Scammed in Bangkok!

Yep…you read it right. We were scammed in Bangkok. And man we really, REALLY hate admitting that. In fact, we almost didn’t write this post because it’s quite humiliating. We were completely blindsided. The Thai smile got the best of us. But while we were tempted to save face and keep this shameful experience to ourselves, we know we wouldn’t be doing our blog justice if we didn’t make others aware of the situation and send a reminder that these scams are still alive and well, not only in Thailand, but happening in destinations all over the world. Even seasoned travelers and expats themselves are vulnerable to them. We thought we were pretty educated on the scams creeping around Bangkok but this time we let our guard down. Although embarrassed, we want to spread the word to save others from making the same mistake we did. So here’s what happened…

scammed in bangkok

It was day 1 of my brother’s visit in Thailand and day 1 in Bangkok. We were making our way to the local water taxi to get to Wat Arun when we came across a large map on the street and stopped to have a look to figure out where we were. A clean-cut, well-dressed and well-spoken Thai man walked up and simply pointed on the map where we were and asked where we were headed and if we needed direction. He showed us on the map how to get there and then…this should have been our first clue…told us that it happened to be a Thai holiday and there was a ceremony going on for the King and certain areas around the river were blocked off. He said we probably wouldn’t be able to get into Wat Arun until 5:30 or 6 pm and then he recommended another route to go along the river to avoid any road closures. He didn’t pitch us anything. He spoke perfect English and was extremely kind.

scammed in bangkok longtail boat ride

We then began chatting casually. He asked about us living here and my brother visiting and then asked if we were doing a longtail boat ride on the river. We told him we hadn’t planned on it. He then recommended where we should go if we decided to do one to avoid the “tourist pier”. He said its the pier where mostly locals go and only 700 baht/person, rather than 1900 baht at the tourist pier. He pointed it out on the map and we asked him how to say it in Thai to so that we could tell a tuk tuk driver, which he then so kindly offered to wave one over (that just happened to be sitting nearby) and got us a ride for just 20 baht! He even told the driver “no suit shops. no jewelry shops. straight to the pier” saving us from another scam. Wow. This guy is GREAT! After a few “Khob khun ka(b)s”, we were excitedly on our way to the pier thinking we scored a great deal and telling Justin this is just another example of how wonderful Thai people are.

IMG_1335-2

It was somewhere along the one hour boat ride when that uneasy feeling started to creep up. A Thai holiday? Well there are a lot of holidays in Thailand, but that is pretty typical of a scam. And the Wat/roads being closed? That sounds an awful lot like the Grand Palace scam (you know the one where they say the Palace is closed and they will bring you back after they drive you around town to the gem shops, etc?). Why didn’t that sound any alarms in my head when he first said that? I know better! And then I thought about how I never actually researched what the price of a one hour boat ride should be because we never planned on taking one…

scammed in bangkok longtail boat ride

I immediately dug my phone out of my purse, missing out on the scenery passing me by, and started a Google search. And then I quickly put my phone away. I knew that if I saw what I didn’t want to see, I would miss the ride. I knew that the boat ride only lasted one hour and, scammed or not, I should enjoy it and make the most of it. I didn’t want my experience to be ruined, and mostly, I didn’t want my brother’s experience to be ruined. So I tried to push it out of my mind and enjoy the rest of it. I really tried…

scammed in bangkok longtail boat ride

Turns out, they dropped us off at the tourist dock..you know, the one they told us to avoid because they charged so much more money? First thing we did? Asked the guy selling tickets the price for a one hour boat ride. The verdict? 400 baht…PER BOAT! We overpaid by 1700 baht.

bangkok scams longtail boat ride

Sure, in the grand scheme of things it might be only $50. But $50 goes a long ways in Thailand. But really its not even about the money. It’s feeling like a complete fool. Falling for someone’s charade. Wondering how people can blatantly lie and steal from others every day and still sleep at night? It’s mind boggling. To be quite honest, it put a huge damper on the rest of the day. We kept trying to not let it ruin our time, but it was difficult to put it out of our mind. And we hated that this was one of Justin’s first introductions to Thailand.

scammed in bangkok longtail boat ride

I’m sure there are many thinking “what idiots!”. Believe me…we sure felt like it. Talk about blow to the ego. But I think sometimes you just want see the good in people and you forget that sadly there are a lot of bad apples out there. We also should have done more research about the scams in Bangkok and the price of a longtail boat ride prior so we were prepared to deal with the situation. Regardless, it happened and its in the past and now we just want to make other travelers aware.

wat arun bangkok scam-2

I hope this post in no way discourages travel to Thailand. As I mentioned before, these things happen all over the world. Its just important that you educate yourself when traveling and always keep your guard up. You can never be too cautious. Lesson learned.

Read up on these infamous Bangkok scams before you visit:

http://www.thaitravelblogs.com/2013/04/list-of-top-10-scams-in-bangkok-and-thailand/

http://www.bangkok.com/magazine/5-scams.htm

http://globetrottergirls.com/2012/03/getting-scammed-in-bangkok/

Here’s a recap of our 2 Days in Bangkok:

Have you ever been scammed while traveling? Share your story in the comments.

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  1. UGH!!!! At least it wasn’t so bad. Could have been a lot worse! You could have ended up in the middle of nowhere with no ride back to the city! But still … shame this happens. Glad you wrote about it though, hopefully it can help others NOT get scammed. 🙂

    • Charlie and Brittany March 3, 2015 at 2:06 pm · · Reply

      Yeah definitely could have been worse! Just leaves you feeling so silly for falling for it…you think “how did that just happen?!” Oh well…you live, you learn!

  2. We did the same thing. We wanted to go on the boat tour anyway, which was a great time. I take solace in the fact that my water bill in Chiang Mai was $2 and Electricity was only about $16 for the month 😀

    • Charlie and Brittany March 3, 2015 at 2:14 pm · · Reply

      Really?? Same scam? Ahh I feel better! Kidding kidding 😉 Sorry to hear that happened to you as well! We are glad we did the boat tour too though. It was still a nice ride and good experience and I would definitely recommend the 400 baht ride 🙂

  3. Oh, wow!! 🙁 Like Diaan said, it could have been a lot worse. Nobody wants to be scammed or taken for a fool, but lesson learned, and without too much damage! Good post to let others beware! 😉

  4. Hi guy’s, normal shit world wide you try to enjoy yourselves and some dumb asshole messes it up. I have been scammed around the world by unscrupeless thieves never mind. What they Stole they can’t take with them when they pop there clogs. Keep up the good posts. Always good to read. Kind regards Ian

  5. I got caught up in this scam, in 2012, the first day on my first visit there. I think I was even at the same peir hahaah! Aw well! They even over charged me for beer and put on an extra charge for the fish food he was throwing in the water so the cat fish would come to the surface. I argued over the price, he took th boat to the middle of the river, turned it off and demanded his money. I payed him and was so embarrassed that I fell for it. But now it makes a great story 🙂

    • Charlie and Brittany March 5, 2015 at 6:46 am · · Reply

      Wow that’s so crazy!! I can’t believe he held you hostage in the river! Sorry to hear that, but definitely think you one’d up our story 😉 Lol. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I always try to think the best of people, but things like this make you realise there are some unscrupulous, nasty people out there. I’m sure the people that take part in these scams just think we are all rich westerners who deserve if and use that generalisation to clear their conscious and sleep at night.

    I was scammed in Morocco, in the back streets there was a old street seller, selling lovely ‘silver’ jewellery. Solid silver, not plated, she promised me, and chatted to me for ages. What a lovely lady I thought, trying to make a living this way, and bought a silver bracelet. Within 2 weeks all the silver plating had rubbed off and I felt dreadful – in the grand scheme of things it’s not awful, but it does make you feel horrible to have been suckered in and trusted someone, so I really feel for you and glad you decided to share your experience.

    • Charlie and Brittany March 5, 2015 at 6:44 am · · Reply

      Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience and sorry to hear it happened to you as well! Like you said, it really isn’t about the money but just that crappy feeling you are left with. I know they need the money more than I do but it does tend to put a damper on a nice day!

      • Small price for big lesson. It might prevent you from falling into a bigger scam in later days. Video quality of boat riding is so good that I felt like, I was in it. Thanks.

  7. Ouch!!

    It’s always upsetting when your faith in human nature gets abused, and I always feel angry with those people if it means that travellers might be more defensive and a bit less open to chatting to locals in the future. How dare they spoil things for everyone else, including honest people trying to make a living by charging a fair price?

    When we were in Delhi some (rather intimidating!) men actually tried to physically block us from getting on the metro so we’d go on their stupid taxi tour because the red fort was “closed”. I actually had a guidebook on me at the time and showed them that they actually featured in the Lonely Planet. They had the nerve to act offended but, funnily enough, the fort wasn’t closed!

    I think most people have been scammed to some extent when travelling. If they say they haven’t… they probably didn’t realise! 🙂

    Glad you didn’t let it spoil the rest of your trip. Happy travels!

    Katie

    • Charlie and Brittany May 12, 2015 at 4:27 am · · Reply

      Completely agree! I hate that the actions of these people result in us putting our guard up but its hard not to be defensive when you’ve been taken advantage of. But its really not fair to the ones that are honest and working hard to earn a living. I guess its just part of it though – it happens all over the world. Glad you were able to call out your scammers in Delhi! Can’t believe they had the audacity to act offended. Ha! Thanks for your comment, Katie! Safe travels 🙂

  8. Bummer guys! So sorry this happened to you. 🙁

  9. We fell for the Grand Palace scam. I had read about it but was thrown as the lady who picked us up from the airport told us it was a Thai holiday so we didn’t know what to believe!

  10. Thanks for sharing! Don’t feel bad though. I think every traveler gets scammed at least once. This is great to know for future Bangkok trips.

  11. Happened to us in Egypt. We were out $20. Lesson learned. Don’t fret. Anyone who says they have never been scammed is lying. And thank you for sharing – I wish more travelers shared what DOESN’T work abroad.

  12. It’s once i visited Damnoen Saduak floating market by minivan from Bangkok. All the passengers are thai except me and a couple of backpacker(thai people called them farang). To the pier about 1km before arriving to the market, the driver drop this couple. Than two people come(i guess they are the scammers) and told them to ride a longtail boat to the market. Because it’s the only way to get to the market. No taxi, bus, or van to the market (it’s totally scam).
    They refuse the offer and keep walking. And suddenly the driver called them back to get into the van and finally drop them to the market together with other passenger with the same destination.

    Actually it can also happen to me, to everyone. But when the driver and the scammer don’t do that to me i think it’s because they think that i’m thai.

    By the way, really enjoy your post. It makes me beware.

    • Charlie and Brittany August 4, 2015 at 8:33 am · · Reply

      Wow that’s so crazy! Glad to hear they didn’t fall for it though. Thanks for sharing your story! Just have to keep making others aware.

  13. Hey there Charlie and Britney. It happens to the best of us. You got a great blog here and you guys are Awesome. Let me know in advance if you’re coming to Bangkok again and we can hook up for a few cold ones. I’m originally from The Windy City but been living and drinking here in Thailand since 2-months after 9/11 2001.

    • Charlie and Brittany August 17, 2015 at 3:06 pm · · Reply

      Hey Donald! Thanks so much. Would love to catch up over some Leos when we make it back to Thailand! 🙂

  14. At least the scammers were clever about it. For a small amount of money, when it is handled so smoothly and in a completely non-threatening way you can at least feel like you dealt with someone who is kind of impressive in a way.

  15. Argh, drives you mad doesn’t it?! We got scammed in Indonesia, and ended up with about $100 worth of ‘authentic batik’ (look up the batik scam!) that is a little less than authentic. However, now we look at it, it is still pretty beautiful – authentic or not. So, although it was ridiculously over-priced, we are quite happy that we bought it!

    We were a a bit more savvy about everything after that ! Oh, the number of people in Bangkok that told us that temples were closed – we enjoyed telling them how beautiful the temple was once we had been to see it and they took it in good spirits.

    As someone above said, I think everyone falls for something like this at least once!

    • Charlie and Brittany October 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm · · Reply

      Yes I had to keep saying the same! At least we still got the experience and the photos! They couldn’t take that from us at least. I suppose there is always a silver lining 😉

  16. It happens to the best of us. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Don’t sweat it.
    Thanks for sharing!

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