Phuket is a great place to vacation and a magnet for travelers around the world, with a growing number of tourists flocking to the island. However along with the increase in tourism, the crime statistics have also risen in parallel to the numbers, particularly over the last few years.
While much of the crime is carried out by the locals, its worth noting the a number of international visitors and residents on the island are also known to partake in the victimization of tourists in the form of theft, assault, fraud and scamming.
If you haven't yet read A Solo Travelers Compact Guide To Phuket, click on the link to find out why so many flock to this popular destination.
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 the first of a series of 'scam' articles, we'll take a look at the types of scams associated with accommodation in Phuket.
1. Hotel Scam
In the event you arrive in Phuket without first arranging accommodation, you may well be exposed to being hustled from accommodation touts who are staked out at the Phuket International Airport arrivals area. It's not hard to spot them amongst the other agents, many of which are eager to convince you to stay either locally or on the more remote islands such as Ko Phi Phi.
The agents earn commission from every 'sale' they make, and when you arrive at your 'hotel' destination you will quickly find yourself a victim of over-promised and under-delivered accommodation standards.
Even if you have booked a room in advance, visitors can also find themselves at the mercy of the taxi driver who claims he does not know where to find your accommodation. He will likely make a stop at an agency where you will be encouraged to change your booking to one of their recommended venues instead. If you happen to be caught up in this scam, its important to keep a cool head and remain firm in your position.
If you feel as though this scenario may be too much to deal with on arrival in Phuket, consider arranging a hotel transfer with your hotel prior to leaving home.
2. Airport Transfer Scam
Arrivals at Phuket Airport usually seek out ways to get to their accommodation by the cheapest means possible and minivans are aplenty, costing just a fraction of the price of a taxi, so many choose this option on arrival into Phuket.
However some minivans, and the odd taxi may stop halfway to the requested destination at a ‘travel agent’ who informs the passenger their intended hotel is fully booked or simply closed for renovation.
They agent then goes on to suggest alternative accommodation and the taxi driver is in it for his commission. He may sometimes refuse to take the vehicle any further until alternative accommodation has been confirmed by his accomplice, the travel agent. If you are caught up in this scam, remain calm and insist the driver continues to the location as previously arranged.
3. The 'Great' Phuket Time Share Scam
Most everyone enjoys their visit to Phuket, and many dream of extending their stay even longer. Many unscrupulous scammers in and around Patong, Kata and Karon dearly want to exploit that wish. Initial approaches by touts can occur in a number of ways including, some random European guy approaching you on a motorbike or a couple of beautiful Thai girls asking you to fill in a quick survey.
The potential for a prize or reward will be there, and of course you will be the 'lucky winner'. In order to claim your prize you will need to sit through a 90 minute presentation for a timeshare resort or holiday club.
The deal they will offer will seem too good to be true - that's because it is. In return for handing over your hard earned money, victims will receive nothing more than a worthless contract and vouchers with a face value of zero.