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Warning!!! Bangkok - Chiang Mai Scam.

Travel Forums Asia Warning!!! Bangkok - Chiang Mai Scam.

1. Posted by allthai (Full Member 88 posts) 11y


I have been getting reports (again) about this old trick the tour companies on Khaosan Road in Bangkok and the Guest Houses in Chiang Mai are doing. I thought the Tourist Police stopped this but they are back to their same old tricks, here's the story.

The tour companies along and near khaosan Road offer very cheap bus tickets to Chiang Mai. The bus is fine however after the overnight ride they take you to a parking lot or field 10 Kilometers from Chiang Mai arriving around 6 AM. Now you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with no tuk tuk or taxi. Here they have "songthaews", which are two bench covered pick up trucks waiting for you. They pile everyone in the songthaews and take you into the city but not where you want to go but to guest houses you no nothing about.

Once at the Guest House they tell you to leave your bags in the front room while they show you the rooms. Who know who is going through your bag during this time period. Then they sit you down at a table and the trekking guides give their sales pitch. The guide wants you to either leave right away on a trek this morning or the following day. You won't be able to order breakfast or anything until after the sales pitch.

If you say I want to look around at other trekking operators before you make a decision you are told to leave. The guide and staff will just abandon you and go on to the next table and talk with them. They will not be allowed to rent you a room or order food. Thats OK just leave.

The reason all this is going on is because some Guest Houses in Chiang Mai band together to get as many tourists as they can for trekking. This is where all the money is for them not room rentals or food. They contact a bus company in Bangkok and charter buses which are usualy full going in both directions. The tour companies in Bangkok also get a cut of the action. The seats on the bus are sold at cost to you and that is why it is so cheap.

The bus personel have been known to go through luggage and bags to take valuables while people were asleep on the bus. Some even have a person hidden away in the baggage compartment to go through every bag there.

If you want to take a bus get one from the Morchit bus station in Bangkok and the Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai not Khaosan road or Guest Houses in Chiang Mai. These buses will take you to the Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai and Morchit bus station in Bangkok.

Remember that most Guest Houses get their money from Treks not food or room rental and many will not rent you a room unless you do a trek with them.

I recommend that you pay a little bit more and get a 500 baht+ room in Chiang Mai where the staff will be glad to have you if you trek with them or not.

2. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

This is somewhat similar to catching the public bus from Surat Thani to Krabi. The bus arrives in the evening. However, instead of letting farangs (foreigners) off in town, the bus drives just out of town, where the farangs then sit confused & lost in a shop, and have to book their rooms in the local hotels. After that, they pay for a songthaew back into town and their hotel. The booking agency charges a commission on top of the hotel fee. The simplest way around this is only to book/pay for one night. Then you just pay the hotel direct the next day if you want to stay longer.

Thailand has many tourists and these practices aren't just restricted to one place.

3. Posted by allthai (Full Member 88 posts) 11y

A similar thing happens in Thaton north of Chiang Mai near the Burmese border. Travelers take the local bus to Thaton then the bus stops in front of a guest house where the staff picks up your bags and puts it on the porch. The staff tells eveyone not to go anywhere as it is too dangerous and to just stay here until the boat leaves for Chiang Rai the next day. They tell the guest not to talk with the locals or walk around after dark.

The long tail boat ride is why most travelers go to Thaton.

I lived in Thaton for a couple of years and it is very nice and not at all dangerous.

I don't want to give away the name of the guest house but they pay the bus driver to stop there and let all the tourists off before going across the bridge to the bus stop. I know because I asked the driver in Thai why they do this.

4. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

The Land of Smile has certainly changed over the years due to mass tourism.

But this of course, applies to many different countries.