Travel Smart: Top 7 most common scams in Thailand and how to avoid them

Two menus

Some restaurants can have two menus, one in the local language and one for the foreigners. Before you sit down make sure you’ll looking at the one that you’ll get at the table.

Menu with no price

If a restaurant has a menu with no prices, that’s an immediate red flag. Walk away.

Cover charges

Mostly applies when going out at night to bars etc but while looking at the menu simply ask if there’s any cover charge and unless explicitly said that there isn’t assume that there is.

The three above are particularly common in party towns such as Patong beach.

Taxi: hotel / attraction closed

Once you tell the destination to the taxi driver he’ll insist that the destination you want is closed today and he’ll offer and alternative. Frequently that alternative is either an expensive shop that he get’s commission from or a competing hotel that pays him.

How to avoid

Insist on your destination no matter what he says. Just say no problem. If he says anything further, ask him to stop and get out of the car as soon as possible.

Per person charge

It’s not common for taxis to do this but tuk-tuks and minibuses. Just make sure to clear up the amount before hand and then adamantly refuse anything other then what you agreed upon.

Free or cheap taxi / tours

Be very skeptical of any bus/taxi/tour that’s free or very cheap. Worst case scenario is that they’re a straight up funnel for robberies but the best case scenario is that your entire day is wasted being trucked around from factory to factory where you’re expected to buy things or you wouldn’t be allowed back on the bus.

These operators get commissions, of course, from all of the places they drop you off and the amount you pay initially is just to make it look like a good deal. They’ll make a lot more from the shops themselves.

In many places they’ll also drop you off to places that have fake items (clothes or gems) so be wary of deals that are too good to be true in general.

Common with tuk-tuks and tour minibuses.

How to avoid

So, if you aren’t using Uber etc. you need to categorically agree on what places you want to visit and the timetable and how much it’ll cost. In Cambodia we had a wonder experience with a tuk tuk driver where we agreed what time he should come to the hotel, where we’ll go, how long we’ll stay, and how much we’ll pay and everything went off without a hitch.

If however, you see you’re being taken for a ride, ask the driver to stop, or if you’re far away from anything wait till you reach, then pay for the part of the trip that you had already taken, thank him and walk away. I guarantee he’s going to come back and plead and say sorry and that he’ll continue and wont take you anywhere else but do not trust that. The next destination will be one of your choosing but the restaurant he’ll choose and it will be neither cheap nor good.

Rental car claims of damage

This happens mostly when you’re renting from people and not companies once you return the car they’ll claim that you scratched it etc etc.

Particularly common in beach areas where you’re likely to rent a scooter and not check it thoroughly.

How to avoid

To be super sure rent from smaller companies that preferably have a Facebook page or a website.

If you must rent from a person, once you pick up the car, but before that person leaves make sure to take photos of any damages and a video that shows the person who dropped of the car clearly before taking possession. If they question you, show them the video and refuse to pay.

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