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Top 5 Scams in Asia


Unless you are Asian or can magically alter your appearance to fit in with the crowds, there's no escaping the tourist radars of some dodgy characters you will meet on your trip to Asia. But you don’t have to fall victim to the ingenious scams and tricks these unscrupulous characters pull. Don't let petty thieves ruin your trip. After all, Asia is a friendly continent and not everyone you meet is out to get you. While rip-offs do exist, they are insignificant fraction of the genuinely warm, kind, polite, and free-spirited Asian populace. Just keep your guard up against these common scams, and you’ll be safe:

  1.   Less than precious gems. We’re sure you’ve heard about them—those warnings about the famous gem scam in countries like Thailand and India. Almost every tourist guide book and travel site will warn you about them. The trick goes like this: friendly (often overly friendly) locals or jewelry store owners will strike up a friendly conversation with you, during which he or she will begin suggesting tempting ideas about how you can make money doing business with them. If your friendly chat sways to the direction of gemstones, exports, and cards, smile politely, turn around, and walk away! You might just get sucked into some bogus business deal involving precious gems that “you can sell for thrice the price in your own country.” Stick to your vacation plans and earn your money elsewhere
  2. Motorbike scams. This is quite rampant in Indonesia and Vietnam, where some bike owners extort money from their customers. If you can't resist the thrill of exploring the countryside with the wind in your hair and the sun hitting your face, thoroughly inspect the bike for damages or you will end up paying for scratches and problems, none of which were actually caused by you.
  3. VIP bus treatment... NOT! Never pay extra for your long-haul bus ride. This supposed ‘upgrade’ will require you to pay more money only so that you can get on board the same bus as everyone else because… guess what? The VIP bus is suddenly unavailable because of some mechanical problem. Don't expect for a refund—you will never get one. Also, keep an eye on your bags, as bus theft is rampant in long-haul buses plying South East Asia.
  4. Alms for the poor. Some scams attempt to appeal to a tourist's humanitarian side. If you see beggars, monks in robes, or young people soliciting spare change to help with their education, resist the urge reach down your pocket. You are not helping them by giving them reason to stay on the streets. Worse, they might be working for street gangs and syndicates involved in child trafficking. Risk zones include Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
  5. Unsolicited tours around the city. Beware of suspiciously long cab rides. The driver is probably taking the longest route, attempting to pull your fare up. You might be surprised to find out that your hotel is just a couple of blocks away from where your ride started.

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