Knowing what to avoid in Bangkok and Thailand for that matter, could take up a few pages and its subjective to what kind of traveller you are.
For the younger traveller, we strongly suggest avoiding drugs in Thailand not only because of the issues with their usage but also because of the consequences but we'll address this issue in more details later.
There are a number of common scams in Bangkok and Thailand and we've put together a few of the better known ones but we'd be more than happy to hear from anyone who has been a victim of a scam or who knows of scams we've not mentioned. Just use the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Tuk Tuk drivers in Bangkok and other tourist areas of Thailand don't make much money and so they have to find other ways to make extra money and one of these ways is to get commission from businesses who will pay a tuk tuk driver a small amount of money for driving tourists (known as Farangs) to their shops.
Any shop paying to receive customers isn't going to be a very good shop and the shop itself is likely to be a jewellers or a tailors - perhaps even a massage parlour or a restaurant where the prices are hugely inflated.
Tuk Tuk drivers will often be standing by their three wheeled motor carts and will try to talk to you as you walk past or come out of your hotel (larger, more well established hotels will try to keep them as far away from their doors as possible but even the Oriental has a few hanging around just off Oriental property). The drivers will try to make sugegstions as to where to go but we suggest you ignore their suggestions and have your own schedule planned and if you do want to take a Tuk Tuk, make sure they know to go only where you want to go.
The scam here is for a person on foot, a tuk tuk driver or even a taxi driver to approach you as you are nearing a place of interest. Perhaps The Grand Palace or even The Reclining Buddha, and tell you that the place is closed for a special occasion and offer to take you somewhere else...generally a jewellry shop or tailors.
In the event that anyone tells you something is closed, we recommend you proceed to that place anyway and see for yourself. The Grand Palace is rarely closed and other places of interest even less likely to be closed so check first and if it just so happens to be closed, do not take up the offer of someone else taking you somewhere different.
Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur all have reputations for making cheap, tailor made clothes such as suits, jackets, dresses and so on. However, cheap means poorly made using cheap, poor quality, material.
Bangkok just isn't as cheap as it used to be and any person offering to make you a suit, 5 shirts, 2 trousers and a couple of ties for $99.00 is going to be getting their stuff...and staff...out of a christmas cracker. So, don't do it. Ignore these cheap deals and if you really must go to a tailors to be kitted out, read our page on Reliable Tailors in Bangkok
Not so much of a scam as an over pricing. If you get to a pier on the river, you might be approached by a long tailed boat driver who will offer to take you to a number of places and whilst this trip can be quite exciting and impressive, the cost could end up being a lot more than you'd pay for an organised trip.
There are some seafood restaurants in Bangkok
that are aimed squarely at the tourist and prices indicate that it's all about making loads of money rather than providing a good meal at reasonable prices.
This isn't just the domain of Bangkok. It happens in other places around Thailand and so be careful who takes you there. If it's a tuk tuk driver or a taxi driver whom "recommends" it, then don't go.
Don't be afraid to poke your head around the door to see who is eating there and if it's only tourists, leave immediately. If there is a smattering of tourists and the rest look like Thais, then jump in and enjoy. even better is if there are no tourists at all.
One restaurant that changes its name has a silly process of being a bit like a supermarket. You shop for your fish / seafood and then choose a chef to cook it for you. Sounds quaint and novel but it's a scam really and costs so much more than eating in a regular seafood restaurant.
If you are looking for some great seafood restaurants in Bangkok then there are a number of excellent ones by the river. Check out:
It's worth noting that most Thai restaurants sell seafood so none of the above is a dedicated seafood restaurant but they all have a very good selection of seafood...
If there's one thing that really gets our goat it's the double pricing policy that Thailand insists on implementing. The government of Thailand happily allows this to go and it's not restricted to purchasing items at small shops.
Go to a zoo, Siam Ocean World, Joe Louis Puppet Theatre, Samphran Elephant Farm, Muay Thai boxing etc etc and you'll be charged hundreds of percent more than locals. Thai boxing for instance would be about 100 baht for local, maybe less but tourists HAVE to pay about 1,200 Baht or you can't go in.
Samphran Elephant farm charges locals 100 Baht and tourists 600 Baht and SIAM OCEAN WORLD..owned and operated by an Australian company has a very similar pricing policy choosing to hide behind the Thai script in order to hide the locals pricing structure.
There was a big clamp down on drugs in Thailand a few years ago with over 2,000 drug dealers and suspected drug dealers being killed in mysterious circumstances and so drugs and their use was taken very seriously and anyone caught trying to smuggle drugs will get a very long sentence and even the death penalty.
I have even been to Bang Kwang prison and met a few foreigners who were caught and they are now living an extremely unpleasant life in one of the world's most notorious prisons. One guy was caught making ecstacy and his then girlfriend...who didn't know anything about it...was arrested with him and given 25 years. Unlikely to get out.
You might know the story of this chap because he ended up marrying his girlfriend whilst they were both in prison.
Don't think that you'll get a small fine or a slap on the wrist. You'll be the target of corrupt police officers who will fleece you of everything you've got or you'll end up in prison.
If a taxi driver or tuk tuk driver offers you any drugs... of course say "no" but it's not only to avoid being caught later, it's to avoid having the police arrest you a few minutes later after the very same driver has gone to the police to tell them you've just bought some. Why ? So they can get commission.
If you have a small amount of hash or other substance, it's more likely the officer involved will want to get something out of you and so you'll be frog marched to the cash point (ATM) and made to withdraw as much cash as you can to avoid going to prison or jail. Either that or you'll have to find cash from somewhere and that's either your holiday money or a call home to parents for a bail out.
So, don't just do yourself a favour, do those around you a favour too because you could well drag them down with you.