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WARNING: Theft on Samui - Suratthani buses

Posted by sarahld on 15/6/2010 at 01:37

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 sarahld has been a member since 29/5/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by Tribalfunk on 15/6/2010 at 07:43

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 Tribalfunk has been a member since 27/3/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 11


Posted by Captain_Bob on 15/6/2010 at 14:16

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 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,903

Posted by wanderingcat on 15/6/2010 at 16:32

warnings of theft from the 'non-government' buses serving popular backpacker destinations like Ko Pha Ngan & Ko Samui (& also Aranyaprathet):

https://www.travelfish.org/board/post/thailand/7074_bangkok-to-ko-samui-scam---getting-money-back-
https://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
https://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')
https://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 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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Posted by sidewinder on 15/6/2010 at 16:55

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 sidewinder has been a member since 11/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 57
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Posted by MADMAC on 15/6/2010 at 17:05

booby trapping the bag sounds like fun to me.

#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sarahld on 15/6/2010 at 17:17

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

#7 sarahld has been a member since 29/5/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by SBE on 15/6/2010 at 18:29

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 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,020
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Posted by SBE on 15/6/2010 at 18:33

Also can you remember the name of the bus company? (It should have been written on the bus ticket). Why not name and shame?!

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Posted by sarahld on 15/6/2010 at 21:27

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 sarahld has been a member since 29/5/2010. Posts: 3

Posted by MADMAC on 16/6/2010 at 11:19

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 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by wanderingcat on 16/6/2010 at 13:23

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 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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Posted by jajo on 7/3/2012 at 07:52

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 jajo has been a member since 7/3/2012. Posts: 1

Posted by altmtl on 7/3/2012 at 11:24

Why don't you people take the train?

#14 altmtl has been a member since 18/5/2009. Location: Canada. Posts: 992
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