Pattaya is a great city, but it is also a tourist city. Unfortunately in many tourist destinations around the world, people have learned that you can swindle the uneducated and uninformed out of lots of money.
Below are 8 common scams in Pattaya that you should be aware of and try to avoid:
Youth / Handicapped Solicitors
You can often see disabled children walking around on Walking Street at night or around Tukcom or any of the popular day venues during the day selling little toys or trinkets for a next-to-nothing price or sitting there with a plastic cups looking for some spare change.
You may think that you are doing something kind to support the young disabled person and help them have a better life, but in reality, they go home at the end of their shift and relinquish all of the money they make to their parents.
It is sad but in many cases, the family understands that the kid can make people feel sorry for them because of his/her disability. The parents will then re-stock the kid up and send them back out to walk the beat again when they have sold all of the trinkets.
While purchasing something may seem like the kind and decent thing to do, you are often contributing to that child continually being used as a money-making machine. The disabilities that some of them have, make it difficult for them to walk around, but walk around and collect the money they shall.
If you ever go to the Thai markets, you will see what becomes of the handicapped elderly people who sit and also use their disability as a crutch to garner money from the public. It may start as something that they are forced to do in their youth, but it becomes all they know how to do if the public continually contributes to the cause
Ping Pong Shows
Ping pong shows are one of those things that you don’t really find out the rules to until you get inside. Generally, this starts out by you being offered a chance to witness beautiful women performing otherworldly feats with their underworldly netherregion. The small flyers that the salespeople show you (with photos included), make you believe that they will whisk you away to some exotic show of flesh and eroticism when really the venue will be more like a re-utilized broom closet with a bartender, lots of smoke and usually at least one or two scary looking bouncers.
The problem you will run into with the shows themselves is not about them lacking in entertainment. Typically people will be told the price (sometimes that includes a drink) and upon physically being inside the establishment they quickly learn that tips are mandatory and on top of the “free drink” you are typically required to purchase another beverage at ridiculous prices.
Causing an issue about the price there and then on the spot or refusing to pay is not a wise option. It is much better to avoid these establishments unless you already know what you are getting yourself into.
Drive-By Bag/Gold Snatching
With so many people jostling around in the streets, it is nearly impossible to keep your eye on everyone around you. That being said, Pattaya, like many other countries has its fair share of criminals.
Said criminals often target people walking around with over-the-top gold jewellery on display (if it is too grandeur you have to worry about attracting the eyes of more than just your common criminal as well).
Many places in the city have warning signs to remind you to beware of bag and gold snatchers. Nobody actually believes it will happen to them until they are filing a police report.
You can avoid being a target by not flaunting your wealth in the form of fancy jewellery and by slinging any bags that you may be carrying to the side of your body that is opposite the road. Most thieves out there know to pick easy targets so the harder you make it for them to steal your belongings, the less likely they will even try.
Beach Road / Walking Street Drug Dealers
So you just got back from an awesome scuba diving trip and your body is feeling like it has been bounced around in a boat all day (you know the feeling). You are making your way back home when you hear a soft voice whisper “Hey, marijuana?” from the shadows.
While this may seem like an excellent idea to soothe away your aches and pains in your mind, it is not a wise decision to accept any drugs from random strangers in Pattaya. This may seem like common sense to many people but “shhh” it happens.
Most of the drug salesman that operate on Beach Road and Walking Street have been working that beat for a long, long time. They personally do not have to worry about being caught by the police most of the time because the police know that they don’t even have any drugs on them.
“How can they sell me drugs they don’t have?” you may be thinking. The operation usually begins with you telling them that you are interested. You will hand them cash at which time they will proceed to tell you where exactly your package is hidden (sometimes in electrical boxes that may not be locked, other times in little nooks and crannies that they have used since the beginning of time.
They have not actually been involved in selling you drugs at this point. The only thing they are guilty of is accepting money for you, which could have been “gifted” to them for any reason. The responsibility is yours alone to go to the spot they have provided you to collect the goods you are after.
It is at this point that it often goes wrong. Stories of people running into the police at the halfway point or at the spot that they went to go searching for their “stuff” are numerous and terrifying if you have never dealt with police before.
Typically this involves you having to fork over some of that hard-earned vacation money for fines or potentially end up in jail until you decide to pay fines. One way or another, someone is getting paid.
Should you think it wise to incriminate the person who you did the business with, just know that they will deny having ever met you and leave you on your own, even though you will probably see them hanging out at the same spot the next evening.
The “Tourist Information” Booths and Travel Booths
Just walking around central Pattaya you will stumble upon hundreds of little “Tourist Information” and travel booths. Typically the only people that fall for these scammy little concierge services are first-timers to the city. If they weren’t making money though, there wouldn’t be so many of them around.
These booths typically offer you all of the “exotic” things to do in Pattaya and are able to plan out your entire vacation for you (for a fee of course). Some are operated by licensed Thai tour guides and many not only overcharge you for the attraction that you are interested in, but they also receive a kickback from the venue itself for driving customers their way.
The wise thing to do if you are planning a trip to Pattaya is to do a little research online first. Look up the attraction (most decent attractions and things to do post their prices right on their website). Plan your own trip or if you absolutely must travel with a guide, look for reputable local guides that handle groups of people and who do not cheat you on the price of the attraction you wish to visit.
The Taxi Tour Guide
Almost everyone who has ridden in a car taxi in Thailand runs into this one. Upon the driver knowing that you are going sightseeing for the day, they will somehow work in that they can offer you their services for the day and take you to some really cool spots around the city.
You weren’t quite sure how you were planning on making it to all of your stops on the “to-do before leaving Pattaya” list, so this sounds like a great idea. Things that sound amazing aren’t always amazing.
This is probably the most expensive way possible to view the city sights. Many of the places that the taxi will take you are within walking distance of each other and you don’t need any transportation besides the 2 sized-12 Goodyear’s on your feet.
Do some planning before going on a day of sightseeing. Figure out the sights that you want to look at and plot them in a Google map if you need to be able to see visually how far away they are from one another.
A motorbike taxi to one location is far cheaper than a car taxi to multiple locations. You are going to be saving a tremendous amount of money by just spending a little time making a plan and looking at the other “get around” options that are available such as baht buses or just walking.
The Scratched Jet Ski / Rental Motorcycle
This has actually happened to several people that I know of personally. You take out what appears to be a brand new jet ski or motorbike and upon returning it the owner points out all of the body damages or scratches that you made to the vehicle and a bill with how much you need to pay to fix it.
Some of these people know already that the motorbike or jet ski is damaged. Some of them even cover the scratches with some substance the same colour as the paint that they know will wear off while you are using the vehicle so that when you return it, they can squeeze you for more money.
The best thing that you can do to protect yourself before renting or riding any piece of equipment in Thailand is to fully inspect the vehicle for damage. Take photos with your phone of any scratches or dents and dings that you see and make sure to point them out to the owner prior to taking possession of the vehicle.
The Poor Mother and Infant Beggars
This has been a big one as of late. Police have actually been going around and rounding beggars who are using their kids to panhandle. Though it may seem like this poor sweet mother and child really need your help, the sad reality is that it is all a big scam.
Often times the children that these beggars use are not even their own child. The kids are passed back and forth between different beggars to use as a sympathy prop. When you give these sweet ladies your money, the last thing that it is used on is the child.
There are even stories about infants who are bought and sold between panhandlers for these exact purposes. The more you contribute, the more the poor child will have to endure. I have literally seen someone pay a woman enough money to get her and her child off the streets for a week only to pass by an hour later and see her sat in the same spot.
It is always important to make sure that you safeguard yourself against scammers in any destination that you are planning a trip to. Make sure anyone that you know that is planning on heading to Pattaya for the first time also has the information they need to be safe and their holiday funds secure.