As travellers we’re all aware and on alert to avoid potential scams.
At the beginning of my travels in Bandung western Java Indonesia, two days after leaving home we encountered a persistent and rather irritating tout, who dragged us to a friend’s hotel insisting all hotels exampled in our Lonely Planet were closed and no longer running. Being new and unexperienced to travel and feeling out of our depth, we believed the tout’s lie. Although he may have conned us for commission, we continually declined his consistent pestering for our enrolment on his volcano tour.
Having this experience so early on in the travels was a blessing in disguise, leaving us more alert for potential scams.
When planning my trip to China earlier on this year, I decided to research more on the location than researched on my previous trip. So when in Beijing and approached by a friendly local wishing to practice her English with us in a nearby tea house, I was thinking about the warning of potential scams I had previously read in my China Lonely Planet. So by cutting her short and telling her we weren’t interested, we saved ourselves what could have been a hefty bill.
From my experience not all scams should be avoided. In Bangkok one scam which is often publicised is of the ‘government tuk-tuk’, pretending to be a government tuk-tuk and offering cheap rides to a number of must see temples. However what is not advertised when boarding this ride, is of the number of gem dealers and tailors you will meet along the way, after visiting your chosen temples you will be driven and forced into travel agencies and shops where the driver is expecting to receive a commission for your purchase of a product. This long ordeal could take a few hours. However if you do not mind the constant nagging to look around and have no intention to buy and are in no rush, this scam can be finically worth your while. My experience consisted of 3 temples including the Golden Mount and two travel agents and one suit maker, all for the grand price of 20 Baht, 39p!
Although the constant explaining that I wasn’t interested in purchasing either a dress or any services from the tourist agencies got extremely tiring, the money I saved for visiting three temples made the ordeal worthwhile. This scam may have backfired for our persistent driver, we managed to save a few pennies and have a few laughs.