10 common Bangkok scams/tourist traps and how to avoid them

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Who doesn’t love Bangkok? With its ever-changing shopping scene and abundance of unique eats (just how do they come up with those?), this vibrant city is nothing short of a perfect weekend getaway.

But, as it is with travelling, no country is completely safe. Bangkok has its fair share of problems with scams.

And if you’re imagining “scams” to be simple tricks like ‘beggars’ pretending to have no money for lunch, you’ll be surprised at how elaborate these things can get.

That’s why we’ve gathered up some of the biggest and baddest scams you may (have) run into in Bangkok, along with a handy skill book for your scam slaying adventures.

The next time you come across a shady situation, you’ll be able to see it coming from a mile away.

1. The massage shop scam

Massages are almost a must in Bangkok, but sadly, not all massage experiences are completely stress-free.
In many touristy areas (usually in alleys in Sukhumvit), you’ll find massage shop “managers” roaming the area, looking for their next customer (read: victim).

They’ll tell you that they’re out looking for customers because business hasn’t been so good, and offer you attractive deals of half the usual rate (e.g. 250Baht/pax per hour instead of 500Baht/pax per hour).

Once you reach the front of the shop, they’ll ask you to pay them for the massage first, because they have to return to where you were earlier to continue looking for customers.

Sure, what’s wrong with that? You’re right in front of the shop and the masseuse at the counter is watching as you pass the money to the “manager”; what could possibly go wrong?

Well, here’s what – after you complete the massage, you’ll be asked to pay again by the staff of the shop. The painful conversation that follows will probably be something like this:

You: But I already paid your manager!

Masseuse: What manager?

You: You watched me pay that man just now!

Masseuse: No Manager Krub

That man you met isn’t the manager at all, and you’ll end up paying even more than you would have if you had paid the original rate.

How to avoid this:

The key to avoiding massage shop scams is to do your research; only go to reputable massage shops that have good reviews, and go directly to them.

Unless you’re in front of the shop counter, never give money to anybody! Your fortune is yours to guard.

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