Common Travel Scams to Avoid

by Jules on September 21, 2011

Watch out for pickpockets especially in these 10 cities...

Pack your common sense as you head off on your travels but be aware of these common travel scams that are happening around the world;

Beijing and Shanghai, China – Be wary of strangers in China approaching you to ‘practice their English’. They will engage visitors, sometimes for hours at a time and many westerners are too polite to refuse. Often the scenario is that they chat to practice their English then after a time suggest going for tea. At an unknown backstreet teahouse an elaborate tea ceremony is laid on for you then at the end you’re presented with a large bill, often running into hundreds of dollars. Bizarrely the person you’ve been chatting with for hours suddenly doesn’t understand any English!
Rome, Italy – Rome was recently voted the second worst pickpocket hotspot in the world and the distraction techniques used there continue to evolve. One such distraction used by the pickpockets is to throw a baby at you or drop it onto the floor (it’s not actually a baby but a bundle of blankets), then they move in to swipe your wallet, camera, handbag etc.
Bangkok, Thailand – Always use a registered taxi cab in Thailand and make sure the meter is always on. If the driver offers to turn off the meter politely refuse as this is often a ruse to get you to visit a gem shop on the way. The backstreet gem shops often employ strong persuasion techniques to get you to part with cash. It’s also worthwhile noting that some taxi drivers will just quote a fixed price, especially if it’s raining and they can make more money during an exceptionally busy time.

3 Other common scams to look out for
- Calls in the middle of the night from your hotel ‘reception’ asking for your credit card number. Always call them, or better still, visit them instead.
- Bogus takeaway menus and delivery services where you call up and give out your credit card number. Always get a local recommendation first.
- You touch, you buy! Popular across the world with jewellery, accessories and small trinkets where the seller places the object in your hand then demands money. Just put it down and walk away.

Vietnam – The Sinh Tourist Buses are a popular way for independent travellers to travel between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam but there are other services posing as Sinh which lure unsuspecting travellers into expensive overnight stops. Make sure you visit the official website www. for genuine advice and ticket information.
Bali, Indonesia – Watch out for the local monkeys who are known to clamber all over you with their little paws rummaging in your pockets and desperately seeking out any loose items. Pack all of your belongings into your bag and keep it close.
Las Vegas, USA – Probably very common throughout the world (especially so in Las Vegas) is the taxi driver luggage snatch. The driver drops you off at your hotel or airport and claims to be in a hurry when unloading your luggage. It’s only after they’ve sped off that you’ve noticed that some of your luggage is missing. When you hop in, take a note of the taxi registration number and driver details which should be on display in the taxi.

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