The capital of Thailand is an overwhelming travel destination. Bangkok is busy, intense, and amazing. To get around you will need to use a taxi, public transportation, and the famous Tuk Tuk. The tri-wheeled motorized vehicle is not only a mode of transportation but actually one of Bangkok’s attractions. But the fact is that not all Tuk Tuk drivers are nice, and some of them are responsible for putting tourists in a lot of trouble.
Among all the scams that might happen in Bangkok, the cheap Tuk Tuk ride has been happening for ages, and many travelers fall for it every day. So the first thing you should not do in Bangkok is to trust a Tuk Tuk driver that tells you the temples or attractions you want to visit are closed. Here is what happens: you ask a Tuk Tuk driver to take you to Wat Poh or any other temples in Bangkok, he tells you the temple is closed, but he knows another beautiful one, and he can take you there for a low price. That’s the moment you should walk away.
Most of the temples in Bangkok are open all year long; they will be closed only for major holidays that you will know when visiting the city. What the driver does is take you to an unknown area, stop by a tailor or jewelry shop where you will be threatened to buy stuff that you don’t want. Sometimes the driver will leave you there, in the middle of nowhere. They do that because the shops pay them to bring tourists to these traps.
The same scam technique is used by drivers that offer to take you to Ping Pong and striptease shows. The driver will charge you a small amount for the ride and will take you to some dodgy place. You probably will end up in some nasty club where everything is expensive, and the driver will earn money for taking you there. Or even worst, in some clubs, you don’t need to pay for the entrance but to leave the place, you will be threatened to pay a lot, for drinks that you might not have.
Not all clubs, all shows, and all TukTuk drivers are bad, actually is just a small group that is involved with the scams. In general Thai people are very lovely, helpful, and honest, that’s why is hard to distinguish the good from the bad.
We traveled and lived in Bangkok for months; I love that city. So my recommendation for anyone that is traveling to Bangkok is to always double-check the information. If the offer is too good to be true, or if someone is trying to change your itinerary think twice. For taxis, I suggest you use Uber or Grab Taxi, an app where you can book a taxi from your phone, so you don’t need to explain to the driver where you want to go, plus you will be charged for the correct amount shown on the taximeter.
If you feel you are in trouble or doubt, the best option is to talk with your hotel reception; they can call a taxi or book a tour for you. Need more information about how to plan a trip to Bangkok, what to do and how to avoid scams? We wrote a travel guide for first-timers in Bangkok that can help you out. Don’t be afraid and enjoy Thailand, it’s an amazing country, with rich culture, history, and yummy food. Probably you will travel to Bangkok, and nothing bad will happen to you, but it’s always good to be prepared and know what not to do.
Natalie Deduck is a journalist, travel blogger and addict to coffee. On April 2014, Nat and her husband left Brasil to become full-time travelers and never looked back. They are the adventurous couple behind Love and Road a travel blog that is all about their passion traveling on affordable luxury style and exploring new destinations. Sharing moments and inspiring people to travel more and better. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.