Beware of people along temples and other tourist areas offering their unsolicited help and advice. Though they may give legitimate locations and places, these people actually want to lead you to a jewelry shop or any other shops for you to buy stuffs, which in turn give them commissions from those shops. To start a conversation, they usually ask questions like from what country you come from or where you are going then telling you that such temple/palace is still closed for some reasons 'til certain time and then tell you to go some other 'tourist' place first. Then they ask you for your map (aggresively, when you are unwilling) and start marking the location and the name of the place on it. They may even call a ride for you (tuktuk) and arrange for a 'fair' fare with the driver. Bottom line, while they may not be dangerous (and convincingly, look kind and helpful enough), they are untrustworthy people hoping to get advantage of you! Several of them are prying for their next victim around Grand Palace and Wat Po with their readily available ballpens and cellphones - maybe to contact the shops that their vicitim is coming. (Lucky me, i insisted on checking for myself whether the Grand Palace and Wat Po are indeed closed, which turned out to be the opposite, before falling to their trap).
Too clever to be touted? Ha!
Highly educated, pre-warned family at checkout of major dept store - in queue (apparently) with well dressed affluent lady shopper - 'Hi etc...where you from ... here for long...you really must see Government trade centre ..very special and only for a few days' then says goodbye and leaves.
Over an hour later, passing entrance to hotel, well dressed man says 'Hi - saw you in hotel waiting this morning - did you get your room - I work there etc. Same deal - different spin - 'tired of shopping? I saw on television the Government Trade Centre is having a sale - not sure where it is - ask a Tuk Tuk - blah blah' then leaves.
Now we have two unrelated, friendly people suggesting we go to a 'Government' trade centre - not being dragged there - so we think maybe we will give it a shot - being government and on tele and all.
Grabbed a Tuk Tuk - who was hanging around nearby (a coincidence, you say...) and off we went.
Got there to be met by guard wearing military gear out front, lots of government certificates on the walls etc. Only after they brought out the cokes for the kids did I think for just a moment that no government store on earth ever did this. So an hour later after much hard selling we realised that we had been suckered.
Still, after we bargained really hard, and got up to leave, we got a ruby and diamond pendant for about 55% of the starting price (very special 30% off, another 10% for foreigners, another 5% for VISA blah blah blah). The people were almost shedding tears when we left, assuring us that their kids would starve etc. Ultimately we had the pendant valued in Australia at 40% more than we paid, so if we had paid the asking price we would have been evens. As it was, despite being suckered by the best touting team I have ever seen (3 people working together!) we came out of it OK. Unless of course the Australian valuer is in on the act???
There are plenty of people offering you to take you around at a cheap price, or to practice their English etc - do not fall into such scams as they would ultimate corner you to a spot and you would be coughing up lots of money for their services.
Anywhere in Asia - be it Bangkok or even in my country home, Kuala Lumpur, avoid at all time to take taxis which are pulled over at the side roads and with the drivers standing outside their vehicle. They usually never run the meter, and would be calling their prices - at least 2 -3 times if not more higher than metered prices.
This happened to us once too often. As we walk from Saladaeng skytrain towards the Jim Thompson shop (which has been there since I was a kid!!! but now a larger boutique), there would be ladies or sometimes men asking where are you off to. And they would chit chat with you and tell you that you are being ripped off to buy Jim Thompson stuff, and you should shop at the shops at the next block up from the JT shop. These people actually operate in a small booth at the corner street of JT shop, and if you do not take heed of their advise and come out of JT shops with bags of goodies, they may even snare at you. It is just their way of luring you to their shops to earn them a commission.
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.
Taxi touts and disreputable reps. As soon as you leave your hotel, you'll probably have to run the gauntlet of touts trying to get you in their cabs with the promise of cheap fares. Beware since these guys have no intention of taking where you want to go! They'll try and take you to a seedy tailor or gemshop for which they get a commission. If you want to really go somewhere, flag a 'taxi meter' cab down since they're the real McCoy. Stay away from tuktuk taxis too since they are deathtraps!
Tour reps are no better. My girlfriend and I booked a tour to see the royal palace and on the way back, we were driven to an 'official' looking gem factory and store. I doubt it was official in the slightest. We weren't asked whether we wanted to go, we were just taken along with the 10 or so others on the bus. If this happens to you, have the last laugh and walk out without buying anything!
Another related tip. Remember if you do go to a gemshop or a tailor, that these guys will say anything to get you to hand over the money. There are plenty of other stores to go to so don't stand for any of it. If you feel you are being pressured to buy something you don't want then put your foot down and leave! Most of the tailors I had the misfortune to encounter were bare face liars, saying one thing on the window sign, e.g. '$99 for 2 suits, 3 shirts, 6 ties', and once your were in the prices were double or three times as much. If you do buy, make sure you agree the price up front and be sure to have the chance to try on the finished article before paying.
AVOID THAI TRADE CENTRE Many occasion, we had encountered tempting and make-believe advice from the friendly English-speaking Thai, I call them 'FEST'. Refer to travelogue for details.
Friendl English Speaking Thai.