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Ahsan Ali

Travel Blogger

Ahsan Ali is the founder of, a creative writer and social media marketer. He has been developing great content for various niches from travel to fashion industries. He’d love to travel to different destinations and like to make new friends.

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How to Avoid Common Scams in Southeast Asia

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Home >> Travel & Touring >> How to Avoid Common Scams in Southeast Asia

Avoiding Traveler Scams

If you are planning a trip to Southeast Asia, I suggest you to keep reading this article. I am going to detail some of the most dangerous and filthy scams you don’t want to be a victim. Some of the scams aren’t so dangerous, but can severely ruin your exciting trip. First let me say that a vacation in Southeast Asia offers beautiful places, oceanic views, exotic beaches, and exciting activities. You will enjoy the culture and the friendly people. However, there are those unscrupulous people who lay in wait to pray on the innocent traveler who may be unfamiliar with local customs. So here is the list of some common traveler scams in the Southeast Asia region.

The Money Exchange Scam

Vietnam Dong Currency

The Money Exchange scam is very common in the countries whose currency is tumbled, like Indonesia and Vietnam. Here’s how this scam works. Let’s say you decide to exchange a couple of hundred dollars for the few million of the local currency. So you gou go to the money exchange and ask the teller to exchange your U.S. dollars. You somewhat attentively watch the teller take your dollars and then count out the local money. You put it in your wallet. Yet, when you get back to the hotel a few hours later, you realize that you have 800,000 instead of 1,000,000 local currency. You will be shocked by how clever the scammers are.

The Ping-Pong Show

Bangkok Strip Show

If you visit Bangkok’s red light district, you will see a number of people showing you the crazy tricks and offers for the night. They will try to convince you to join the nearest “ping pong” shows. If you are less than interested in the show, they will tell you that you don’t have to pay the entry-fee or a show-fee, just pay for the drinks and enjoy the show. If you give in and take them up on any of their offers, you will be disappointed, and you will see hateful things inside. Disgusted and leaving, you ask for the bill to leave the bar or café, expecting the bill to be 60 Baht ($2 or $3), but discover they present you with a 2,000 Baht ($60) bill! Try to avoid these sorts of scams which are common there.
If you want to enjoy a strip show, only go to famous places which have a good reputation. You will pay the same amount, and you will enjoy it more.

Bus Traveler Scams

City Bus

In Thailand and Cambodia, bus travel scams are some of the most common. You take a less expensive bus to cross the border between Thailand and Cambodia. Just before the border, the bus driver slows the vehicle down a few miles from the border. The driver then tells you the border is about to close and you won’t be able to cross before the next morning. However, the driver will tell you how lucky you are as he has a friend where you can stay at their house. Not good. Try to decide wisely when choosing a bus or ferry ride.

Charming Kids

Vietnam Hanoi Street

The kids are so adorable and seem harmless in the Southeast Asia regions. Some of the kids are trained to rob people at an early age. Many times in the night bars, many travelers have noticed that kids steal from the visitors from their pockets, possible the small amount like $10 or a little higher. There is also milk scam when a kid on the street is asking for the milk. You will feel very bad and for the child and buy him a jug of milk. The kid will go back to the same shop and return the milk to get the money back and will share his profit with other kids.

The Scooter Thief

Hanoi Vietnam Scooters

This is the most common scam in famous cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. There has been a report of snatching and robbing people on the streets several times. The thieves pass by you on their bike and snatch the bag with your phone and other accessories. Avoid using the phone while walking on the main roads. Hold your bag firm and take care of your things.

The Drug Dealer Scam

This is the most common scam and a dangerous one too. A random guy approaches you and offers you some drugs. You think I could use some of the weed to relax after the long day and you buy that offering. After some time, you are intercepted by the cop or local police that asks for the legit searches through your luggage and pockets. Once he finds out the stuff you bought just a few minutes ago, you are giving a choice of being arrested and the legal consequences or pay a bribe to get yourself free. Here we are talking about a big bribe that could go up to $500. Try not to buy anything illegal in public or from random street guys.

The Cheap Restaurant

Hanoi Bar

This one is a dangerous scam that happens to new travelers. This starts when a new traveler meets a local who is unusually friendly, and after a short chit chat, he will ask you to show a cheap restaurant or a nice place to have a drink. You still don’t quite know about the guy and what he is up to. After a few hours, you find yourself unconscious, drugged heavily (it was in the food or drink obviously) and you have nothing left, no money, no luggage, etc. Even though this type of scam doesn’t happen often, you need to avoid accepting the unrequested invitations from unknown local people.

The Tour Guide Scam

When you are visiting some of the most famous and great places in Southeast Asia like the Grand Palace of the Bangkok or the Angkor Wat, you will meet a number of people who present themselves as tour guides. They won’t ask for a high price to show you everything about the great place.
You will get not enough information if your tour guide isn’t legit or your tour guide isn’t truly a guide. Real licensed tour guides generally do not escort individuals. You will these professional guides leading big groups with a number of tourists, guiding and telling the tourists about the places and history.


Did you ever come across a scam in Southeast Asia if you are a regular traveler? Probably, there are some other tricks and scams that I didn’t mention here. Share your experience in the comment section if you had such experience during your trip.

1 thought on “How to Avoid Common Scams in Southeast Asia”

  1. That’s a cool article. We should know what type of scams we could get in if we are going to visit southeast Asia countries. Thanks to this man who put all the info at one place.

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Ahsan Ali

Travel Blogger

Ahsan Ali is the founder of, a creative writer and social media marketer. He has been developing great content for various niches from travel to fashion industries. He’d love to travel to different destinations and like to make new friends.

View all posts by