10 Common Tourist Traps in Southeast Asia
While travelling, a few things to keep in mind can save you a lot of trouble.
Southeast Asia is blessed with several exotic locations which attract millions of tourists from across the globe, every year. However, pretty much every part of the region has traps laid out by some locals just to make money from the travellers a unethically.
Following are nine of the most common traps laid out at tourists that you should be careful about:
1. Be careful whom you rent a motorbike from -
As a rule of thumb, never rent a bike from shady businesses, especially in Vietnam and Indonesia. They often have a bevy of tricks in their sleeves to cheat their foreign customers. Some of the common scams include stealing the bikes they have rented when it is parked by their clients and pointing at an existing scratch on their rented bikes which their clients were not aware of at the time of renting. These businesses charge a hefty amount for compensation. So, if you want to rent a bike, do it from a reputable lender. In any case, inspect the bike carefully and closely before renting it. Perhaps, consider taking a video of the bike in front of the owner before giving it a ride. Better safe than sorry.
2. Exchange money with a legal establishment -
Not enough can be stressed on the importance of exchanging money from a legal establishment. There are a number of individuals who offer you a great price for exchanging currency. However, at times, they turn out to be scammers. The money they give you might not be authentic. There are even establishments which offer you a great price but refrain from providing a bill. How does it matter if you are getting a better price and you are sure the money is genuine? Well, it probably does not, but can you be sure that the calculator you used at the time of making the calculation works correctly? Unless you check it with your own calculator, refrain from dealing with such establishments.
3. Keep your senses open when hiring a cab or a tuk tuk -
One of the most popular tourist traps is laid out by cab and tuk tuk drivers. More often than not, their meters do not work, and sometimes if their meters work, it does not show the appropriate amount. For this reason, cabs and tuk tuk are rather infamous in Southeast Asia. Another common ploy is the longer detour. Unless you are in the company of a local friend who knows the route or you have GPS on your phone, you are almost certain to become an easy prey for the scammers. They will take a longer route, and as a result, you will have to pay a lot more than you should. In order to avoid any such thing, always agree on a price before you start of the ride.
4. Beware of the fake beggars -
Many people in Southeast Asia are a part of one of the most popular scamming industry in the world - begging. Appealing the humanitarian side of the tourists, these fake beggars make a lot of money. Do not believe the woman carrying a baby and asking for money for her I'll child because the child has been drugged to sleep quietly. The monk in an appropriate Buddhist robe asking for a donation in the streets is a definitely a cheat because a monk would never do anything like that outside a temple. The young person claiming to be an art student and asking for money in exchange for his artwork is lying, for that young person is not a student and the artwork is a cheap imitation print of someone else's work.
5. Extremely cheap luxury bus ticket is a lie -
This tourist trap is pretty common between Cambodia and Thailand. There are several bus companies which advertise low fares for VIP bus tickets in the form of promotional offers. It has been reported pretty often that during the journey (which takes place only during the night), the buses have broken down. As a result of which, the passengers were asked to spend the night at the nearby hotel at their own expenses. These hotels, needless to say, pay the bus company for bringing in customers. Another common scam involving such buses is a change in the bus. The luxury buses break down early in the journey, and a different bus is called to carry the passengers. The bus that arrives is neither luxurious nor worth the fare. Of course, the passengers are not refunded with the fare difference.
6. Avoid visiting any place where wild animals are put in captivity -
The Tiger Temples in Thailand is an extremely inhumane industry. Tourists visit the place and feed adult Tigers with a bottle of milk. In case if you have ever wondered why they do not attack humans, that is because they are drugged. It is not just the Tigers, but also Elephants. As mighty as they may look, their backs are not designed or capable enough to carry the load. There is a reason why these animals are called wild. Visitors are asked for donations for the *coughs* welfare *coughs* of the animals. The sentimental tourists donate a sum of money which goes into the pockets the administrators. It is not only a trap for the animals, but also for the visitors. If you really want to see them, go see them in their natural habitat.
7. Laugh off the fake fortune tellers and the fake gem sellers -
This trap has been around for centuries. Interestingly, it is not just limited to the tourists, but locals, too, get scammed. Their posters, screaming aI can tell you what your future holds in store for you for free,a are tempting. You decide to give it a try, and they throw age old psychological tricks at you. Some of their guesswork hit the bull's eye, and you are totally smitten. They will also tell you about the amajor issuea that you will come across in the future, which is just to scare you, of course. Then they will also provide you with a solution to rectify the future problem - gems (which are totally fake). Keen to avoid the amajor issuea, you buy the prescribed gem(s) at an exorbitant amount of money. Try it to know about your future, but only for the sake of comedy.
8. If a stranger tells you that the place you want to visit is closed, cross check online -
You are on your way to the point of interest you have been wanting to visit for a long time when a local person approaches you out of the blue at a touristy area. After asking you where you want to go, he tells you -
a. That the said attraction is closed. He then tries to be over friendly and suggests you a different place you should visit, which is far from where you are. Feeling stupid for not having done your homework, you decide to take his advice. He then calls a tuk tuk which was parked a few metres away, and you leave thanking him. The tuk tuk driver will now perform the third scam on you.
b. That he can offer you a discount for a VIP entrance to the attraction. Seeing the crowd, you agree. He takes some money from you and you end up in the same line as everyone else. The attraction, obviously, was free for admission.
9. Beware of the monkey robbery -
There are a lot of tourist places in Southeast Asia where there have been reports of robbery by monkeys. Contrary to the popular belief, humans have not taught monkeys how and what to steal from tourists. It is something passed on from one generation of monkeys to another. They know what are the things that are valuable to us a think of mobile phones, cameras, sunglasses, flip flops, et cetera - and they steal only those things. But why would the monkeys be interested in your mobile phone? Truth is, they are not. What they want is food. They steal valuable items from tourists because those items are hanging or held out loosely. Food, in most cases, is kept inside the bag, which makes it difficult to steal. Hence, they rob so that they can barter the stolen item(s) in exchange for food (of their choice).
These were the most popular scams in Southeast Asia. There are more - some of which have never been heard before. The best tip I can give you to not become a victim of any such scam is to trust your instinct and let common sense prevail. It may sound clichA, but it works. Also, if something seems too good to be true, it most probably is.
Pic Credits: Goa Prism, TripSavvy, LT Journalism, 12GoAsia
More on Travel
Find more Destination details like places to visit etc
Find Trip estimate including Stay, Travel and Food
Long Weekend? find all the nearby destinations few hours away !Find Nearby
Find your next Trip Cost including Flight, StayCalculate
Travel Money required for your upcoming Trip
Find how much you are going to spend daily on your Trip. This excludes the Flight and Stay cost which is considered booked in advance.
Thus calculate Travel Money required for your overseas Trip in just few seconds
Share your Trip Experience
Suggestions in mind? We would love to hear them!