How to not get ripped off. Ha! Good luck with that. Thailand is cheap, really cheap, unbelievably cheap – if you‘re a local. Everyone else is fair game. You will pay more for everything. You can call this a rip-off and let it bother you, or you can call it an unofficial tourist tax and cop it with grace. But it crosses over from opportunism to corruption because of the lies and deceit used to perpetrate the deed.
Here are some of the more blatant rip-offs. Watch out for them and avoid being taken for a ride:
Counterfeit currency: Spotting fake baht
Fake 1000 Baht notes are in circulation. The note is Thailand's largest paper denomination, and is widely avoided by street vendors and transport operators.
It's a common occurrence to have shop owners question the validity of the bill, given the propensity of counterfeit notes, and also the relative difficulty to break the bill.
How can you tell if you have a dud note?
Genuine 1000 Baht notes, which are roughly the equivalent of 30 US Dollars, can be verified by a range of security features.
* A watermark of Thai King Phumiphol situated in the white space on the right hand side of the note. The watermark can be seen if held up to light. Fake bills usually will not have this watermark.
* On the opposite side of the note, you will see 6 markers which have a metallic sheen. Fake bills will usually not contain this feature, or if they do, the markers will not have a metallic sheen.
* With a tactile inspection, a genuine note feels dry and smooth. Counterfeit bills feel 'greasy' or 'slippery' due to the cheapness and freshness of the ink used to print them.
* The fiber of a genuine bill is sturdy and made with strong materials. A counterfeit bill uses cheap paper and is easy frayed or torn.
Is it safe to use credit cards?
Card skimming is very common in Thailand.
Make sure you read our tips on using ATMs and the guide on shopping safely with credit cards to keep your hard-earned in your bank account.
You will get ripped-off
Getting ripped off in Thailand will come in many shapes and forms. You are, compared to most Thais, very wealthy and you can afford to pay a bit more. Try to not take it personally. Think of it as an unofficial travel tax. It's usually only small change, but don't get taken for a ride either.
Entry fee rip offs
The fare or entrance price is on a board written in English for foreigners and in Thai for locals. If you could understand the Thai script you‘d see how much more you‘re being charged.
Tuk-tuk rip offs
Tuk tuk drivers give you change in scrunched up notes. By the time you‘ve unfolded the bills, counted them up and worked out you‘ve been short-changed the tuk tuk is gone.
Taxi rip offs
Taxis are one of the biggest sources of complaint. If the driver won‘t use the meter, get out and find one that will. The fares they quote are always at least double the metered fare.
Tout rip offs
Touts and “travel agents“ acting as middlemen or ‘fixers‘ will inflate the price of tickets astronomically. Often it‘s hard to spot them because they‘ve set themselves up in official-looking offices with names very similar to the legitimate business.
There‘s even a fake tourist bureau near Bangkok‘s airport where taxi drivers on commission deliver you. The bureau agent will say they‘ve never heard of your hotel, hinting it‘s a scam, but the real scam is the alternative accommodation where they send you – a less-than-adequate overpriced and poorly located establishment.
Are you covered?
If you are swindled, scammed, hustled or bustled out of your money – then sorry, we can‘t help you here. But say you cop a spatula in the face from an angry chef who wants you to pay $300 for his specialty rice, and you are injured. You are able to make a claim based on any medical costs you sustain.
If a crazy tuk-tuk driver carts you at warp speed to a gem shop, and you have a crash and get injured – you are able to make a claim.
If you get food poisoning from a shifty restaurant and fall violently ill you could potentially miss a flight or a pre-booked tour. If this is the case, contact your tour provider or airline to see if you can reschedule, or get a refund. If neither of these are possible (but most of the time they are), you can make a claim to be reimbursed for any deposit you may lose.
It basically works like this – we can‘t insure you for acts relating to your gullibility. But if you get preyed upon by dubious Thais, and get hurt, you are able to claim.