They are official & they do work for the government but the con is.....
They will tell you that there is a government jewelery sale but it is only happening on that day!!! They will then get you a tuk-tuk & barter him down to 40 baht to take you there & maybe to a Temple or two. There is no such jewelery place, it's a con to take you round the most expensive shops in Bangkok. I suppose it's worth the 40 baht if you've got nothing to do one day, the tuk-tuk guy gets his weekly petrol allowance too.
Old but useful trap!! Low cost and utilise the surrounding source!!
Unique Suggestions: Me and boyfriend just finished touring Grand Palace and set to ride on the boat service along Chao Phraya river. Unfortunately we couldn't find the pier as what we saw on the map, hence roam around outside Grand Palace. A Thai pedestrian pointed to us that the pier is located to the other side which we followed that eventually lead us to National Museum. Well, when we pass through one place where they were now building something, huh..i'm not sure what are they building, but it's quite a large place situated just right out of Grand Palace main entrance. When we pass through the palace, well, i saw a lot of birds on one place so i started taking pictures!!then come this so called 'Friendy people', they tried to give us the corn kernels, and i told them i don't want to..Since i've read that Thai people won't treat you well unless they want to get something from you!Then they stuffed it to my boyfriend and my boyfriend was so excited to feed the bird. A guy then passed few passed by and stuffed few packet to me and showed me how to feed the bird..Ok, by then i was soo excited to see the birds flying all over, so that i can take a great few pictures. OK..soon the corn kernels finished and we were ready to go. Suddenly, they say PAY!! PAY!! three of them ask for us to pay, and we asked how much. One of them replied, 150Baht per bag!! Imagine that one bag only consist around 20g of the corn grits.. Me and my boyfriend were shocked, but to avoid any unwanted circumstances, he took out the money and gave them. I was shocked then, couldn't think much also.. When they said, not enough, i shouted at them and say 'TOO MUCH!!' We left the place instantly. When i ask my boyfriend later how much he paid, he told me 400Baht!!i was sooo angry and at the same time so traumatised (cos they look like as if they didn't bath for few weeks, dirty, makes me remember one of the scene from KingKong, when the aborigines kidnapped Ann).
Fun Alternatives: There is no free meal in this world. Still the same advice: Never trust anyone in a foreign land.. If they treat you with lotsa smiles and friendliness, they sure want to get something from you. The tourist is always the loser.
I need to book a van to accomodate 5pax. If not, we would have to separate into 2 taxis instead. As I was walking towards the exit to the public taxi stand, I was approached by a guy agent (who speaks fluent cantonese) who offered us 1000baht (orginal was 1400baht). As I was pondering, he gave a final price of 900baht (including tolls) which I accept immediately. What a great offer!
However, as we were on our way to hotel, I noticed tat the driver did not use the expressway & was driving the congested road instead. The worst is, the driver lost his way to the hotel. As a result, our journey was around 1hr 45mins compared to the expected 45mins.
Please do not believe anyone who approach you and tell you where to buy goods, they will disguise as policeman or palace worker. Usually, the Thai people will not approach you because they are quite shy people. The only person you can trust for information is the Information booth staff and uniform policeman. Those conman are really good at acting and really good at words, so please be careful and do not believe a word they said. Usually these conman work in a group, so if you are happens to be at Grand Palace area, don't even try to get information from the drink vendor whether the palace is open. They will tell you the palace is close as today is Buddha's Day. Just ignore them and walk away.
Bangkok's infamous Somboon Seafood actually place a warning on their webpage that "there have been groups of people who have used names similar to Somboon Seafood as a scam to confuse and mislead both Thai and foreign customers into eating at their restaurants".
Sadly, I only learnt about this upon my return to Singapore and naively trusted my taxi driver to bring me to the correct place. He brought us to Somboondee Seafood, which was located in a very off-city location, and told us that this was one of the branches of Somboon Seafood. He explained that he brought us here because the one in the city is always very crowded. For various reasons, my brain and that of my compansion's, was half-functioning that day and both of us actually believed him.
My friend and I did suspect that something was wrong when we found the restaurant being totally deserted and the menu prices seemingly very high by Bangkok's standard. Most of the dishes starts from 600 baht which are like up to 10 times the prices of the same stuff in the city.
As it was our last evening in Bangkok before our return to Singapore, and it was already rather late at 9.30pm, we decided to give it a try anyway (told you my brain was not functioning properly) and ended up ordering a Pad Thai, Curry Crab and a Vegetable dish that landed us a bill of over 2,300 baht for just 2 person!
Alas, it was definitely not a lucky day for me as I ran into another scam after leaving the restaurant, this time involving a local policeman.
Unique Suggestions: The food at Samboodee Seafood was ridiculously overpriced, even by Singapore's standards, considering the rotten location, very dated decor, and bad ambience. At that price, I could practically have a grand feast consisting of at least 5 different dishes that include crabs, prawns and venison at Singapore's own Jumbo Seafood, which serves far superior fare than the mediocre fare at Samboondee Seafood.
The real Somboon Seafood outlets are located in busy locations and are always perennially packed with people. Somboon Seafood serves far better fare at prices that are actually less than a quarter that of Somboondie Seafood.
So, if you landed yourself in a restaurant that is not spelt exactly like "Somboon" and is deserted, please cut your losses by alighting from the cab and take another cab Just get out from the cab and take another cab to the real Somboon Seafood Restaurant.
I hope my stupid mistake can serve as a good warning to other travellers.
Fun Alternatives: Again, just get out from the cab and take another cab to the real Somboon Seafood Restaurant. No point making the crooks' day and encouraging them to con other people by letting them earn your money.
Too bad, the taxis in Bangkok are not that well regulated or you should note the errant taxi driver's license plate and file a complaint or something.
PLEASE REMEMBER THIS: YELLOW LICENSE ARE TUKTUK TAXIS AND WHITE LICENSES ARE PRIVATELY-OWNED TUKTUKS. Yellow license tuktuks are regular taxis (there is a TAXI sign on top of their roof), you bargain the fare before you ride them. White license tuktuks are privately-owned, therefore are used mostly by scamers, you also bargain the fare before you ride but they are usually cheaper than regular taxi tuktuks. If you want to check what I'm saying, observe the following when you get to Bangkok: (1) the car-taxi's license color; (2) what color of tuktuk's license the locals ride. I recommend you approach the tuktuk drivers yourself, instead of being talked into using their service by their front-agents. White-licensed tuktuks agents or driver will asked you if you have a map if not they will use their own map. On the map they'll point out tourist attractions and gem/tailor/souvenir shops along the way to the attractions. At this point, the driver will set the fare; you will bargain the fare if you choose to use their service. My experience with the white-licensed tuktuk was some what producted, except for the restaurant. My driver told me first hand that the shops will give him gas coupons, it doesn't matter if I buy or not. With the set fare, your driver will take you to the attractions and wait for you until you are done. If you are hungry, ask your driver to take you to a cheap restaurant or else he will take to an expensive one (expensive is expensive on a Thai's budget, but not on westener's budget, around 10 -15 dollars per dish), also the driver will get some kind of kick-back from the restaurant. Don't be discourage riding tuktuks, they are great to ride and one of the best way to explore Bangkok.
Unique Suggestions: If you realized that you got scamed while riding the tuktuk, pretend you need to stop at a nearby 7-11 store to buy water. When you get off, pay your driver and terminate his service.
Fun Alternatives: Regular taxis. Ask the driver to use the meter.
We’d heard about the tuk-tuk drivers who try and tell you that the Palace is closed, so why not take a ride to some craft or jewellery centre with them and we quickly told the first one that we came across that we were happy just walking around. However, what we hadn’t bargained for was the fact that he then pointed us in the wrong direction, along the side of the Palace, instead of to the front entrance. Like idiots, we went in the direction he had pointed, even though most of the other people were going in a completely different direction and it wasn’t until we’d walked about 100 yards and had to turn down about another 10 “helpful” tuk-tuk drivers that we realised we’d been had! Not to worry, we just turned around and managed to politely ignore the same drivers on the way back!
Unique Suggestions: Ignore any "helpful" advice and when you cross the road at the end of the little market, carry straight on for the main entrance - don't turn right along the side of the Palace like we did!
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.
It works like this:
1/ Go for a walk in Bangkok - say, near the Grand Palace.
2/ PERSON A. Strike up a conversation with a local - at the time it may occur to you that it is the local who has struck up the conversation with you.
3/ The local marks on your map places to go, including a shop, Voglee Tailors, manufacturers for Armani and the King of Thailand - it is the last day of their sale, and that on only this day foreigners will be allowed to buy.
4/ Get a tuk tuk - the local may speak with the tuk tuk driver to explain where it is you'd like to go.
5/ Visit the temples etc marked on your map.
6/ PERSON B. At one of the temples you will meet another local, this time a Thai man with a US accent. He told me that he worked in New York as a tax consultant. He may ask where you will be going; Voglee Tailors will arise in the conversation, and he will re-iterate that it is the last day of their sale, and say that you are lucky as they do not normally sell to foreigners, that they are tailors to the King of Thailand, that he buys all his suits there, and that they make suits for Armani - "Armani Style" - but without the labels which are sewn on in Italy; he may even say that you would expect to pay 1800 USD for a suit but it will sell at Voglee for 200-300 USD.
7/ After visiting the temples etc, visit Voglee Tailors. For tailors to the king this place is not as well presented as you may imagine. They will take your measurements and ask you to select the style of clothing - you may well be shepherded into the process of the sale and they will try to up-sell you more than you may wish to buy, e.g. extra trousers, shirts, coats.
This process is more likely to be effective if you are pre-disposed to buy clothing in Thailand, having heard about the possibility of getting tailor made clothing at a cheap price.
Of course you may buy there, but remember, they are just another tailor!
Unique Suggestions: If you have to go to the tourist trap, do this:
1 - on introduction, ask for the name of the tailor you are dealing with.
2 - it IS an option to leave without buying. (If you do wish to buy, this may be your best bargaining tool.)
3 - ask to see actual samples of workmanship, including the suit you are thinking of buying - you may wish to alter details on the suit such as cuffs.
4 - inspect the packaging that will be used to ship the goods, and if you are buying request that the suit be loosely folded.
5 - ask for their website address.
6 - haggle - make a lower offer, and be prepared to walk away. You owe them nothing for having measured you up.
7 - buy less than they aim to sell you - you may always go back or correspond, or go to another tailor, or buy something at home.
Fun Alternatives: An alternative - don't go to the shop suggested on your map.
If you want to get a nice tailor made suit, do research first - contact the Thai tourism office for advice as to which tailors are known and renowned, and research on the internet.
We visited the much recommended MBK shopping mall where on the 4th floor are dozens of small electronic shops and stalls. We purchased a 4Gb Apple I-pod Nano for a considerable sum of Baht 2600 - it came supposedly with leads, headphone, software CD, an apple box and a guarantee plus the lady gave us a slip for the VAT refund at the airport.
When we got back home the device did not work properly and we took it into an Apple shop and were told it is a fake. It has the Apple logo on it and says I-pod. It is nothing more than a mass produced cheap MP3 player from China with very little capacity. The CD we were given does not relate to the item.
Please don't buy any "branded" items from these outlets as they are likely to be fakes. Rather go to an authorised dealer and be familiar with all the details of the item you are after. We have no comeback on this at all. Every single outlet there selling these Ipod Nano's are selling fakes - they were all the same as we looked around at the time and went from shop to shop.
By the way, a true Apple Ipod nano has a serial number, a special Apple connecting slot rather than a firewire slot, it has Apple software and the control (shuttle) can be worked by sliding your finger over it as it is touch sensitive. These cannot. Also the Apple screen is smaller and the Nano does not have video.
Unique Suggestions: Please don't buy any "branded" items from these outlets as they are likely to be fakes.
Fun Alternatives: Go to an authorised dealer and be familiar with all the details of the item you are after. Get a proper international guarantee, test the item before you leave the shop and before you leave Thailand. For VAT returns the airport needs a special yellow form otherwise you will not get a return if you only have a standard shop invoice.
If you get your cell phone unlocked at MBK, beware, the stand directly in front of the escalator on the 4th floor are scammers. They stole my memory card when I had them unlock my phone. I didnt noticed it until the next day, when I came back to confront them about it, they suddenly didn't speak english. These people are low lifes. If you now witchcraft or voodoo magic, please put a curse on these people as they deserve every single bit of it!
Unique Suggestions: Put a voodoo curse on these jerks!
Fun Alternatives: Put a voodoo curse on these jerks!
It's really a nice place to walk around Sanam Luang Park. But please beware when you're approaching the pigeons teritory. It's not the pigeon you need to be avoid, but the group who sell the seed corn. Don't close to them or else they will force you to buy the seed to feed the pigeons. Again, it's not wrong to feed the pigeons, but the prices just too high for 3 small packets seed corn. Even when you said no to them, they will still pour the seed on your hand and ask you to feed the pigeons.
This incident happen when I was walking from Khao San Road heading to Wat Pho with my friend, therefore will pass by Sanam Luang Park. Enjoying the scenery, all of sudden, one women came to my friend and gave her 3 packets seed corn. Since she spoke in Thai, we couldn't understand at all what she meant. She's then, pointed to the pigeons, keep repeating "Good Luck. Good Luck" and even demonstrated to us by pouring the seed on the ground. I understand they're after our money. We rejected them but before we could go away, they opened the packets & pour onto our hands. I had it thought, it's doesn't matter if 40 bath for the 3 packets (we didn't ask the price yet). So, I pour the 3 packets seed to pigeons. When I were about to pay the seed, at the beginning they wanted 50 bath. I took out my wallet, and after they saw my 100 bath note, they're demanding more - 150 bath in the end. So, please ignore them & better avoid the pigeons.
we were around the World Trade Center shooting photos of the statue when a guy approached me and explained to me about the sacred statue. He told us we were very lucky to visit Bangkok that particular day coz it was the Buddha Days. Then he said they were having some kind of ceremony at a temple/wat called Lucky Buddha not far from the place we were. He mentioned there will be a lot of people visiting the temple and will be closed before 5pm.
I started to believe coz we knew that day was really a Buddha Day in Thailand. So i asked him to show the location of the temple on the Bangkok map that i were having. He pointed to somewhere to the north of the city and i noticed there were no sign of any temple/wat there. If the place really famous it should be in the map!! More suspicious things were that he kept asking us to go straight away before they close at 5pm and to take the tuk-tuk for only THB10. I read about the tuk-tuk scam and i started to know what was actually happening. I told the guy i need to meet my friends first and we managed to walk away.
Althought i have no prove that the lucky buddha doen't exist, but the way he persuaded us was really suspicious, making i'm damn sure it was one of the jewelry scam in Bangkok. So everyone of you there, make sure you were not falling into this trap!
Unique Suggestions: just walk away if you think the person is suspicious. Get more information from other people.
My family and I were stopped by what we thought were policemen . They told us we had just dropped a cigerette end onto the street and we would be fined 5000bht . I explained that we did not smoke so it couldn't be us , the policeman (?) said then we would have to pay 1000bht . Calmly I once again stated we didn't smoke , so he then blamed our 8 year old son and said we would have to accompany he to the police station .
I said first we would return to our hotel and they could follow , there we would contact our embassy . He said this was not possible , but I stuck to my guns very politely and said we would go nowhere until we had contacted our embassy . Finally he said if we paid him 500bht we could leave , when I refused he just ' leave and don't do it again ' .
I can honestly say we were terrified and even 4 years later the thought of it still scares me .
Unique Suggestions: If this does happen to you , then remember to stay very calm and don't raise you voice . Make it quite clear that you will first contact your embassy to speak to someone in charge who can help . Don't go with them though...I think that would have been a big mistake for us .
Currently in Bangkok typing this. Only been here a couple of days and its an interesting city and so far have come across many people-often just wanting small business. However two days ago we were hounded outside our hotel (Royal Hotel), near ko shan road, by a (seemingly) friendly local who spoke very good English. He told us about the famous gem scams and gave us advice about places to see and lots of other information. He then got us in a tuk tuk and told us to go the prestigious Bangkok fashion centre, where we ended up, felt very embarrased, didn't buy any suits and soon departed. Clearly he would have received some sort of commission.Then yesterday we got into a tuk tuk and he told us the whole day would only cost us 10 baht and he would take us to many temples and buddhas, we obliged (perhaps foolishly), although these people are very cunning and seem to have groups along the street-teams working together, ie one says something, and then amazingly the bloke in the tuk tuk that drives down (seemingly mutually exclusive) then tells you the same thing, so you are led to believe its true-ie that the golden temple is closed until 2, but we will the see other sights first for a very small cost (rest is subsidised by the king on this particular day...yeah right). So we made our way to one temple, where a man told us about booking the rest of our holiday around the southern islands for cheap prices, and very good accomodation etc. The Tuk tuk driver then told us and we turned up at a place we thought was run by the thai tourist board, and were given a very professional service. The price we paid was 375 GBP and to be honest this seemed a fair price for 3 weeks including full accomodation, flights and boats. we will see, in the next few weeks whether it really was. In truth though this was a scam we could have done without. Be careful. These teams operate all over and speak very good english. They appear helpful and informative. Just be warned and do continue to take tuk tuks. just be on your guard.