Most expats who have lived in Thailand any length of time know to be careful when renting a jet ski or taking in a tuk-tuk in Phuket.
One of the biggest scams in Thailand, jet-ski company owners and tuk-tuk drivers often rip off foreign tourists to the tune of millions of dollars a year.
So much so, Simon Farbenbloom, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy, has warned the governor of Phuket complaints about jet-ski owners and tuk-tuk drivers top the embassy’s list of complaints.
So bad is the environment in Phuket, tuk-tuk drivers have even beaten tourists over their refusal to pay scam rates, leaving one German national, Kurt Trotnow, comatose recently after an attack by tuk-tuk drivers, when he refused to pay a 200-baht fare.
In some parts of Phuket, western tourists are warning fellow tourists to never hire a jet-ski and not to take a tuk-tuk in the area, as the likelihood of them being ripped off is high.
Motorbikes are also becoming something you should rent at your own risk in Phuket.
The latest scam is where motorbike rental store owners are renting out bikes, then hiring Thais to go and steal the bike when it’s parked somewhere overnight. The unsuspecting foreign tourist is then charged for the price of purchasing a brand new bike.
All we can say is, if you want to rent a jet ski, a motorbike or a tuk-tuk in Phuket, think very carefully before you do so. Scams are now so prevalent, it may not be worth your while ruining your holiday.