8 Tourist traps to avoid in THailand

Traveling in Thailand can be a dream come true. However, like in other countries, because it's a top tourist destination, there are many tourist traps that can turn your good dreams into bad ones. But don't worry! Thai Kru has put together a list of 8 tourist traps that could cost you money, time, or your positive feelings about Thailand. This will help you identify and avoid these traps!

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1. Overpriced Floating Markets

Floating markets in Thailand can feel like stepping into a postcard, but not all of them offer a fair deal. Some have gotten too caught up in the tourist frenzy, and you might end up paying way too much for your purchases without even realizing it. For example, someone with dishonest intentions might invite you to their restaurant. Then, the menu doesn't show prices, and when it's time to settle the bill, you're shocked to find it's 1,000 Thai baht higher than you expected – not the actual price. It's important to remember that when entering a store or accepting an invitation to view a product, you should establish a clear price agreement before making any purchase. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a nightmarish situation.

But fear not! There's a better way to experience the charm of these markets. Floating market nearby Bangkok and venture to quieter, more genuine gems like Amphawa or Taling Chan. Here, you'll not only find more authentic local experiences but also get a real taste of Thai life. Especially when you have a local guide who knows the area well, they can keep you away from the tourist traps and help you truly enjoy Thai culture. Feel free to get in touch with us anytime! Plus, you'll leave with your wallet intact and a heart filled with memories.

2. Elephant Rides and Shows

Yes, I know. When thinking of Thailand, one animal that will pop into your head is the elephant. And yes! Thailand indeed has many elephants, in places like Khao Yai National Park and famous sanctuaries. However, this popularity has led to some people mistreating elephants, using them for rides, and charging high fees to tourists. Therefore, Thai Kru do not support animal cruelty and the use of animals for torture and do not recommend that you pay to support them either.

On the flip side, while there are some downsides to the tourism industry, there's also a bright side where you can connect with elephants. You can spend time with them in a respectful and polite way. Thailand is home to many elephant sanctuaries that focus on their well-being, care, and even breeding. You can watch elephants search for food in the forest (observing), interact with each other, and have fun in the mud and river. These sanctuaries don't make elephants do unnatural things like rides or tricks. They're all about helping elephants that have been mistreated. Here, you can engage with these amazing animals both physically and mentally, without using them for profit. If you're interested in these activities, let Thai Kru support you in this wonderful experience.

3.Tempting mango sticky rice

Thai Kru wants to be clear that we don't want to make this delicious dish seem less important or less valuable. We also don't want to say that the only good place to eat it is in fancy hotel restaurants because they can be too expensive compared to how it tastes. Not all hotels can make mango sticky rice perfectly, and not all street food sellers will give you the real, delicious taste.

The perfect mango sticky rice features ripe mangoes that are smooth, sweet, and smell good. The sticky rice should be soft and velvety, combined perfectly with coconut milk, a hint of saltiness, and a balanced mix of flavors. Some tourists might find it weird in taste, mainly because they've come across vendors at tourist trap markets selling it for over 200-300 baht. These variations may use different mango types or dry sticky rice, topped with condensed milk—a far cry from what locals would accept. Dishonest sellers may trick you into trying these versions, knowing that you might not be familiar with the authentic taste.

Before we conclude, Thai Kru would like to suggest that you can discover delicious mango sticky rice at smaller markets near your condo or house. They may not be famous or attract tourists, but they often come closer to the authentic taste. Plus, they can be incredibly affordable, sometimes costing just 50 baht!

4. Scam Tuk-Tuk Rides

When people see images promoting tourism, movies, music videos, or even animations, they often spot Tuk Tuks as a popular way to get around Bangkok at night. This unique experience attracts both foreign tourists and locals, who want to create unforgettable memories. However, using a Tuk tuk for short distances can sometimes result in unexpectedly high service charges. Drivers may even suggest chartering a round trip, making it more expensive. Thai Kru understands that fair prices make for happy experiences with local drivers. Still, occasionally, they may charge more without clear reasons so that it isn't fair for tourists.

So, Thai Kru suggests that if your destination isn't too far, consider other transportation options. But if you really want to ride a Tuk tuk and keep that as a Thai memory, negotiate the price well before hopping in.

Bonus tip: Having a Thai or local friend with you can make price negotiations easier.

5. Fake Gem Stores

Thailand is famous for its gemstones, but there are many fake gem stores selling low-quality stones at inflated prices. Purchasing gemstones demands expertise and an understanding of scam tactics. If you're in the market for gemstones, especially for a special occasion, it's advisable to shop at a certified and reputable store. You can also seek recommendations from local gem experts for trusted shops or high-quality sources. 

6. Fake brand name stores in MBK

Another popular place that can be a tourist trap. While MBK offers clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and more, some dishonest stores sell fake brand-name products without telling tourists. Although many quality stores are there, how do you know if one's selling counterfeits at near-original prices for profit?

So, if you plan to buy something expensive and unique, check the product's reliability and quality carefully before purchasing. A souvenir you're proud of can turn embarrassing when it's revealed as a fake.

7. Overpriced souvenirs

Buying souvenirs is a great way to remember your trip even after you've come back home. But some stores might charge tourists unfair prices. They might even have deals with drivers who stop near their shops and say, 'Just a moment.' Often, they'll claim it's the 'Last day of the sale' to make you buy something expensive, usually jewelry. To avoid falling into these traps, start by looking ahead and comparing prices between different shops. Don't be shy about haggling, as it's a common practice in Thailand, and sellers usually expect it. Remember to be polite and respectful, even if you're firm.

Also, it's important to know that things like 'Discount Week' or 'Travel Week,' or whatever other names they use to try and sell you things, aren't real.

8. Overcharge Taxis

When we talk about tourist traps, one way people often make extra money is through 'transportation'. When you're traveling abroad without your own car, you have to rely on public transportation as public transportation usually has fixed prices, but what about taxis?

Nowadays, Grab is a popular option for booking rides, and you can pay with your card, making it easier to avoid cash and set prices in advance. This is what Thai Kru recommends to reduce the risk of falling into tourist traps where taxis charge you unfairly. Some drivers might overcharge or deviate from the agreed-upon price or the law. Taxis all over the country are supposed to use the meter for every ride. If a driver refuses, simply move on to the next taxi. You can negotiate a 'fixed' price with the driver in advance, but make sure it covers the entire trip, not just one person. However, in some places, it might not be convenient to use Grab. That's why Thai Kru suggests planning your trips carefully, especially when moving around the city or going outside it. Calculate your expenses to avoid running out of money or getting overcharged.

Thailand is a remarkable destination filled with incredible experiences waiting to be explored. By avoiding these eight tourist traps, you can make the most of your trip and enjoy the authentic charm, rich culture, and natural beauty that Thailand has to offer. Most importantly, as mentioned earlier, if you don't want a haggling or argument to continue, you can politely walk away. If you have a trusted local friend to assist you, it can help you steer clear of those tourist traps. Don't hesitate to reach out to Thai Kru. We have a friendly Thai local guide to make your travels as smooth and culturally enriching as possible.

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