section.

Did either of us take the time to read those websites? No. What about the Dangers and Annoyances section of the Bangkok chapter in our Southeast Asia Lonely Planet that talks about Bangkok scams in detail? Nope.

So you want to know what happened? Fine, but be gentle with us…

Day one in Bangkok. With major jetlag and on edge about the floods set to hit the city in a few days, we set off for a full day of sightseeing. First stop: the Royal Palace. Not two blocks from the hotel, a friendly Thai man approaches us and asks us where we are from.  From Germany, I tell him, and his eyes light up. ‘Ah, Germany! I have friend in Frankfurt. Wonderful country! Football! Deutschland!’ We are immediately at ease with this smiling stranger and he asks when we arrived.


Oh, just six hours ago, we say, almost not believing ourselves that we have landed in Asia for the first time. Mistake #1! Now we have given him the ammunition to scam us – we’re brand new here, and we have now stepped, unknowingly, into a dense, complicated web of Bangkok scams with a cast of characters longer than the annoying Valentine’s Day movie.

bangkok tuktuk driverWhere you go now? He asks us this nonchalantly and we answer that we are going to the Royal Palace. Oh, no, Royal Palace closed this morning, he explains. Only open in afternoon

Wikitravel: Be highly skeptical when an English-speaking Thai at a popular tourist attraction approaches you out of the blue, telling that your intended destination is currently closed. Temples are open just about every day of the year. Anyone telling you otherwise is most likely out to scam you, especially if they suggest a tuk-tuk ride to some alternate sights to see until the sight re-opens.

Reacting to our sad faces, he assures us he knows some fantastic Buddhist temples that we should check out instead. Take a tuk-tuk to get around he said, and then, leans in and says – only tuk-tuks with blue license plates. These are government regulated, he explains, and only charge 20 Baht. 20 Baht, we think? That’s…60 U.S. cents. For both of us – all morning. Yay! We’re in South East Asia and travel is finally cheap again. Our new friend circles the temples on our Bangkok map and stops a tuk-tuk, explaining to him in Thai where to go.  We can’t believe our luck. What a nice guy.

Wikitravel: Always beware of tuk-tuk drivers offering all-day tours for prices as low as 10 baht. You may indeed be taken on a full-day tour, but you will end up only visiting one gem and souvenir shop after another. Don’t buy any products offered by pushy salesmen — the “gems” are pretty much always worthless pieces of cut glass and the suits are of deplorable quality. The tuk-tuk driver gets a commission if you buy something — and fuel coupons even if you don’t.

Before we set off in the tuk tuk, our new friend mentions that we should only stop at the TAT travel agency – the Tourism Authority Thailand – to book onward travel from Bangkok. He made sure to relay this message to our driver, too.

Off we went, ready to visit our first Buddha temples and happy to have that travel buzz back that we haven’t really felt since Central America. At this point, it might not be clear why we would trust a complete stranger like that. The thing is that throughout our travels, over and over again, we have learned that most people are good, and almost everyone who has offered to help us in the past has gone out of their way to make sure we got where we were going, pleased we are visiting their country. Up until that point, we had no reason to think that Thailand wasn’t exactly the same.

After a few temples, the smiley driver stopped at the ‘TAT’ tourist agency (later we would learn that the TAT does not even have storefront tour agencies at all). We hadn’t even suggested we might want to book anything, but hell, while we were stopped, we might as well go in and see how much the travel is going to cost us. The lady in the office tried to sell us an entire package for our month in Thailand, including transportation and hotels for 540 Euros. As independent travelers, we prefer to arrange these things ourselves, we said, so we thanked her for her time and said No.

Away we sped, this time the driver explained that, in order to get a free government gasoline credit, he had to take us to a jewelry store and a tailor. We didn’t need a suit, but were still plenty giddy, and so we walked in and out of both stores, thinking we are doing this guy a favor. Then, it’s on to the next temple. Inside, a man is sweeping up and starts up a conversation. Looking back now, it is the exact same conversation template from this morning. Where are we from (oh, Germany, my cousin…study in Germany, football, Deutschland!), how long have we been in Bangkok, where are we going to next. Then he lets us in on a little secret. Don’t waste your time at these tour agencies for tourists. He knows an office where only local Thais go to buy tickets – cheap cheap.

Well, now he has pushed our hardcore traveler button. Only locals go there? Cheap cheap? Forget the hunger rumbling in our tummies and our jet lag. We’re on our way there! He tells the tuk tuk driver where it is and off we go.

bangkok tuktuks

It is at this point in telling the story that we start to feel REALLY.DAMN.STUPID.

The guy behind the desk is well-dressed, with a big smile, and 100% American. You’re probably thinking something like…Why would an American be working at a place where only Thais buy their cheap bus tickets? Yeah, that would be logical. Did we think that? No! Mistake #2.

Somewhere between the temple and the tour agency we had forgotten that this was supposed to be for locals. And cheap cheap. Just like the other woman, he maps out a journey, but we are not interested. But he starts to go on about the floods, and this is something that is really starting to concern us. Before we know it, not only are we booking (expensive, very very expensive) bus tickets from him down to the islands, but now we are booking an Air Asia flight from Phuket up north to Chiang Mai, too. He insisted on booking them immediately as it was a weekend and in high season. We had just looked online at exactly those airline tickets, and it seemed to be the right price range. His Thai assistant handed us two bottles of cold water and we handed over our credit card for him to go in the back of his office to book our plane tickets. What happened to that whole, we’re independent travelers ride we were on at the last place? Totally, completely forgotten.

Why did he not make that phone call to Air Asia and the bus company right at his desk? Why the back room? Congratulations! You have asked another logical question, one we forgot to ask.

Okay, all done, he says reassuringly. Come on by tomorrow and you can pick up both sets of tickets. Great, we say, and hop back in the tuk tuk. We have booked hundreds of flights online in our lives, so why didn’t we ask the next logical question – where were the flight reservation print-outs?

We spend about twenty minutes at the next temple, and when we get back to where our driver let us off, we discover that our tuk tuk is gone. Did he go for lunch? Gas? Now we are just hanging around, and another tuk tuk driver offers to take us wherever we need to go. But we are loyal to our driver – after all he waited all day for us at all our stops and we haven’t paid him yet. He’s gone, the other drivers kept telling us. But we haven’t paid, we keep saying to which they reply: It’s okay, free gas credit, he doesn’t need you to pay him.

bangkok golden mount bellsAt this point we are hot, sweaty, jet-lagged and starving so eventually we allow another driver to take us back to our hotel.

In hindsight, this was a major warning sign – who doesn’t need money? Who doesn’t want to get paid for services rendered? Someone who is getting a kickback from a scam, that’s who. And right there, that is when we had now fallen for the Tuk Tuk Scam. Mistake #3. All that business about a gas coupon is, of course, a lie. If you, the tourist, make a purchase from the jewelry store, the tailor, or overpriced airline or bus tickets, the drivers get a commission on your purchase, a fact we later learned on

Our next driver also insisted to stop at these jewelry stores / tailor shops for the gas coupon, but by then we were fed up and Jess was shoveling buckets of attitude at the tailor when our tuk tuk driver practically shoved us inside. Once he realized we weren’t going to buy a suit the owner threw us out of the store. In the end, we were practically begging the driver to just take us home with no more stops, even offering to pay double. This was our last tuk tuk ride in Bangkok, although at the time, we were still blissfully ignorant and suspected nothing. Check out our Facebook status from that day:

facebook status bangkokOuch, that hurts to read now.

The next day we made our way to the travel agency to pick up our tickets and our American scammer hands us two envelopes – one with two bus tickets, the other with print-out flight reservations – with our names spelled wrong. This is now Mistake #4. How could an American, a native English speaker, someone comfortable with the Roman alphabet, spell our names Jessiea and Ganiela? We pointed out the mistakes, and he finally agreed to call AirAsia to amend the booking. He went to the back room again of course, and not a minute later was back assuring us that everything was alright. Deep down, I knew he lied to us at the moment (having spend hours on hold with airlines throughout the years), but pushed it away, telling myself not to be so suspicious all the time.

During the next two days we were there we were approached by these ‘well-dressed English-speaking Thai guys’ more times that we could count, and we began to ignore them as they told us of closed attractions and tried to sell us tickets to boat trips and floating markets. Now that tuk tuks were not an option, we battled with taxi drivers who refused to use their meters, instead quoting us insanely high set prices which we emphatically refused each time.

We were back in the independent traveler groove, jet-lag free and heads on straight. We were really looking forward to getting down to the islands on the overnight bus that night.

But the bus never came.

bangkok busThe a-hole in the travel agency had given us a number to arrange pick-up to the bus station, which we had dutifully done. But when the bus didn’t show after 10 minutes we called again. ‘Oh, driver coming, wait please,’ said the voice on the other end. Thirty minutes later, we called again. She hung up on us and never picked up again.

Our overpriced bus tickets were not even real bus tickets.

Near tears, we loaded our bags on our backs and prepared to hunt down an affordable hotel for the night, knowing we had missed all buses and trains for the night. Hanging our heads in shame, we almost missed a big bus driving very slowly by. It was filled with tourists, so I took the chance to ask the driver if he was going to Krabi, our last stop before the islands.

The dark cloud had a silver lining! The bus was going to Krabi and had room for us.

Our tickets looked nothing like what others had, but were accepted… and as other passengers handed over their tickets, we learned that everyone else had only paid $10. Let’s just say that we paid much more than that for a bus that never came.

As we sat for hours on the night bus, Jess pulled out our plane tickets and took a closer look. We found no reservation number, no evidence of payment, two misspellings in our names… and we lost it. We cried, we moped, we argued with each other. How could we be so stupid?!

Finally having passed out, we were woken a few hours later to an uproar on the bus: someone’s bag had gone missing and someone had seen one of the Thai helpers try to steal another passenger’s bag.

Great. Just what we needed!

Had we just read about scams before we left we would have known the following:Top Ten Scams in Thailand on 7. Long Distance Bus Scam – Many people have had things stolen from their bags on overnight bus trips. Some have even reported they were drugged and found their money missing when they woke up.

Wikitravel: Also beware of private bus companies offering direct trips from Bangkok to other cities with “VIP” buses. There are a lot of scams performed by these private bus companies. Instead, try to book public BKS buses from the main bus terminals. It’s worth the extra shoe-leather, as there have been reports of robberies on private buses as well.

Twelve hours later, we finally arrived in Krabi with all of our belongings – but with one more scam left to go.

The bus didn’t drop us off in town, as promised, but rather on the side of a highway where there was, conveniently, a travel agency with three minivans ready to take us in to town for an additional (high) price. Sure we argued back and forth, throwing dirty looks at the ladies behind the desk, but to be honest, we were worn out. We had been scammed left and right, cheated, lied to, and to top it all off, we would now spend the next five hours after a semi-sleepless night on the phone with the banks to cancel our credit card.

Now, months later, we are still fighting to get the money refunded from the fraud department of HSBC. We have been back to Bangkok since, and although every cell in our bodies wanted to go gangster on that weasly little American, we have decided to be gracious about it and not to get ourselves anymore involved in this underbelly of society than we already were.

Traveling to Bangkok?

Check out these sites beforehand to avoid getting scammed in Bangkok:

5 Best Known Scams in Bangkok… and how to avoid them

Avoiding Bangkok scams

How To Beat Bangkok’s Scams

Scams in Bangkok: smiling Thais & dumb tourists

10 Lines that Say You’re Being Hustled

Shysters, shams and Bangkok Scams

Stay alert while crossing borders as well. Scams are not just in Bangkok – they are all over Thailand. A particularly bad scam is the ‘fake’ (!) Cambodian embassy at the Thai-Cambodian border crossing between Aranya Prathet and Poipet. You can read about it here:

Read up on other popular scams in Thailand here:

If you made it all the way to the end of our monster post…misery loves company. Have you ever been scammed while traveling? We want to hear all about it!


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Tags : thailand


  1. When I was travelling in Thailand I kept meeting people who had fallen for the tuk tuk / temple is closed scam in Bangkok. Sucks that you guys were taken in, but awesome that you shared this message! In my mind, the main negative about this sort of experience is that we end up travelling with our defences firmly up, and can end up missing out on genuine experiences as a result.

    1. Laurence – I totally agree with what you said: we had our defenses FIRMLY up after that and it took us months to calm down a little bit and trust people again. Every time a Thai person was overly friendly to us, we basically ran off, convinced they wanted to scam us 😉 When we returned to Bangkok a few months later, we were surprised that NOBODY tried to scam us the second time around – I guess they truly know who is new to Thailand!!

  2. Damn that is a nightmare of a story, so sorry to hear how badly you were stung.

    It just goes to show however it really doesn’t matter how savvy a traveller maybe we can all get caught out if the circumstances conspire against us.

    We’ve all been scammed in minor ways and on more than one occasion, it is a hazard of travelling to places where scamming is a way of life.

    Being able to write about it and share it for the benefit of others at least shows you are some way to getting over the whole episode.

    You are certainly wiser now than you were then and it’s unlikely you’ll be caught out in the same way ever again.

    Safe travels

  3. Pingback: Greg to Differ
  4. I was sure your we going to describe the Bangkok gem scam (which I fell for – hard) but I guess they have a new variation! Thanks for the article, I’ll keep my eyes open the next time in Bangkok!
    Keep up the good work!
    Frank (bbqboy)

  5. Heya, in Thailand now and yes my fiancé and I just got scammed. We were heading towards the grand palace and this man at the traffic light asked us where we were going, how long we were staying and when we got there. He then told us about Lucky Buddha and it was a holiday so that temple was only open for ONE day and its free so we must go. We hopped in the 20+20 baht tuk tuk (in which he said yellow license plates are government) and its a government holiday which is why they are so cheap. So we went to “red” Buddha, “lucky Buddha”, in which a friendly man sweeping the steps told us his niece was also from Toronto and owned a restaurant and named it. Then he told us there is one shop for cashmere shops and its tax free only today. We were excited and told him we already knew about it as the tuk tuk was taking us there next. We bought a suit, shirt and tie for $440usd. And we left feeling giddy and saying lucky Buddha had given us a lucky day! Then we went to the next temple and a Thai man with an English accent approached us saying the temple just closed. And he was friendly and it was such a delight to hear the accent he said he had lived in london for 20 hrs. He told us there was a gem shop and today only tax free so of course we asked the tuk to take us there. He said even if its not for us to buy it and sell it back home as that is what he did when he went to London. Spent $100 on a tiny little amethyst. Went back to khao San where we felt it was such an awesome lucky day we even gave our tuk tuk driver a generous tip. It was later in the hotel when I thought back on the day where I started to wonder why everyone asked the same questions and why there were no ticket booths at those temples. But I thought, how could it be such an elaborate scheme where everyone is involved even the kind man from Toronto and another man (not mentioned) who had told us about Lucky Buddha on the street 2 blocks before the other man approached us with the actual tuk tuks? Well, we went to google the scams and realized we had been fooled. But fortunately all we lost was time and a little (or lot…) money, It definitely could have been worse. Power to you guys!! We will not let this dampen our trip and will be smarter from now on 🙂

    1. Hi Christine, we were taken in by exactly the same crew. Their patter was impeccable, and so beautifully coordinated. On the upside, I did happen to need a new suit for an upcoming job, and the tailor was reasonable quality and inexpensive; and secondly although the jewellery shop did have some awful tat, we found a fine set of sapphires in the back corner which actually were just what we’d been looking for, and which turned out (later once we’d figured out that it was a scam and got them checked out by another jeweller) to be of reasonable quality for the price.
      But wow, we are still in awe of the scammers’ expertise, and still embarassed that we were taken in!

  6. *years not hrs. Anyways, I just wanted to say that your story is 100% relatable. And I felt your sentiments exactly. The kindness of these strangers, the feeling of being lucky, common sense flying out the window and not really realizing what happened until after. I’m a pretty cautious traveller, been solo to Europe and South America and never scammed because I was always on guard and untrusting. I can’t believe I got the wool pulled over my eyes this time! Well, if these guys believe in karma then I hope it comes back to bite them in the ass!!

    1. OMG, I can’t believe how similar your story is to ours, Christine! And that these scammers are still in business and doing more than well 🙁 Enjoy the rest of your trip though and don’t let theses scammers ruin your impression of Thailand!

  7. Hey,

    Sorry for what happened there. But I would like to know what happened next ? I mean, you stop the story in Krabi on the highway….What did you do next ? Did you try to go to air asia with your ticket ? My first time in Thailand, i went to same kind of agency, missspeled my name, weird ticket also, but me and my friends went to take our flight and it was ok, we just explained that it was a misspelled.

    Did you go back to Bangkok to ask this American your money back ?

    I really want to know more about this story.

    Could you also give us the name of the agency then future tourists won’t get scammed as well.

    Great story by the way.


    1. Hi Anthony, well, we did take the overpriced taxi from the highway into Krabi, we tried to see if the tickets were ‘real’ after all (which they weren’t), re-booked the tickets (paid twice for them in the end, basically), and were so full of anger that we made plans to go back to that guy’s shady travel agency the next time we’d be in Bangkok and get our money back and tell him what an asshole he was and whatnot. In the end, we couldn’t find the place when we returned to Bangkok, so we couldn’t do anything about it. It was just some shady little office without a real name other than ‘TAT Travel Agency’ (try to google that!) – the only thing I remember about the place was the big painting of a backpacker outside on the wall (hint: local Thais wouldn’t use a ‘travel agency’ that has a backpacker painted on the wall outside!). Well, it definitely made us smarter, we learned our lesson and won’t fall for anything like that again 😀

  8. I’ve been scammed twice – the first was in Granada, Spain where, bemused after a soul-lifting visit to the Alhambra, I let a gypsy woman “tell my fortune”, then in a fit of carelessness, waved a EUR10 note around, asking her for change. Hah! Once she saw that piece of money, there was no going back. The second was in Marrakesh, where we fell for the “this attraction is closed, come to my uncle’s carpet shop and he’ll give you good discounts” scam… though experience has definitely made me far more cautious now and so far, so good – I haven’t fallen for any more scams. It does help to do some research before travelling and trusting in your instincts!

  9. Hey guys,
    we are two german girls and we are sitting right now in Ko Tao and are very angry about the same travel agency as you – the Suphanaphumi Travel Co. Ltd.
    2 days before in Bangkok the same happened to ous. We wanted to see the tempels – the were all closed – get us in a Tuk Tuk – same stores- and than they told us that are now holidays in Thailand and we have to book as soon as possible our hotels on the islands. So we arrived in this damn travel agency. The guy was very friendly, and we get some free cold coke and he made a plan for us for 3 weeks in Thailand. we paid for hotels and transfers, a flight from Phuket to KL and a 2 day trip with elephant about 860 $, each of us. In that moment, we were tired and unexperienced, we said: Yes, book it for us. The man told us all the times, he just book hostels for us and hotels, which are cheap and a lot of young people there. So, the first stop is in Ko Tao (the transfer to here we booked before on our ownself for 1.600 Baht each (Train, Bus, Boat)) and now we are in a hotel, and have to pai about 30$ the night for one person, without eating or anything. We talked to the guy of Big Buddha View – and he told us, that they were cheating on us and his cheapest room is about 20$. We tried to call the travel agency, but the number does not exist! We hope now, that we can cancel this horror trip be email, or that we have luck and the accomodiations and everything goes right!
    We were free globetrotters – now it’s a horror for us!

    1. Hi girls, so sorry to hear that you got scammed, too! That is a lot of money 🙁 We hope you can still enjoy the rest of your trip – if we can help out with anything, please let us know.

  10. i am sorry to hear about your story but i hope you have learned your lesson, not to trust someone , especially in a foreign country so easily. of course, there are geniuine people whom are honest in helping you. but always trust your gut feeling. if something makes u feel uneasy, then back out immediately.

  11. Hey Guys,

    Sorry to hear about your nightmare in thailand! I’ve been twice now, it’s crazy to see so many people experiencing these scams.

    The only time they got me was when i first arrived into BKK, it had been a long flight from the UK and we we’re exhausted. A man asked are we looking for a taxi, which of course we were.

    So we followed him *MISTAKE* He called a cab over and said we take payment here 1,000 baht, not knowing any different we paid the man and went.

    So during the journey we stopped at many tolls and the driver kept asking us for the money to pay them which i thought was a bit odd but hey i was in thailand, i didn’t know how they did things. So after an hour or so in this taxi, many wrong turns etc we finally got to our hotel only to be asked for a further 500baht!!!!

    I lost my cool at this point, my blood was boiling, so i called the manager form the hotel to speak to this guy in thai on my behalf and tell him i had already paid and he wasn’t getting another penny from me.

    It transpired that he didn’t even know the man at the airport, he just told him to take us to the hotel…. I ended up paying the driver a further 300 baht.

    From that point on i was street smart, connected to wifi and checked out all the scams…. Nothing has happened since.

    It’s just so easy to get caught up in the ‘traveller’ life and be trusting of people, gotta keep one eye on the ball at all times 🙂

    Great blog though guys

    1. Hi Jay, thanks for sharing your story! We actually heard quite a few taxi scam stories in Bangkok – what a horrible introduction to Thailand for travelers flying into BKK. Ugh. At least you didn’t lose all that much money – I hope the rest of your time in Bangkok was awesome!

  12. Hello,
    I and my wife fell victims to a similar gems scam in Bangkok a few days ago.. After realizing we were scammed, we immediately contacted the tourist police , Bangkok by phone( 1155) for help.Luckily, we met a very good, helpful and kind tourist police officer who accompanied us to the seller’s shop to request for a full refund. The seller agreed to refund us full through our credit card accounts. It is still too early for me to tell whether the shopkeeper will keep his promise or not as we have not yet received the refund nor our latest credit card statements of accounts. However, I strongly recommend that those tourists who are scammed to seek the help of the Thai tourist police as there are very good officers in the Thai Tourist Police Department.
    I will share the details of the scam we experienced in Bangkok in due course.

    1. Please keep us updated on if you really receive the refund! That would be amazing! Good to know that the tourist police is actually on the tourist’s side in this case (they usually seem to ignore these scammers and let them do their thing!)

  13. Sadly, I’ve run into folks in the West who have bad opinions about Thailand because of these scammers. It gives, what is otherwise an awesome country with cool folks, a really bad name.

    Sorry to hear about your experience.

  14. I am pleased to confirm that both I and my wife have received full refund of THB30,000 and THB35,000 respectively.
    As, promised, I detail below the modus operandi of the scam that I have experienced in Bangkok on 17.1.2014:
    1. We were dropped off at a secluded area in the vicinity of the Grand Palace(our destination was the G.P.).I suspect the taxi driver was an accomplice.
    2. While we looked lost and tried hard to figure out where the entrance of the G.P. was, a very friendly Thai man suddenly appeared and told us that the G.P. was closed for lunch from 12 noon to 2pm.
    3. He suggested that we visit nearby temples like the Marble Temple and the Sitting Buddha temple by tuk-tuk which charged very low fares that day at THB20 per hour because the Thai government specially arranged with tuk-tuk operators as a gesture to thank the foreign tourists. He also told us he bought a diamond ring on 16.1.2014 for his wife to take advantage of this special offer by the government where no tax was levied and this (17.1.2014)was the last day of a one-week offer.
    4. A tuk-tuk suddenly appeared in front of us! He directed the driver to take us to all the place he mentioned at THB40 for a 2 hour trip. Then off we went.
    5. Inside the first temple I.e. Sitting Buddha Temple there was no other tourist/visitor except a middle aged man who struck up a conversation with us. From our conversation, I learnt,inter Alia,(as claimed by him) that this temple was only opened one day in a year and we were there! How lucky and blessed we were! He once worked as a manager in Bank of Bangkok in Kuala Lumpur,the capital city of our country Malaysia.He now works in Singapore in the same capacity in the same bank.he was back in Bangkok to visit his aged and sick mother. While in Bangkok, he took the opportunity of the special offer(tax of 195 p.cent was waived) by the Thai government to buy two blue sapphires which he would resell in Singapore thereby making big money claiming that he had done so for more than 10 years starting with his university days in University of Melbourne(he claimed he had obtained MBA from the said uni).He suggested we should also buy gems during this specially offer which co-incidentally ended to-day(17.1.2014).He then wrote the name of the gem shop on a piece of paper for us to show to the driver to take us to the gem shop.
    6. We arrived at the gem shop after travelling for about 10 minutes. The sale personnel successfully talked my wife into buying two blue sapphires at THB35,000 and THB30,000. We paid for them by using our credit cards. After that we continued to visit the Marble Temple before the tuk-tuk driver sent us back to the G.P.
    7. When back in our hotel, my daughter did a google search with her smart phone. She came across the many gem scams in Bangkok using the same modus operandi as we encountered. Only then we realized we had been scammed!

    1. I was scammed back in 2002 and wrote about it in detail. Still getting comments on it 12 years later because it keeps happening:

      If you get an inkling you’ve been scammed, take care of it before you leave Bangkok because most people won’t get a dime back after the fact. You can get the quality checked out with the Thai Gem & Jewellers association. If it doesn’t check out (and it most likely won’t) then contact the Tourist Police in person.

      Glad you got your money back, always nice to hear.

  15. I am writing this as I got scammed yesterday and paid around 200 USD for this scam. Avoid all jetskis in pattaya, everyone there is mafia.. Avoid anything rental there.. If you dont believe me, watcht eh video

    Again, Never ever rent anything in pattaya, those morons are just there to con you.. the police is involved and they were telling us that they will take us to the court.. such a mess, where is the thai govt regulating this.

    1. Simple answer to that one; they don’t. I was a victim of the Bangkok Gem Scam back in 2002 and wrote about it last year. It is the most popular post on my blog and 12 years after I got scammed it’s going on strong and tourists still falling for it everyday. As far as the Thai government goes the unofficial story is that key people have hands in other people’s pockets…

      Pattaya unfortunately now in the hands of the Russian mob. So you are perfectly, and literally correct; it’s the Russian mafia. And again you have to wonder where the government or police are or how they are implicated.

      Frank (bbqboy)


    bad experience and worst ever!! in Bkk
    please help and share
    yesterday not just us , have a lot people have seem like that too

    we have fake guide people ripped off with bad experience about trip boat in Bkk
    no safety shirt,
    diver drink and drive on the boat , never stop on th spot like they’re said
    if someone try to put you ,
    invite you sit in private Boat for the trip don’t pay for it
    there have 3 place near river in bkk , they’re do same game ,
    later they gonna left you like trash,
    thank you
    it’s not about how much you pay , it’s all about hurt you feeling later !!!

  17. I’m an indian so these low life people didn’t try to scam us much (because they think – india no have money , cheap cheap) but i did fell for the jewelry scam and i was pushed into buying the fake stones…when i refused i was almost thrown out lol .will never go to their stores etc anymore..prostitues are good though 😉

  18. Hey guys,

    it’s sad to see all these people being victims of scams. Unfortunately, I and my friends have been scammed, too 🙁 it was also happening during our first days in Bangkok, even though I knew there were things like this going on.

    But let me start from the beginning:

    Already a couple minutes after touching Thai ground, there was an attempt of a very nice guy at the airport trying to get us a “very cheap” taxi to our hotel. Luckily, I decided not to go for his offer of 1500 baht for a taxi for the three of us and felt almost invincible after finding a taxi on my own that would bring us to our hotel for 700 baht (which still seems to be a little overpriced, as I would learn later). After chatting a little with “Pong”, our taxi driver, about our plans and us being in Thailand for the first time, he offered us to stop by a travel agency where we could book our train tickets to Suratthani for a good price. I refused a couple times, because I had to think about all these stories of tuk-tuk and taxi drivers drawing commission by taking unknowing tourists to shops. In the end we reached our hotel without any other problems.

    On our second day our first and only goal was to buy train tickets to the South, since we wanted to independently travel around the Andaman Sea. Since our hotel was at the Silom Road near the Chaoprahya River we took the Taxi boat to get to the station nearest to Khao-San, because I heard there are a bunch of travel agencies where you can easily buy a ticket to go anywhere. Right when leaving the pier, a very nice Thai, who must have seen our desperate tries to figure out where exactly we are, started to talk to us and offer his help. He is a teacher at a school in Bangkok and happy to help. He also tells us, that today is Government Day, which means that we will get a 20% discount on anything we book at the T.A.T. Amazing, we think and can’t believe how lucky we are, to haven’t bought the train tickets yet. After marking many different spots on our map, he tells us that we should only pay 10 baht each for a tuk-tuk anywhere, since they get free patrol from the government. Nice tip, we think and enter the tuk-tuk that appeared just that moment. He brought us to big Buddha, where we could also eat some very good Thai food. And to lucky Buddha, where we were told that this temple is only open one day a year and that today is Government Day and Buddha Day, which made us feel even luckier than before. After that he brought us to the “T.A.T.” where we only wanted to book our train tickets with the 20% discount.. Inside we were greeted by a friendly and well English-speaking man named Tom. We chatted a little bit and told him where we wanted to go and that we only want to buy the train tickets. But unfortunately, he could only sell us the train tickets to Suratthani and back in combination with accommodation for a good price. That’s where I should have left the office, which I almost did, but my friend told me to wait and listen to his offer. So he showed us some flyers, typed some numbers into his calculator and ended up with a total amount of 26000 baht per person for the transfer and 12 nights. After figuring out how many Euros that are, we were shocked. Well, at least my girlfriend and I were, since that was pretty much all of our budget for the whole vacation. But oh wait! It’s government day, so you get a 20% discount and since you are young, also get another 20% young-people-discount! I don’t really know how he did the math but he ended up showing us the new price of 18000 baht. Since we didn’t look too happy and I kept telling my friends, that we should not do it and leave, he kept typing numbers in his calculator, change the resorts to cheaper ones and ended up with a total of 13000 baht each. Still not very happy, he told us how we would definitely pay more, if we went there without anything booked in advance and told us it’s the lowest price he could do. In addition he gave us a 4-island tour for free in Krabi. 2 of us were against his offer, one would have done it right away. I don’t really know why, but we ended up doing it and left the office with 13000 baht less and way more than a train ticket south. By then I was telling myself it was a good deal, even though I didn’t feel like it..
    After that our tuk-tuk took us to a tailor, where, of course, we ended up buying stuff. Maybe because of our nice salesman or because of all the other tourists there buying shirts and suits. I still don’t know. After all that, we finally reached our actual destination of that day, the Khao San Road. Nothing else happened that day, except for a very relaxing foot massage! 🙂

    So the next day we go out to see the great places like Wat Po and Grand Palace. We actually made our way to Wat Po, paid the 100 baht entrance fee and really enjoyed the atmosphere and even the free food and drinks they offered. Afterwards, we went to G.P., just to find someone telling us it is closed and that we should come back tomorrow. Only after talking to him I realized how everyone was asking the same questions, especially if it’s our first time being in Thailand.. Well he told us about a really great tour through the canals of Western Bangkok and already had a tuk-tuk driver ready to bring us to the pier. The tour itself would only cost 600 baht per person and would be amazing, since we could see all those floating markets and fish farms you hear about. Although I had a weird feeling about it, we let the tuk-tuk take us there for 10 baht and went on the tour that usually cost 1200 baht per person. So we would miss a really great deal if we didn’t. The tour never came by any of those points of interest and only led us by Thai houses and some temples. It was nice, but just not worth 600 baht..

    Our last day in Bangkok and we still want to see the grand palace. So after going to the tailor again (which is somewhere very far away) for checking if everything is alright with the ordered clothes we head to G.P. But the tailor already took too much time, so we would only have about one hour before the Grand Palace closes its gates. So we look for a taxi to take us to the Indian market, which we heard of while being on the taxi boat the other day. The driver didn’t want to use his meter, but finally agreed to do so. On our little map we try to guess where the market must be and where our taxi is going. For some reason we are heading east (we were pretty sure the market is close to the river) and going zigzag. After telling the driver again where we wanted to go and asking how far it is, he tells us it’s close and we accept his answer. Finally, he dropped us off at a restaurant for seafood. Our complaints are ignored and we pay him, just happy to get away from him. So from there we take the rest of the day getting back to our hotel by train and foot, pretty angry about how the day went by.
    At the end of that day we take the night train to Suratthani, which was really nice! From there a bus picked us up and dropped us somewhere outside of Krabi, from where we were lucky enough to get a Song-Thaew to Krabi Town for 20 baht each, instead of taking an overpriced minivan. From that moment, our holiday was just fantastic!

    Our bungalows were the cheapest ones available, just what we wanted, although not for three times the actual price. We are a little sad about not having the independent trip we wanted and paying way too much to the wrong people. But all in all our Thailand trip was amazing! And we are now a little wiser and will (hopefully) never again fall for things like that 🙂

    The name of the office we booked our trip was something with “168 Travelling”. And as far as I know, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (T.A.T) does NOT sell tours of any kind, just gives advice. So we were definitely not dealing with what we were told. So just book your train tickets at the train station and book your hotel or resort when you are there and you will have a wonderful time 🙂

    (I guess that comment is a little long. Sorry about that, just had to tell somebody about it, finally)

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Lennart! I recently spent some time in Bangkok again, and was showing around a first-timer, which meant I got to spend quite a few days in the touristy areas (Royal Palace, etc). It was amazing to see how many of these scammers were around there – I could spot them immediately, trying to talk clueless tourists into cheap ‘tuktuk tours’, and even around the corner from the Royal Palace entrance they were still trying to convince people it was closed… crazy! Well I am glad that you still ended up having an enjoyable vacation and didn’t lose all that much money! Next time you want to take the train in Thailand, go straight to the train station (note: there are some scammers in there even, trying to get you to book through their tourist office instead of through the ticket office). And next time you know what to look out for, so you can still have an independent Thailand vacation – check out the Gulf Islands for example 😉

  19. Hey guys I’m so so sorry you got scammed so badly!

    I want to share my experience of getting ripped off in Bangkok which I can’t 100% be sure was a scam, but certainly feels like one! Me and my partner booked a return ferry, coach and train package from Bangkok to kho Tao and back with a travel agency in hua lamphong station- I think they were called 12 Go Asia. The journey there was ok but when we got to the pier on kho Tao on the day we were leaving, we were told that there was no way we would catch the connecting train because the ferry was running late and therefore the coach that would take us to the station would also be late. The ferry company claimed that they had asked the agency not to sell that package anymore as tourists always missed their train. The woman at the counter offered to sell us tickets for a bus that would take us from chumphon pier to bangkok and, as we had to fly the same day, we had no choice but to pay up. She also confiscated our tickets for the coach and train so she could “complain on our behalf” but in hindsight seems more like she was making sure we had no evidence of purchasing those tickets. We know for certain that we would have missed the train as we saw the coach that was supposed to take us to the station leaving too late to make it, whilst we were waiting for our alternative bus. We ended up losing the price of our package tickets, plus the substantial commission we paid the agency and then having to fork out several hundred additional baht for the alternative transport. The worst bit was that the coach to Bangkok was delayed so we almost missed our flight- we got there 6 minutes before check in closed! Please beware of the travel agency in hua lamphong- they probably know full well that you have no chance of catching the transport you have paid for and in top of that have the audacity to charge about 600 baht per person in commission. We were lucky but I would hate for there to be disastrous consequences for anyone else.

    1. Wow, that’s crazy! You must have been going crazy on that bus knowing how close you’d cut it. I’ve heard similar stories of packages sold to travelers – but in some cases the ferry wouldn’t even accept that ticket! Thanks for sharing, Charlotte, and I hope other people are warned – the travel agencies in Hua Lamphong station don’t have a good reputation.

  20. We scammed the scammer ..cottoned on fairly quick this was a scam ..meant to be a two hour temple tour for 100 bht but not keen to take us anywhere we wanted to go. . So left our tuk tuk scammer waiting for us at the golden mountain told him we,d be 15 mins sightseeing while we nipped out the back entrance and jumped a cab. So he took us round bangkok for a while which was pleasant enough, bought nothing, saw a nice temple and the bottom of the golden mountain for free. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when he cottoned on he,d been scammed back!

  21. hey, thanks everyone for sharing these scams. I also want to post one. DO NOT go on any 1h river tours. What you will see is only some old houses, a few boats passing by and no huge floating markets and more amazingly wonderful things that you were told. AND, you have NO IDEA how well planned is this mafia. They are working together througout the Bangkok, so please, IGNORE ALL helpful thai people. Good luck 🙂

  22. Hi everybody,

    Today i share my scam story happen at bangkok in 2015.

    The process is pretty the same for everyone, we just visiting bangkok with a map on the hand. And someone nicely come to help us. She even find a cheap tuk tuk for the price of 40 THB.

    We visit two temple and we meet another man who talk to us about cheap suits during this special week, but only this week…
    Just after the tuk tuk stop at tailor shop. And we buy two supposed cachemire italian suits.

    After we come back in France, we asked to a familly member who is french tailor what she was thinking about our suits.

    – Every persons we meet this day were connected
    – There’s no italian cachemire, what we called “italian cachemire” come from China. And this is a low quality cachemire.
    – But the suits are fine and well done so we are always winner compared to French price.

    The shop is “Visutkasat Collection”, 386 Wisutkasat Road, Banpanthom Pranakom, Bangkok.

    I hope this post will help.

    1. I just got scammed the exact same way by the same shop.
      The thing what drives me mad the most is the French guy met in one of the temples visited who told me he was coming back every year for this special period and got a suit from them as well (pieces of the conversation : (him)”Crappy weather, heh ?” (me)”Yeah ! What a hell. Where are you from ?” (him)”France” (me-switching to French)”Non ! c’est pas vrai ! Moi aussi !” (him)”Oh ! c’est dingue. Quelle ville ?” (me)”Marseille, et toi ?” (him)”Marseille ! J’ai habité Toulon un temps, c’est pas loin.” (me)”Non, c’est vrai. C’est une heure de route” (him)”Mais originellement je suis de Rennes” etc. and then came to talk about the special week and the suits and how he came back every year).
      I ended up buying a suit I don’t really need (not really cheaper than I would in Europe and way too expensive for S.E. Asia), taking a boat into the river and the khlongs for way too much money (1000 baht), and being abandonned by the taxi driver afterwards (he had got enough commission I believe).
      I still don’t understand how I got fooled by these people. I’m usually a smart guy, but I guess I was glad to meet a fellow Frenchman (which I don’t everyday, living abroad) and once there, because they offer you free beer, there are a lot of other customers and so on, I couldn’t not buy a suit.
      But I’m playful, the same day, in the evening, I took another tuk-tuk, and if you resist the tailor and don’t buy anything, the tuk-tuk is still 10 bahts.

      What I mean with my comment is : do not even trust Westerners (or let’s say Bretons) met in empty Thai temples by a rainy weather (there are Bretons wherever there’s rain)
      And do not buy anything from Visutkasat collection.
      Avoid Tuk-Tuk, take taxi-meters (for what I had, minimum fare 35 baht, usually for 60 baht you go to just any place in central Bangkok)
      Maybe just take a Tuk-Tuk once, to say “I took a tuk-tuk”.
      Hope my comment helps.

      1. Jean – thanks so much for sharing your story and for the helpful tips! I feel so sorry for everyone who falls for them – and there are so many, every single day.. 🙁

  23. Hey,

    My husband and I are in Bangkok right now. This morning we had someone try to scam us exact same way. it’s a good thing we read your blog first. So thanks for the helpful, info ?

  24. I got scammed!! I would share my story but it’s pretty much identical to the ones above. I’m honestly so distraught and disgusted by This whole situation.. They are so so so calculated and so many people are involved in it. I unfortunately am still in this country and 36000 baht down. I can’t trust anyone.. Even the police or hotel staff. I hope I get my money back through my credit card. Is anyone able to share their experience with credit card disputes? Or refunds at the tailoring scam stores? 🙁

  25. We fell for a boat scam. A very nice man approached us as we got off the MRT line but we declined. On second thoughts though we thought why not and went back to him. He was friendly and chatty.

    We arrived at a pier type area and the woman asked for 3000baht for a trip!! We talked her down to 2000 but the tour was rubbish!!! Can’t even remember if it lasted an hour, we then had to pay a landing fee of 5 baht each at the pier we were dropped off at. Definitely felt like a scam!!!

    1. Ugh, I’ve heard about the boat scam. I just told my friends who flew into Bangkok last week ‘Don’t let anyone talk you into a canal tour’ because I’ve heard so many terrible stories 🙁 I hope it didn’t ruin your vacation, Matt..

  26. How it works: Inside picture about fake job agencies in Thailand who could go on with scamming for so long because teachers salaries didn’t go to the teachers but to the agency instead. Nicely paid by the school under contract with that agency. Even after these schools were fully informed about missing salaries and money cheatings by agencies pointing back to usually 2 famous persons in the Education world named Kirk Pathumanun and Suwit Khunkitti. The teachers still didn’t receive their money and on top of that they were just sacked. Schools like Chanhun Bamphen School, Sarawittaya School and Streesmutprakan School are somehow in on the deal with so called job agencies. Usually but not always both parties gain something out of this system but the teacher who is doing all the work gets his or her salary late, deducted or plain nothing. Funny thing is the schools and agency always get angry for teachers just leaving after not receiving any salary. In case you’re cought up in this downwards spiral and really to avoid worse it is best to walk away and dissapear to lateron share your story anonymously on the internet. The scam will probably not be stopped but they’ll have trouble finding other teachers or their contract ends suddenly with the involved school. Remember some countries like Thailand have laws against naming and shaming people or companies who scam you…

  27. We side stepped a scammer this morning. We were looking confused and a well dressed, good English speaking Thai lady approached us offering directions . When she learned we were on our way to the river how handy she could barter us a local price of 100baht for to the tuk tuk driver who would show us where we could get the 1000bht amazing boat tour. I politely declined and said we were going to get a coffee first, she tried to tell us coffee was to expensive in that are (siam square) she could get the driver to us for local coffee on the way. We left at that. We got a 1 way ticket down the river on a big boat for 40bht.
    So had a search for Bangkok scams and seems this type of thing is so common and has a few variations. It seems clear that these scammers work in large groups and all involved with you take a cut of a successful scam. The first person who approaches can try to work out where your from, how experienced a traveler you are and what you want. Your not going to get it but they’re finding the carrot to lure you. They can pass this information on to help arrange the tuk tuk driver and maybe arrange for the another scammer to be in a temple the driver is taking you to. Somebody that can speak your language to make you feel at ease. If you like shopping they have discount gems and suits. If you want food they have rip off seafood restaurants. If you need travel arrangements, rip off travel agents .
    Even if there’s no scam just avoid the tuk tuks around tourist areas. They’re always overpriced and charge more then metered taxis.
    Make sure taxi is metered before you get in. If you have to argue for them to put the meter on don’t use them because they will just drive you indirectly to push the meter up. Meter should be at 35bht when you get in.
    All this been said don’t just start being rude to any friendly Thai person. In this same day a lady went out her way to show us the bus to the skytrain saving us a 30min walk we thought was going to be 10.
    Don’t let the scammers make you too bitter and cynical.

    1. Thank you so much for your awesome comment! So much valuable input, and I love what you said at the end – Don’t let the scammers make you too bitter and cynical. I have to admit that after getting scammed in Bangkok, it took me a while to stop being bitter about it but I love Thailand too much to let some scammers ruin it for me 😀

  28. I’m reading scam story after scam story and all I can think of is …where is the guide to having a reputable Thailand experience? It seems it’s truly every man/woman for himself. Don’t trust TUK TUK drivers, taxi drivers, train station personnel, the pilots who flew you there…. Nobody!?! Because even if you refuse to go to the tailor to get one of these suits which seem to be in demand, they’ll probably just take you there anyway, only for you to be kicked out of said establishment. Or, as a consolation prize, just drop you off in the middle of nowhere only to be “saved” by a conveniently located shuttle service. Whew! This is all sorts of ridiculous. Shame on Thailand and it’s tourism board for not doing a better job at protecting people that are helping to pour money into their economy, I am wanting to go to Thailand in Jan and I am wondering if it’s even worth the hassle. I mean seriously…. not even the hotel staff is to be trusted? Are we talking Front Desk and Concierge too? I was looking up some Air BnB spots. Has anyone here had any luck with that? Your feedback is appreciated. Thanks.

    1. You know, after we got scammed, it took me months to trust any Thai person… Even now, years later, every time I go to Bangkok, I’ve got my guard on. It’s a shame that I feel that way, but to be honest, I still don’t really trust anyone.

  29. I think i just got scam too ! Siam backpaker co. Did a planning for 1 month with hostel and bus and flight reservation ! We don’t know how to trust them ! We went bavk and told
    Them we kinda know it was a scam and they told us it was not and bla bla bla ! The same story with the tuk tuk driver and all ! They have official government paper and all ! I feel so confuse and the trip start in 2 days ! What can i do ?! Call the tourist police ?! Call my credit card compagnie ?! Help

  30. Justin, how did it work out in the end? Think we got scammed today. You might let me know what happened for you.

  31. The “grand palace is closed” type scams and scumbag tuk tuk touts that cheat you out of your time and small amounts of money are downright annoying but are nothing compared to some of the boiler room type scams and the corruption of the government officials. We are a real estate company and actually wrote an article about Tips for avoiding Thailand real estate scams for anyone looking at buying or renting a property in the Kingdom.

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