Scams Targeting Tourists In Phuket

Phuket can be a dream holiday destination or a travel nightmare, a simple mistake or distraction could land you in hospital, in trouble with police, ripped off, involved in an accident or much, much worse.

There are a number of scams visitors to the region can fall victim to. In one of a number of 'scam' articles, we take a look at the types of scams associated with drinking in Phuket.

1. Drink Spiking

Over the years the number of drink spiking incidences occurring in bars around Soi Bangla have been reported where mixed drinks are laced with sleeping pills or other more illicit substances. There are a few tips to avoid becoming a victim of drink spiking and they include:

  • Always purchasing your own drinks.
  • Keeping a watchful eye on your drinks when interacting with others.
  • Don't leave your drink sitting around unattended at anytime.


  • Don't get too intoxicated in public.
  • If you begin to feel sleepy or out of sorts without drinking too much, leave the venue immediately and contact the Tourist Police by phone on 1155.
  • If you become agitated and animated and things appear to be speeding up, your drink may have been spiked with Yaba (Speed). Your drink has been spiked in order to keep you drinking at the venue.
  • Drinking around Patong can be an experience, one you will likely not forget depending on the type of venue and show that appeals to you.
  • Beware of being hustled by a group of bar girls, locals or kathoeys and keep your hand on your wallet.
  • Pay as you drink. It's not uncommon for the bar to throw in 'a few extra' drinks if you pay at the end of the night.
  • Beware of the notorious 'Gentleman's Clubs' which offer up all manner of visual stimulation. For the most part, drinks served in the club are very expensive and you may become caught up in the atmosphere only to find you've just had the most expensive night of your life.

2. Drunk Farangs

A lot of male tourists visit Patong to indulge heavily, which includes the consumption of alcohol. Often times they become belligerent particularly when they become defensive after they realized they've just been scammed.


Threatening just one tout, tuk tuk driver or lady boy and you will quickly find other Thais rallying around like an enraged mob. Keep your wits about you when encountering drunken or belligerent tourists, and move away from the action quickly and safely as things can quickly become nasty for everybody in the vicinity.

3. Ladyboy Photo Scam

Soi Bangla is the crowded walking street hub of Patong Beach and its rife with hustlers hawking all sorts of scams including those who would like nothing better than to lure a tipsy tourist into their lady boy photo scam.

When making their way along the famous walking street, tourists are often approached by glamorously dressed ladyboys, known locally as kathoeys who gladly invite the naive tourist to take their photograph. At the time the tourist is not told until after the photo has been taken, that they must pay for the privilege.


Which can cost anywhere from 100 to 200 Baht and they must pay up immediately. It's wise to part with the money at this point in time and move away from the action, as ladyboys are known to react with extreme violence if challenged.

Sandra Hawkins

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