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5 Rules of Not Being a Stupid Tourist

Picture courtesy of Pattaya Post

Picture courtesy of Pattaya Post

I was checking out the local Thailand news today and ran across a story from Pattaya People about a man sitting in a Pattaya beer bar having some drinks when a woman came up behind him trying to give him a shoulder massage…you get pestered constantly in outdoor beer bars by Thai’s selling goods, offering services, or just plain begging.

So, he shoo’s her off and later when he goes to pay his bar tab he realizes she (or someone else) has stolen his wallet. Supposedly he had 6000 baht ($180) in his wallet but here’s the kicker he also had $7000 U.S. dollars and documents which I took to mean his passport.

Look, if you are a tourist anywhere there are a few simple rules that you should absolutely always follow whether you’re in Thailand or just going to Disney for the weekend. The fact is you are out of your element and extremely susceptible prey for locals who are looking to rob you.

1. Once you check in the passport goes in your room safe or hotel safe and Stays there!

The only time you should have your passport with you is if you are going on a day trip crossing a border where it may be asked for or you are going to the bank to exchange money or travelers checks. Keep it in your front pocket and put your hands in your pocket if you have to.

Some countries such as Thailand Require foreigners to have their passports with them at all times but it’s not worth the risk. Make a color copy of your passport and keep that with you. If asked for your passport show the copy if it’s not good enough they’ll be fine escorting you back to your hotel to see the original. If you aren’t being a bad person the chances of your passport being asked for is nill.

2. NEVER carry large sums of cash with you anywhere!

The fact is that in most countries Travelers checks will get you just about the same exchange rate as cash and they are insured. You lose them or they get stolen and you’re covered. You lose $7000 in cash and your vacation probably just ended.

3. Never carry any more cash with you then you are going to spend for the day or that you are willing to lose!

When you are someplace like Thailand it’s best to go out with just what you think you’ll need for the day or night. Losing a hundred or two sucks but it’s not vacation ending.

4. Leave your credit cards in the safe!

If you’re heading to Disney for the weekend then it’s not a problem but in countries like Thailand you only really want to use your credit cards at the bank or at the hotel if they are trustworthy. Thailand has a reputation for credit card fraud so don’t take the chance.

5. If you’re a man keep your wallet in your front pocket…if you’re a woman ditch the purse.

A wallet in a back pocket is an easy target so don’t make it easy for the crooks. If you keep it in your front pocket and you have followed the rules then it’s small and it won’t be uncomfortable and it also won’t get stolen.

Ladies, I know a purse is a fashion accessory and holds everything McGyver needs in an emergency but honestly you’re on vacation and purses are easily snatched or broken into… get a small wallet and keep it in your front pocket. Buy purses so you can look good when you get home.

Some will say “but I have a money belt or a fanny pack just for this”. As soon as someone see’s you use your money belt you can bet you won’t have it long and in this case it won’t be by subversive measures. Fanny packs besides making you look utterly ridiculous  also mark you as a tourist and they can very stealthily open one while talking to you face to face or just take it with any force necessary.

Criminals world wide like the easy mark because they can get in and out without you knowing. Don’t be an easy mark!

As for the American who ljust lost 7k. The whole story sounds fishy to me. I don’t doubt that his wallet and documents were stolen but I seriously doubt he had $7000 in cash in his wallet…even in hundreds thats 70 bills and makes for a large lump. Sounds like it might be padded a little.

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Comment by PetraNo Gravatar
2008-08-26 05:13:31

Sawadeeka, Talen, what I would like to add here is that it is the most utterly stupid thing to travel with good clothes, a lot of jewellery and expensive watches. I have observed this again and again on my many travels through the world. I do not understand why people are THAT stupid. I have been riding on a tuktuk through Chinatown in Bangkok and other districts - many times - I had my camera in a plastic bag and only took it out when I used it. An old backpack, old pants and shoes did the rest. My partner and I have never been molested or robbed anywhere in this world. In a Bangkok hotel I even forgot my films in the fridge - on our way back home we stayed overnight in the same hotel - and I got my films back! Imagine that…
btw - a few words in Thai opens all doors and the sentence “mei m’gen” (don’t have money) with a smile makes people laugh and let you alone! Try it!
Greetings, Petra

Petras last blog post..Another Lady Rose…in different Dress

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-08-26 20:00:06

Words well spoken that people should heed as well. I’ve seen so many people walking around with their big gold chains and rolex watches and I just shake my head.

Flashing jewelery and cash in a country where the the monthly income of the average person is less than your weekly or daily income is just asking for trouble.

Comment by Justin WrightNo Gravatar
2008-08-26 13:49:14

Very good advice about keeping the passport in the room unless you plan to cross a border. A lot of people seem to carry them at all times, which can always lead to trouble.

Justin Wrights last blog post..A Drive Along The Apache Trail

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-08-26 20:01:41

A friend of mine found that out when he lost his passport and he had to leave the country early as they wouldn’t honor his year visa on the lost/stolen passport.

Comment by My Bug LifeNo Gravatar
2008-08-27 01:33:06

Good tips..especially #1. Thanks for sharing.

My Bug Lifes last blog post..An O Dough

Comment by JacquelineNo Gravatar
2008-08-27 08:05:11

I don’t travel abroad as much as I’ve done in the past, but these are some EXCELLENT tips. Luckily we never ran into any of the problems you mentioned.

Comment by Nomadic MattNo Gravatar
2008-08-28 07:59:38

You see so many stupid farang in thailand. Today on the skytrain, I saw this couple with tons of expensive stuff on them. In BKK they might not get robbed but they are going to get ripped off everywhere. come on! think a bit!

Nomadic Matts last blog post..Tips for Traveling Paris

Comment by self defense RobNo Gravatar
2008-08-29 17:49:08

I can’t remember the last time I put my wallet in my back pocket. I’ve done the front pocket trick forever now.

self defense Robs last blog post..Score 1 for the Puppy, 0 to the 3 Bears

Comment by Jena IsleNo Gravatar
2008-08-30 19:53:05

These are indeed vital pointers for tourists. I would like to say that this should also be observed in my country and anywhere in the world. There will always be the bad elements of society trying to get the better of you. Thanks for sharing such important reminders.

Jena Isles last blog post..REMEMBER WHEN

Comment by RogerNo Gravatar
2008-08-31 07:36:21

What I find amazing is that people still need to be told these tips!!! It such comon sense …

And tip #6, when in trouble in the Land od Smile…. keep smiling… getting on your high horse will get you nowhere… especially with the police…

Rogers last blog post..Polygyny

Comment by AcakadutNo Gravatar
2008-09-01 00:57:08

thanks for being my top dropper ;)
Acakaduts last blog post..snarky

Comment by Ken ArmstrongNo Gravatar
2008-09-01 14:34:19

I agree wholeheartedly. I just want to add my own little experience. My drivers license doesn’t have a photo so when I recently went to America, I found I did need photo ID quite a bit. The only one I had was the old Passport so I ended up having it with my much more than I was comfortable with.

So, my advice, if you’re traveling and your passport is your only type of photo-id, get another one and leave the passport in the hotel safe where it belongs.

Ken Armstrongs last blog post..Anatomically Correct

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2008-09-01 15:08:22

Good point Ken…one thing you could do is get an international drivers license and that should do the trick.

Comment by FaaraNo Gravatar
2008-09-28 03:10:08

Thanks for your advice, could be very useful for me!

2008-11-03 21:00:54

I must confess that on my very first trip to Thailand I was stupid enough to think that I wouldn’t have any problems and that I knew it all.

After 10days of a 30 day trip I managed to lose both my passport and a large chunk of my holiday money. (Full Moon Party! Don’t ask :-))

Luckely the money was in travellers checks and was replaced after convicing the company who issued them that I wasn’t trying to cheat them.

My passport however was a lot more trouble to replace and took an unplanned 5 days in Bangkok to get that sorted.

Good post for anyone travelling, not just to Thailand.

Holidays to Thailands last blog post..Loy Krathong Festival

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