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WARNING: Theft on Samui - Suratthani buses

  • sarahld

    Joined Travelfish
    29th May, 2010
    Posts: 3

    Just wanted to post a watch out for anyone travelling by bus from Samui to the mainland. The drivers are on the lookout for anything they can steal and make a quick buck from. My (padlocked) backpack was opened, completely ransacked and repacked during the 2 hour car ferry trip, minus my sunglasses and about £35 in cash.

    So be very very careful. Make sure you lock your bag, and ideally insist you take the bag with you on the ferry, rather than leaving it in the bus hold.

    #1 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 01:37

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  • Tribalfunk

    Joined Travelfish
    27th March, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 11
    Total reviews: 2

    Thanks so much for the heads up! I'm doing the Samui to Surat Thani trip in a few days. It's a shame that this has happened to you, even with a locked backpack.

    #2 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 07:43

  • Captain_Bob

    Click here to learn more about Captain_Bob
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    Location Thailand
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    The local boys need extra cash to support their FIFA World Cup gambling addiction. Anyway tourist buses plying the popular southern routes have had repeated reports of such thefts from the baggage compartments. When in doubt use government-licensed buses like normal Thais do, not these illegal tourist buses. Otherwise the best approach is travel light so you can keep your backpack with you (20-30 litre bag is enough).

    #3 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 14:16

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2006
    Posts: 724
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    warnings of theft from the 'non-government' buses serving popular backpacker destinations like Ko Pha Ngan & Ko Samui (& also Aranyaprathet):

    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/thailand/7074_bangkok-to-ko-samui-scam---getting-money-back-
    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/thailand/1760_stolen-things-on-the-bus-from-krabi-to-ko-phangan
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1691746
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=577937
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1192961
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1800664
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1573361
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=893413
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1390219
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1288857
    http://www.travelfish.org/travel-planning/security-gear
    http://www.bangkokscams.com/scams-in-bangkok/khao-san-road-travel-agents.html
    http://www.talesofasia.com/thailand-getaround.htm
    http://wikitravel.org/en/Ko_Pha_Ngan#Get_in
    http://www.stickmanweekly.com/Reader2007/reader4672.htm (scroll down to 'Bus Scams')
    http://www.travelfish.org/faq_answer.php?qID=130

    (just to give an idea of how frequently it seems to occur...)

    enter "(Thai beach destination name)+bus+theft" into blogsearch.google.com for lots more individual reports over the years.

    figuring out government buses:
    http://www.thai-blogs.com/index.php/2008/04/21/how-to-travel-by-bus-in-thailand-1?blog=27
    http://www.thai-blogs.com/index.php/2008/04/24/how-to-travel-by-bus-in-thailand-3?blog=27

    be aware + anything of value should always be on your person (else leave it at home).

    #4 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 16:32

  • sidewinder

    Joined Travelfish
    11th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 55
    Total reviews: 7

    And if you want yet another example, a friend had £200 stolen from her bag on the same trip.
    Just dont leave ANYTHING of value in your main bag (not sure why you would anyway), and you shouldnt have a problem. My bag was probably rummaged through but unsurprisingly they didnt want my dirty clothes.

    I dont think the more extreme examples (gas through the air-con, sleeping pills in water) happen that often, but the hold rummaging certainly does.

    Definately take the government bus if you can (I can see why some cant be bothered when down south, I couldnt, but theres no excuse when going from Bangkok)

    #5 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 16:55

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6224
    Total reviews: 10

    booby trapping the bag sounds like fun to me.

    #6 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 17:05

  • sarahld

    Joined Travelfish
    29th May, 2010
    Posts: 3

    Now there's an idea......

    #7 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 17:17

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
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    Location Global Village
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    Thefts on overnight buses going to/from KSR are notorious yet all the victims only seem to wise up AFTER the event. Maybe a sticky(like the one for the Halong Bay touts) containing all those links Wandering cat posted might be in order Somtam?

    Most of the complaints concern thefts on overnight KSR buses ... this one seems to be a bit different as the OP says the theft took place while the bus was on the ferry from Samui to Surat Thani .

    Did you actually collect your bags in Surat Thani or did you only notice stuff was missing once you got to BKK?

    #8 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 18:29

  • SBE

    Click here to learn more about SBE
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    Also can you remember the name of the bus company? (It should have been written on the bus ticket). Why not name and shame?!

    #9 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 18:33

  • sarahld

    Joined Travelfish
    29th May, 2010
    Posts: 3

    Yes this was a day bus, not a night bus, and it definitely happened on the ferry as this was the only point at which my bag was out of my sight the whole day. We were going to Penang , not BKK, so collected our luggage near Suratthani, when we were kicked off the bus to get our next connection.

    However, I only noticed anything was wrong that evening when we arrived in Penang and I opened my bag - it wasn't visible from the outside, as they'd even gone to the trouble of relocking my padlock. Nice.

    I wish I could remember the name of the bus company SBE, but as we bought a ticket all the way to Penang our voucher didn't have any bus company details on it. I do remember it had a blue and white exterior and the interior was very red and highly decorative. Not sure if that will shed any light on a name for any more regular journey-makers along this route?

    Are these buses really illegal Captain Bob? This was a proper bus, not a minibus, with locals as well as foreigners on board, looked like a pretty official operation to me. It seems ridiculous that there's such a scam operating when these are the bus tickets that are sold at hotels and travel agents across Ko Samui.

    It's really negatively affected my opinion of Thailand, I have to say, as this has (touch wood) been the only problem we've had in 3 months of travel around South East Asia. Not the land of smiles in my experience, but perhaps we were just unlucky.

    #10 Posted: 15/6/2010 - 21:27

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  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6224
    Total reviews: 10

    Petty theft is pretty common in most of southeast asia. But certain events (like taking a bus out of Khao San Road) you see a large spike. I take the bus OFTEN from Mukdahan to Mo Chit in BKK and never have had anything stolen.

    But if I were to travel from Khao San Road, then I think I would put a live scorpion or two in my bag - those things hurt!

    #11 Posted: 16/6/2010 - 11:19

  • wanderingcat

    Joined Travelfish
    21st October, 2006
    Posts: 724
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    Most of the complaints concern thefts on overnight KSR buses ... this one seems to be a bit different as the OP says the theft took place while the bus was on the ferry from Samui to Surat Thani.

    as long belongings are out of the owner's sight for a long enough time...

    always opportunists waiting to strike esp in places with rich pickings (cash/camera/ipod/netbook/etc-laden foreigners who can't hang around long enough in the country to deal with less than cooperative local police & pursue their cases).

    been reports of theft on Surat Thani-Ko Pha Ngan/Ko Samui overnight ferries. & 'bus theft' reports i've seen over the years do include buses that don't start/end at KSR (e.g. from one southern beach destination to another), & also daytime trips (but not as many reports compared to overnight buses). have been reports for BKK-Chiangmai route too. & those who take the time to post warnings about their experiences online might be just the tip of the iceberg - for each of them there are probably more victims out there in the offline world.

    I do remember it had a blue and white exterior and the interior was very red and highly decorative.

    unfortunately that describes thousands of buses across Thailand...still if by any chance you do have photos of the (exterior of the) bus, might be clues. government buses (& buses of certain reliable, legal private companies) have company logo/name + numbers painted on both sides & the back that identify the route & individual bus.

    scorpion idea sounds good but not sure what's the best way to unpack :P

    #12 Posted: 16/6/2010 - 13:23

  • jajo

    Joined Travelfish
    7th March, 2012
    Posts: 1

    WARNING
    Theft in private bus travelling from Koh Samui-Sura Thani-Krabi, Ao Nang. Our backpacks were put in the bus cargo hold before going to ferry. The whole ferry trip, almost two hours, our backs were kept there. From Donsak we travelled with the same bus to Sura Thani. In Sura Thani we changed ti mini-bus. Our backpacks had been gone through thoroughly and men clothes, parfume, etc were taken.
    So DO NOT LEAVE YOUR STUFF IN BUS CARGO HOLD!!

    #13 Posted: 7/3/2012 - 07:52

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
    Joined Travelfish
    18th May, 2009
    Location Earth
    Posts: 825
    Total reviews: 5

    Why don't you people take the train?

    #14 Posted: 7/3/2012 - 11:24

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