Phuket Motorized Transport Scams Targeting Tourists

There are a number of 'classic' scams operating in Thailand which continue to rake thousands of Baht for those who like to prey on tourists visiting the region. Lets take at some of the main types of activity occurring on this island paradise:

1. Jet Ski Hire Scam

The jet ski scam has received worldwide media attention however there remains a never ending stream of tourists who choose to hire out jet skis which are available at a number of Phuket beaches, and here how it works?

The jet ski is hired out to the unsuspecting tourist and when returned, the jet ski owner will feign anger at the 'damage' caused to the bodywork by the hirer. What the proprietor of these establishments don't tell you is that the jet ski was previously damaged.

Many thousands of Baht in compensation are extorted from the hirer of the jet ski, with many challenging the accusation made. Consequently the police in many cases are called but little does the unsuspecting victim realize in many instances the police themselves are involved in the scam, insisting the tourist pay up.


This scam has been finely tuned over many years and most tourists when confronted with this potentially dangerous scenario don't stand a chance. The best way to avoid this situation altogether is to avoid the hire of these machines in the first place.

It's been suggested that the hirer take photographs of the jet ski in the presence of the proprietor before heading out, however this method will not guarantee avoidance of the scam.

2. Motorcycle Hire Scam

The motorbike rental scam works the same way as the jet ski scam, however it can be even worse, particularly if the cash strapped tourist has handed over their passport as security for the two-wheeled machine.

Without a passport, the tourists negotiating position is virtually zero as their departure date looms closer with each and every passing day. Never provide a passport as collateral when renting vehicle, or under any other circumstances.

Most motorcycle rental operators on the island will insist on holding a passport as collateral, however in some instances they will accept a cash deposit instead. If the rental company is not prepared to accept a cash deposit to secure the rental then walk away.


When renting a vehicle, choose an international brand such as Avis or Budget, and whenever hiring any type of transport, always inspect the it for damage, take photographs of all panels on the vehicle, and note any prior damage on the paperwork before heading off.


3. Fare Disputes With Tuk Tuk And Taxi Drivers

No matter where you travel throughout Thailand its essential to always, always negotiate the fare in advance in order avoid having a nasty surprise at the end of your journey. If you are traveling with others, confirm if the quoted amount is for the ride, or per passenger.

Sandra Hawkins

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