Tourism - Travel Advisory
Card Playing Scam
This scam begins with a seemingly friendly stranger or recent acquaintance demonstrating strategies on how you can win at a card game. You are then taken to where the game is played, which will begin innocently and friendly at first. Typically, victims are allowed to win some and lose a few rounds until the stakes become more serious and you are “loaned” money by one of the players to continue the game. Sooner or later you will lose all the money, and you must pay back the money you have been “loaned”. Tourists who fall for this card playing scam usually end up losing everything.
Credit Card Fraud
Some organised gangs specialize in credit card fraud. For protection, only use your credit cards at known or established businesses and keep an eye on your card at all time. Unscrupulous merchants have been known to run credit cards through the card machine several during a single purchase. Extra copies of the receipt will then be used for future purchases by the criminal gang which forges the victim's signature.
Disregard all free shopping or sightseeing help from strangers. Most “too good to be true” offers are just that. Do not believe seemingly friendly strangers or those who offer to show you where to buy gems for resale overseas with the promise of turning a profit. Most of these gems are overpriced and attempts at making up the money spent are usually fruitless and victims are typically charged exuberant “restocking fees”.
Overcharging Services or Entertainment
Prices for merchandise, service, and entertainment vary from place to place. Always bargain or negotiate your price with taxi drivers, street vendors or small shops. The most serious overcharges typically occur in the red-light district of major cities, especially in Bangkok (Patpong). Tourists are lured into these establishments with the promise that they can view sex shows for free. Once inside, they must order drinks (sometimes unknowingly offered) that may cost thousands of baht. Unless they settle the bill with the establishment before leaving, they will likely be "pressured" and "coerced" into paying.
Rental Car Scams
Some unscrupulous rental car agencies have been known to make money by staging accidents with your rental car and forcing the renter to pay for the damages. They may threaten arrest if you refuse to pay. To reserve a rental car, these rental agencies will request that you leave your passport as a deposit and sign a rental contract--a copy of which will not be provided to you. While driving the rental car, someone on another vehicle (usually a motorcycle) will run into the side or rear end of your vehicle. Immediately, police will be on the scene to issue you a citation for failure to yield to another vehicle causing injury.
In most cases, the police may try to talk you into paying for the “injuries” of the person(s) on the motorcycle and damages to the motorcycle on the spot in order to settle the case before you can be released. As well, the police may not issue a report of the accident. As a result of the "accident", the rental agency will then make you pay unreasonably high repair fees. Again, you will be threatened with arrest and your passport will not be returned to you unless you pay for the accident you allegedly caused.
Please be warned:
- Only rent vehicles from well-known and reputable agencies.
- Do not surrender your passport to any rental agencies. If they insist on getting your passport, walk away and rent somewhere else.
- Ask for a copy of the contract. Walk away if the rental agency will not allow you to have a signed copy.
Spiked Drinks, Food, or Candy
Do not accept food, drinks, or candy from seemingly friendly strangers. There have been reports of tourists being robbed after they were drugged in night clubs or hotel rooms by people they met in bars or on the street. Some spiked drinks have resulted in death from drug overdose.
HIV/AIDS and Prostitution
Although Thailand is recognized for its successful efforts in educating the public about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and for combatting the disease, HIV/AIDS remains a problem in the country with an estimated 600,000-1,000,000 people infected with the virus. HIV infection is common among prostitutes of both sexes and some IV drug users. Many prostitutes will tell potential clients that they are not actually prostitutes, but like you such that they will offer sex for money.
Tourists are warned that the 1996 Prostitution Prevention and Suppression Act makes procurers, brothel operators, and clients punishible under the law. Anyone caught having sex with prostitutes under 15 years of age can be jailed up to 20 years and/or fined up to 400,000 Baht. Anyone caught having sex with a child under 13 can receive a life sentence.
All visitors are subject to Thai laws and regulations while in Thailand. Thailand strictly enforces its drug laws and penalties are severe. Foreigners are often coerced by smuggling rings to transport excess “luggage” or “gifts” out of Thailand with the promise of hefty cash rewards or free vacations. These opportunistic foreign participants are often caught before leaving Thailand, convicted of drug trafficking, and handed long sentences. Some spend the rest of their lives in jail. Smuggling or possession of heroin may result in life imprisonment or even execution.
Lost or Stolen Passports
Travelers are advised to immediately report lost or stolen passports to the local police and their respective embassy or consulate.
Pickpocketing, Purse Slashing, Petty Theft
Be especially careful in crowded places such as buses, markets and areas frequented by tourists.
It is a good idea to rent a safety deposit box at a bank to store your valuables if you plan to be in Thailand for an extended period. While travelling, tourists are advised to pack in such a way as to minimalize any loss, such as by spreading valuables amongst many bags.
Thailand has an extensive paved road system, but few multi-lane highways. Trucks, motorcycles, unconventional vehicles, pedestrians, and domestic animals usually limit speed and create unsafe conditions. Reckless use of the road by motorists and the use of amphetamines or other stimulants by commercial drivers are common. Motorists may wish to consider insurance which covers medical and liability costs (minimum third-party insurance is required) while operating vehicles in Thailand.
The use of licensed, reliable guides is recommended for all trekkers. Trekking on your own can be a valuable experience, but should not be done without doing prior research or contacting a knowledgeable and experienced company. Trekking alone, especially for female travellers, is advised against due to safety risks.
Check with the appropriate authorities before attempting to cross borders into Thailand’s neighboring countries. Due to the volatility of the political situation, some official border crossings may be closed with little or no notice. Travelers are also encouraged to cross the border at designated crossing points only. Not doing so is extremely risky.
This tourist advisory page was created from reports and letters sent by travelers and well-intentioned people. We feel that all legitimate complaints must be addressed to protect other travelers and our tourism industry. We have no intention of harming honest business operators or any agencies, but only wish to expose companies involved in illegal practices. Your contribution is sincerely appreciated. All correspondence should be sent in good faith with your full name and mailing address.