Scams in Thailand: How to Avoid Them

Thailand is a fantastic country for visitors. There are many great things for people to do and see. There are, unfortunately, a number of common scams in Thailand that one should be aware of. Most people have a great time, with no major problems, and many Thais are warm and friendly.

As with everywhere in the world, there are some unscrupulous people who will take advantage of unwitting foreigners.

People are usually more relaxed when on holiday, and tricksters and scammers rely on this. Here are some common scams in Thailand to watch out for:


Acid Tuk Tuk

Many taxi drivers will refuse to use the meter, saying it is broken, not needed, or just outright refuse. Should this happen, find another taxi. Eventually you will find a driver willing to use the meter. Any prices quoted will always be more than the metered fare.


Drugs are illegal in Thailand, and penalties can be harsh. Some bar workers, tuk tuk drivers, shop owners, and others in the service industries may offer you drugs. They also may be involved with the local police.

A common scam is for people to sell drugs, inform the police, and then the buyer is made to pay a heavy fine. The drugs are confiscated, and resold, and both the police officer and the supplier take a cut of the money.


Most forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand. Strangers may invite tourists to join them in a game of cards, or another gambling activity. These games are usually rigged, and invariably end up with the foreigner loosing lots of money. There have been reports of threats, violence, and intimidation when people have refused to pay or do not want to continue playing.

Attractions Closed

A common scam near to major tourist attractions is for people to wait nearby and tell visitors that unfortunately the place they intend visiting is closed. They will then offer friendly suggestions as to alternatives. The Grand Palace in Bangkok is a common spot for this scam. Tricksters will arrange a tuk tuk to take people to another place, maybe telling visitors that the new place is only open on certain days of the year, etc.

There will be another place visited, but the tuk tuks will also take people to tailors, gem stores, and other places where they hope you will buy things and they will then gain a commission. It can be a very disappointing waste of time for people whose precious holiday time is short. If you are told that somewhere is closed, walk to the door and see for yourself – in the vast majority of cases it will actually be open, and you can enjoy your day as planned.

Gem Scams

Unless you know about gems and precious stones, avoid any deals that seem too good to be true. A common trick is for dealers to entice people to buy large, and expensive, quantities of gems, telling them that there are huge profits to be made by reselling when back at home. This is usually not the case at all.

Shows and Girly Bars

Sweet Hearts A Go-Go | Pattaya Walking Street | Thailand

Invitations to girly shows are always at a cost. Whilst you may be told they are free, there may be a compulsory drinks spend, compulsory tipping, overpriced drinks, and exit fees. Violence and intimidation may be used to make people pay.

Bar Girls

There have also been numerous tales of bar girls stealing possessions.

Being cautious and aware of the common scams in Thailand can help to make sure you have a great holiday.

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