I have host Conor Woodman and the show Scam City to thank for saving me from the Thai gem scam. Not that I buy much jewelry. But, travelling can put one in the shopping mood.
I booked a half day tour of the Bangkok canals and Wat Arun & Wat Pho temples through Viator, acting on behalf of a Thai company called Tour East Thailand. Loved the canal trip aboard a long tail boat. The temples were teeming with tourists, especially Wat Pho, but that’s to be expected. Glad I saw them.
See photos of the Bangkok canal tour
See photos of Wat Pho
I understood the tour company would drop me back at my hotel where I’d been picked up. Instead, I was taken to a gem factory along with the two other people on the tour. There was nothing on the itinerary about a gem store visit.
There, we were ushered into a theatre to watch a short glitzy promo video on gemstones in Thailand. Afterwards, I was met (accosted?) by a salesperson who insisted on walking me through the giant retail store. I told her I had no intention of buying gems and asked to be taken to my hotel. She insisted the only way to get to the van was through the store.
Travel + Escape’s 10 Most Common Travel Scams
Without being rude, I refused to be engaged in a discussion about gems, settings or prices as she walked me through the store. Finally, I was handed off to a driver and stuffed into a van with other bewildered travellers.
See photos of Wat Arun
See short video of Wat Arun
I had the van drop me off at the closest sky train station. I likely will NEVER again book through Viator. They need to do a better job of vetting the companies they deal with. As for Tour East Thailand, my advice is to avoid them.
There’s a lot of info on the internet about the Bangkok gem scam in case you’re planning a trip there. The scam isn’t illegal. But you could end up owning gems worth far less than you paid.