Beijing Capital International Airport is still the world’s second-busiest airport by passenger traffic, witnessing with nearly 50 million passengers passing through in the first half of this year. This from the Civil Aviation Data Analysis, a civil aviation data platform based in Shanghai.
The list, comprising 17 international airports around the world, ranks airports in terms of passenger traffic as of the end of June.
So where is the world’s busiest airport?
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the world’s busiest airport, with passenger traffic of 52.64 million in the first six months, while Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi saw the fastest growth of passengers with an increase of traffic of 13.41 percent.
No 10 – Indira Gandhi International Airport
Total passengers: 35.04 million
No 9 – Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Total passengers: 36.69 million
No 8 – Hong Kong International Airport
Total passengers: 36.91 million
No 7 – London Heathrow Airport
Total passengers: 38.07 million
No 6 – O’Hare International Airport, Chicago
Total passengers: 39.45 million
No 5 – Tokyo Haneda Airport
Total passengers: 41.06 million
No 4 – Los Angeles International Airport
Total passengers: 42.68 million
No 3 – Dubai International Airport
Total passengers: 43.74 million
No 2 – Beijing Capital International Airport
Total passengers: 49.38 million
No 1 – Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Total passengers: 52.64 million
PHOTO: Passengers are waiting in the terminal of the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dec 17, 2017 – VCG
Top 10 spas and massages in Phuket
One of the best things about living in Asia, and in particular Thailand, is the abundance of fabulous places to have spa treatments. From the true local experience on the beach, to the ultra chic five star luxury treatments here is, in no particular order, our Top Ten Phuket Spa Experiences.
1. Let’s Relax (Boat Lagoon)
Let’s Relax’s latest addition to their Thailand spa portfolio is located in the residential area of Boat Lagoon in Koh Kaew and by accounts a winner in our books! It is a beautiful space with the natural light also bringing a sense of calm as you walk down the long entrance. With multiple treatment rooms as well as a well appointed foot massage space that can accommodate a large gaggle of girls it is has become popular very quickly with the local ladies.
Being brand new it also is a treat to sit in lush white comfy chairs while having your foot massage and a chat to your girlfriend or boyfriend. Priced on the lower end of the market, but higher than the local spas on the side of the street and well worth the extra baht, Let’s Relax is fabulous new addition to the flooded spa market.
2. Oasis Spa (Kamala)
Oasis Spa Group has a few little gems around the island including one in Laguna and also another great one on the beach road in Kamala, however this hidden sanctuary located on the back roads in Kamala is our pick of the bunch. From the main street you would never know there is a tranquil ten treatment room spa and delightful pool setting behind the single wooden door. With an impressive and consistent list of treatments, positioned above the street-side prices but below the five star offerings, Oasis Spa is wonderful place to pamper away your day.
3. Kata Rocks Infinite Luxury Spa
Winning the World’s Luxury Spa Awards for 2015, 2016 and 2017 we couldn’t put together a top ten spa list without including the very modern and chic Infinite Luxury Spa at Kata Rocks.
The spa blends the beyond organic philosophy of ILA spa products with its own “Me Time” philosophy, the latest spa massage technology in its eight luxury treatment rooms and suites, each designed around specific treatments. This includes two rooms for couples complete with luxurious his and her bathtubs, a chromotherapy room for coloured light therapy, a waterbed room equipped with Italian-made Iso-Benessere, a water massage bed for aiding spinal integration, a sleeping pod room with Metronap rest pod, traditional Thai spa massage treatment room, consultation and treatment room, pedicure and manicure treatment room and a contemporary tropical relaxation patio for after treatment chill down.
Positioned in the very high end of the spa market, Infinite Luxury Spa is an impressive and fabulous space to spend your day, worth every baht!
4. 4th Floor Central Festival Phuket
‘It’s not a very accurate location’ I hear you say, but I love this spa, and whenever I am at Central I always try and allow at least 60 minutes extra to escape the crowds and enjoy a foot massage while reading my book. Located on the top floor of Central on the left hand side as you head towards Central Department Store (sort of above McDonalds), it’s hard to miss it but the staff are always outside greeting you and encouraging you to come in and take a load off. Priced perfectly at 300 baht for a 60 minute foot massage (plus tip of course), the experience is consistent and friendly. Full body treatments are also available behind the traditional curtain.
5. Amatara Wellness Resort
Located at the very South of Phuket at Cape Panwa, Amatara Wellness Resort as the names suggests has an incredible spa perched high on the cliffs overlooking the Andaman Sea. One of the largest spas in Asia with over 2000 square metres of dedicated spa bliss, paralleled by the extensive menu and holistic and wellness packages, it really is an experience not to be missed.
Amatara has also just opened a new spa wellness experience, the exquisitely designed Thai Hammam brings together traditional Turkish and Moroccan bathing practices with the wisdom and gentleness of Thai spa therapies. Soak your worries away.
Make a whole day of it, indulge in their fabulous Sunday Brunch and then move through to the spa! Perfection!
6. Banyan Tree Spa
A market leader for many years not only in Phuket but around the world, Banyan Tree is has provided us with professional and impressive spas for decades. Banyan Tree Phuket Spa with it’s impressive 24 treatment rooms hidden in lush surroundings within the gardens of the resort has well trained and dedicated therapist giving you the ultimate in spa experiences. The attention to detail which is synonymous with the spa philosophy of the group together with the consistency and surroundings makes it one of the best spa experiences certainly in Thailand. I can highly recommend the three hour Royal Banyan package, which included a cucumber and coriander scrub, Banyan Tree herbal pouch massage, jade chilled facial and flower bath. My girlfriends and I indulged just last week, and it was such a treat.
7. Beach Shack next to Dream Beach Club on Layan Beach
We are creatures of habit in our house, we have been in Phuket for ten years now and when we like something we tend to go back regularly. Sunday’s are for chilling and we tend to either head to brunch or down to the local beach at Layan, away from the larger more commercial eateries and clubs we like eating and massaging with the locals.
Purely bang for your buck, the full body oil massages on the beach for 300 – 400 baht are an absolute must. I would love to say head to “Phung’s Massage Shack” next to Dream Beach Club but to be honest it doesn’t have a name but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get a mention and make our list. Head to the top end of Layan and facing the beach next to Dream go left, it’s worth the trip!
8. JW Marriott Mai Khao Spa
Mandara Spa at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa is an oasis within an oasis, the resort itself sits on 27 acres of lush gardens and beach side bliss just North of the airport in Mai Khao. Within it’s tropical gardens is the king pin for many years on the island Mandara Spa, its an icon in the local spa industry.
Tranquil, exotic and extremely relaxing, the Mandara Spa at JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa features a full service beauty salon, separate steam rooms for male and female guests, five double luxurious spa suites and eleven double deluxe rooms. The spa suites are well fitted out, with some enjoying outdoor bathrooms, but the most impressive aspect of the spa itself is the staff. They are incredibly well trained, and efficient in their craft, professional yet approachable and deliver every time.
The JW Marriott Wellness Retreat (bi yearly) is a highlight every year in my calendar, hosted and facilitated by Linda and her team, as well as the best wellness experts on the island, including Hayden Rhodes, Kim White and Andrew Stanndard. The four day program has informative workshops, wellness consultations, spa treatments, healthy meals, hands on activities, yoga, cooking classes and so much more.
9. Atmanjai Wellness Retreat
Located on the South of the island just past Chalong circle Atmanjai Wellness Retreat at Friendship Beach offers a friendly and relaxed haven where guests can participate in detox, yoga or wellness programs that help restore your vitality, happiness and health. The cute bungalows located around the pool and on the beach side are a perfect excuse to indulge just a little further and stay on location while doing your retreats.
10. Coqoon Spa at The Slate
Unlike anything else in Phuket, Coqoon Spa at The Slate is tranquil and idyllic space nestled in the lush green trees of the resort. It has a “cocoon” tree house made from bamboo and other natural products located high off the ground in true robinson crusoe style. Being in the trees is a unique experience matched perfectly with the highly trained and efficient practitioners. Subtle touches throughout the spa together with the extensive well thought out menu make Coqoon a special occasion treat.
Top 10 places to visit around Chiang Mai, on a motorbike
by Ryan Astaphan from Panumart Tattoo
One of the joys of visiting Chiang Mai is travelling around on a scooter or motorbike (as long as you have a license) as you explore the countryside. By doing so you’ll get to take in the natural wonders and local culture that northern Thailand has to offer. The main roads are mostly excellent.
But do be advised that there are dangerous consequences for those not capable on two wheels, or without a proper motorbike license. With windy roads, rain, mountain slopes, as well as other drivers, serious injury is a constant threat. So while beginners are not recommended to hire a motorbike, experienced riders will be at ease.
Or you can take a taxi or Grab car instead.
Here are the top 10 places to visit around Chiang Mai on a motorbike…
1. Doi Suthep and Doi Pui
In northern Thailand Doi is the local word for mountain. Standing ever-present in Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep, the city’s most famous mountain. Seen from everywhere in the city, this mountain is topped by the iconic temple, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, one of Thailand’s holiest Buddhist sites.
On your climb up to the temple you will pass waterfalls, food stalls and scenic viewpoints overlooking the city. Once you have reached the temple, you can travel further ahead to reach Doi Pui.
Doi Pui is famous for its Hmong tribal village/market that lies just 17 minutes passed Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. There you will get an insight into one of the culture of the Hmong people, one of the local hill tribes of northern Thailand.
Pai is the second most famous backpacker destination in northern Thailand after Chiang Mai. It is a small village surrounded by low mountains, pastures and farms. In Pai you will get an eclectic mix of international backpacker culture and a hippy, island-esque local culture. In addition to the great selection of food Pai has to offer, the surrounding areas have a great selection of natural activities: waterfalls, hot springs, fresh springs, the Pai canyon, as well as the big white Buddha.
As enjoyable as Pai is, so is the ride there. It’s possibly the best drive in northern Thailand, or at least the most popular. Along the way make sure to stop at the massive Mong Fa waterfall.
3. Doi Inthanon National Park
Here are some of the many reasons to visit Doi Inthanon National Park.
● It’s the highest peak in all of Thailand and sacred to all Thais
● There are numerous waterfalls
● There are amazing views
● The local hill tribe culture
● The gorgeous nature trails
The highest peak in Thailand, Doi Inthanon rises to a height of 2565 metres above sea level. This altitude means that temperatures on Doi Inthanon are refreshingly brisk year round and regularly dip below freezing during the cool season (October to February).
The national park covers 482 square kilometres and contains Sanpatong District, Chomthong District, Mae Chaem District, Mae Wang District, and the Toi Lor Sub district of Chiang Mai Province.
The park has been adapted to accommodate the growing tourist trade and there are some eating and drinking areas, as well as accommodation these days. The rugged terrain is now crisscrossed with pathways and roads to make it more accessible to visitors. But the development is being tightly controlled and every effort is being made to preserve the natural beauty of the environment.
4. Mae Wang
The #1 reason to visit Mae Wang is for the bamboo rafting. Find yourself far away from the city. Have the sense that you truly are traveling somewhere exotic.
Depending on how strong the water is that day, you can either steer your own raft or a guide will have to do it for you. In either case, you’ll slowly pass along a small stream with the jungle on either side of you. It truly is a magnificent experience.
PHOTO: Karen Eco Lodge
5. Chiang Dao
Chiang Dao is home to one of the most stunning mountains in all of northern Thailand. In addition to the mountain, this quiet city is known for its Buddhist temple found in a cave, Wat Tham Chiang Dao. Typically one night will be enough to enjoy Chiang Dao.
Although it’s close enough to take a day trip from Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai, it’s an amazing place for a weekend getaway trip. It has the perfect atmosphere to unwind but you may quickly get swept up into other things to do in Chiang Dao.
Chiang Dao has absolutely stunning views of the towering mountain, Doi Luang Chiang Dao (ดอย
6. Chiang Rai
Chiang Rai is more of a proper city than Chiang Mai. While Chiang Rai is world famous for its White Temple (which is not even a real temple), it is the Blue Temple that you should really see. The Blue Temple is such a unique piece of art, both externally and on the inside as well.
Chiang Rai is about a 4 hours’ drive from Chiang Mai. Along the way you will pass many villages and small towns, giving you a look into local life.
7. Sticky Waterfalls and Mae Ngat Dam
The Sticky Waterfalls (Bua Tong Waterfalls) provide the most unique water experience around Chiang Mai. As the name implies, the rocks of Bua Tong Waterfalls are quite grippy. Kids can easily scale the not-so-steep waterfall – that’s how non-slippery the rocks are.
Along the way to the Sticky Waterfalls, just 25 minutes prior to arriving, you’ll pass the Mae Ngat Dam. Within the dam’s lake are floating houses where you can sleep or just chill for the day. Order a bite to eat, something to drink, go for a swim or a stroll on a kayak. These two attractions and the roundway trip will take up most of your day.
8. Mae Sa
Just north of Chiang Mai city is the beautifully natural sub-district called Mae Sa. This area’s most frequented-road is a must-visit for lovers of the outdoors. Queen Sirikit’s Botanic Gardens, Mae Sa Waterfall, off-road ATV riding, elephant sanctuaries and zip-lining.
Make sure to avoid the animal attractions such as elephant riding camps or shows, Tiger Kingdom or the monkey shows. Whilst still popular with some tourist demographics there is a trend now away from supporting these shows.
9. Mon Cham
From Mae Sa you can continue your trip to Mon Cham, that is just further away in the same direction. Mon Cham is the most popular camping destination amongst local tourists here in the north. If you want to sleep in a tent and grill your own food, do make a visit to Mon Cham.
Mon Cham sits on top of a small mountain no more than 45 minutes northwest away from the Old City. You probably wouldn’t have guessed that there’s a farming community in its neighborring hills, but there it is.
10. Wat Chaloem
Saving the least well known for last we have Wat Chaloem in Lampang (a neighbouring province from Chiang Mai). While Lampang and the ride there has lots to offer, I believe a look at Wat Chaloem is enough to explain why you should visit.
The white pagodas perched high in the cliffside near Lampang, known as Chaloem Phra Kiat Temple, are not super well-known on the tourist trail. Not only are they breathtaking, but you can enjoy the view without being surrounded with selfie sticks that you find in popular tourist spots.
Thanks to Ryan Astaphan from Thai Tattoo
PHOTO: Remote Lands
Top 10 scams in Thailand (2019)
PHOTO: Thai Travel News
Firstly, I should say that just about any hot tourist spot around the world is going to attract people, sometimes greedy locals, who will be specialists at extracting dollars from your pockets. In Thailand the main difference is that they will usually do it with a smile. There are scams awaiting tourists who come to Thailand and you are best served by spending a few minutes reading articles like this and saving yourself a lot of financial pain, inconvenience or even a trip to hospital. Or jail.
This is by no means a definitive list of scams awaiting you but these are, at least, ten popular scams that you will have to negotiate if you move about Thailand. They’re real, they happen every day and you’ll have a much better time during your trip if you know about them first.
In all cases, a bit of homework beforehand will save you being tricked during your holiday. Here are our Top 10 Scams in Thailand.
1. The jewellery scam
If you want to buy jewellery or luxury goods in Thailand, don’t ask you taxi or tuk tuk driver or take advice from the nice man who offered to take you a store who stopped you in the street. Jewellery stores in Thailand seem to exist for one purpose… taking money from tourists as part of one of the oldest scams in the Land of Smiles.
Yes, there are reputable jewellery and gem stores but you can usually source them and their prices online before you arrive.
There are plenty of jewellery stores that have been specifically constructed to cater for Chinese bus tour groups. You will see the buses lined up, any day of the week, with hordes of hapless Chinese tourists being guided through these grand shops, many several stories high and designed to part the tourists from their money. Many of these buildings are much grander than any other buildings around them – they weren’t built like that to provide you with a really good deal.
(Many Chinese tours include visits to these stores as compulsory items in their itinerary and the tour groups and bus drivers can get up to 50% commissions. The whole system is a well-oiled machine.)
If your driver taxi or tuk tuk offers to take you to a jewellery store just be firm, but polite, and refuse their generous offer. If you actually do want to buy jewellery, don’t go to the stores they recommend.
The concept of the jewellery scam could also be used with the local ‘export centre’, ‘factory outlet store’ or ‘I have a friend who has a shop’. Caveat emptor!
2. Tuk Tuks and taxis
The Tuk Tuk is different things in different parts of Thailand. In Bangkok the three wheeled tourist tuk tuks are no so much a scam, rather just expensive. But as part of the fabric of Bangkok’s tourist machine they’re worthy of at least ride. Most of this section is about the Phuket Tuk Tuk and taxi scams.
Phuket’s Tuk Tuks are the ubiquitous (usually red), three cylinder Daihatsu open mini-vans that are completely the wrong design for having to drive over Phuket’s many steep hills. Somehow they stutter and creep their way over the hills. Most of the time you’ll just use them for a quick hop from your restaurant or ‘night out’ back to your hotel or from your hotel to a local tourist attraction.
If you ever thought things in Thailand were cheap, using a tuk tuk or local taxi will quickly change your mind. Even a short journey from one end of Patong to the other is going to cost you 200 baht+, usually more. They don’t have meters. Most taxis do have meters but they never seem to work (if your taxi does have an operational meter please take a photo and send it to the ‘Believe it or Not Museum’).
The taxis ones that do have meters are frequently ‘turbo-charged’ so they tick over much faster than they’re meant to, especially the taxis from the airport. Doing town to town journeys will cost you 500 baht+. Going to the airport from Patong is going to cost you 600 baht+.
Taxis from the airport are really expensive when compared to taxi prices almost anywhere in the world This doesn’t apply to Bangkok, just to Phuket. There will no shortage of shouts of ‘taxi’ as you emerge from the arrivals area at Phuket Airport. If you do want a taxi, head to the Taxi counter, at least here it’s semi-organsised although no-less expensive.
Even better, get your hotel to organise a pick-up for you – someone will be waiting for you with your name on a sign. If it’s a really flash hotel they’ll usually have your name on an iPad or tablet these days. Many hotels include the cost of the pick-up in their reservation fees – check when you’re booking.
The taxi and tuk tuk services in Phuket are not technically a scam – more of a minor case of extortion. Most of the time the drivers know where they’re going and are polite and friendly enough. But they’re a law unto themselves and have been fighting successive government attempts to regulate them. In Phuket they’re described as the ‘taxi mafia’ for good reason.
Feel free to barter your price before you get in a tuk tuk for your journey. But make sure you DO agree on a price before you get underway.
If they offer to take you to a jewellery store, attraction or market on the way to wherever you’re going, politely decline.
And then, more specifically….
3. The ‘attraction’s closed’ scam
More likely to happen in Bangkok. But it goes something like this….
You roll up to any well-known attraction and, before you can get to the gate, a friendly, affable local will kindly inform you that the attraction is closed. This may be despite there being long queues waiting to get in or the fact that your hotel and taxi driver already informed you that the attraction is open. If you know, for a fact, that the venue is open politely thank them for their advice and that you’re just going to check for yourself. Smile and say goodbye.
If you do end up in a conversation with them you’ll be advised about an alternative attraction that is older, bigger, more spectacular and ‘very close by’ (which usually means 30 minutes away). On the way to this completely unheard of attraction you’ll be taken to jewellery stores and markets and offered any number of ‘real’ bargains – a guarantee that you’re paying well over the market price, plus commission. If you do ever get to the ‘alternative’ attraction you’ll be paying them the entrance fee, magically about twice the entrance fee you see on the gate.
These are just straight out scams designed to part you from your money and to sell you things you had no intention to buy.
Plan your day’s trips ahead, check Google, TripAdvisor and ask your hotel for advice.
4. Sex shows
Now, officially, they don’t exist anywhere in Thailand. In reality, they do. And those ping pong shows your friends have told you about? Yes, they’re real. (For the younger people reading here, the ping pong shows are excellent displays of table tennis skills).
So you’re walking down Bangla Road in Phuket, Walking Street in Pattaya or Patpong in Bangkok. You will be approached by ten, twenty… more, people with cards and the big sales pitch “Sexy Girl”. That’s sure to get you in.
You’ll be taken to a seedy, dark, usually upstairs venue. Downstairs the drinks are at set-prices. In these dodgy upstairs venues the prices are ‘variable’ (read: VERY EXPENSIVE). You will indeed see a show, probably a lot briefer and less explicit than you imagined, and also asked to buy the girls a few drinks. Then you’ll be ‘invited’ to pay large tips to the performers (‘invited’ means coerced/forced by a few large gentleman with poor hygiene).
And if you DO get invited to a ping-pong show you won’t need to take your own table tennis paddle.
5. The jet ski rental scam
So you’ve never been on a jet ski before and here you are on a tropical beach with warm, inviting waters. And a row of jet skis along the shore with helpful, suntanned guys in their bright coloured shorts eager to rent you a jetski. You’ve never ridden on a jetski? No problem. You don’t need a license or any of that nonsense. Just pay the guys and GO.
The jet skis are easy enough to ride and, most of the time, you’ll have plenty of fun. But the smile will be taken off your face when you get back to the beach and a cursory inspection from the previously-helpful staff turns into accusations of damage to their jet ski.
It could be a simple scratch to a huge gouge and it’s going to cost you 10,000, 20,000…. more, to get it fixed. You didn’t check for damage before you got on the jet ski? Bad luck. You didn’t take a photo of the jet ski before you blasted you way into the tranquil blue waters? Bad luck?
No contract, no insurance. It’s a scam. Most of the time the situation can get very heated and a group of intimidating fellow jet ski owners will gather around and harass you, sometimes with threats of violence if you don’t pay up. Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Hua Hin are the most likely places you’ll confront the jet ski scam.
A few guidelines if you insist on renting a jetski.
1) Inspect the jet ski with the owner and take photos before you pay over your money. If there are marks take photos and point them out to the owner.
2) Ask them if there is insurance cover or a contract. If not, walk away. By law they’re required to cover you with basic insurance (which may or may not be a valid contract anyway).
3) If you do get into a situation where they are demanding money from you beyond what you agreed for rental get a tourist police officer on the spot ASAP, not the local boys-in-brown, a tourist police officer who will usually be dressed in a white shirt with black pants.
4) Don’t rent a jet ski.
Here’s their website. Their phone number is 1155.
If there are no tourist police around demand that you are able to contact your local consulate. DON’T leave the beach and go to the local police station.
DO NOT hand over your passport for any reason at any time! Never.
6. Motorbike rental scams (and a few other problems)
Not so much a scam but a list of potential problems you may confront with the rental of a local motorbike.
Renting motorbikes in Thailand can provide you with a convenient and cheap means of transport ‘just like the locals’ or can get you in all sorts of trouble. You can end up in an accident, you can end up with your hotel room robbed, you can end up having to pay for damage to the bike you didn’t cause.
Here’s the basics. Most motorbike rental is a fairly routine and well-organised affair. There are many reputable bike-hire places around and many hotels will have they own bikes to rent or have an arrangement, usually (hopefully) with a local reputable company who will deliver the bike to your hotel and even show you the basics of how to drive it.
If you’ve never ridden a motorbike before, please, just don’t bother renting one. There are plenty of other modes of transport to get you anywhere you need to go. And just DON’T rent that shiny red Ducati or 500cc ‘whatever’ brand motorbike. Bigger bikes, bigger problem, bigger cost if you fall off and damage the bike.
Here’s the problem. Most people, in fact the vast majority of motorbike renters, have NEVER ridden a motorbike in their life in they home country. In many cases they wouldn’t even consider renting a motorbike back home. But the visa stamp in their passport gives them permission to do really reckless things whilst in Thailand.
There are a few situations to watch out for.
1) You should sign up for some insurance when you sign the contract. It may or may not be worth the paper it’s written on but at least it’s an ‘understanding’ that you have entered into a contract, in good faith, with the company. No contract? Walk away.
2) Problem with the bike? Flat tyre? Something’s fallen off? Engine won’t start? There are bike repair places ALL over Thailand. With so many motorbikes on the road it’s a thriving business keeping them all running. If you call the company you rented the bike from they will have their own, preferred, bike repair shop. One of the scams is that it’s a co-operation between the bike repair staff and the bike rental company.
The bike contract will have your hotel details listed. They will come and steal the bike during the evening and you front up to the bike shop the next morning saying your motorbike’s been stolen. Of course you’ll be required to reimburse them for the cost of a new bike. So buy a cheap bike lock of your own and use that instead of the one provided by the rental company.
3) Wear a helmet. Apart from being the law in Thailand it’s also a very easy way for the local constabulary to stop you at the many checkpoints around the island, usually just before lunchtime, and hit you for an on-the-spot 500 baht fine. It’s also a great way to save smashing your head on the road if you do end up falling off or in an accident! WEAR YOUR BIKE HELMET.
4) If you do have an accident (remember Thailand is the fifth most dangerous place in the world for driving on the roads) you need to have all your ducks in a row. Do you have travel insurance covering treatment and a stay in hospital (bet you don’t)? Do you have an international drivers license covering the riding of motorbikes in a foreign country (probably not)? Does you insurance cover an accident on a motorbike in Thailand?
Motorbike accident do happen, sadly quite frequently, and the consequences can be dire if you’re 1) in the wrong at the accident scene 2) your insurance doesn’t cover you.
Here’s what you need to do so you have the minimum inconvenience in the eventuality of a motorbike accident (the same goes for car accidents but you’re more likely to get badly hurt if you have a crash on a motorbike).
• No matter how you fall off a motorbike its probably going to hurt. Keep your wits about you. People will come to your aid but LEAVE the motorbike where it is – and insist the other bikes and cars in the accident do the same. Contact, if you can, the motorbike rental shop, the tourist police and your consulate. The local police will usually turn up in this sort of situation and, despite the occasional horror stories, won’t automatically side with the locals. Keep calm, accept help from the local paramedics – they know their job and attend many, many bike accidents every day. (There are a lot of private emergency services that get a fee from a hospital when they deliver a paying patient – hey, at least you know they’re keen to get to your accident scene quickly and ‘win’ your business)
• If you don’t have insurance ask to be taken to a local public hospital. The Thai medical system is quite efficient and provides free medical care for all Thai citizens and expats working for a company – again, the hospitals will know how to treat motorbike accident injuries; they see them every single day. If you DO have valid travel insurance ask to be taken to one of the private hospitals. You’ll have to pay the medical bills but they will be a lot less than at a Thai private hospital.
• Whilst your immediate medical situation may require you to get to hospital urgently it’s best, if you can, to wait for the police and make sure you have provided your side of the story. It will be REALLY helpful if you have a representative from the Tourist Police there to assist with translation and knows the system.
• Don’t lose your cool, start shouting or blaming anyone. That simply won’t help at all. And don’t accept liability either. That’s for the police to determine.
• Always carry your passport or a copy of your passport and copies of all your insurance papers when you move around the island.
• Never, ever, hand over your passport. If the renters want a copy (and they’re well entitled for a copy of your passport), keep your passport in sight whilst they’re copying it. DON’T leave your passport with the rental company as a bond. Even better, have a photocopy of your passport with you at all times and a digital copy (take a photo of your passport front page) on your phone.
7. The fake consulate scam
This scam targets tourists and expats crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia in a taxi or tuk tuk. It can also involve just about any other border crossing from the Kingdom if you are being driven in a taxi or tuk tuk. You will pass signs reading “Cambodian Consulate” or “Insert-border-name-here Consulate” and you’ll be dropped out the front of an imposing and important looking building with very friendly and helpful people offering you simple and convenient visas… for a large fee, of course.
The danger in this situation is when you merrily head back to wherever you were staying and then end up in all sorts of trouble when you depart the country through a proper immigration channel and find you’ve over-stayed your visa.
Do your homework before you head to a border for a visa run and know where the consulates are so you don’t fall for this scam.
8. Time Shares
The time share scam is different from the legitimate time share schemes offered around Thailand. But here’s some things to check before you sign up for ANYTHING. Do not sign a document in Thailand until you’ve consulted a proper Thai lawyer.
The time share ’theory’ is that you’ll become a member of a larger group of people owning a share of a ‘title’ in a property or yacht.
Usually foreign back-packers end up as the ones in the street politely stopping you and asking you to pick a card with the promise of a prize. Amazingly YOU always pick the card with the prize which is a free visit to a nearby, or sometimes not-nearby, resort or showroom – no obligation of course – where you will be courted with the ‘financial opportunities’ and ‘convenience’ of time share.
99% of the time it’s just heavy-handed sales and you could have spent the three hours on the beach or browsing the shops instead. Just ask straight up if it’s a time-share offer and then walk on by.
9. Bar girls
If a lovely young lady in a pair of hot pants and high heels approaches you in the street and invites you to her bar, keep walking. Of course if you’re a single guy and an attractive lady approaches you you’re going to stop and listen, right?
But a few things might happen. 1) The drinks are going to be really expensive 2) the young girl is going to invite you for few drinks – and one for her too – and then she’ll be gone to find the next victim with you left having to sort out the over-priced drinks bill with the older, fatter and less attractive male owner. 3) They’re not actually girls.
Is this a scam or just good marketing? Whichever way you look at it you’re going to end up with expensive urine and perhaps a few other adventures along the way.
If you do see a lovely lady with breasts that appear to be larger than you would normally find on the frame of a 5’2” girl, and in hot pants, and you do want to have a drink with her, suggest you both go to a bar of your choice and you’ll soon see how keen she really is.
Also, if you’re 65, overweight, haven’t had a shave for three days and are wearing a 20 year old floral short-sleeved shirt, NO young girl is ever going to want to have a drink with you.
10. The tailor scam
Can you purchase well made shirts and suits in Thailand? Yes. Can you end up paying more for them than you’d pay back home? Absolutely yes.
If your taxi or tuk tuk driver has to stop off for a quick visit to the toilet and a friendly man approaches you and asks ‘where are you from?’, you know you’re about to be sold a suit.
The ‘where are you from?’ is an age-old, tried and tested way or eliciting a response from you. To ignore it you seem rude, to answer it you already talking to them.
The bottomline is that you’ll be told a story about an amazing tailor they know who makes suits better than Armani, etc, etc. You should already know that you’re talking to the middle man, or the friend of the middle man, so you’re in high-commission territory before you even get your inside leg measurement taken.
There are many good tailors everywhere in Thailand, most of Indian or Nepalese origin. There is a thriving community of expats from these countries who do, indeed, have excellent skills as tailors. If you find one, tell us about it and we’ll pass it on. The rest, however, are just ways for them to take your money, the clothes are made off-site at virtual sweat-shops and the workmanship often sub-standard.
If you do want a suit or clothes made (mostly you will NEVER need a suit in Thailand!), then ask around and get recommendations for a reputable tailor.
Next time you get asked ‘where are you from’ just say you’re from ‘Thailand’. Whilst they’re thinking of a quick come-back you’re already gone.
We welcome you to Thailand and hope this quick read may have given you a heads-up on some of the more popular scams you’re likely to confront.
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