With its sunny weather, interesting culture and friendly people, it’s easy to see why Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for travel. But there are things you need to be cautious of to avoid trouble while you’re on your trip. Here’s what to look out for.
Scams are impossible to avoid, no matter where you go, but you can learn how to recognise them so you don’t get conned. Here are three of the most common scams in Thailand and how to deal with them:
1. The closed hotel/attraction
A local taxi driver will tell you your destination is closed and offer to take you to an alternative hotel or attraction, then drop you at a jewellers or clothes shop, where you’ll be hassled into buying something.
How to deal with it: Get out of the taxi and find a different one. Never accept a lift to an unknown location. Read about how I got scammed like this when I went to Thailand here – hilarious!
2. The jet ski
After you rent a jet ski on the beach, the owner will accuse you of damaging it and demand a fee. Often, any scratches on the jet ski will have been created by the owner themselves.
How to deal with it: Photograph any dents or marks before you set off, and ring the local police if the owner demands a fee. (Click here for a list of phone numbers you may need in Thailand.) If you can, avoid renting a jet ski altogether.
3. The clumsy tourist
Someone will spill liquid — often mustard — on your clothes. They then steal your wallet while pretending to mop up the mess.
How to deal with it: Refuse the help of anyone who seems eager to get you cleaned up. Instead, make your way to somewhere private and deal with the spillage yourself.
4. Motorbike burns
Often known as a Thai tattoo, burns are a common injury in Thailand thanks to the popularity of motorbikes for rent. Eager tourists will use them to get around the island, only to fall off and scrape their skin across the bumpy ground, and/or come into contact with the hot exhaust pipes.
According to Travel Insurance New Zealand, 14 days of medical treatment in Thailand costs up to $50,000, so perhaps it goes without saying that insurance is essential (visit their website for more travel stats).
5. Animal cruelty
Sadly, animal abuse is rife in Thailand, and many tourists don’t realise it happens right under their noses at tiger and elephant parks.
In order to become obedient, elephants are taken from their mothers and starved, beaten and tortured until they lose the will to live and become submissive towards humans. Trainers carry sticks with hooks at the end to reinforce this violent training. Meanwhile, tigers are drugged so humans can pose for souvenir photos without being maimed or killed.
If you want an experience with Asian wildlife, visit a rehabilitation centre or sanctuary like the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, where previously mistreated animals will be looked after properly. A rule of thumb is to avoid anywhere where the animal is behaving in a way it naturally, e.g. if it’s painting or standing on its hind legs. You can also check out Culture Trip’s list of ethical sanctuaries here.
I hope you found this article useful, and will bare these tips in mind when you go to Thailand.
What other scams should we be aware of? Comment below!