Travel Tips : Rubies and other tourists traps in Thailand

It’s 8 in the morning and we are suppose to be leaving our hotel in Bangkok, everybody is already in the bus. I make a head count, 1 guy is missing. I walk back to the lobby and there he is sitting in the lobby “One moment, I am waiting for the guy to deliver the rubies I bought yesterday”. Excuse me? Yesterday on the street you did buy & fully paid rubies from a guy walking on the street? And now you seriously think that this guy is going to bring the rubies? And even if he is coming do you seriously believe it will be real rubies? Did I not tell you before?

I am walking near the Grand Palace and a smoothly dressed Thai guy walks up to me and says “Going Grand Palace? Sorry Grand Palace closed” and while I keep on walking “But my friend can bring you with Tuk Tuk to other temple” and while I still keep on walking I point out a government sign “Grand Palace is daily open from … “ and just smile back at the guy. Just like once I was just watching this game being played at Charoen Krung Road near my hotel. To help the tourist I told them not to believe the Thai guys (whatever the had told). Once the tourists were gone I suddenly was surrounded by 4 Thai guys that were not so happy “Why you that?” and I told them that they are pulling a scam. Then “We try to make money, just like you”. So I asked them to do it in a better and for honest way without lying & cheating. Luckily at that moment my driver was passing and I walked with him to my hotel.

Once I agreed to a Tuk Tuk driver to drive me around to bring me to shops where he would get money for gasoline even if I would not buy anything. One of the stops was a gem-stone shop. It was a rare opportunity, today was the 1 day of the year that the government tried to promote the gem-stones and I did not have to pay tax. Hahaha yes right, in that way you can not claim tax-refund also. And in that way you never find out you paid to much. I was shown the way of trade of the gem-stones and how they are cut and how to see the difference between real and fake or between good and bad stones. Then of course I was taken to a upstairs room where I was offered to buy stones ranging from 500us$ to 6000u$. Hahaha do they think I have that much money with me? Needless to say my Tuk Tuk driver was gone when I left the shop.

Changing money on the street, can be a nice trick also. I changed 100us$ for Indonesian roepia and was given my bundle of money. While I started to count the money the guy realized I would be missing some money and suddenly he came up with a extra bundle of money.

I arrived at the bus station and asked a Tuk Tuk driver to bring me to my hotel. “Sorry closed”. Really? “But I know another good hotel” …. While driving to his hotel I knew we would be passing my hotel also. So halfway I said “Please stop” what he did while realizing that I would go to my hotel. Suddenly he wanted more money. “Why? Because you not get your commission now? Sorry you problem”

Walking in Hanoi is dangerous, every samlor driver tries to get you in his samlor. Up to the point that they almost put you in their samlor. And once in their samlor you agree on the price, but when arriving at your point of destination “Price for 1 person, not for 2” or “One means two”. I took many samlors and always, really always, I had problems with the samlor drivers. Even so big problems that once my hotel security guard came to rescue and just told the samlor driver to go away.

Songtheauw driver are also a special breed. I needed to go to a shop at the end of the 2km long street so I took the Songtheauw just living the bus-station (full with tourists) and at my destination I did ring the bell and jumped off to pay. “That’s 40thb” …What? You mean 10thb? ….. “No 40thb” …. I am not going to pay that. Then he pushed me angry back in his Songtheauw “Then I bring you back” … OK I have time and I knew we would be passing the office of the Tourist Police. So when passing it I did ring the bell again and he did stop 100m away. I again jumped out and asked him to follow me to the police where I would pay him 10thb. He starts to yell and call me dirty names and drives of. Welcome!

The biggest tourist scam ... double pricing sanctioned by the Thai government. OK in some places I can understand, like a local temple that is overrun by tourists (but the temple should be free for Thai). But most time it is utterly bullshit for stealing. Like at tourist venue's like Tiffany, Under Water World Pattaya, cable-car to Wat Doi Saket, Koh Samet, Nong Nuch Park and of course all national parks and many more. Although at national parks most times I get away with showing my Thai diver-license. The worst national park scan is when going to Phreah Vihar. You are driving on a normal public road and suddenly it becomes a national park for the last 6 or 7km to the car-park to go to the Phreah Viharn in Cambodia.

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