Tuk Tuk Scams in Bangkok – if it’s too good to be true? It is.
Many people have often heard the saying that if something seems to good to be true then it always most certainly is. This is often the case when traveling, as you stumble across people trying to take advantage of the naivety that comes with the new territory.
Daniel and I are very trusting people and we always like to believe that everyone is being honest and kind. We have learnt though, that when you are on the road, you need to put on a tough guy act in order to save your skin…and your hip pocket.
I’m sure you have all read our unfortunate tale of being robbed in Ho Chi Minh?
Then cue in Bangkok. We arose early this morning to see the Grand Palace. On our way to walking there, spirits high, we stopped on the roadside to look at a map. This was a big mistake. Our tourist lights were flashing bright at this point. A man, obviously reading the signs well and clear, came running down the street. Obviously to us it looked like he has going on a morning jog. He casually ran past us, did a double take then came back, asking us if we needed help.
“Oh my gosh, what a cute little man!” was my first instinct.
We spoke for a while. He asked us about our plans. He gave us all his “invaluable advice” about being sure to book Chiang Mai activities and accommodation early, as it’s peak season. He spoke and he spoke and he spoke and all of a sudden he was telling us how we shouldn’t see the Grand Palace (“it’s closed”), we should take a ride in a tuk tuk to the other temples (“they’re free”) and he will get us there for cheap (“special day, special price”).
Out of nowhere, like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage, appeared a tuk tuk with a smiling Thai man inside. Our “new friend” called him over, with a side note to us that he will get us a special price, and insisted the driver take us to the temples, with a mention of a tourist agency.
In a matter of seconds, we were in the tuk tuk.
In a matter of seconds we knew it was a mistake.
Too late now, we figured. So we rode the wave of worry all the way through the temples we visited.
“What do we do?” I asked.
“I’ve got no idea. Do we just leave?” Daniel wondered.
Back and forth went our questioning, even in the back of the tuk tuk as he drove us around, telling us about his family.
Then it happened.
He stopped the tuk tuk.
“I will take you to a travel agency, very good one. Give you good price on Chiang Mai accommodation and trek. How you get there? He can book you bus also.” He smiles.
Daniel retorts with a no no, that’s okay. We played the “we have friends in Chiang Mai, they are looking after us” card.
It doesn’t work.
We nearly get to our next temple. He stops again.
“Today is a special day. If you go to the travel agency, they will give me free petrol. That’s why the price is so cheap for you.”
“No,” Daniel is firm now, survivor mode kicking in, “this is not what we planned. We don’t want to go to the travel agency, we want to go the temple and then go home.”
The man realised Daniel wasn’t mucking around. He dropped us off at the temple and informed us he would go now, since home “wasn’t far away”. Yeah, whatever. That was fine by us as we paid him the $1 ride he promised us.
Our outcome was good. While you read this story, you probably scoff and way “what stupid idiots” but until you are in the moment and the situation you will realise how easily it can happen. Please don’t let it happen to you!!! We spoke to a travel agent afterwards at our guesthouse and she said hundreds of tourists get suckered in to the scam very very often.
We did have an awesome time looking at the temples though. Please stay tuned for more posts on bangkok!!