Bangkok Scams: Just Say No to Getting Scammed in Bangkok
MBK Market is somewhat of a landmark in Bangkok, and apparently it’s a hotspot for Bangkok scams. It’s the one shopping mall that even folks that don’t like shopping malls tend to visit. But like most landmarks, it attracts its fair share of crooks, cons and ne’er-do-wells. I spotted this sign near the taxi stand on the main floor of MBK warning of potential Bangkok scams.
The Bangkok Gem Scam
The jewellery shop warning refers to the infamous Thai Gemstone Scam (also called the Bangkok Gem Scam) where a shady tuk-tuk driver will say that today is “a very special day” where he will get a “gasoline coupon” to pay for all of his gas for a month. That’s of course if you take a 20 baht (about 70 cents U.S.) tour with him to sites around the city. Sounds like a very good deal indeed.
He’ll then take you to lesser known sites, or claim that the major ones are closed, and you will end up at a jewellery shop (and a suit factory, and a travel agent…) for which he receives a commission.
Once you are in the gem shop they will try to convince you that jewels are priced ridiculously low in Bangkok and you that you can make a killing by reselling the gems back home. Or they will try to sell you diamonds, gold, silver or any other sort of completely worthless jewels at seemingly too good to be true deals. Shysters.
If it’s too good to be true then…plain and simple, it’s just not true.
Same goes for the suit factory and travel agent. The tuk-tuk driver will even claim that the travel agency you are at is the TAT – the Tourism Authority of Thailand, when it’s probably a place called Indeed Travel which charges outrageous rates to gullible newcomers.
My favourite was the British tourist who arrived at the same empty Wat that I visited. After taking some photos and engaging in some small talk, the topic got onto the jewellery scam. He said he had done it numerous times selling the stones for a hefty profit back in England. He was doing a very convincing job, and then I realized – That rat bastard, he’s in on it too!
Hundreds fall for this Bangkok scam every year.
Yes, I did take the tuk-tuk driver up on the offer of the tour. I had heard about it before-hand, but wanted to see exactly where it would lead. In all, he toted me around the city for four hours. I bought nothing, saw lots of out-of-the-way sites, and paid him a grand total of 20 Baht. Take that shyster.
The Food and Drink Scam
The food and drink warning refers to two possible scams, where you either end up at a “Lady” bar for free drinks, but then you are presented with a bill upwards of a 100 smackeroos for the entertainment, or you end up God-knows-where hours or days later because the food or drink (or even cigarette) you were offered was drugged.
Either way, you wind up with a wallet that’s a whole lot lighter.
There are plenty of other scams in Bangkok as well, such as the Ping Pong Show scam.
So be wary of these Bangkok scams my friend — not all attractions in Bangkok have a happy ending.