By my second day in Bangkok I had not formed a great impression of the Thai people, or rather any of them connected with the tourist industry. I was aware of the scams and had been vigilant but I still got sucked in. I guess they caught me off guard because of my tiredness after a rather long day.
I had been to see the Grand Palace attractions and wanted to go to the Chinatown area and was standing on the sidewalk at a far corner from the main entrance. The "hooker" turned up and started talking to me, he suggested I visit Chinatown, which is where I wanted to go anyway. Being tired it sounded like it'd make life easier for me. He said he could get me there cheaply. He had also suggested a good Buddha statue to visit and mentioned an "expo" with good deals that many tourists visit. He pretended to be just helping you out, a kind of local sharing his knowledge. Then he waved down a taxi, which looked real enough, so I thought, well, maybe it's okay. Before I knew it, I was in a scam.
To my knowledge, there were 4 "actors" involved, not counting staff at the jewellery shop, the final destination of the scam. I call these actors the "hooker," the "driver," the "funneler," and the "primer." It was very elaborate in terms of settings and plot; they had all the angles and details figured out, such as ways to ensure I didn't end up sitting in the front of the taxi next to the driver where I could hurt him.
This taxi is, in fact, driven by someone the hooker knows, although it doesn't seem that way. The front door is opened but the car is parked so that the door hits the curb. Some fuss is made of this, and it presents an excuse to make sure you are seated in the back. Now you are in the hands of the "driver," who takes you to the recommended temple or attraction. It was after I got in and went a little way that it clicked I was in a scam, but I decided to let it play out and see what happens.
Somewhere near the alleged Buddha or temple, the driver parked and waveed me in its supposed direction. As I walked in the direction I was waved, another kind of friendly stranger, who just happens to be there, points you on if you seem lost. This guy is what I call the "funneler," who directs you down a path leading to a clearing where another "scene" is set to take place. I came to a clearing and, just as they planned it, did not see a temple. So I was left looking around, at which point the "primer" appeared--another friendly stranger.
The primer engage me in more small talk "where are you from," etc., the standard opener. His job is to lead the conversation around to the "expo" that the hooker had mentioned earlier, to prime you for when you go there. He'll speak of the great deals and how he shops there. He'll also throw in some familiar expressions and place names to give you the impression that he's well travelled. I threw a few questions at this guy and he wasn't too smart at thinking outside of his script. He tripped up and awkwardly recovered, but I was already aware that he too was part of the scam and its group of actors.
I nodded at his sales pitch until I got a chance to ask directions to the temple. "It's closed," he said. Now that pissed me off. Even though I knew these guys were scamming, I thought I'd at least see the suggested temple. Of course, the idea is not to give you a tour, it's to get you to where they want you to be.
After returning to the driver, he took me to the so-called "expo," which turned out to be an ordinary backstreet shop. The windows were blackened, and I asked the driver whether or not it was actually open. This is when he became really nervy, insisting impatiently that I go inside. That may or may not have been part of the script. At this point, because of his slimy and cagey behavior, I started to feel pretty angry. He was getting a little too rude.
I got out and went to see what was inside. It was empty except for the shop attendants hanging around, and there were women inside who immediately scurried off with guilty looks. All I could see was standard tourist junk jewellery and clothing. I strolled about quickly brushing off staff attempts to engaged me in conversation. There was an atmosphere of intimidation but I think they could sense I wasn't going to take much *** from anyone. I'd had enough of the game by this time, and I told the shop assistant I had no interest in buying anything.
When I got outside I noticed that a mini bus was blocking in the taxi driver. It's driver saw me and moved to let the taxi out. How this fits into the plot I don't know. What was going on there? Was the taxi driver under some obligation? That would fit with his nervy behavior. I walk over to the taxi, seeing the driver vigorously and elaborate pick at his nose hair. I'd seen this disgusting and childish behavior in China when someone is unhappy with a tourist. If you're lucky enough to be treated to one of these spectacles, just be aware that it's all about trying to insult you and get back at you, not about personal hygiene.
I got in the taxi and told the driver to take me further into Chinatown. On the way, he continued to nose-hair pick and I continue to ignore it. I was soon in the main part of Chinatown a couple of blocks away and suggested that he drop me there and then, offering probably more than the fair would have added up to but not much more. He agreed and suddenly became concerned with my welfare in getting out of the taxi. I got out and treated him with politeness, saying thanks with as much sincerity as I could muster, in the hope that it would make him feel like crap.
I wondered if they ever made any money out of this. What they got out of me, the taxi fare split up between all of the "players" amounted to very little even by Thai standards. The driver would have made more had he actual been doing an honest day's work. As for me, I figured the fare was payment for the experience and to see how the whole scam was played out.
Unique Suggestions: Don't talk to any strangers on the street no matter how friendly they may seem. Move away from them and stick to your original plan. Even if you are weary from sightseeing, don't accept any help or it could be a time wasting scam.
Fun Alternatives: I certainly wouldn't bother going back to the Thai mainland in a hurry. The big question in my mind while I was there was, What happened to the famous Thai smile? The only time I got genuine friendliness and a genuine smile was from young women or girls working in shops or restaurants. Otherwise, a smile was generally absent unless there was money on offer. The Thai males, except for a few exceptions, were a jaded lot and sometimes openly rude without cause.
An alternative? Maybe visit a Thai island and relax on a beach. Skip Bangkok all together!
Some travelers end up working in Thailand and some come to both travel and work.
These people or teachers are prey for the so called education scams or fake job agencies. Think of business practices, from extortion, to theft of personal property, miss leading advertisement, not paying salaries, threats against schools, teachers and other staff members. One of them even has Thailand's Natural Resource and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti involved!
Unique Suggestions: First warning is when you are not paid in full or when your money is "late", or when you have to do more work or overtime that has not being paid. Tempting to believe lies as "i'll pay you in a few days" or "you'll get a raise" only to find out that the longer you stay the worse it gets! False promises has been made about workpermit and visa paperwork? That happens all to often.
Fun Alternatives: Just stay away from 'agencies' altogether is the best! Some schools only work with agencies and share the profit and corruption. That means when you not get paid by the agent the school still pays the agent and for doing so the school get some of that money back from the agent and it'll disappear into the pockets of usually the owner or director of the school! This is how some agents and school directors in Thailand make their money. Do some online research first before you start working somewhere. Best thing is a school who doesn't work with agencies although some schools are just as bad i have to say. Beware of schools like Streesmutprakan school , Nongchok and Sarawittaya School.
Beware of agencies like Kirk Pathumanun's axiom, edknovate, smartkurve, exact academy and Quest language school and a person named Arthur Wood.
I booked in the net Pinnacle Lumpinee hotel in BKK (27 May to 10 June 2012) through AGODA but two hour later I called Agoda to cancel because I found a better hotel location Agoda sent me back a e mail cancellation approvals, we went to Bangkok then came back To Australia but I found out now Pinnacle Lumpinne hotel never return the $461.00 they stole from my visa, AGODA received my complain but did nothing. I have been sending e mail to TAT nobody in Thailand care about Pinnacle Lumpinee Hotel dishonest Staff and Agoda an accomplice. BE AWARE!!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: Do not book Pinnacle Lumpinee Hotel Do not use Agoda
Fun Alternatives: There hotels that do not take money from you visa until you check out look for them
I really haven't tried to book online for a place in where we can stay when we arrived in Bangkok, because I thought at that time that it's dangerous to enter your credit card number in the internet... well, i was wrong.
We planned to ride in a airport bus to get to Sukhumvit and then just find a hotel to sleep there but it didn't went that way. We were blocked in the airport by this old man in a Royal tourist agency and offered us a free tour around the city if we would avail their hotel nearby the airport. Being nice, we said yes thinking that a free tour would be very accommodating since it's our 1st visit in Bangkok and it's getting late. He booked us in Royal Pacific Hotel, for 2 days and 2 nights. I think we paid less than 7000php.
We took a cab from the airport to the hotel, service fee is 300Baht and it only took us less than 30mins to arrive in our destination. We were exhausted that we slept easily that night.
But then again, the place near the airport is not accommodating since we always need to ride a cab to go in the cities to wander. We live, we learn.
the next day we were toured by a tourist guide as promised also with a service car, but before the tour ended (around 1pm) we were brought in these expensive jewelry shops to buy something... my friend and I really not into these things that's why we were so irritated at that time. But still being nice and because we were in a different country, at least we bought something on that shop. But we were surprised it's not just 1 jewelry shop we stopped by, there was another but this time it sells this illuminating rock or whatever you call it!!! we never bothered to buy again because we had enough and it's not our point of interest!!!! we thought it's the last shop, we were wrong again!!!
the 2 thais stopped by another store, this time the jim thompson's shop, it's a well-known shop for fabrics and silks... but it's not what we like you know!!! we like touring around Bangkok not asking some tailors to make us new clothes!!!! well, it's not a really good experience to give you instructions on where to go... especially spending money on something you don't like!
Lesson learned: Don’t accept hotel offers from people in the airport. They would really bring you mischief by taking you to the gem/jewelry shops. Book your hotels in advance.
Unique Suggestions: Learn to say "No" in a nice way.
Fun Alternatives: Still, say "NO" in a nice way. Make up stories like you don't have to spend on something that you don't need and that you're saving for your mother's birthday, etc.
The Tawana Hotel in Surawongse Road Bangkok charges guests US$30 for every "visitor" to the room after 6.00pm. Even business colleagues. Hotel managerment say they only "rent you a bed, not a room" so you are not entitled to have guests - unless you pay, which goes into the pockets of the security people. The cost does not appear on your official hotel bill. Despite its marble foyer, this is a "short stay" hotel (renting rooms by the hour) supporting the prostitution trade in Bangkok.
Unique Suggestions: Always establish the "guest" policy of the hotel BEFORE you check-in or book online. This hotel is now refusing to refund my 5 night stay as I checked out immediately.
Thai people will generally not approach you in the street unless they are after something, never take a 10baht tuk-tuk, better to take a meter taxi.
Fun Alternatives: Learn a few words of Thai, eg. if someone approaches you with the bird seed, just say, "my ow rock" which roughly means, wont take it, or "Phom(if you are male) Di Chan(if you are female) ma thae o lye krang laeow "khrap"(if you are male) "khaa" if you are female, this means I have been here many times.
On 6 Jul 10, I made an int’l call from a public phone in BKK Int’l Airport. The call lasted no more than 2 min and it cost US$41.91. Card validation of USD0.95 was charged but then refunded. The phone company's code was also 800 99461355. I will never call from any public telephone using my credit ever again!
Unique Suggestions: Do not use your credit card on public telephone anywhere in the world. Buy a local phone card to make phone call even if one instead.
Near the Grand Palace there is a place were a lot of doves and a Thai fat woman and a middle aged man give unsuspecting tourist a small bag of corn kernel. They look friendly and as if they were giving you the corns for free even if you ask for how much they will keep on saying its ok...its ok... feed them... after the corn were out they will ask you to pay 50 batt per bag and they ussually give you 4 -6 bags of corn.... well i said dont have money..I only have 20 batt..if you want we go to the police,,,he he he...they accepted the 20 batt...but before that they keep on shouting ...so i also shout them and keep on saying Police...Police...Help me....lets go to the police station... They seem to be shock of how i was so determined to go to the police station...they finally said..ok..ok..no police just pay 20 batt...I gave them 20 batt then walk fast as i could.
I am living in Bangkok and my family came here for vacation so I brought them to the Grand Palace. After that we hung out around the area and I proposed them to walk through the royal field to check the kites then go to Khaosan Road for getting a drink.
While walking at the corner of the Saranrom Park, a nice old guy proposed us some free bikes to ride around the area, I declined but the guy was nice so we chatted up a bit. He asked what are our plans and part of my family (my uncle, my cousin and a friend) told him they planned to go to Chiang Mai next day but didnt have any bus or train ticket yet.
He then said its chinese new year and 1 million chinese people are going to come down to Thailand and its gonna be impossible to find tickets and accomodations in Chiang Mai, unless of course we do it right away. He said we should go to TAT agencies, and "luckily" he knew two of them in the area. My family got scared they wouldnt find any bus or train and listened to his advice. Honestly at that time I didnt realize it would be a scam, maybe because of the heat or something ;) He called two tuk-tuk that were just waiting nearby that would drive us to the agency then wait for us and bring us back to Khao San Road for only 40 bahts.
The trip was quite long and that's when I realized something is fishy, a ride that long cannot cost only 40 bahts when they usually charge you 20 bahts just to go down a soi. At that time I told my family thismight be a scam, but oh well at least we get a ride in a tuk tuk, that can be a nice (but in fact a very polluted) experience.
When finally arrived at the travel agency we were brought to a "VIP" room in the back and a very talkative salesman helped my family. I realized it's not a TAT agency but a travel agency that has a TAT license. He proposed all sorts of activities and things to do and accomodations in Chiang Mai. He said again it was Chinese New Year, and it would be like hell over there. Finally they just asked to buy bus tickets for.... 2900 baht round trip + 500 baht taxi to take them from the hotel to the bus station.
I told them its way overpriced, I had paid something like 1600 baht the year before for the same bus. I told them its a scam but they didnt want to bother and bought the ticket. I told it to the salesman, and he suddenly became much less friendly to me :D
I know its not the most horrible scam and that we didnt lose a lot of monet but I feel angry that those people play with the trust of innocent tourists.
As agreed the Tuk tuk brought us back to Khaosan, and the driver admitted he got money from the travel agency to bring us there (he said 100 baht but can be more).
Sorry for my bad english, I hope you understand everything I wrote.
Unique Suggestions: be nice and decline the offer, dont be rude or raise the voice, as you never know, they can become violent.
Fun Alternatives: as said many times by other people, always be careful when a foreigner, speaking fluent english comes to you and proposes something.
Correct. Aside from the knockoff name, its definitely a scam. YOu should avoid this tourist trap. I have been to Thailand at least 10 times. In the hundreds of meals that I have had in many Thai restaurants all over the country, this was the first Thai restaurant where I felt like I had been ripped off. When you enter this place –open until late hours and recommended by our taxi driver – you immediately note that there are taxis line up there. You also note that there are only foreign tourists inside, and absolutely NO Thai customers. That alone is a bad sign. Another taxi driver later confirmed to us later that the exhoritant price for the food (which is of decent quality) also pays the arriving taxi-driver a commission, and gets him a free meal. The owners of this restaurant are obviously relying on the fact that the typical tourist does not know the conversion rate of their own money to Baht, and if he does, does not do complex division. I paid more than 9 US dollars (!!!!) for a bowl of steamed rice with flecks of chicken. This is obscene in Thailand and I knew it. When I got the bill written entirely in Thai, I thought it was someone else bill. Since they are used to complaints here from tourists, they deflected my questions. At that point, there was little that could be done.
Unique Suggestions: If you go there because everything else is closed, don't say I didn't warn you.
Fun Alternatives: Go to ANY other Thai restaurant where you see Thai (preferrably elders) eating.
Just across the grand palace, you will see that there are several birds in the park. NEVER take the corn bits from anyone to feed to the birds. EVEN if they say it's free! Why? Because in reality it is not FREE! We were very wrong to accept such an offer from a middle aged Thai woman. When we are about to go, she demanded payment and not only that! She's asking for a minimum of $50!!!! Who the hell would pay Fifity US dollars for a small plastic of corn pellets? When I said no, she hysterically shouted and just kept on saying "You pay $50!". It was very humiliating because it caught the attention of the others. I'm about to shrink from the looks of the people, as if i have committed a crime! Eventually, she agreed to accept 100 baht.
*** first of all *** Thanks to all who have posted warnings on Tuk-tuks and conmen - They are all true and thank God I was able to read them before travel.
Mine occurred outside the Holiday Inn – Silom area. We exchanged money at the tourist info kiosk just outside the Holiday Inn and about half a block away as we started walking were sweetly greeted by a supposedly Holiday Inn employee who had just got off the night shift and heading home.
Had it not been for the warnings of this site – we would have fallen for this one.
He had the usual offering of – don’t talk to any of the agents who will sell u canal rides, etc. – I live and work here and can direct you to the best and honest boat operator, etc. and of course my buddy here won’t charge you 10B to take you there on his Tuk-tuk….
Unique Suggestions: The river ferry is like a metro and has specfied stops and schedule - If ypu plan on riding it mre than once in a day buy the 100B odd day pass.
We bought one at the 1st or 2nd stop in the Silom area and explored all the sights including the temples and markets all day hopping on and off the ferry.
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.
I recently switched from a well known car rental company to a cheaper car rental firm. I like many people are looking for cheap car hire/rent in Bangkok and one company Sawasdee Rent a Car gave me the following experience:
Very bad service, will not drop off or pick up. Does not arrive at the office at agreed times. Keeps deposit slip after key return, The Manager Asa Komalsingsakul refuses to answer his telephone. Makes mistakes when completing rental documents. Is rude to customers.
I could not believe the lack of response to messages and requests made of this company. But as always in Thailand you must keep your cool and and be patient. Here is the review.
After agreeing to return the car at a particlar day and time and finding nobody at the office to receive the car - i called the manager. I then waited 2 hours for somebody to show up and meet me in the car park to inspect the vehicle. All was good and i was told to go. I asked to have the deposit credit card slip returned and was told he did not have it. I called the manager again and he said he would tear it up later. i refused to accept this and informed him that he had no right to do this as i had fullfilled my part of the contract and he needed to do the same. He became very angry and told me he would not come into the office to give me back the slip and after some time on the phone agreed to meet me that afternoon at a later time. However when the time came he did not show again and then refused to answer his phone. The saga went on for another day. finally i got the slip back after wasting precious holiday time. Dont waste your time with this company.
Unique Suggestions: Use an internationally recognised company that has well trained staff and standardised processes...there are many available.
Fun Alternatives: look at those companies that have offices around the world in major business centres
Yesterday, in wanting to find a good tailor in the Silom/Bangrak area, i spent an hour looking around the Net.
One name came appearing over and over again Savile Row (often alongside Talior Pro - they are brothers). Nearly every single comment and review is exactly the same, ending with their email address at the bottom - obviously all written by the Savile family. There are even opening threads on forums which start like "Which is better Savile or Tailor Pro?" Then out of the blue, there are all these positive comments fro people who post for the very first. Very Highly Recommended is one of their favourite slogans
You can see how much spamming they do if you Google their email "firstname.lastname@example.org
They have also spammed Virtualtourist with fake comments and reviews, search here for a quick look. Youll see what i mean straight away.
Unique Suggestions: Waste their time and have a free coffee.
Fun Alternatives: Go to any professional tailor in the Indian district of Pahurat.