Below you will find a list that outlines five of the most common mistakes people make when traveling Thailand, and how you can avoid such mistakes. We will also present strategies you can use to quickly research potential scams in Thailand or whatever country you’re traveling to next.
#1 – Do not use the ATMs in the airport
I love this tip as virtually everyone makes this mistake. As you will see if you attempt to use them, the ATMs at the airport do not use standard currency exchange rates. If you read the fine print when proceeding with your withdrawal, they will insist that you convert the amount you’re withdrawing before moving forward. Sounds innocent enough, but beware: this is where they rip you off. By insisting that you convert the amount before accepting, they are subtly asking you to use an exchange that is as much as 2.5% less than what you would get at a normal ATM. Given most of us take out the largest withdrawal possible to avoid ATM fees, that could mean a $12.5 penalty (maximum $500 withdrawals in Thailand). Instead, bring and convert just enough of your local currency to get to your hotel ($3-6 most likely) and find an ATM once you’ve arrived.
#2 – Research your transportation options once you arrive
The majority of people who fly into Thailand land in Bangkok and the majority of people staying in Bangkok stay somewhere in Silom, Siam, Sukhumvit or near Koh San Road. For those of you staying in one of the first three cities, all are highly accessible via the BTS SkyTrain/subway/tram. In most cases taking the subway will be cheaper than a taxi as the airport is pretty far from the downtown area. With that said, if there are two or more of you a taxi may be a better fit; you are looking at 75-90 bhat/person on the tram versus 160-200 bhat total for a taxi.
#3 – Take metered taxis at all times
When it comes to taxis, don’t even try to negotiate; move on and find another if they refuse to use the meter. Just because you negotiate the driver down 70 bhat doesn’t mean you’re getting a deal; it is highly likely you are still going to pay more than you would if they were to use the meter.
#4 – Use the ferry as much as possible when in Bangkok
The ferry is the cheapest way to get around Bangkok, period. Further, it can take you from the southern points near Silom/Siam/Sukhumvit straight to the tourist sights (Grand Palace, temples, reclining Buddha, Emerald Buddha, etc) for only 14 bhat/person.
#5 – Research common scams
You have a couple of options when researching scams. The easiest thing you can do is plug ‘Thailand scams to avoid’ or ‘scams in Bangkok’ into Google (feel free to replace Thailand or Bangkok with any destination in the world). The second thing you can do, which will probably yield more relevant results, is finding a travel forum specific to your destination and search for “scams” in the proper thread. Lonely Planet’s thorn tree forum is highly active and does not require you to register to access their content. I would recommend searching the ThornTree forum before going anywhere in the world, as Lonely Planet is one of the most recognized travel brands in the world and the people participating in their forums are highly active travelers or locals.
In conclusion, it is impossible to avoid every single financial mistake and scam out there. But with a little bit of preparation and research, you can avoid most mistakes, and a dollar saved is a dollar earned.