Before taking a holiday, you look forward to relaxation, beautiful landscapes, and fond memories to take back home. However, there are times when your amazing trip is tainted due to one bad experience. More often than not, this bad experience is a scam. While travelling in Asia is a wonderful idea, you need to be aware of the ways in which notorious scammers can ruin your vacation and leave a bad taste at the end of the trip. Once you know their tricks, you will also know how to avoid them. So, read on.
Jet ski scam – Thailand
If you are looking forward to enjoying watersports on your next trip to Thailand, think again. If you hire a jet ski on a Thai beach, especially in Phuket or Pattaya, there are chances you will fall prey to scammers. The moment you come back to the beach after the half-hour jet ski session you rented it for, the owner will find damages such as cracks on the jet ski and ask you to pay a huge compensation (in some cases over S$1,000-S$1,500). If you try to involve the police in this, you will be shocked to know that they will also ask you to pay a lower amount and settle the case (more often than not, they are involved in this scam too). Awful, right?
How to avoid it: Simple, do not hire a jet ski. If you really want to, take many detailed photos of it before you use it.
Fake orphanages – Cambodia
Extracting money by cheating is one thing but extracting money by taking disadvantage of kindness is another. Welcome to Siem Reap – the centre of the thriving orphanage business. Yes, business. Seeing sad children might melt your heart and lead you to donate money for them in one of the many orphanages in Cambodia. However, the truth is that these kids are not orphans – most of them have been sent to the so-called orphanage by their parents as they were promised a better life. They are even taught how to talk to tourists to attract sympathy and hence donations. Sadly, your charity does not reach or help them most of the time. The worst part of this scam is children being treated as commodities to attract donations.
How to avoid it: Do not encourage these fake NGOs – rigorously research orphanages and their credentials before making any donations.
Broken meter drama – India
This one is common and thankfully easy to dodge. If you are a foreigner trying to take a taxi or auto rickshaw in some of the metro cities, it is quite possible that drivers will say their meter just broke down! This is definitely fake and an excuse to rip you off. Now it’s important to know that driving public transport with a broken or faulty meter is illegal in India. So, the next time you come across something like this, just tell them you will report to the police and see how the meter starts functioning magically. Ta-da!
How to avoid it: Like we said, inform or threaten to inform the police. Also, beware of the fake route scam where the driver will take you for a ride (literally) to finally drop you at your location which wasn’t so far after all. The safest way is to travel with the help of the Google Maps app on your phone so you know you are going the right way. Taking cabs can also help since they tend to have a more transparent payment system.
Counterfeit notes scam – China
This scam is common across China. If you are a first-time traveller, chances are you will not be able to spot a fake note from a real one. The scam revolves around notes in the denominations of 50 and 100 mainly. If you escape receiving fake notes, there are chances that you will end up being accused of giving a fake note. If you are buying something from a local vendor and give ¥100, he will smartly exchange that for the fake one he has and blame you for giving him fake currency. While the Chinese government is trying hard to curb the use of counterfeit notes, they are still prevalent.
How to avoid it: Try to exchange money only at official places. Also, carry notes of lower denominations; this way you can pay the exact change and do not need to receive any back.
Prison restaurant scam – Vietnam
This is a rather uncommon but a very dangerous scam. In this scam, if you have booked a tour while vacationing in Vietnam and are being transported by a bus, you will be stopped for refreshments at a restaurant. Once you, along with the other tourists, enter the restaurant, the doors will be locked and you will be forced to buy or consume items at exorbitant prices. If there is any resistance, the bouncers present there will make sure you oblige.
How to avoid it: Book only reputed tours and do not get into anything that looks remotely fishy.
Phew! Those were some scary scams. While these are the big scams that many tourists are unaware of, we suggest that you also stay careful while using your credit cards overseas. Across countries, keep the credit card usage limited to just reputed restaurants and hotels.
Suggested reading: Warning: Don’t Pay in Singapore Dollars When Shopping Overseas
Singapore is known to be really safe for tourist. That said, if you live here, there are some scams you’d better be aware of. These include the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) email scam which brings a virus with it, and the DHL scam where they will fake that there is an illegal parcel on your name.
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