Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Travelling Alone and Suddenly Feeling Vulnerable

Posted by OrangeEm on 24/10/2009 at 13:32

I've done loads of travelling on my own including parts of SEA and never had any problems, always really enjoyed myself.
I have 2 months in T&IC arrived in Bangkok on the 21st checked into ok acc. just off Khao San Rd and headed out for a look round. Was aproached by a man from the tourist police office who offered me a map, we went to his Information desk back inside the police station and he gave me a map and asked where I would be travelling to I told him was planning on Chiang Mai then Laos... he recommended a TAT office that could arrange the trip and visas for Laos & Cambodia and arranged a tuk tuk there. Was really uncomfortable about it all and the agent was pushy but was tired etc and didn't know where else to go as had read so many of the KSR agents were scams and thought that TAT was the official thng so reluctantly signed up for a trip. Later of course I panicked checked up on the internet and read about all the scams - went to the real TAT office with all the details and they said that it all seems ok - have since compared a price with someone on the KSR and I have paid about 25%/25 pounds more than they could do it for.

However, all I keep rading about is the number of scams and how no-ne can be trusted and suddenly feel very vulnerable and the two months ahead of travelling alone seem very daunting. I haven't really met anyone here yet who isn't on some kind of tour with everything laid on whose going my way and I just can't seem to relax and the dream trip that I've waited so long for suddenly doesn't feel like much fun. Am off to Chaing Mai tonight, will it get easier from here and will there be more single travellers headed for Laos, etc?

#1 OrangeEm has been a member since 24/10/2009. Posts: 3

Posted by anthony998 on 24/10/2009 at 16:32

Hey Orange Em,

This is my first time to Indochina and I'm here in BKK at the minute and to be honest everyone seems to just be out to relieve me of my cash. I find that if you just keep saying no it'll get through to them. For instance I got told to walk home today from somewhere in BKK because my tuk-tuk driver wanted to take me to a silk shop because, apparently, the Grand Palace was shut due to Buddist Holiday. Can anyone answer me and tell me if this is the case? EVERYONE (who's Thai) I meet on the street has said the same thing and these guys are people I've just started talking to randomly without Tuk-Tuks in sight. Is everyone in on the same game?

With regard to the purchasing of a ticket to Chaing Mai I'm going to get it directly from the train station. Would this be the right thing to do, I'm a wee bit unsure as nearly everyone wants me to go to TAT office.

Incidentally orangeEm, it's a pity you've left already as I'd have been willing to meet up and have a drink with you and maybe we could of worked out the best way together.


#2 anthony998 has been a member since 5/10/2009. Posts: 8

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Posted by OrangeEm on 24/10/2009 at 16:50

Thanks for replying, glad it's not just me - felt like I was the only one here not having the tme of my life LOL. The TAT office itself doesn't sell any kind of ticket so probably getting it from the station is as good as anything else at least then you won't be paying a middle man. I'll be in Chiang Mai tomorrow then on my two day trek but back there for a day or so after, so probably leaving there the 29th nce I've decided how to go from there - so if you are going to be there before then and fancy that drink let me know.

#3 OrangeEm has been a member since 24/10/2009. Posts: 3

Posted by daveglt on 24/10/2009 at 17:47

OrangeEm, i also started my trip in Bangkok, about 7 weeks ago. I was pretty keen to gt out of there sharpish. I just found it a bit unreal and was keen to get away to the smaller and more authentic places. I found it was 100 times easier to meet people once you get outside of Bangkok, everybody seems to be together there although saying that i've passed through a couple of times since with people i've met, and we've had an awesome time.

Not sure what you had planned but i would definatly recommend heading up to Pai from Chiang Mai. I just spent nearly a week there, doing whitewater trips etc, so awesome. Good luck!

#4 daveglt has been a member since 3/10/2009. Posts: 7

Posted by sidewinder on 24/10/2009 at 19:36

Yes, some people are out to rip you off, yes some people are scammers and yes people will overcharge you.

But all the scams mentioned in these few posts are the most common and well known in Bangkok! Not quite sure how you hadnt read (on the net or in LP) about the gem/silk shop scams, saying the grand palace is closed scam and the numerous fake TAT offices.

However, everyone will get ripped off/overcharged at some point, on their first trip anyway. I certainly still did at times even when knowing some of the scams.
You just have to accept it, shrug it off and learn from it. If you start feeling angry or vulnerable you could end up not enjoying your trip as much as you could.

Getting out of Bangkok will certainly reduce the intensity of the scams (though not eradicate them) and I agree it will be easier to meet people once you get out of the chaos. I had 4 stays in BKK during my trip, for stopovers etc, and the times I didnt think I'd meet people, I did, and the times I had more confidence and thought I would, I didnt! Its a hit and miss place. There is a lot of big groups there that I didnt find so much elsewhere

#5 sidewinder has been a member since 11/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 57
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Posted by starchaser on 24/10/2009 at 19:36

Pity you're gone, just arrived in Bangkok today from Phuket and hate that I'm cooped up in a hotel, alone, with very few opportunities to meet anyone, especially after staying in a very cool hostel for the last week for half the price and meeting new people everyday! Think that guy, or one of his friends, approached me today sending me into the desk at the tourist office saying it was a TAT one - I'm naturally very suspicious so I just laughed off his approach after chatting to him as I was walking past. I second that opinion that in general it's better to do the leg work yourself and get a cheaper price and skip the middle man altogether

#6 starchaser has been a member since 24/10/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by MADMAC on 25/10/2009 at 00:41

Well, you've figured out that you can't ask "someone" general questions here and get a straight answer. They will give you the answer that steers you where "they" want you to go. "They" will lie without a hesistation.

It's easy to get around here and avoid being ripped off, but you can't grope around. Avoid middle men (i.e. tour agencies), and move around like the locals do. Always negotiate prices up front.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by neosho on 25/10/2009 at 08:23

At least here you still get the "service", although at a higher price. Back home they would just pull a gun and take all of your money for nothing.

#8 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

Posted by MADMAC on 25/10/2009 at 18:45

Actually I've never gotten robbed back in the States either.

But Thais will definitely use deception. It's not as bad if you get out of Bangkok and head up north and out of the tourist areas - though skylab or tuktuk drivers will still rip you off in a minute.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by anthony998 on 25/10/2009 at 20:51


I'm meeting a few other travelfishers in Gullivers Tavern at the western end of Khao San Rd. tomorrow (26th) at 9.30pm for a few beers if you wanna meet up. i'll be wearing my green Limerick jersey and have a white tennis cap with me. The jersey has 'HANNA 24' on the back. Sorry for the rushed reply, I've got to shoot, sorry guys.


#10 anthony998 has been a member since 5/10/2009. Posts: 8

Posted by OrangeEm on 27/10/2009 at 23:21

Thanks all for your advice and comments I met some nice guys on the train and several other great people since and so everything feels so much better. Everyone at the hotel I'm at came from "TAT" bookings and paid much more than me so the 25 quid total extra for a five day tset of bookings inc. overnight train/accommodation/and a 2 day trek isn't grest but is more in perspective now I'm having a better time.

Sidewinder: I had read about the gem/silk shop/palace closed scams - but nothing about the Information desk inside the Tourist Police Station - and it was this that made me wonder if my apprehension was misplaced. I knew the Tourict Police aren't interested in recovering scammed money but didn't know that they had set up a desk in their own office doing just that!
The bureau I actually booked through is TAT approved and most people I've met have paid much more so maybe TAT approval counts for something though obviously it's cheaper to do everything independently which is what I will try to do from now on.

#11 OrangeEm has been a member since 24/10/2009. Posts: 3

Posted by MADMAC on 27/10/2009 at 23:26

Glad it's going better for you. I've been here for two and a half years and it's been great. So don't let the little rip off artists get you down.

#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by sidewinder on 29/10/2009 at 23:22

Em - apologies, I obviously dont read well enough, missed the bit about the tourist desk IN the police station, assumed you had just gone to a fake office. So yeah, I havent heard that one before either!

#13 sidewinder has been a member since 11/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 57
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