The Airport Trap (Bangkok, Thailand)

31 July 2014
The Airport Trap (Bangkok, Thailand) Anand Thapa
Suvarnabhumi-airport (Bangkok, Thailand)
Suvarnabhumi-airport (Bangkok, Thailand)

This is another articles that I happen to come across in Kuensel ( National Newspaper in Bhutan) Albeit, the protagonist are the Bhutanese in the articles but this can be served as general notification to all.

Basically, more than 80% of our guests choose to fly from the Bangkok for its convenience to connect directly to Bhutan and in most cases it help to avoid India visa.

If guests exercise general caution and pay heed to notification can add value to overall enjoyment of the trip

The Airport Trap

For the thousands of Bhutanese travelling to Thailand, the duty free shop at the Bangkok international airport is a favorite place to do last minute shopping, whether to pick up a gift or spend their remaining baht.

But the duty free shop, it seems, is turning out to be a dangerous place to pick up a gift for your loved ones, or to window shop. There are stories of how departing passengers are detained for allegedly shoplifting and let off after paying huge sums of money. Airport security officials and even police are alleged to be partnering with those at the shops.

Recently, the BBC carried a story warning tourists travelling to Thailand of the alleged airport scam. Many newspapers and websites picked it up, as Thailand is a favourite tourist destination. Following the article, there were many stories shared by victims, most of who paid huge sums of money to get back to their country and avoid the notorious Thai jails.

The number of Bhutanese travelling to Thailand, especially Bangkok, has increased by manifold in recent years. From only civil servants on official tour in the past, Bhutanese visitors have increased and include business people, students, and families on holiday or for medical reasons. It is a favourite destination for shopping and a transit route with a request of few days’ stopover.

Although no Bhutanese were reported to have gone through the ordeal, it is important for the travellers to be cautious of the scam. The joke among some is that Bhutanese will not be targeted, because they don’t carry USD or pound sterling or euros or credit cards to withdraw and pay the officials. But the average Bhutanese traveller is comparatively naïve, and chances of getting cheated or robbed are higher. Bhutanese travellers will suffer more than others, because we are not used to this kind of treatment.

Maybe not at the airport, but a good number of Bhutanese have fallen victim to scamsters or conmen while in Bangkok. Many will not share the story for fear of being mocked. But there are instances, where some have lost their entire stipend or shopping money on the day of arrival. This is made worse by lack of credit card facility, or the habit of carrying wads of cash everywhere we go.

A common incident being letting a stranger, in Arab dress in most cases, see your wallet and exchange currencies. Because we’re friendly by nature, we are easier prey to such predators.

Unfortunately, there are no stories of anyone getting back their money, even when attempts were made to involve authorities.

The chocolates, watches, alcohol and branded goods at Bangkok airport may be tempting, but it would be wiser to be a little more cautious when on the streets or duty free shops in Bangkok.

Courtesy Kuensel