Jewelry & Gem Stores, Bangkok
One of the most common scams in Bangkok is the gem scam where they tell you that you can buy cheap gems in Thailand then sell them on elsewhere for a large profit. Ours took place when we ended up at a temple on our tuktuk tour (see my Bangkok overview page for details). We were met by a man in the temple who chatted to us and when he found out we were from England and flying on to Australia he produced a ring and told us that if we were to go to such-and-such place we too could buy a ring and sell it at such-and-such jewellers in Sydney for a big profit.
Unique Suggestions: Just smile and nod but don't act too interested. To be honest we didn't even twig what was going on until afterwards. The only souvenir I bought in Bangkok was a fridge magnet so they didn't have much effect on me.
Do not--do not--speak with Thais that come up to you in Bangkok that speak perfect English. No matter how friendly they seem, they are usually part of a tuk-tuk scam designed to take you around to useless 'attractions' and ultimately jewelry shops. Do not take a tuk-tuk, they will take you to random locations as part of a commission-scam.
And do not--do not--ever listen when a 'helpful' passerby tells you that the Grand Palace is closed and that you should go view a special temple. It's a bull. And you will just get scammed on the tuk-tuk.
Last but not least, don't ever-ever--get in a tuk-tuk on Bangkok. You don't know where--or with who--you'll end up.
They'll make you stop everywhere just so you'll buy jewelry. And offer you useless "boat ride" trips that cost too much when you can go off on your own and join a group of people.
Unique Suggestions: Befriend your "tour guide" so she feels guilty and lowers the cost for you and spends the rest of the day driving you to places you actually want to see. I had a special tour just for me with my own driver which wasnt TOO bad. i liked that i had my own chauffeur hehehe.
Fun Alternatives: skip the boat ride for sure. i think it's called the canal tour. and if the city tour and the temple tour is the same, just go for the grand palace. it's the best. the rest of the little temples all just look like miniature versions of the grand palace. if you're really into temples, than go ahead but if you're more for an overall experience, ask to be taken to the shows. i paid for thai dinner, dancing and a ladyboy show. totally worth it. didn't regret the experience at all.
I just got done doing the river canal tour and all the sudden we are dropped off at the Gem store, OK, didn't see that coming. Our tour guide is like "do you want to buy some gems" no I am here on vacation, not here to buy some stinking gems.
Fun Alternatives: Tell your tour guide no to Gem stores....inflated prices and they follow you everywhere you go... My wife and I were basically running out the store.
I don't know why thai is very friendly or not. While me and my father walking round bangkok, some people told us that they are doctor, university teacher and something else, they did the same things. They will suggest you to go to buy some jewelly at some shops, but if you are not interested about it, don't respond to them. IF you respond to them ,they will talk to you and suggest you to go to other places, and help you to get a tuk-tuk. Mostly of them are not good.
Do not accept very cheap offer from Tuk Tuk drivers. 1 tuk tuk driver "quoted" 20 baht for an hour but he ended up bringing me to tourists spot (like jewellery marts) in the hope that I will buy and he will earned "commission" in the form of gas coupons. Although I reached my destination finally, I have spent a good whole 30 mins looking at Sapphire and Rubies.
I advise all backpackers and single tourists not to follow licensed tourist guides of Bangkok or join their tour groups to Bangkok's gem stores especially at its financial districts Sukhumvit and Rajathewi.
My China friend went to Bangkok recently with Valuair after being awarded a free air ticket to Bangkok. The tourist agency that cooperated with Valuair introduced him to a Thai qualified tour agent. He brought him and his friends to two gem stores at the district of Rajathewi and Sukhumvit. They bought later jewellery which were found to be fake. They lost money on this low-fare trip to Bangkok.
Unique Suggestions: If you wish to visit qualified gem stores of Bangkok, go to the prestigious Jewellery Trade Centre along Suriwongse Road, which is near Silom Road. Look for the Mahan Air office building and one of the qualified jeweller y buildings is located here. Explore but do not buy if you suspect the quality of the jewellery.
Fun Alternatives: Visit the shopping centres in Silom Road.
We went to the palace as one man stopped us. He said it was absolutely prohibited to go inside at that time, it was only for thai people/ religious people. We could come back at three o'clock. He showed us on the map some nice things we could visit in the meantime. He also mentioned 'Thai export'; a place that is normally closed but now was open. There you can buy al kinds of stones with a lot of discount. He stopped a tuc tuc driver and he brougt us to all nice places for only 30 bhat!
We also went to a temple and there was this young guy of our age. We sat down and talked with him. He askes us which places we were going to visit. Because the other guy had written all the things in our map, this guy knew exactly what was meant by all the circles. So he also notices 'Thai Export' and was very enthusiastic about that. He asked us if we had heard anything about it in the news. Only 7 days per year, the government opens this shop for tourists, while normally is impossible for normal people to visit over there. So we were lucky. There were tourists from all over the world coming especially for these 7 days!! I was very excited as we left the temple, but my boyfriend saw the scam. He explained to me that the first man, the tuc tuc driver and this guy were all in it together. But it was briliantly put together!! It is very convincing, but good we figured it out, we were still on time to go to the palace, as ofcourse it was not closed at all! (we just came to the wroing entrance)
Unique Suggestions: We came out of it better. We saw a lot of things for only 30 bhat. Something we could not have managed ourselves. But we still had to go to the shop. So I pretended to be sick. When I came in, the first thing I asked, was the toilet. After that they immediately let us leave. When they know that you know, they're not going to waste any more time on you. So play dumb during the whole tour, and when you get to the shop let them show a little bit that you know.
Dont believe in illegal guilde or someone immedieatly to be your friend as now aday Bangkok is change and as same as problem with the big city or tourist spot in the world. Sometime TukTuk will take you to Jewely shop or some place like that so be careful !
If someone approaches you on the street offering to sell you something such as gems or jewelry, just smile and walk away. Go in a shop and buy them instead. They’re more likely to be genuine and you’ll probably get a better price.
Theres always someone(either the tour guide, the tuktuk driver or the taxi driver) who would mentioned that you should visit the gem factory, sounds exciting? They will say it is really cheap and all tha ***e but...Don't go! I dont see the point of me goin to a gem factory and just doing a detour round it cos i know im not getting nething of there! It's boring and a waste of time!
Many organised excursions in Bangkok end up in a jewelry or other shop. Often the real excursion is even a bit rushed to get you to the point of purchase ASAP.
Unique Suggestions: So always ask you guide about the full program. Travelling around in Bangkok is pretty easy, so ask to be let off before you're shipped into what they call euphemistically "a jewelry factory"
Fun Alternatives: Or go to see interesting sites on your own
ABOUT AVOIDING JEWELRY SCAMS
This is the exact reproduction of the original text handed over foreigners when they visit the Bangkok Tourist Bureau located at 17/1 Phra Arthit Road in Bangkok.
I am sure it is worth reading it !
"At various tourist spots, particularly monasteries (wat), a number of visitors have been accosted by strangers who persuaded them to shop for gems and jewelry, and thus fell victim to fraudulent business practice.
These "strangers" prey on the ignorance and sometimes greed of the innocent tourists. If you should encounter any of the following ploys, it is more than likely a scam is being perpetrated :
1. The intended victim is told that the item he buys can be resold at a large profit because
(a) the jewelry item's cost will rise,
(b) it is being discounted, or
(c) it is a wise investment
2. The victim is taken to a jewelry shop specializing in gemstones.
3. The shop has no credit card machines of its own but has to use the facilities of other shops.
4. The sales pitch is made in a monastery, on the street or by Tuk-Tuk drivers.
If you are not truly knowledgeable about gems and jewelry, to obtain them for the purposes of investments, speculation or reselling would be a sure way to losing your money.
So, when in doubt about buying jewelry, please obtain further information from Tourism Authority of Thailand or the Tourist Police. Tel. 1155/694 14 60/678 68 00-9"
Beware of conmen are lurking near tourist spots, BTS train stations and hotels especially in the morning.
HOW TO SPOT: They would APPROACH you helpfully asking where ru going, on the pretext that they are helping you. Then they would tell u that the place wherever ur going is closed for some Buddhist festivals, under renovations or simply does not open so early. After which, they would ask whether you haf a map and they can recommend u to go somewhere else to get good bargains and sightseeing. Then they would ask u to tak a tuk tuk [ALREADY strategically located nearby] for only a nominal sum.
APPEARANCE: They are usually well-dressed in attire that vaguely resembled a station master, teacher or even military guard!
LANGUAGE COMPETENCY: These conmen speak extremely fluent English and often claim that they have a relative or friend staying in your home country as an train engineer or Thai boxing instructor.
HOW TO AVOID: Ignore people who approach u. Simply smile politely and walk away or pretend that you don't understand English (heheheh). Never never believe them for they wanna trick tourists to certain places where they get commission for bringing people there. The items on sale are usually gems and jewellery at these places are of questionable quality at atrocious prices. It's a waste of your precious travelling time!
Beware friendly strangers who accost you outside hotels or stations and try and engage you in conversation. It is very likely they're trying to get you to go to some gem shop, tailor, 'tour' or worse. Never accept any such offers and never volunteer information such as your hotel, room number, itinerary or name as they've been known to use it to con people.