Hi, one of my main worries about Thailand (I'm heading there alone) is the thought that people may plant drugs on me. I know this might sound ridiculously paranoid, but with the drug penalties being so severe in Thailand this would be my worst nightmare. I don't do drugs at home but I've heard stories of it happening to people that locals or even police may plant drugs on people. Also, I've heard of some hostels taking peoples passports and then demanding money when tourists ask for their passport back. How common are both of these things in Thailand?
On a side note, I've heard it's easy to meet people there, but I posted in the companion section of this website and not one person replied. Hope that's not a sign of the loneliness of thailand.
#1 roro1990 has been a member since 9/8/2013. Posts: 38
Relax. Drugs being planted is very unlikely.
As for lonliness, it's so painfully easy to meet people here you don't need to worry about that. Basically anywhere you go you'll be able to meet people.
#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Don't worry about drugs unless you are going to a full moon party. If you are planning on it be careful, I personally wouldn't even bother/risk it.
Lots of guesthouses ask for passports although most just take a copy or write down your information. If they insist they need to keep it tell them you need it because you are going to embassy for visa or going to be renting scooter or some other thing that will require passport or just say you are unwilling to leave it with them. If they won't let you keep it(unlikely) then stay elsewhere if you are that paranoid(most likely you won't have any issues even with giving them passport, they just ask to hang on to it so you don't skip town without paying them).
I would be more worried about leaving passport for a scooter rental(which most places will require). Good practice is to take pictures of any blemishes on scooter and make note of any strange sounds etc before renting scooter to make sure they don't try and pin you on old damage.
Meeting people on a forum is next to impossible. Once you get over there it will be much easier, people will be looking for someone to chat/hang out with. Finding someone to actually go with you on a long portion of your trip is unlikely but it is quite easy to meet a person and hang out with them for a few days or more.
Two stories I've heard. Myth or reality I wouldn't know.
You meet a girl in KSR who says she has some lovely weed and would you like to go back to your place and smoke with her. The guy thinks he's hit on the girl goes back. She lights up, takes a toke and then excuses herself to go to the bathroom. Next thing bang bang the police are at the door. Guy is marched to the ATM and pays a substantial amount to stay out of gaol.
Guy meets a 'nice' woman who says she has been separated from her daughter when her husband took her away (to your home country) and asks you to carry a big teddy bear to give to her daughter.
Anyway, if you are dumb enough (and by you I mean anybody not the OP) then you deserve what you get.
No, Thailand doesn't have a rep for this sort of thing though Khao San Road DOES have a rep for scams involving drugging people or just plain lifting your wallet.
I've never heard of a hotel or guesthouse keeping your passport except in Vietnam where they have to be delivered to the police for record keeping.
#4 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
"I don't do drugs at home but I've heard stories of it happening to people that locals or even police may plant drugs on people."
myth^ What happens is some silly tourists buy drugs at things like the FMP and it's a set up with the cops moving in for a bribe.
But most cops are friendly and have no interest in tourists away from these things.
"Also, I've heard of some hostels taking peoples passports and then demanding money when tourists ask for their passport back. How common are both of these things in Thailand?"
Some scams involved the hiring or jetskis or motorbikes. Never give up your passport for such things. You can hire motorbikes with a photocopy.
#5 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
"Lots of guesthouses ask for passports although most just take a copy"
They have a right to make a copy but no right to keep it. Only gullible people let people keep their passports be it in a hotel or hiring a bike. Some money changers want a copy too. Best to make a few copies before you go and put them in your wallet.
#6 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I think Sayadian was right and that Vietnam was where I was asked for passport. I always had some sort of excuse though and don't think I ever did leave it with them.
Hiring a bike they always ask you for a passport and some places won't rent to you without one. Sometimes they will take drivers licence instead but they always take something to make sure you don't try and take off with the bike.
Just to add to the drug planting is a myth ... far more likely to have problems with entrapment (tuk tuk driver sells you pot and the cops show up ten minutes later to relieve you of loot) which happens a lot -- I personally know a number of people who that has happened to. Easiest way to avoid it is not to buy drugs!
I've been pulled over and thoroughly searched a few times when travelling by motorbike in northern Thailand and on each occasion the cops were very careful about making it clear that I was watching what they were doing (so I couldn't accuse them of planting anything). They were also very polite about it.
I've never heard the hostel holds passport for cash story first hand -- have read accounts of that kind of thing online, but you're only ever getting half the story there.
Some places in Vietnam will require they keep the passport and won't let you stay unless you oblige. It's never been made clear to me if this really is the law or just a whim of the guesthouse/local authorities -- tend to hear of it more in less touristed areas. When I did my bike trip in the Mekong Delta, one of my companions didn't have his passport and it was a bit of a hassle at times.
I've met people who have been stopped and searched in Bangkok, usually around the KSR area. I've been told the police are quite polite about it and even apologetic. You can actually be required to give a urine or blood sample in Thailand and a distant relative of my wife had to pay a considerable amount to stay out of gaol when it came back showing he'd ingested crystal meth. Once or twice I've been searched at the Thai border but it was very cursory and I suspected they were actually watching my reaction. If I'd looked nervous it might have turned into a more serious search.
As Somtam says entrapment is probably your biggest risk.
If you are worried about someone sticking something in your luggage just make sure you pack it yourself and never leave it out of your sight afterwards.
#9 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
If you're staying at a place that you think would do something like that, get your bags in hand and go stay somewhere else. How can you feel safe with anything in your room if they are going to do something like this? Research some places to lay your head before you depart and have them as your first go-to spots, if they've gotten plenty of good reviews then you shouldn't even be confronted with such a situation.
"hostels taking peoples passports and then demanding money when tourists ask for their passport back"
Every hotel and guesthouse is required to record some details from your passport which are then reported to immigration, but they cannot legally take possession of your passport. They should just have it long enough to copy the info then hand it back. Don't stay anywhere that does otherwise.
"Every hotel and guesthouse is required to record some details from your passport which are then reported to immigration, but they cannot legally take possession of your passport. They should just have it long enough to copy the info then hand it back. Don't stay anywhere that does otherwise."
And I usually say "Oh sorry, I forgot it at home" and they always let me sign in rather than leave. They want the business.
#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
No harm to take precautions and check the pockets of your bag every now and then just in case.
#13 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
Is that advice tongue in cheek or do you want to make the guy paranoid.
Really, nobody is going to plant drugs on you in Thailand.
#14 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
If a motorbike shop wants a passport simply say no thanks and walk to the next one. You don't have to purchase from the first vendor.
#15 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I've never yet encountered a motorbike rental that doesn't require you to leave your passport. In Vietnam, Laos, Thailand or Cambodia.
It's annoying because sometimes you see your passport thrust into an unlocked draw and I've come back on a number of occasions to find no one watching the office. The only other option is to leave a large deposit.
#16 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Travel sensibly and you will have a great time, and no worries.
Be very careful renting out motorbikes to not damage them, in this case they will hang onto your passport as collateral untill it is returned to them in the same condition as rented out.
> Avoid renting jetski's. Look up the jetski scam to see what i mean.
Don't do drugs, because not only are you at risk of being set up, but the Police now do drugs tests on urine samples. If you test positive it can be extremely problematical.
I've hired bikes on Lanta, Chang and KPN without a passport.
#18 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
Thanks for all the posts so far everyone, they've assured me I've not got much to worry about. My trip is booked for October and I'll be arriving early October. I'm only after realizing though that this could have been a very bad decision on my part. I am from a country that gets a lot of rain and dull days, so naturally I was was looking forward to sun in Thailand. But I've only just read now online that I'm pretty much wasting my time going anywhere near the full moon party during October (which was my plan) as the weather is awful during this month. In fact, I've read that I picked a really bad month to visit Thailand, solely because of the horrendously bad weather. Can anyone with first hand experience of it shed some light on how bad it actually is in October? Should I be thinking of changing my flights?
#19 roro1990 has been a member since 9/8/2013. Posts: 38
If you can easily push back your flights till Dec/Jan then it might be worth it. Overall from other peoples responses on the subject it just comes down to luck/chance whether or not rain will be a hindrance or not in the rainy season. Every year is different so hard to predict.
Costs money to change flights and Xmas time is expensive. May-Oct is low season which means cheaper and beaches with less people. I always go low season.
I wouldn't bother with the FMP. Much better things to do. The weather in Trang/Krabi in Oct is pretty good. Doesn't rain that much and there's some stunning islands to visit. Ko Hong and Ko Muk are well worth it. A world away from the low class FMP stuff.
#21 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I know that might be your opinion that the FMP is lower class, and even if it is "lower class" i'm okay with that, it's fairly legendary and just feels like something I need to do when in Thailand. I'm only a young guy so I'd be into the whole party scene (no drugs obviously!). The fact that there won't be as many people isn't a good thing for me necessarily. As a solo traveler, I was looking forward to meeting many new people, possibly others who are solo traveling. Seems as if I couldn't have picked a worse time to go!
#22 roro1990 has been a member since 9/8/2013. Posts: 38
OK Roro, you're not making much sense man. You are concerned about your safety (Drugs being planted on you) and yet you are going to the single highest risk event you could go to in the country (FMP).
And there is no reason to worry about meeting people. 70 million people actually live here, and they are easy to meet. Thais are very friendly, particularly if you get off the tourist trail and go to places where they don't see many non-Thais.
The weather in the North / Northeast isn't too bad in October. The rains tend to be tappering off by then (although there are no guarantees). We got clobbered this year from April to July and while August has been drier, it has also been somewhat overcaste.
#23 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
Rather ironic isn't it MM. Worries about drugs but his main aim is a druggie party run by crooks.
Legendary? It's mostly viewed in a poor light and it's famous for rapes and drug plants for cops to take bribes.
KPN island gets 3-10,000 people for the FMP each month. No shortage of people. Usually when people travel you might meet for a day or 2 and then people go on their ways.
I would suggest Phi Phi instead. Plenty of tourists go there and it's drier in October. They have parties and the island has good snorkelling. Small island and there would be far less drugs there.
#24 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148