Bangkok is full of surprises; this is the reason why so many people love it. But scams are some of them. I have written this article two months after our visit to Thailand and I have realized how many things I would have done differently. Traveling is not always pretty, but every experience teaches you new lessons.
No matter how well-prepared we were before visiting the capital of Thailand, yes, we got scammed. After our experience, I suggest you take some time before planning a trip to Thailand and read carefully plenty of blog posts and watch vlogs with REAL experiences not only presentations of the most popular attractions. I must admit, we researched only the beautiful aspects.
The Grand Palace Is Closed Scam
On our way to the Grand Palace, a friendly man approached us and kindly told us that the Grand Palace was closed for a ceremony, but it was about to open in two hours, so why not indulge in a Chao Phraya River ride. The departure point was a ten-minute tuk-tuk ride away, so a tuk-tuk driver came out of nowhere and convinced us to accept his fantastic offer.
I must admit that the Chao Phraya River boat was one of the best activities in Bangkok. We escaped the heavy traffic, the heat, and the exotic odors while discovering a new and fascinating side of Bangkok. As the trip ended and we were on our way to the Grand Palace, another man approached and told us that the temple is closed and for the next two hours, but he can call a tuk-tuk rider to take us to another temple bla bla… the moment when we realized that we’ve been scammed. Not again, my friend! Guess what, the temple was not closed, and FYI, it rarely is.
Beware of people telling you the Grand Palace is closed. Instead, go and see for yourself if you don’t know the exact program of the temple. I don’t regret being literally scammed because the boat trip was on our list.
Kelis once said, “Might trick me once, I won’t let you trick me twice”. Well, guess what? We got tricked the second time.
The Gems/Souvenirs and Tailoring Shops Scam
This is one of the most common scams in Bangkok but also the easiest to avoid. It starts with you entering the tuk-tuk and negotiating the price for a ride to your desired locations. For example, we wanted to go to a mall which was a ten-minute tuk-tuk ride away from our hotel. So far so good. After 5 minutes, the rider politely asked us if we can stop at two stores – a gem/souvenirs store and a tailoring shop – to help him get gasoline coupons from his sponsors (the shops mentioned above). He insisted that we didn’t have to buy anything but only spend 5-10 minutes inside. We accepted thinking that the stores were near the mall.
Well, after half an hour we arrived at the tailoring shop. Inside, the vendor asked us what we were looking for and where we were from. When we told him that we were Romanians, he almost started yelling at us that Romanians are not good for business because they don’t buy anything. I know this is true, but this is not how you treat someone who enters your store. We left irritated and embarked for the next ride.
After other 20 minutes, we arrived at the gems/souvenirs shop. We were already annoyed about the previous experience. The shop was full, and the vendors were occupied with other customers, so we left after two minutes.
If you don’t want to lose precious time, avoid this scam and politely refuse the driver when he asks you to take you to souvenirs/gems/tailor shops. We tried to see the good part of this scam – a longer tuk-tuk ride.
I felt safe in Thailand as the country is generally safe to explore; people are welcoming and friendly, but sometimes friendly means they want something from you. I have learned it the hard way. Don’t trust people who approach you to offer something, be it a good or service.
Be cautious, keep your valuables safe, smile, respect other people’s culture, religions, or traditions and travel responsibly and you will have a pleasant experience anywhere in the world.