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Getting ripped off in SE Asia

Travel Forums Asia Getting ripped off in SE Asia

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1. Posted by rach6083 (Budding Member 53 posts) 8y

I've been doing lots of research about SE Asia as I'm heading there early next year. But a lot of people are talking about how they got ripped off, got on the scam buses, mis-sold tours, money stolen from their hostels etc etc???
I find it all slightly worrying, not that it'll put me off travelling there. Has anyone got any tips? I don't want to spend the whole time worrying about my belongings and feeling like I've been duped.
Any advice would be great...
Thanks!

2. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1653 posts) 8y

Quoting rach6083

I've been doing lots of research about SE Asia as I'm heading there early next year. But a lot of people are talking about how they got ripped off, got on the scam buses, mis-sold tours, money stolen from their hostels etc etc???
I find it all slightly worrying, not that it'll put me off travelling there. Has anyone got any tips? I don't want to spend the whole time worrying about my belongings and feeling like I've been duped.
Any advice would be great...
Thanks!

I guess I have been lucky over the past 10 or 11 years, I have forgotten stuff in hotels but (so far) I haven't had anything stolen!

Maybe it's because I don't use any shared dorm style accommodations, I prefer a single cheap room with a security box. Some cheap hotels are not much more than the price of hostels anyway in Thailand.

If anything ends up missing from your hotel room or hostel blame your room mates or fellow tourists first before you accuse the hotel staff! Most of the bus scams that I have heard of usually originate from Khao San Road - very simple remedy - get your bus tickets from a real bus station! Also, speaking about bus travel or travel in general, DON'T leave any valuables in your checked in bag, also lock the bag too!

I don't know who you have been talking to for "all of these stories" about missing stuff?? Millions and millions of tourists never have any problems with missing items. If you travel with friends who might be considered bums, thugs, thieves or "all around no goods" back home they could be a problem!

Stay in better hostels or hotels that have security box storage and put your valuables in that box. If you have any guests sleep over make sure that anything of value is locked up, especially when you are in taking a shower and your guest is alone in your room! When you leave your hotel room lock your bags, if you have a key for the hotel security box don't leave it out in plain sight. Most of all - don't bring anything of great value with you that you would worry about if it came up lost!

Be careful who you trust, especially if you have only just met him or her!

Good luck.

3. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 8y

I think there is nothing to worry about as long as you go with an open attitude and prepare to use you head.
I've spent about 6 months traveling around SEA during 4 different trips and I've never been stolen from, felt unsafe, nor been ripped off to the point of it ruining my trip. Sure, I've been ripped off to some extent - it's inevitable as a tourist that you will at some point pay over the odds for a product or bus ticket or whatever. I can also think of a couple occasions where I later realised that I was taken for a bit of a ride. But who cares, I lost a few bucks, it didn't ruin my trip, and I'm a little wiser because of it.

But the key is to simply prepare yourself and use common sense. Do some research on the scams that are out there. There are countless postings on travel forums like this one that go through the numerous common scams, and most guide books will mention some of the big ones. I just found this website that discusses many Thai scams. It looks like a pretty valuable resource. Many of the ones mentioned in there you'll likely come across, like the tuk-tuk scams, and the "Grand Palace is Closed" scam. Many of these scams only work on the very naive tourist who did absolutely no previous research and came to Asia with their common sense safely in storage at home. But if you know about them, you can simply walk away from them. But don't be paranoid about it. Don't feel that you can't trust anyone. The vast majority of people in Southeast Asia are good people and can be trusted. The general rule that I follow however is to never trust anyone who approaches you with information that you didn't ask for. This is how many of these scams start. If your walking down the street and someone comes up and starts telling you about what tourist sights you should visit, offering you taxi rides, telling you how you can make some money, then chances are, they want something from you.

As for simply getting ripped off, the only way to protect yourself from that is to do a little research on how much things should cost. If it's possible, shop around before you pay for a tour or bus ticket. Ask at your hotel how much a taxi ride should cost, and always agree on a price before you take a service or product. At some point you will almost surely pay more than you should for something. But with a little common sense, it shouldn't ruin your trip.

As for scam buses, I don't know what to say about them. I always hear people complaining that the VIP buses offered on Khao San Road in Bangkok are scams and you are asking to get ripped off or stolen from if you take them. I however, have taken 18 of these buses in the last few years and have never had any sort of problems with the exception of the annoyance of being dropped off at a certain hotel or restaurant with rather forceful sales tactics. But who knows, maybe every single time I've taken these buses someone has gone through my bags while I was sleeping. However, they probably had no interest in my dirty underwear which is about the most valuable thing that I would ever leave in an unattended bag. This leads my to my next point of not leaving anything valuable in your backpack in your hotel room or on a bus. That's just common sense in any country really. Keep your passport and money on you at all times. If you need to have valuables with you while traveling, then keep then on you rather than in your hotel room or in you bag. In all my time in Asia I've never noticed any sort of evidence that someone had been in my hotel room, but you just never know.

So don't worry about it. Thousands and thousands of people go to this region everyday with no incident. If you use your head and prepare yourself you'll be fine and you won't have to worry.

4. Posted by sapphyre (Respected Member 418 posts) 8y

I'm not sure abt scams and getting stuff stolen, but in general in this part of the world, just be prepared to be ripped off because you look different and can't speak the language.

5. Posted by styrx (Budding Member 9 posts) 8y

That is the problem every where. Was in Egypt, and it was really terrible, everyone is waiting for the opportunity to rip you off. Thumb of rule, is to prepare yourself thoroughly on the latest scam, read up on lonely planet, virtualtourist... If you see a local that speak near perfect english, when you know it highly unlikely, most likely they are trying to befriend and offer to show you around; this is the tell tale sign, that something is up their sleeve. Now day some of these people are also teaming up with foreigners, acting as tourist to pull off the scam, especially in bangkok. I had a bad experience once. End of the day I rely mostly on my own, guidebook or the local tourist office. Yes there are good people out there, but after having bitten once in Bangkok, I am very wary of the surrounding. Just go with an open mind, but stay alert, and you will enjoy Asia!

6. Posted by opospa (Travel Guru 1837 posts) 8y

Hi buddy, take a look at this website to prepare yourself for scams especially in Bangkok.

Bangkok Scams

Hope it helps. Good Luck;)

[ Edit: Edited on Mar 8, 2008, at 11:25 AM by opospa ]

7. Posted by rach6083 (Budding Member 53 posts) 8y

Thanks for the advice guys...
Like i said, it won't put me off travelling there. I enjoy reading people's travel blogs on this website and other websites, and more than half of them have said how they were scammed in some way....I know its only pennies in most cases, but its just the principle. I'll still definately go there, just want to be equipped with some knowledge! So thank you again!

8. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 8y

Rachel,
You have gotten some really good advice on not becoming a victim of theft or a scam. One product that can really give you peace of mind is pacsafe. It allows you to leave your bag unattended and not worry about anything being stolen.

My only other comment is to use the gov't bus system rather than the tourist buses the travel shops always push. Travel with the Thai people on a regularly scheduled bus and you will avoid almost all the problems with theft or scams.
Have a great trip.

9. Posted by chinx (Budding Member 53 posts) 8y

hi!!!
3 times in SEA and not a single problem

10. Posted by Lavafalls (Travel Guru 155 posts) 8y

I try to view a minor rip off or scam as a foreigner tax. As you said yourself it is usually only matter of a few pennies. I was once talking to someone about how an internet cafe stole there money. Because they prepaid and no one gave them there money back. I asked if she asked for her money back and she said no. So sometimes you lose money because you don't know the system.