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Tips & Tricks

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off in Thailand

Every country and its population have stereotypes that persist for a reason. It is important that visitors becomes aware of Thailand’s stereotypes in order to avoid the feeling of being scammed and exploited by the locals.

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As a tourist in Thailand, a major stereotype that is easy to confirm upon arrival is the country’s reputation as the Land of Smiles. Tourists might even consider Thai people as being passive, non-confrontational people that hate disputes and smile instead of showing anger. Although these stereotypes might seem as if they are being generalized onto the entire Thai population, there is a reason why they persist. It is important that visitors becomes aware of these stereotypes in order to avoid the feeling of being scammed and exploited by the locals while trying to catch a taxi, agreeing to a tuk tuk sightseeing trip to popular attractions, being persuaded to buy jewels at a gem shop, and when entering the bars. 

Tips #1

In regards to how the taxi scams operate in Thailand, visitors should know that some taxi drivers insist on their meters not working. This allows the drivers to negotiate a price, which is usually higher than what the fare normally would be with the meter on and running. It is wise for visitors to get an estimate on how much the fee should be before entering a taxi in order to avoid drivers who go around the same block several times in order to keep the meter running, a tactic used to bump up the fare. (Remember! Google Map can help you with direction) Visitors that encounter a driver who says the meter is not working are advised to refuse the services and look for another taxi with an operational meter. However, at nighttime, especially during the weekends, visitors should be prepared to negotiate. Since the Skytrain (BTS) stops working after midnight, taxis often take advantage of the situation. They might lie about their meter not working or simply refusing to turn it on. Visitors are advised to know the average price to their location, in order to help bargain the price to a more acceptable charge. Therefore, visitors are advised to pursue this information from their guesthouse, locals, or the Internet. 

Some visitors might notice taxi and tuk tuk drivers that offer a trip to the city’s attractions such as, the Grand Palace, the Floating Markets, Wat Run, and Wat Pho, all for less than 100 Baht ($3.00 USD). Visitors are advised to refuse these negotiations, unless gem shops and tailors sound like good sightseeing locations. Often times the taxis and tuk tuk drivers work off commission, which is why they attempt to take visitors to tourist information offices, as well as jewel and tailor shops. Visitors who would strictly like to see the city’s attractions should make this very clear before agreeing to step into the vehicle. If the driver shows any sign of deviation or hesitation it is advised that visitors refuse the arrangement.

Tips #2

Another big scam tourists should know about is the gem shop scam. Visitors that wind up in a jewelry store are often times taken there by a driver. Upon arrival many visitors are told stories from the jewelry shop owners and sellers. These stories are unlikely and they usually involve negotiations on massively discounted gems. Other story tactics include students saying that they need to sell their family jewels to achieve their dream of studying abroad. Although the gems are real they are poor quality and are usually worth less than half of what visitors are made to pay. The average scam is more than $2000 USD, a hefty price for a gem that won’t give satisfaction in the long run. Best advice for visitors? "Thanks but no"

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Tips #3

Visitors who would like to visit Phat Phong, the red-light district near the Sala Daeng BTS station, are advised to be wary of the A Go Go Bars. Firstly, visitors should know that the A Go Go Bars located on the ground floor along the two streets of Phat Phong are free, so long as visitors order a drink, which cost about 120 Baht ($3.75 USD). Some bars are far more expensive and do not necessarily offer better service or quality drinks. A general rule of thumb is for visitors to avoid bars that are upstairs and do not have a sign or name, for these are the bars with some of the worst scams. Secondly, someone offering a Ping Pong show, or another type of show with sexual acts is likely to approach visitors on the streets. The person will most likely say that the shows are free for the first five minutes, but many visitors find themselves having to pay once the five minutes are over. Once visitors are watching the show the workers will ask for many tips every time a “trick” is performed. A side note is that they do an amazing job at making visitors feel “cheap” if they do not tip, making visitors’ wallets feel guilty.

Another thing to be aware of is that some of the girls working in the A Go Go bars ask for a drink, whether they stand across from you or sit next to you. Upon asking how much the drink costs they are likely to say that it is the same as your drink, making the visitors believe it will be about 100 Baht ($3.00 USD). However, visitors will find that they are usually 200-300 Baht ($6-$9 USD). Being that in most A Go Go Bars the bills are placed in front of you, allowing the visitors to keep track of how much is being spent, the case does not apply to bills with a heavier price. The bar gives the visitors the bills with higher charges at the end, which is when the fee comes out to be higher than expected.

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