Things I avoided in Bangkok and Why You should too

Things I avoided in Bangkok and Why You should too

Thailand is home to picturesque beaches and ornate temples. As beautiful as it may sound, Thailand comes with its own share of shady corners. The place is swarming with touts, corrupt police officials and taxi drivers especially in the bustling city of Bangkok. Visiting Thailand is a rite of passage for travelers and no trip to Thailand is complete without a night in Bangkok. There were a few things that I avoided in Bangkok during my first trip and you should too to have a trouble free trip.


Avoid the City Tours offered in Tuk Tuks

This is a pretty common scam and some tourists do still fall for them. The Tuk Tuk drivers will offer to take you around the city instead of taking you to your destination and will charge you as low as 20 Baht. The unsuspecting tourists feel like they just made the ‘deal of the century’ and will happily oblige. My roommates in Bangkok fell for this scam and were taken to a shop where they were asked to check out the suits on display. They did not buy anything and got out of there somehow, but this happens quite a lot in Bangkok. There are cases where tourist were tricked into buying fake gemstones. Tuk Tuks in Bangkok don’t run on meter and is not recommended for everyday transportation but I did travel a lot in Tuk Tuks as I got to share the fare with many people. The rates are usually 150-200Baht for a 10KM radius. If you want to travel beyond that, better take a metered Taxi. If you are solo, take the motorcycle taxis, local buses or the metro.


Avoid Taking Taxis that don’t run on Meter

Taxis can be found in plenty in Bangkok. But there are a few drivers who try to fool you by negotiating for a flat rate saying that it will be same as the Meter Fare. This happened to me as soon as I landed in Bangkok. My Airport Taxi Driver tried to pull this stunt on me but I was all prepared for this. It was 11pm and I was alone, so he thought he could rip me off. He said it would be 500 Baht to which I asked him to put the Meter On. I also told him that this was not my first time in Bangkok (It was the first time I was traveling solo to another country). After arguing for 5 mins in mixed English and Thai, he finally agreed and I had to pay only 350 Baht on the meter. So if you come across any such taxi drivers, better walk away and get another taxi. Also Uber and Grabtaxi services are available in Bangkok.


Avoid staying in the Khao San

Khao San may be the best place to party in Bangkok but not the best place to stay. You will find the cheapest accommodations here but they are located down the shady alleyways. I have seen rooms for as less as 100Baht there. You will never get a good nights sleep here as come night Khao San turns into a blaring party monster. I stayed in LubD Silom which is around 10kms from Khao San but visited the Khao San every single night. There are many hostel options in Siam, Silom and Sukhumvit. You can also try AirBNB or Couchsurfing options to get the local Thai feel.


Avoid the Red Light Areas

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Cowboy Soi and Patpong, the red-light areas of Bangkok, were at walkable distance from my hostel but I opted Khao San for my late night outs. I did explore Patpong during the day, but avoided the place at night. This is where you get drunk and get ripped off. Also don’t forget the frequent bar brawls that happen here. Should I even explain what are Ping Pong shows and Happy Massages.


Avoid Bargaining too low

There are many markets in Bangkok where you can polish your bargaining skills. But bargain too low and Thais will get offended. It is also rare that you will find the goods overpriced. All the things I bought over there were pretty cheap for me. Nothing seemed to be overpriced as I was getting value for what I was paying. I have tried only the Chatuchak Market and the prices there seemed quite OK to me. Maybe you can bargain for clothes and shoes but everything else was well priced.


Avoid Elephant Rides

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People go for elephant rides thinking that these mighty creatures can carry them around without much ado. If you are one of those misinformed tourists then you need to know that elephants are not meant for carrying weights on their backs. Unlike our spine, their spine have bony protrusions that point upwards and when you keep weight on an elephants back, these protrusions can cut through their skin leading to infections and lesions on their back. And also you will not be seeing the behind the scenes treatment of these creatures. So stop riding elephants and funding the mistreatment of these majestic creatures.


Bangkok is a city that has many faces to it. It is a city you need to experience, smell and taste. Don’t let the scammers and touts spoil the vibe.

155 thoughts on “Things I avoided in Bangkok and Why You should too

  1. I actually just wrote a post about the tuk tuk scam too! Avoid! I do love khao san road though, love meeting people! BUT saying that we aren’t staying there next time we are staying in Silom

  2. Really useful post as we are heading to Bangkok in a few months – somehow for the first time -so will definitely follow your tips!
    Would never ride an elephant it’s awful can’t believe people still do that

  3. Great advice. I have never been to the city but it looks like a great location. I might have gotten pulled into some of these tourist traps so I appreciate you sharing!

  4. Nice article. Been to Bangkok a couple years ago and you make some good points. A taxi driver tried to rip me off, but it was a trip I had taken before, so I knew the cost. After a brief “negotiation” we agreed on a fair price. I also do not attend events with animals. Not long after we were there a German tourist was killed by an elephant he was riding. Apparently, at certain times of the year bull elephants become aggressive and are supposed to be taken out of service – this one was not.

  5. This is great to keep in mind. I didn’t know about those scams. I’ll remember that market tip. I rarely bargain unless I find something too expensive. Then I might ask kindly.

  6. Such kind off experiences shared by travelers makes the other travelers keep in mind the tips or the necessary things to do and not to do for a unknown destination very well, these single tips will really help us out, great article Gokul.

  7. These tips are fantastic. Bangkok is a city that seems to me to be very overwhelming, and I could easily fall for the Tuk-Tuk scam. I love that you pointed out the elephant rides, for me, this is an important one to spread awareness on!

  8. Those sound like great tips on things to avoid in Bangkok! I totally agree with the elephant rides – how sad for those animals.

    1. There are organizations working on stopping this atrocity. But if tourists stop funding this mistreatment then elephant riding will stop automatically.

  9. Hi Gokul,

    Good stuff 😉 We always stay a few blocks – at least – from Khao San. To ensure we get sleep! Stayed in one spot a few years back on the road. Only for 1 night but we got just a few hours before a flight back to NYC. Not good.

    Thanks for sharing.


  10. Am visiting Bangkok in January. Am partially disabled and would like to rent a motorized “scooter” to get around the hotel.
    I have tried everything from google to the Thai Consulate in Toronto without success.
    When I was there a few years ago I used one while staying at a different hotel but they can’t find the source.

    Can anyone help?

  11. Very helpful tips.I wil be rereading them.if I visit Bangkok .Just a little scared now though.Not a fan of constantly being afraid of being ripped off.

    1. 😀 Nothing to be afraid off. Atleast pretend to be confident. If you look scared, then the chances of you getting ripped off is more.

  12. Thailand has been for a while on my bucket list! Hopefully I will visit it soon. Thanks for the useful advises!

  13. Some great tips here. I have to say I haven’t done the prednisone red light district or stayed in Khao San. I think in my younger days I may have made that mistake. I did a very cool tuk tuk foodie tour in Bangkok but that’s the only time I would get a tuk tuk in the city. Taxis as just so much better, metered and air conditioned. Love that you are reminding people not to ride elephants. So important to spread awareness.

  14. Great post! We did take the 20 baht tuk-tuk ride and we actually had a great time with him. He tried the usual scam of trying to take us to the jewelry shop.. No dice my husband said firmly. Then it was all good and we saw 2 really nice temples. We also used Uber the whole time there. Worked out great as we didn’t want to deal with the crooked cabbies. Glad you mentioned the elephant riding. No, just no!

  15. This is all great advice! When I travelled to Bangkok it was for business so fortunately I was able to avoid these scams – but it’s so important for travellers to be aware of what to expect. That way there are no nasty surprises! I absolutely agree with you about the elephants, too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You are welcome. Not many travelers are used to scammers. It is always better to do your research on what to expect when traveling to a new country.

  16. This is such a helpful post ! I did my homework when I travelled to Bangkok and couldn’t agree more with each point! Thailand can be very cheap if you know how to say no. I miss partying in Kho San Road 😀

  17. Great tips here and will use them for when I get eventually to Bangkok. The elephant riding is a big NO NO (not just because of their spines, I think its just cruel). Fantastic post and great info.

  18. My next trip in Southeast Asia will be to Thailand, so I’m really glad to have this guide on what to avoid! I’ve heard Bangkok can be overwhelming and there are certain things to avoid. So thanks for sharing this!!

  19. I would add: avoid tuk-tuks in general, not just for the city tour. I learned the hard way that they are always more expensive than a taxi, always. Plus, they always want to take to to their cousin’s gem shop, and their pollution is crazy.

    1. That is true. They are expensive but a Tuk Tuk ride is pretty exciting than taxis. You can just take one ride to experience it once.

  20. Wow. These are great tips. I can see how so many tourists can be taken advantage of. It is disappointing to hear about but It clearly happens all over the world.

  21. I travelled to Bangkok to visit a friend. When I got in the cab at the airport they nizagara tried to tell me that it was a better deal for a flat rate. Luckily, you’re given a card that you can contact the proper authorities to report the cab drivers who even attempt to do this. I didn’t skip on one of the red light areas only because there is a pretty good Mexican food restaurant (by Australian standards) in that area so I ate there quite a bit lol.

    1. I lost my slip with the authority’s numbers when I got into the taxi. So my only resort was to get the driver to get the meter on.

  22. oooh i didn’t know about the elephants. I was planning to experience riding them when i go visit thailand. Thank you for letting me know.

  23. This is a very detailed post and all these tips will help a tourist in Bangkok. I’m aware of the Tuk Tuk scams and yes of course the tons of massage parlour!!

  24. I’ve been wanting to plan a trip for my next birthday and Thailand is so close I might. Great tips and I will keep them in mind if I ever visit.

  25. Travelling to Thailand has always been in my mind. So thank you for sharing this post! Will keep in mind the things that are to be avoided when I visit Thailand. 🙂

  26. I have been to Bangkok twice and I love the variety of things this city has to offer right from great food, cheap clothes, amazing bars, rich culture and highly hospitable people.

  27. Totally true about being careful when you bargain. Chances are, if you’re holidaying in Bangkok then you can afford to spend 1 or 2 pounds on souvenirs, whereas some of the market sellers live off very low wages! Sometimes it is nice just to hand over your money and pay fairly!

  28. This is an amazing article, yes, bargaining helps everywhere but up to a point and one should not indulge in a reverse-fleece!. Avoiding elephant rides is something that travelers should follow. This is exactly what we did when we were in Thailand too.

  29. I now know what to avoid in case I go to bangkok I just hope these scams are being taken care of so no one ends up falling victims to their tricks

  30. Wow..didnt know all this and not many people tell such things. Normally we read all good stuff in posts. Thanks for this helpful post.

  31. I have never been to the city. But if I have any plan to visit this city definitely keep all this point in mind. Thanks for this great post.

  32. Paying for a cheap room certainly appeals but the thought of no sleep does not. I’m hoping to visit Thailand next year but I’m thinking I’ll head into the hills as soon as I can.

  33. Thailand is on my places to visit list and I hope that I will have a chance to go there soon. Thanks for the extensive review and all the tips. Will make sure to stick to them when I go there.

  34. These all sound like good tips. I didn’t know elephants weren’t meant to carry weight on their backs! I just got back from Morocco and rode a camel there, but of course a camel is not an elephant. And I’d definitely avoid the Red Light district!

  35. This is super useful. I think travel blogs sometimes try to keep everything too happy and fun when in reality travelers need the “don’t do it!” info to stay safe. Planning to go in a couple years so this was very valuable!

  36. Thanks for all the tips. It’s usually very hard to point out the negatives of any place and it’s nice that you have given a thoughtful and well explained list. Have been to Bangkok a few times now with the family and have always enjoyed the place, but obviously by default avoided the “party” areas.

  37. That is so.wiseof you!especially the elephant ride. I feel sorry for these animals. And bargaining low is also.annoying, people think that they can get all for free..

  38. This is a great list and I’ve avoided all of those also. Bangkok has so much to offer to well-documented visitors!

  39. I agree with your observations. I would add “avoid the friendly local people that address you first” – they are almost always some kind of a scam and “avoid stepping on money” (it is an offence since they have the king’s portrait).

    1. That might be true about the local ‘friendly’ people but I never really think too much into it. Talking to locals helps us understand a lot about their culture. It is not right to put all of them under scammers. I had some good conversations with the taxi drivers who drove me around.

  40. This post is so helpful! Very few travelers write about the things to avoid in a city but it’s such important information for readers. Especially noting that Khao San is not the best place to stay, it’s good to have a peaceful place to return after a night out.

  41. I’ve lived in Bangkok for 7 years and now visit at least once a year and I have to agree with you on all those points. Thailand and Thai people are amazing (I’m Thai!) but especially in the city there’s tons of scammers trying to make a quick buck off of tourists.

  42. Tuk Tuks aren’t all that bad. You just have to know what to expect; it’s more for the experience than for the transportation, though sometimes when you’re sick of walking, and taxis won’t pick you up, and you have no choice, you can choose to pay a premium for an otherwise bad ride.

    Generally speaking, this is a good list. There are a few more I’d like to add, having visited Bangkok several times over the past decade, and currently heading back to BKK in a few days.

    1) Don’t believe random people coming up to you and telling you your temple / attraction is closed due to holiday or some other reason. This is when they try to sell you another trip. The guide prednisone books all mention this, but it actually happened to my wife and I on our 4th trip to BKK, which was on our honeymoon. This actually does happen! I played along, for fun, but then set the record straight. The scammer wasn’t happy that I played him, but I had fun.

    2) Don’t be too rude to the touts. Brush them off politely. Yes, they’re annoying, but they’re far worse in other countries.

    1. Thanks for the tips…..I too was approached by a guy who said the temple was closed but we just ignored him. But atleast once you ignore them they will leave you alone which is a good thing.

  43. thanks for a super useful post. We all get caught up in finding the best things but so often it is the bad things we remember so great if they can be avoided

  44. Thankyou for highlighting these – I was aware of the harm of riding elephants, so will not be doing so when we visit Thailand, but didn’t realize you can offend locals by bargaining too low. So thankyou for the heads up on that, and the tuk tuk scams. Very helpful to know!

    1. The prices in the markets are already too low as locals shop from here as well. So if you bargain too low the sellers will get pissed off.

  45. Those are some pretty much-required travel tips for Thailand. I am so glad that you have spelled them out clearly. It does require a lot of caution so that the tourists do not have a bad time here. WEll done

  46. This post is really useful, especially for someone like me who has never been. Pleased to see youre informing of the unethical elephant rides too.

  47. Aarrgh! I hate taxi drivers who insist on fixed rates. That’s a very common scam here in the Philippines as well, and most of these drivers wait for unsuspecting passengers in ports and airports.

    And of course, no elephant rides for us, knowing that these elephants are actually abused and hurt.

  48. These are really good travel tips to Thailand. I have read negative things about tuk-tuk. I will only take a tuk-tuk ride if I would be with a Thai friend. The most important advice that you mentioned is about Khao San. I like to be able to sleep well when I travel so this place will never be on my itinerary. I hope that tourists will stop riding elephants.

  49. This is a really great post, and an essential read if you’re reading to Bangkok. It’s kind of refreshing to know that these scams happen everywhere. I was getting ripped of royally in south America recently, which only became apparent towards the end of my trip once my Spanish had improved. Will definitely be bookmarking for future reference.

  50. Really good points on things to avoid in Bangkok. My friend and I took the taxi to Grand Palance, and the driver told us it is 200 Baht. I insisted him to put the meter on (the meter was on but he was not planning to use it). After 3 minutes arguing, he turned off the meter and we got off the car. We than hired another cab and when we got to Grand Palace, it was less than half the price.

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