a crowd of tourists walking the nightlife streets of Pattaya City, Thailand

11 Scams In Pattaya To Watch Out For

Pattaya City is famous as the “sin city” of Thailand. Locals and tourists come from all over the world to enjoy the crazy nightlife this city offers!

Unfortunately, Pattaya isn’t only known for its nightlife. There are many prevalent scams in Pattaya City to watch out for.

With the city’s bustling nightlife and high foot traffic of tourists coming/going, scammers have crafted many Pattaya scams to watch out for!

This guide will teach you about the most popular scams in Pattaya City. Remember that scammers always add additional scams, so keep an eye out when visiting Pattaya!

Drunk Bill Scam

plenty liquor bottles lined up at a bar under a red light in Patong Beach

This scam tends to happen at night more than during the day, but one thing is common: you or your partner are pretty drunk, and others are looking to take advantage of this!

This is how the drunk bill scam works; say you’ve gone for a night out with friends, and you all begin ordering drinks. Before you know it, two drinks turn to seven, and everyone is quite tipsy!

You’d like to leave, so you ask for the bill; the bill is significantly higher when it comes. The bar/nightclub has added additional costs to your bill for no reason. They’re looking to take advantage of drunk, unaware tourists.

Most end up paying the bill, not bothering to count. But if you refuse the charge, they often say it was a “mistake” or sometimes begin to complicate the cost per drink.

Beware of this when going out for drinks; it’s one of the most popular scams in Pattaya.

How To Avoid: When you buy a drink or two, immediately ask for the bill and pay per drink.

Jetski Scam

several people sitting on their beach lounge chairs watching the beautiful sunset and a sailboat passing by at Kata Beach in Phuket, Thailand

This is a common scam in many countries and is well-known by many in Thailand.

The Jetski scam involves more intimidation than the actual Jetski itself. Here’s how the jetski scam works. You’re at the beach looking to take a jet ski for a ride. After speaking to the operator and agreeing on how much it will cost, you go for a cruise on the water!

Once you’ve returned to shore, the jetski operator accuses you of “damage” caused to the jetski; it may be a small scratch on the jetski or a dent. After telling you that you owe them an extra amount of money for the damages, you’ve caused so they can fix the jetski.

You know you’ve done no damage, and it’s obvious, but now you’re dealing with someone intimidatingly asking you for extra money.

Never put your passport as collateral for any sort of rental in Thailand.

How To Avoid: First, ensure you’ve agreed on a price with the operator. Before renting the jetski, try to have a friend in your presence as you decide on the price. If you run into this, politely deny their claims, don’t be rude.

Then proceed to tell them about getting the tourist police involved to resolve things.

Money Exchange Scam

Be careful with this one; this scam can happen when you least expect it to happen.

You have plenty of 1000 and 500 Baht bills, the highest currency notes in Thailand, but you’d like to exchange for a few smaller bill notes to pay for things, give tips, etc.

So you go to a money exchange shop and ask for smaller bills in exchange for your larger currency notes. One of either two scams may occur here.

The first scam goes like this, you give them, say, 2000 Baht, and then they give you less in smaller bills; you ask why you’ve received less money, and they state you gave them a different amount.

The second scam is a trick of colors because the 100 Baht and 500 Baht notes have similar colors, the 100 Baht is red, and the 500 Baht note is purple but slightly red. The worker will slip in 100 Baht notes instead of 500 Baht and count them fast before you. When you exchange many bills and are in a rush, it’s easy to mistake the two currency notes.

How To Avoid: Make sure to count the currency in front of them and reconfirm the amount with the worker BEFORE handing the money over

Taxi/TukTuk Scam

classic blue tuktuk driving on the streets in Thailand
Credit: Lauren Kay

You’re looking to get somewhere and would like to take a Taxi or Tuktuk, so you wave to one on the street and ask them how much it costs to get somewhere.

After agreeing on a price, you get in and take the ride to your destination. Upon arrival, the driver asks for a slightly higher price; you need clarification because this is different from your agreed price.

The best way to avoid this is BEFORE getting in a taxi or tuk-tuk; ALWAYS repeat the agreed-upon price with the driver TWICE before getting in. Make sure you clearly tell them the agreed-upon price.

How To Avoid: Download and use either Bolt & Grab car service apps. Or use the Songthaew Trucks in Pattaya these are public transportation pickup trucks and only cost 10 Baht per ride.

a local Pattaya songtaew truck driving around the city
Songtaew Pattaya Trucks

Pattaya Bar Girls Scam

a crowd of tourists walking the nightlife streets of Pattaya City, Thailand

Many of these women approach men of all ages in Pattaya, especially when they are at the bar, strike up some conversation, and take you for a ride for the money in your wallet. This is one of the most popular scams in Pattaya City.

The conversation usually starts fun and flirty, then gets more serious, discussing things like they’re looking for love or have a sick family, and that’s why they work in this city, etc.

Then they proceed to say they need help financially. It’s all a scam for them to receive extra money from you.

Another form of this scam is the long-term romance scam, where some of these women in Pattaya start relationships with Western/European men, and instead of receiving money from them only that night, it turns into months or years!

How To Avoid: Be careful when engaging, understand that these women do this every night, and realize you’ll not likely find “love” in a sin city.

Motorbike/Scooter Scam

several motorbikes parked on the side of a main road in Kata Beach, Phuket, Thailand

This scam is very similar to the jetski scam, and the only difference is it’s involving a scooter instead of a jetski.

You’re looking to rent a scooter to get around Pattaya to see different viewpoints, temples, and more. So you rent a scooter from a shop in town for however long.

When you return the scooter, you’re told about the damages you’ve caused while renting it. These damages can be as simple as scratches, dents, or other small, unnoticeable things on the scooter. Then you’re told you need to pay money because of these damages.

You’ve done nothing wrong; they want to take money from you for no good reason.

Politely refuse and tell them you’ve done nothing wrong, etc. Suggest getting the Pattaya tourist police involved to resolve the matter.

Never put your passport as collateral for any rental in Thailand.

I recommend booking a scooter in Pattaya through an online service like Bikes Booking to avoid this hassle!

How To Avoid: Take a detailed video of the scooter you’re renting with your phone before renting it from any shop. This way, you have video footage proof, and it lets the shop know you’re not looking to be scammed and that you’re aware of this scam.

Hotel Cash Scam

several beach and apartments along the main beach in Pattaya
Credit: Ryutaro Uozumi

This scam isn’t as common but seems on the rise in Pattaya and should be discussed because it’s not cheap!

So you’ve booked a hotel online with Bookings or any other online listing company. You show up at the hotel and speak with a receptionist to check into your hotel.

The receptionist confirms the booking and says the hotel only takes cash, so they will take cash from you, don’t give you a receipt for the booking, and cancel the reservation online. That doesn’t sound wrong, right?

After you’ve stayed at the hotel, a few days later, you receive an email from the online hotel listings company that you will be CHARGED for the hotel because you didn’t show up and cancel your hotel reservation on time.

You’ll end up paying TWICE for the hotel, once in cash in person and once online because the hotel didn’t cancel the reservation online. They took cash from you and left the reservation, putting you at fault for not “canceling.”

How To Avoid: If you arrive at a hotel and they say they’d like the hotel payment in cash instead of how you’ve booked it, politely decline and proceed to another hotel.

Ping-Pong Show Scam

An adult show involving a woman and ping-pong balls; I won’t bother going into detail; you can google the rest. But I will tell you how this popular Pattaya scam works!

You are most likely walking down a lively street in town, and someone approaches you with a menu of different adult shows happening at a venue, including the infamous ping-pong show. They’ll tell you the shows FREE; you just need to buy a drink to enjoy them.

They might tell you right then and there the drink price; other times, they won’t.

Once you’ve gone and enjoyed the show, you’re presented with a 2000 Baht+ bill, and they tell you this is the cost of the show and drink.

That’s one expensive drink; well, it’s not the price of the drink; it’s a scam. 2000 Baht is almost $60.00 US, and it can be more!

This scam can get dangerous, especially if you’re alone; the owner will not let you leave the club until you’ve paid the bill. This scam is prevalent in Pattaya, Bangkok, and Patong Beach in Phuket.

How To Avoid: Don’t attend any ping pong shows, there are other adult entertainment spots

Pickpocketing Scam

well-lit lights of bars, strip clubs, nightclubs and several tourists along the famous Walking Street in Pattaya City

Unfortunately, pickpocketing is prevalent in Pattaya City, this can happen on busy streets, markets, bars, and bus stops.

Pattaya Walking Street is the most popular place for pickpocketers to lurk around; they know many people walking down this street are tipsy/drunk.

Thieves also take advantage of tourists who are busy amazed, and looking around this entertainment-full street as they pickpocket you.

How To Avoid: Keep an eye out, ensure your bags are closed, and don’t put things in your back pocket.

Gemstone Scam

several gemstones spread out on a table, one of the most popular scams in Pattaya City
Credit: Edz Norton

This scam happens with the cooperation of tuk-tuk drivers with a store selling fake gemstones. You want to go somewhere, so wave to a tuk-tuk driver and ask them to go somewhere.

The tuk-tuk driver then tells you about this “amazing gemstone shop” you must check out; they sell rare gemstones worth a fortune in other countries.

If you accept, they take you to the shop, and the shop owner then tries to convince you to buy fake gemstones to take back home and resell for more. If you buy something, the tuk-tuk owner gets a commission for bringing you.

These gemstones are fake and completely worthless; the entire thing is a scam.

How To Avoid: If a driver says they want to take you to a gemstone, gold shop, or suits shop, politely deny and tell them you only want to go where you’d like.

Freeing Birds Scam

When visiting one of the many temples in Pattaya, you may notice birds in tiny cages for sale.

Freeing birds is a Buddhist ritual to increase good krama. Unfortunately, some exploit this ritual and have turned it into a scam.

After purchasing the bird, they let them free, but the birds can’t fly because it’s used to being caged for so long. After you leave, the seller recaptures the bird and exploits others for money.

How To Avoid: Don’t bother with this scam if asked. By paying them, you’ll encourage these sellers to exploit the birds.

purple coloured skies during a vibrant sunset in Pattaya City

What to Do if You Fall Victim? – Scams In Pattaya

Don’t panic and understand it can happen to anyone, scammers and thieves perfect their craft to exploit the tourists.

Call the Thai Tourist Police from your phone at 1155 and explain to them how you got scammed and see what can be done about it.

Depending on the scale of the scam, they may be able to help. If it’s a small scam, you’ll most likely be out of luck!

Remember to be on the lookout for these scams in Pattaya. If you’re in the middle of being scammed and realize it, be patient and politely but respectfully deny it and continue walking.

Pattaya Tourist Police Station – Phone Number: +66 61 146 1155

For emergencies, you can contact Local Tourist Police by calling: 1155

This list of scams in Pattaya is also quite popular in other famous places in Thailand, like Bangkok and Phuket. So if you’re visiting there, keep an eye out for them there too!

Remember to purchase travel insurance before visiting Thailand; it’s best to be covered!

What scams to watch out for in Pattaya City?

There are a few scams in Pattaya City to be on the lookout for, but the most popular ones are the drunk bill scam, ping pong show scam, jetski/scooter scam, and pickpocketing.

What should I avoid in Pattaya?

When visiting, avoid wearing valuables, don’t loosely hold your bag, don’t entertain ladyboys, don’t do or buy illicit goods and watch your drinks are all times.

How can I avoid being scammed in Thailand?

Be aware of the popular scams in Thailand and take precautions to avoid being a victim of any of the scams.

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